Open letter

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.[1]

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.[2] Especially common are critical open letters addressed to political leaders.

Currently there are very few sites solely specialising in publishing open letters. However, there are community sites where visitors can publish their own letters and promote them to a wider audience.[3] Sociological or historical research on open letters are also not found, although sociologists, anthropologists and historians have written open letters.[4][5] 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

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

  • As a last resort to ask the public to judge the letter's recipient or others involved, often but not always, in a critical light
  • To state the author's position on a particular issue[6]
  • As an attempt to start or end a wider dialogue around an issue
  • 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


See also


  1. "Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary". Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  2. "Macmillan Online Dictionary". 2014-07-22. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  3. "Opnlttr community site for people to publish open letters". 2014-07-04. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  4. "Open Letter to C. Wright Mills" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  5. "An Open Letter to Emile Durkheim". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  6. "Abhijit Guha | Vidyasagar University -".
  7. Audre Lorde (1979). "An Open Letter to Mary Daly".
  8. "Open Letter to Larry the Cable Guy". Archived from the original on 2009-10-14. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  9. "Open Letter to the Kansas School Board". Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  10. "website on Net Neutrality". Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  12. "The Times: 29 April 2010: Lib-Lab coalition would be 'disastrous for British business'". Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  13. "open letters". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  14. Hahn, Esther (2014-01-21). "Bonobos Offers Jim Harbaugh $10K to Wear Flat-Front Chinos". Racked SF. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  15. "Dear Chris Rock, Here's How You Can Get More Black People to Watch Baseball". Village Voice. May 13, 2015. pp. 1, 9–10. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  17. "An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  18. Rogers Brubaker (18 May 2017). "The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’", The New York Times.
  19. Jesse Singal (2 May 2017). "This Is What a Modern-Day Witch Hunt Looks Like", New York magazine.
  20. Huffington, Ariana (17 August 2018). "An Open Letter to Elon Musk". Retrieved 2019-11-05.
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