This paper explores desire as it is articulated through the material vehicles of epistolary media. It demonstrates how the British postal system of the nineteenth century enables the performance of intimacy, affect and presence. Although epistolary subjects are not, usually, physically present to one another at the time of their exchange, this does not necessarily inhibit affective communication. Indeed, as this paper argues, physical absence may provide correspondents with intense intimacy and a spiritual, almost telepathic, sense of the other’s presence. While corresponding by letter readers construe an imaginary, incorporeal body for their correspondent that, in turn, reworks their interlocutor’s self-presentation. In this regard, epistolary technologies are precursors to contemporary email systems. As a brief case study, the paper investigates the correspondence between British author Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1855) and her epistolary friend, Sir William Elford (1746-1837) to show how epistolary networks transform and transgress the cultural limits imposed upon such friendships.