When I was little receiving a letter was an exciting moment – especially when it fell outside of birthday season. I remember asking my Dad weekend after weekend if there was anything in the post for me, inevitably there wasn’t. I didn’t have the know-how or attention span for penpals, a regret I carry with me today.

I wish I had kept all the old birthday cards, the friend’s post cards, the occasional letter from a relative. To look back on them now, piecing together bits of my childhood, would be such a pleasurable experience. I have a tendency to remember bad events over good ones, and any written correspondence that could remind me of being happy would be a treasured one.

Sadly moving from house to house means superfluous paper is the first thing to go, and I have no reference guide to my youth. This is why Letters of Note; Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience is so important, it’s a door to a room you never knew existed – it’s our wardrobe to Narnia.

Letters of Note“Letters of Note is a collection of one hundred and twenty five of the world’s most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters, based on the seismically popular website of the same name – an online museum of correspondence visited by over 70 million people.

From Virginia Woolf’s heart-breaking suicide letter, to Queen Elizabeth II’s recipe for drop scones sent to President Eisenhower; from the first recorded use of the expression ‘OMG’ in a letter to Winston Churchill, to Gandhi’s appeal for calm to Hitler; and from Iggy Pop’s beautiful letter of advice to a troubled young fan, to Leonardo da Vinci’s remarkable job application letter, Letters of Note is a celebration of the power of written correspondence which captures the humour, seriousness, sadness and brilliance that make up all of our lives.” Synopsis from GoodReads.

Of all the letters, my favourites were letters from the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and Katherine Hepburn – to name but a few.

However, the best has to be this one:
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Leave a Reply

3 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
Literary Life: February in Review | ofBooksAliceCharlieJenny @ Reading the End Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Jenny @ Reading the End

Aw, the Virginia letter — it never fails to make me smile. Did you ever see heartwarming Christmas movie Prancer? It is heartwarming, and the Virginia letter features prominently in it.

This looks brilliant! I am a mad letter-writer, but it’s difficult to keep up a correspondence because most people don’t write back, and you end up getting discouraged and giving up. When I was living in New York, my mother and I wrote letters every week or two, and that was lovely.


That’s cute; I like how the writer gave a few paragraphs to it. I’ve a few letters somewhere, and like you I was always asking if I had any post. I remember thinking my parents must be quite popular and lucky, even when they told me the post was bills. Penpals, I had some but it was a school set-up and inevitably stopped after one or two letters.


[…] Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher […]