Fact file

His passion now his full-time job

One burning passion led to another for Briton Shaun Usher.

About 13 years ago, the then copywriter decided to woo his girlfriend Karina through handwritten letters as she was away in Spain for a year.

As he told Scotland's largest arts and entertainment magazine The Skinny in August last year, he "fell in love through letters" and also "fell for the whole concept of letter writing" after keeping in touch with her.

They married eventually and now have two sons.

Then, six years ago, a seller of stationery asked Usher to write an advertisement that would "make stationery interesting", as Usher told Time Out New York in January.

He headed straight for the nearest public library and buried his nose in dusty volumes of letters by Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and their ilk.

Within three days, he was so "hooked" by what he was reading that he set up a website, Letters Of Note, to showcase his picks of these epistles. The following year, he quit copywriting, which he hated anyway, to run the website full-time.

His decision to do so has paid off. In 2013, he published a selection of letters from his website as a book, which became that rare phenomenon, that is, an international bestseller with unalloyed critical acclaim from such taste leaders as the Financial Times, Monocle and The Spectator. He followed this up last year with Lists Of Note, a selection of listicles from his other website of the same name. Then this year, he launched the sequel to Letters Of Note, More Letters Of Note, which was crowd-funded.

He has, however, not yet been able to get a book on his third website Letterheady, which showcases letterheads, off the ground.

Beyond his compilations, Usher told Time Out, he would recommend three other letter collections to readers: The Letters Of Samuel Beckett 1957-1965, The Letters Of Martha Gellhorn and My Dear Bessie by Chris Barker.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 13, 2015, with the headline 'His passion now his full-time job'. Print Edition | Subscribe