Handwritten letters of note

Shaun Usher, a freelance copywriter from Manchester, England, runs Letters of Notean 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 Typedeck

Typedeck started out as a collection of hand-picked creative news, resources and inspiration on the night of 5 June 2011.

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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