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A Tribute To The Fine Art Of Letter Writing, In Book Form
April 9, 2014
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A postal worker sorts letters to Santa in 1962. None of those letters are in this collection. (Photo: Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Correspondence is a lost art. It's not that we don't communicate anymore — it's that we communicate so much, so quickly, so frequently. Twitter, email and text messages have replaced the letter, so much so that Canada Post will even stop delivering snail mail door-to-door starting later this year. We correspond, sure, but all too often it's efficient and monotonous. It's no longer an art.

There was a time, however, when letters were the most effective means of communication. Moreover, their physical presence meant letters could last, and be rediscovered by people other than the intended recipient decades after they were first sent. 

For all those reasons (and probably a few more), we share with you Letters of Note, the blog-turned-book that compiles and curates letters from (and to) some of history's most interesting figures. 

The site (and now the book) is the brainchild of Shaun Usher, a London-based author and lover of all things correspondence, who also runs the sites Lists of Note and Letterheady, which compile amazing lists and letterheads, respectively. Usher has been collecting letters for the site since 2009, and in this book he's cultivated 125 of them in the book, from a carefully cultivated assortment of world leaders, authors, musicians and ordinary citizens. The notes are all accompanied by commentary from Usher, illuminating some of the historical and social context associated with each one. 

Some of the more intriguing letters include a letter from a young Keith Richards to his aunt describing a life-changing first encounter with one Mick Jagger, a letter from an Australian soldier written to his son just after being released from a Second World War POW camp and an 1865 letter from Jourdon Anderson, a former slave, to his old master. 

In some cases, Usher includes photos or scanned copies of the actual correspondence (and not just the transcripts). Here, for example, is a letter from Stanley Kubrick to a studio executive asking if I.B.M. could buy product placement for 2001: A Space Odyssey:

Here's the first page of a letter from E.B. White, the author of Charlotte's Web, to his editor (you can read the whole thing here):

And here's one from Elvis Presley to President Richard Nixon, written on American Airlines stationery (you can read the whole thing, and some backstory, here):

Via Cool Hunting


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