In February of 1945, James Thurber — much-loved New Yorker cartoonist and author of, most notably, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty — delivered, quite brilliantly, a playful jab to his attorney and friend, Morris Ernst, by way of the following letter — written in response to a request from the lawyer to reprint some of Thurber’s drawings in a forthcoming book.
410 East 57th St.,
Feb. 5, 1945
This is to certify, declare, state and assert that I hereby and herewith cause to reside, exist and otherwise be, in you, Morris Ernst, the right, privilege and power to use, reprint and reproduce on the cover of your forthcoming book here and after to be known as The Book, any or all of the alleged drawings said to be of, about or in reference to the party of the first part (herein before not previously identified) but here and after to be referred to as Morris Ernst.
It is understood and hereby set forth that the above mentioned right, privilege and power do not entail any reward, recompense or honorarium, and that they are to be exercised without let, hindrance, suggestion or specification on the part of the party of the first part, herein below, to be set forth as the assignor.
It is further understood that any cracks, gags or drolleries which may be made, delivered, vouchsafed or otherwise said by the party of the first part or the party of the second part in regard to or in connection with the above mentioned right, privilege and power, must be of the first order, class and type.
Nothing herein embodied, implied or hinted at, however, shall be construed as an attempt, effort or move to withdraw, modify, or in any other wise change this simple fact: Dear Morris—sure, go ahead.