Saturday, July 24, 2010
Letters of Note
I had read about a book that was released earlier this year called Other People's Rejection Letters, a compilation of, yep, people's rejection letters. I haven't read it myself, but it includes everything from Jimi Hendrix's rejection letter from the Army to a kid's note to his parents: "I hate you. I'm running away." Sounds like an entertaining book, and a good read for anyone who's ever felt devastatingly rejected!
Anyway, a bit of internet searching for famous letters led me to an incredible website that I just can't stop reading. It's called Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience.
The site is an online collection of famous, important, tragic, and sometimes just darn funny postcards, faxes, memos, letters, and notes. There are actual scanned photographs of the correspondence as well as typed up transcriptions so they are easy to read.
Some of the many letters I looked over today included a note from Conan O'Brien to a girl who asked him to her senior prom (he couldn't go but was kind enough to write back!), a letter from Christa McAuliffe to a young fan about how excited she was to be the first teacher in space (she and her entire crew perished when The Challenger exploded 73 seconds after take-off), and a fascinating note to Marlon Brando from Jack Kerouac, trying to convince him to star as Dean Moriarty in the movie On the Road...which has still never been made into a movie. Could you imagine Marlon Brando as Dean? Oh, gosh!
I love letters, notes, and handwriting. A couple of years ago I went to the British Library in London and got to see Jane Austen's letters (I wish I had her handwriting), Captain Cook's journal, Handel's handwritten Messiah, and Beatles lyrics. They were so delicate and beautiful.
It's easy for us to see handwritten stuff as archaic and disposable, which makes me sad; letter writing has become a lost art. Letters are so personal and intimate. I feel like I shouldn't be reading some of these letters online, letters that were meant for a single person to read. But now they are historic documents that give insight into people's thoughts, motives, relationships, and personalities. They are just fascinating to me!!
Check some of them out on Letters of Note!