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Saturday, January 15

Letters to the Future Queen, Kate Middleton's Postman Delivers Mail without an Address

Imagine the future Kate as tender and tortured Queen of her castle. Decorated in pearls and ornate silk, bejeweled tiara atop an elaborate coiffure, taking her morning tea at some holdover gilded age writer’s table. Writing her daily letters shan’t be such a chore when she’s got someone to lick her envelopes, now, shall it?

True, the darling princess-to-be Kate Middleton has forevermore got it made, and as her local postman, Ryan Naylor, can attest, her world-wide popularity is burgeoning. Naylor has been hauling a "steady stream" of mail up the private drive to the home she shares with her family in rural Bucklebury, Berkshire ever since her November 16 engagement announcement to, the one equally adorable, Prince William.

Naylor, the postman, tells, "The post they've had is absolutely incredible, from all over the world. There are lots of well-wishers, sending cards and presents." Although the address remains a tightly kept secret, it is perfectly straightforward. When asked if trying 'Kate Middleton, Bucklebury' would work, "Absolutely right, and some of it's just addressed to Kate Middleton, England, but it still gets here, surprisingly,” he chuckles.

"There was one this morning to 'Mike and Carole Middleton, Parents of Catherine Middleton, Bucklebury, Berkshire," he says as he jumps into his red van and heads out again on his rounds. "I joked with them about it. I said, ‘Look, it still gets through! What a good postman you've got!" One wonders if he received his holiday gratuity.

Here, and only a few weeks ago, on January 9, Kate Middleton arrives for the wedding of the Honourable Sarah Louise Stourton and Harry Aubrey-Fletcher at St. Andrew’s Church in Aldborough, North Yorkshire. Ever-stylish is Kate with her smart sense of fashion; she wears a revolving door of fascinators. In no exception, here she is in a beautiful black structural beret or tilted pillbox with a long and lovely feather quill fascinator with most of the vane barbs removed. In keeping with our lovely theme of antique writing implements here at Art of the Letter, the quill of her hat reminds us of a bygone era when our writing utensils were borne of shaved quills.

Along with the beautiful fascinator, she wore a tailored Libelula velvet dress coat with silver clasp, plum colored shoes, matching clutch, and of course, Diana’s gorgeous rock.

The beautiful painting opening this post is entitled Princess Elizabeth in Prison at St. James' created by John Everett Millais. The poor little Princess Elizabeth (1635-1650), second daughter of King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria, was confined in St. James' Palace by order of Parliament when the English Civil War began in 1642. Elizabeth is represented here in 1850, after half of her life imprisoned, composing her touching letter to Parliament in which she begs for her loved servants to remain with her and to be allowed to join her sister, the Princess of Orange. Her letter proved moving enough for the previous and most cruel policy to be reversed. She was transferred to Carisbrook Castle on the Isle of Wight, when her brother, future Charles II, landed in Scotland with a liberating army. Sadly, Princess Elizabeth died 8 days after her trasfer, being only 15 years old.

Along with other lost gems of the ages, a small explanation of this painting with a lovely poem written to Millais by a young student about Millais' Elizabeth is contained in this book: The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais: President of the Royal Academy, Volume 2.

Vols. 1 & 2 respectively, as follows:

Self portrait 1881 John Everett Millais (1829-1896)

Millais was a controversial and rebellious 19th century English painter and illustrator, and who does not love a little of the rebel? Known for his opposition to the modern methods of composition as taught in the art academies of the day, he was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Besides a bit of professional controversy over some of his paintings, he became a love magnet to Effie, the wife of his biggest outspoken supporter, social critic John Ruskin. Effie sought an annulment from her 6 year marriage to Ruskin, which turned up a salacious few tidbits about Ruskin himself in marriage annulment court, all feeding a tremendous scandal, a Victorian age "love triangle".

Listed on left is the book titled John Ruskin and Effie Gray: The story of John Ruskin, Effie Gray and John Everett Millais, told for the first time in their unpublished letters. There have been several dramatic features including films, plays, operas and radio programmes retelling the fascinating relationships of Millais, Ruskin and Effie. Further, a study of this this love triangle, of Effie & John Ruskin's unsatisfied marriage along with a study of its traumatic wedding night can be found in the book listed on right titled Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages.


Thursday, September 16

Robert Plant, Alison Krauss Video of Please Read the Letter

A beautiful song about unfinished business.

Please Read the Letter
Lyrics written by Michael Lee, Jimmy Page, Charlie Jones, and Robert Plant
Performed by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
From the album Raising Sand

In the album Raising Sand, legendary Led Zeppelin front man, Robert Plant, pairs with extraordinary country songstress, Alison Krauss, to create a transcendental work of eclectic auditory art. The album in its entirety compels the soul with exquisitely blended harmonies to haunting and eerie effect, gypsy violin, and fascinating production.

At the 51st Grammy Awards, Raising Sand won all five awards for which it was nominated. Album of the Year; Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album; Record of the Year (for "Please Read the Letter"); Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.

Producer, T-Bone Burnett, has given us the award winning soundtracks to O Brother, Where Art Thou, the Johnny Cash/June Carter biopic Walk the Line, Crazy Heart, Across the Universe, The Ladykillers, Cold Mountain, The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Down From the Mountain, Horse Whisperer, Stealing Beauty, Until the End of the World. He has also produced for many artists including Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello, Counting Crows, Los Lobos, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Elton John, Natalie Merchant, John Mellancamp, and BB King, among many other works in his fruitful and interesting career.

One Amazon review from Ian Chalmers:
"This is one of those serendipitous occasions when the right people and material find each other, the planets line up, you draw against all odds …common sense and commerciality are thrown to the wind. If you have any faith in the essential goodness of man, any hope that art is a good thing, a taste for good music regardless of the labels slapped on it, experience that love will break your heart, but you'll fall into it anyway, and a suspicion that Rounder Records has more artistic sense in its (figurative) little toe that all of the major labels combined, you'll buy this CD. And besides, looking at the jacket photos, I have to wonder if Robert and Alison don't share a hair stylist."

The following are the CD, mp3 album, and mp3 single, respectively:

Among the many great reviews, one says,
“Burnett turned up the gothic horror and planted it down South.”


Custom Vintage Letterhead 4 - Free Printable

I am excited to continue the series of Art of the Letter Free Printable Custom Vintage Letterhead. Letterhead4 was designed to fit 8in. x 11in. standard printer paper. Letterhead4 is the same image as above, but will contain the text of your choice. I will use Photoshop to design your AOTL custom vintage letterhead. All letterhead design is black, with the font being your choice of color. This is a simple image not of high quality, but is a genuine victorian period vintage/antique image, and will lend a special touch to your handwritten letter. It would be lovely made into stationery on a lightly colored or tea stained page.

To receive AOTL Free Printable Custom Letterhead:

1. Please write a quick blog post with a link to Art of the Letter included, or add an AOTL button and link specifying Free Vintage Letterhead from Art of the Letter.

2. Specify the Letterhead number you want. The letterhead in this post is called Letterhead4. Previous versions of AOTL Letterhead can be found here and here and here.

3. Select the font for your text:

Special font circumstances: Special characters are limited to what is available with the font choice. If numbers are not displayed next to the font choice, there are no numbers or special characters available for that font. If you have a font that you would like me to use, please refer me to the font on, and I would be happy to use your specific choice.

4. Select the color you want for your font:
5. Develop 1 or 2 lines of text with up to 40 characters each.

6. Send an email to artoftheletter (at) with your text specifications and your blog link. Your email address is kept strictly confidential, used only to return email, and will never be revealed to any outside source.

Please allow 1-7 days for processing. The full page file will then be sent return email for you to save to your computer and print as you choose. I will be offering this free letterhead promotion for a limited time, whereafter only the letterheadx.jpg will be available. Any further requests will be considered with respect to currently running promotions.

If you use the image on your web page, please give me a shout out with a link. I would be thrilled to see any creative uses of this letterhead, and would be delighted to feature your project with a link to your blog. I am happy to receive email from you at any time. Please enjoy!


About Me

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I am a loving and grateful wife to a wonderful man, and aspire to be ever-more nurturing as Momma to our wonderful little boy. I am inspired by vintage and antique eras, which motivate my personal creativity. I am a Jane-of-all-trades around home, and find pleasure in all manners of good homemaking skills.

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