Open letter  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

An open letter is a letter that is intended to be read by a wide audience, or a letter intended for an individual, but that is nonetheless widely distributed intentionally.

Open letters usually take the form of a letter addressed to an individual but provided to the public through newspapers and other media, such as a letter to the editor or blog. Especially common are critical open letters addressed to political leaders.

Letters patent are another form of open letter in which a legal document is both mailed to a person by the government, and publicized so that all are made aware of it. Open letters can also be addressed directly to a group rather than any individual.

Motivations for writing open letters

There are a number of reasons why an individual would choose the form of an open letter, including the following reasons:

  • To state the author's position on a particular issue
  • As an attempt to start or end a wider dialogue around an issue
  • To criticise someone's actions
  • As an attempt to focus broad attention on the letter's recipient, prompting them to some action
  • For humor value
  • Simply to make public a communication that must take place as a letter for reasons of formality

Examples of open letters

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Open letter" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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