Quite apart from being unsigned, the email was so uninformative that I decided to ignore it ... but then wondered if someone's email account had been hacked and similar emails sent, by some malignant person, for unknown reasons, to others who had written articles in the magazine.
On contacting the editors, it transpired that they knew the writer - and they got in touch with her about the matter. She quickly sent me an apology.
But I couldn't reply to her ... I simply didn't know what to say. Either the writer was a person with strongly held beliefs who was a poor communicator, letting emotion get in her way, or else she was having things going on in her life that pushed her into unfortunate behaviour. Yet......even if either of these were true, that email should not have been sent.
On receiving another apologetic email, which gave a bit of background to the story, I finally mustered a few (rather stern) words to the effect that such emails hardly win hearts and minds ... and now I hope that's the end of it.
It's a bit of a shock to the system, and has given me a tiny insight into the effects of bad internet behaviour. May it not happen to you!
**Addendum: I was a bit hasty in publishing this post, for two reasons.
Firstly, it's not clear from what I wrote that the writer of the email had reacted to the topic - specifically the word taxidermy - without looking closely at the article - she didn't realise that "textile taxidermy" in no way involved dead animals.
Secondly, I've received further communication saying that she's not usually like this, she doesn't know what came over her. Which I believe ... and sympathise with ... who among us hasn't sent a frustration-fuelled email to someone at some time, probably more strongly worded than if we had been calm and rational?
Also, I didn't make clear the point of writing about this incident ... I've written about a personal reaction to bad internet behaviour, and my dilemma over whether to engage with the writer and the possibility of consequences. I was lucky to have an intermediary, and to have a good outcome, but in so many cases of trolling it is otherwise.
The incident has raised my awareness of the devastating effects that sustained attacks must have on people - think of teenage girls being bombarded with hateful messages, texts, and social media and what that does to their self-esteem. We've probably all suffered some bullying at some time, and know how unpleasant that is - what makes it worse on the internet is a kind of undertone that it's ok to send nasty emails because, hidden behind a screen, you are (a) anonymous and (b) beyond reach. Not true!