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By the letter

When did you last get out the Basildon Bond and sit down at your escritoire to compose a missive? If email has become the almost universal mode of communication, there are still times when nothing but the old-fashioned method will do. Think of love notes, letters of condolence or (perish the thought) blackmail.

Spread the Word, an organisation committed to encouraging new writing, is running a competition, One Letter, in association with artists FrenchMottershead. Write a 500-word letter on any subject by July 31 and win pound;100 of Borders gift vouchers. One of the four winners - two in the under-16 category, two in the over-16 - will be offered the opportunity to work with FrenchMottershead to convert the entry into an artwork. For competition rules: 020 7207 2025, www.spreadtheword.org.uknew season.

Curtain up

Learn about the steps taken in staging a play, including pre-production decisions, the rehearsal process and the importance of lighting, sound and other technical aspects of performance. Page to Stage workshops at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre are suitable for participants in groups aged up to 14 or over 14 years old. Bookings: 0114 249 6060.

Book history

April may be the cruellest month for some, but for history fans it will be delightful this year. Waterstone's bookshops are offering events starring historians such as Alison Weir (on Mary Queen of Scots), David Starkey (on Henry VIII's wives), Antony Beevor (on Berlin in 1945)and Terry Deary, whose Horrible Histories have a huge following among schoolchildren.

There will also be two discussion sessions on Elizabeth I's impact on history. Full details on the website: www.waterstones.co.uk.

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