Handwritten letters of note

Shaun Usher, a freelance copywriter from Manchester, England, runs Letters of Note – an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos. There are over 600 examples of this old fashioned correspondence in his growing online collection.

What I find myself most drawn to, are the handwritten artefacts, maybe because putting pen to paper is such a rarity in our digital world. Or maybe it is the way a handwritten note is able to connect us to a particular place and time in the writer’s life unlike any other medium.

Here are a few examples from well known personalities, spanning several centuries. Click the image to go to the relevant page on Letters of Note to read transcripts and find out more:

1973. Freddy Mercury to Jac Holzman, founder of their U.S. label, Elektra Records:

Letters of note: Freddie Mercury

1610. Galileo Galilei to Leonardo Donato, Prince of Venice:

Letters of note: Galileo Galilei

1995. Henry Rollins to a rude, disappointed fan:

Letters of note: Henry Rollins

1954. James Dean to on-off girlfriend Barbara Glenn:

Letters of note: James Dean

1817. Jane Austen to her eight-year-old niece (each word written backwards):

Letters of note: Jane Austen

Jimi Hendrix to a girlfriend:

Letters of note: Jimi Hendrix

1997. Joe Strummer to Mark Hagen on Bruce Springsteen:

Letters of note: Joe Strummer

1996. John Lydon (Sex Pistols) to the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on their inclusion:

Letters of note: John Lydon

Johnny Cash’s to-do list:

Letters of note: Johnny Cash

1993. Kurt Cobain to MTV (unsent):

Letters of note: Kurt Cobain

1916. Get-well-soon note from Pablo Picasso to Jean Cocteau:

Letters of note: Pablo Picasso

1983. Steven Spielberg to Forrest Ackerman:

Letters of note: Steven Spielberg

1924. Walt Disney to Ub Iwerks:

Letters of note: Walt Disney

1972. Bob Dylan to U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in support of John Lennon and Yoko Ono:

Letters of note: Bob Dylan

1745. Controversial letter from Benjamin Franklin to a friend regarding “older mistresses”:

Letters of note: Benjamin Franklin

1955. A seemingly sarcastic letter from Ernest Hemingway to “Mr. Lord” of Morgan Guaranty Trust Company:

Letters of note: Ernest Hemingway

Shaun is planning on turning this collection into a large coffee-table volume of 400 pages, with 200 letters, each with an introduction and a transcript of the text. Find out more and pledge your support for the project at Unbound Books.

By Imar

Imar Krige is a professional graphic designer and typography enthusiast from Cape Town, South Africa.

1 comment

  1. Fascinating. Will definitely make riveting reading if a collection of these letters is published in book form. I agree – the handwritten ones have something so immediate and ‘present’ about them!

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