Poison pen letter

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An anonymous poison pen letter to a former teacher. The German text says: "You ... ass. We are glad not to have you at our school any longer." The letter also contained the mask pictured here.

A poison pen letter is a letter or note containing unpleasant, abusive, or malicious statements or accusations about the recipient or a third party. It is usually sent anonymously. In the term "poison pen" (or poisoned pen[1]), the word poison is used figuratively, rather than literally. Poison pen letters are usually composed and sent to upset the recipient. They differ from blackmail, which is intended to obtain something from the recipient.

In the United Kingdom, Section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 covers most cases of poison pen letters.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "POISONED PEN TRACED TO 3 INSANE WOMEN; Letters to Girls About to be Married Written in Or Near Middletown Asylum". The New York Times. December 2, 1915. Archived from the original on January 22, 2021. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  2. ^ "Communications Offences: Legal Guidance". Crown Prosecution Service. 7 November 2013. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2013.