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:
1610. Galileo Galilei to Leonardo Donato, Prince of Venice:
1995. Henry Rollins to a rude, disappointed fan:
1954. James Dean to on-off girlfriend Barbara Glenn:
1817. Jane Austen to her eight-year-old niece (each word written backwards):
Jimi Hendrix to a girlfriend:
1997. Joe Strummer to Mark Hagen on Bruce Springsteen:
1996. John Lydon (Sex Pistols) to the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on their inclusion:
Johnny Cash’s to-do list:
1993. Kurt Cobain to MTV (unsent):
1916. Get-well-soon note from Pablo Picasso to Jean Cocteau:
1983. Steven Spielberg to Forrest Ackerman:
1924. Walt Disney to Ub Iwerks:
1972. Bob Dylan to U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in support of John Lennon and Yoko Ono:
1745. Controversial letter from Benjamin Franklin to a friend regarding “older mistresses”:
1955. A seemingly sarcastic letter from Ernest Hemingway to “Mr. Lord” of Morgan Guaranty Trust Company:
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.
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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