Don’t let anybody raise you. You’ve been raised.

In 1945, weeks after graduating from high school and with no support from the child’s father, 17-year-old Maya Angelou gave birth to her only son. Two months later, desperate for independence, she moved out of her mother’s home, found accommodation of her own, and began to raise her son. Over the next 70 years, Maya

Brown is as pretty as white

W. E. B. Du Bois accomplished more than most during a lifetime rich with admirable achievements. In 1895, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D at Harvard; he co-founded, in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an organisation that has fought tirelessly for racial equality since its inception;

Ladies & Gentlemen of A.D. 2088

Back in 1988, as part of an ad campaign to be printed in Time magazine, Volkswagen approached a number of notable thinkers and asked them to write a letter to the future—some words of advice to those living in 2088, to be precise. Many agreed, including novelist Kurt Vonnegut; his letter can be read below. (Source: TIME,

Your Loving Mother

On January 22nd of 1919, during her freshman year at college, 19-year-old Margaret Mitchell received word that her mother had fallen ill as a result of a deadly flu pandemic that was sweeping the globe, along with instructions from her father to return home. A few days later, she did just that, only to be greeted

Make your soul grow

In 2006, a group of students at Xavier High School in New York City were given an assignment by their English teacher, Ms. Lockwood, that was to test their persuasive writing skills: they were asked to write to their favourite author and ask him or her to visit the school. It’s a measure of his

Nothing is ours, except time

Towards the end of his 69 years, Roman Stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca wrote numerous insightful letters to his friend, Lucilius Junior, in which he offered often invaluable advice relating to a wide range of issues. In 65 AD, the year of Seneca’s death, 124 of these missives were published under the title Epistulae morales ad

My Dear Son

The following heartfelt letter of fatherly advice was written in 1908 by novelist and screenwriter John D. Swain as his son began student life at Yale, the same university from which John himself had graduated. His wonderful, poignant letter was subsequently reproduced in the Yale Alumni Weekly and proved so popular amongst both students and parents

Every hour is precious

In March of 1886, at the age of 26, acclaimed Russian author and physician Anton Chekhov wrote this fascinating and honest letter of advice to his troubled older brother, Nikolai, a talented painter and writer who, despite being just 28 himself, had for many years been plagued by alcoholism to the point where he often slept

Live as well as you dare

In February of 1820, on learning that his good friend, Lady Georgiana Morpeth, was suffering from a bout of depression, noted essayist and clergyman Sydney Smith sent her the following precious letter, in which he listed twenty pieces of advice to help her overcome “low spirits.” Two similarly helpful letters of advice—specifically on the subject of depression—spring

Time & the hour run through the roughest day

While studying in Germany in May of 1900, pioneering American psychologist William James discovered that his 13-year-old daughter, Peggy, was finding it incredibly difficult to adjust to life at school in England, many hundreds of miles from home. In an effort to lift her from this emotional slump, James wrote to her with the following advice.

The Heinlein Maneuver

In 1962, as he gave his Guest of Honor speech at the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon delivered the following anecdote about writer’s block and fellow novelist, Robert Heinlein: “I went into a horrible dry spell one time. It was a desperate dry spell and an awful lot depended on me

A degenerate sort of cult

In the year 112 AD, Pliny the Younger — Roman governor of Bithynia (now northern Turkey) — faced a problem: An obscure Jewish sect called “Christianity” had begun to spread through the region, resulting in numerous complaints from locals and calls for the immediate execution of those who refused to worship the Roman gods. Seeking assistance on how to

Sympathy begins at home

In February of 1905, the following letter was sent to an aspiring writer by Jack London — the renowned author responsible for, most notably, White Fang and The Call of the Wild. In actual fact, it was a form letter used many times by London until, a couple of years later, he vowed to read and

You are not so kind as you used to be

It’s difficult to imagine the stress experienced by Winston Churchill in June of 1940, as WWII gathered pace just a couple of months after he first became Prime Minister. Behind the scenes, however, the weight on his shoulders was noticed and felt by all those around him — so much so that on the 27th of

Whatever you like doing, do it!

Since joining Pixar 22 years ago, award-winning animator Pete Docter has been influential in bringing some of the studio’s most successful movies to the big screen, including Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., and Up — the last two of which he also directed. In 2009, Martin Kelsey — a teacher at South Valley Middle School in Liberty

This is my son. He speaks Greek.

In 1957, at 18 years of age, future billionaire and founder of CNN, Ted Turner, informed his father that he would be majoring in Classics after being inspired by a professor at Brown University. His father was furious to say the least, and responded to his son’s announcement with the following despairing letter — a letter which Ted

Tolstoy wasn’t Sendak, either

Mid-1961, as he prepared to illustrate one of Tolstoy’s books, 33-year-old Maurice Sendak wrote to his editor, the legendary Ursula Nordstrom, and expressed some doubts about his own capabilities as a writer. Her typically supportive and rousing response can be read below. Two years after this letter was written, Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are—edited by Nordstrom—was

You’ve got to sell your heart

Late-1938, eager to gain some feedback on her work, aspiring young author and Radcliffe sophomore Frances Turnbull sent a copy of her latest story to celebrated novelist and friend of the family, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Before long the feedback arrived, in the form of the somewhat harsh but admirably honest reply seen below. (Source: F.

Letter to a Young Poet

In 1902, a 19-year-old aspiring poet named Franz Kappus sent a letter and some of his work to the hugely influential Bohemian-Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, and politely asked for some feedback. Some months later, the following invaluable response reached Kappus, and it didn’t end there — over the course of the next 5 years, Rilke continued

The novel is a wonder

On October 27th of 1924, 28-year-old F. Scott Fitzgerald sent a letter to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, along with an early draft of his new novel, tentatively titled The Great Gatsby. That missive, and Perkins’s delighted but constructively critical response, can be enjoyed below. Fitzgerald took his editor’s suggestions on board, immediately made some major revisions to

My dungeon shook

Early-1963, 100 years after Abraham Lincoln called for the release of all Confederate slaves by way of the Emancipation Proclamation, renowned author James Baldwin wrote the following moving letter to his 14-year-old nephew, James, and offered some advice. The letter later featured in Baldwin’s book, The Fire Next Time. (Source: The Fire Next Time; Image:

You are not lazy, and still you are an idler

Late-1850, Abraham Lincoln‘s step-brother, John D. Johnston, wrote to him and asked, yet again, for a loan with which to settle some debts. Said Johnston: I am dund & doged to Death so I am all most tired of Living, & I would all most swop my place in Heaven for that much money […]

It has never got easier

In March of 1962, acclaimed author John Steinbeck wrote the following letter to Edith Mirrielees — a lady who, as his professor of creative writing at Stanford 40 years previous, had been an enormous influence on his development as a writer and, he later claimed, one of the few things he respected about the university. His fantastic, insightful letter

Love, Dad

In June of 1971, 26-year-old Michael Reagan married his 18-year-old fiancée in a beautiful ceremony that took place in Hawaii, but which sadly couldn’t be attended by his dad, the future President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. A few days before the ceremony, however, Michael did receive something invaluable that would be treasured for

DO NOT be so bloody vulnerable

It was in 1935 that movie stars Noel Coward and Marlene Dietrich first spoke, thanks to an unexpected phone call from Dietrich in which she complimented him on his starring role in The Scoundrel. For the next 38 years, until Coward’s death, they remained close friends and wrote regularly, the topic of discussion often Dietrich’s

The bulk of all human utterances is plagiarism

In 1892, deafblind author Helen Keller was accused of plagiarism after a short story of hers, named “The Frost King,” was identified as being extremely similar to Margaret Canby’s “Frost Fairies.” An investigation followed, as did a tribunal in which she was eventually acquitted. Amazingly, Keller was just 12 years of age at the time. A

Forget your personal tragedy

In 1925, following publication of his magnum opus, The Great Gatsby, author F. Scott Fitzgerald began work on his fourth novel, Tender Is the Night—a tale about the troubled lives of Dick and Nicole Diver, a couple based largely on Gerald and Sara Murphy, a wealthy, popular couple who moved in the same social circles

Things will just get better and better

In June of 2010, the lead singer of Eels, Mark ‘E’ Everett, wrote a lovely letter of advice to his 16-year-old self. The missive features in the wonderful book, Dear Me, and can be read below. Transcript follows. (Source: Dear Me: More Letters to My 16-Year-Old Self; Image of “E” via Gonzai.) Transcript Chateau E

Keep Bill Wyman away from Keith

From their 1976 tour of Europe comes a note detailing the accommodation requirements of The Rolling Stones, plus instructions on how best to situate each member — a task no doubt complicated by the various pseudonyms used by the band. Let’s just hope that Roland, the poor chap who inherited the job at hand for the tour’s final show in

You must deliver marketable goods

Late-1914, an aspiring young writer named Max Fedder sent a copy of his manuscript, “A Journal of One Who Is to Die,” to Jack London, the author responsible for such works as The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and, most relevantly, Martin Eden — the bleak story of a young man battling to become a writer. The

C. S. Lewis on Writing

Considering he wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, one of the most popular collections of children’s literature of all time, it’s no real surprise that C. S. Lewis received thousands of letters from youngsters during his career. What’s admirable is that he attempted to reply to each and every one of those pieces of fan mail,

Love is love, and there will never be too much

Back in 2000, a teenage Fiona Apple fan named Bill Magee decided to approach the singer after a gig and hand her a letter. In it, the 16-year-old spoke of his school’s gay-straight alliance — of which he was a member — and asked if she could possibly reply with a sentence or two in its support. The next week,

Things to worry about

When he wasn’t busy writing some of the most critically lauded and enduring novels of the 20th Century, The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald could often be found penning the most fascinating of letters to such famous characters as his good friend, Ernest Hemingway; editor extraordinaire, Maxwell Perkins; and his wife and fellow author,

Sorrow passes and we remain

In July of 1883, Henry James, the famed novelist responsible for writing, most notably, The Portrait of a Lady, received a worryingly emotional letter from Grace Norton, a friend of some years and successful essayist who, following a recent death in the family, had seemingly become depressed and was desperate for direction. James, no stranger

Apple must make Macintosh a standard

In June of 1985, 30-year-old Microsoft CEO Bill Gates sent the following remarkable memo to both the then-CEO of Apple, John Sculley, and then-head of Macintosh development, Jean Louis Gassée, and urged them to spread their wings by licensing their hardware and operating system to other companies. Apple ignored his advice. Five months after he sent the

Interviews are pure twaddle

In December of 1888, shortly before becoming editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward Bok visited Mark Twain at his home to conduct an interview, the intention being to publish the resulting write-up in Bok’s weekly syndicated column. The chat went well; the next day he wrote the piece, and sent a copy to

I am a lousy copywriter

British-born David Ogilvy was one of the original, and greatest, “ad men.” In 1948, he started what would eventually be known as Ogilvy & Mather, the Manhattan-based advertising agency that has since been responsible for some of the world’s most iconic ad campaigns, and in 1963 he even wrote Confessions of an Advertising Man, the

Dear Son

In May of 1962, 37-year-old Malcolm Scott Carpenter became just the second American to orbit the Earth, as he piloted the Aurora 7 into space. On the eve of this historic journey, his father, Marion, proudly wrote him the following wonderful letter. (Source: For Spacious Skies; Image: A photo of Earth, taken by Scott Carpenter

I know what love is

In 1936, in the midst of an unrelenting workload and the near-demise of his marriage, legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams suffered a nervous breakdown. After a stay in hospital, desperately in need of escape, Adams then returned with his family to the one place where he could find solace: Yosemite, California. Some months later, as

For Aspiring Editors

Young novelist William Saroyan dreamed of one day editing a magazine, and so in 1936 sought advice on that very aspiration from the great H. L. Mencken, a hugely influential man who had, in the 1920s, founded and edited his own title. Saroyan sent him a polite letter. Mencken responded with the priceless reply seen below.

Nothing good gets away

John Steinbeck, born in 1902, was one of the most acclaimed authors of his generation, responsible for a body of work that boasts, most notably, The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, and Of Mice and Men—all classics which have been read and adored by many millions in all corners of the globe, and which

Why don’t you write a story?

Below is a short, sweet, and very impressive letter written by Elizabeth Taylor in reply to a note from a downbeat fan whose pet bird, “Chips,” had recently passed away. Her gentle advice to the young girl — to write a story about the late-pet — is admirable; even more notable, though, is the fact

Don’t say it

Back in the mid-1980s, a young man in his early-20s named James Harmon began writing to a huge number of notable people — authors, academics, actors, thinkers; all of whom he admired — and asked, “If you could offer the young people of today one piece of advice, what would it be?” Over the coming

Advice from Harper Lee

A young fan of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird‘ named Jeremy wrote to Harper Lee in 2006, and asked for a signed photo. He didn’t get one, but instead received this lovely piece of advice from the author that is far more precious. Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Nate D. Sanders. Image: Nate D. Sanders Transcript

The delusion

A grieving father named Robert S. Marcus — then-Political Director of the World Jewish Congress — was the recipient of the following letter of condolence in 1950, not long after his son succumbed to polio. It was written by Albert Einstein. Transcript follows. Image courtesy of On Being. Image: On Being Transcript February 12, 1950

Sadness is a strange companion

Full marks go to Paul Banks, lead singer of Interpol, for the lovely, compassionate note seen below; written last year after a gig in Boston to a downbeat young lady. Letters of advice like this — particularly when written by ‘celebrities’ to their fans — can actually be life-changing for the recipient, and should be commended. Another

Everyone should have a reserve

With a net worth of $38bn, investor Warren Buffett is one of the wealthiest men on the planet. In 1970, he discovered the following letter in a safe deposit box along with the $1,000 cash mentioned therein. 30 years earlier it had been sent by his grandfather, Ernest — a grocery store owner — to Warren’s uncle, Fred,

You are the future. You can make a difference.

Christopher Reeve graciously sent this touching letter of advice to students at University Heights Middle School, California, in 1999, in response to a request for some inspirational words by their teacher, Walt Owen. It was dictated four years after the tragic accident that left the Superman star in a wheelchair for the rest of his

Love music

Steve Vai is considered by many to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time, so it’s safe to assume he receives a fair amount of fan mail. Presumably he’s also a busy man, so it’s heartening to see that he responds to at least some of it with letters like the handwritten one

Make me proud

Below is further proof of Quentin Tarantino‘s admirably enthusiastic attitude when replying to fan mail, in the form of a brief but energetic handwritten note to a 14-year-old aspiring filmmaker named Richard in 1998 (for another perfect example, see this letter from 1996). This particular response was prompted by a letter from the young fan

Amateur comedy is too “On the nail”

Back in 1997, aged 19, then-aspiring comedian Mike Scott sent a letter to one of his biggest influences, Phil Hartman, along with a selection of his amateur comedy sketches on an audio tape. The letter spoke at length of his hopes and dreams, and politely sought any advice Hartman was able to give. Four months later the following

I will treasure your letter

In September of 2006, following a desperately sad childhood that saw both drug-addicted parents murdered and the care of her younger siblings left in her hands, 16-year-old Sacia Flowers decided to write to J. K. Rowling and thank her for creating Harry Potter, her “best friend” during the most difficult of times. Her letter can be

PERSIST

In May of this year, Pixar animator Austin Madison kindly hand-wrote the following open letter to aspiring artists, in a bid to inspire them through times of creative drought. It’s a lovely, eloquent letter, and in fact contains advice valuable to people in many a creative field. It was written as a contribution to the Animator

Critics are venomous serpents that delight in hissing

When the movie Gilda was released in 1946 to less-than-stellar reviews, its lead actress, Rita Hayworth, immediately became somewhat dejected. Understandably keen to rebuild the confidence of his biggest star, Columbia Pictures‘ then-president, Harry Cohn, quickly assembled a list of quotes relating to the supposed uselessness of critics and included them in the following letter. Transcript follows. Image

Keep drawing

This charming letter was written in 2009 by long-serving Viz cartoonist Graham Dury to a young man named Charlie, in response to some cartoons he sent to the comic’s offices. For an aspiring artist and fan of the comic to receive such a positive reply — not to mention the nibs and unwanted Roger Mellie doll — must have been quite something. All in

May I suggest that Mr. Bond be armed with a revolver?

Late-May of 1956, James Bond author Ian Fleming received a politely critical letter from a firearms expert named Geoffrey Boothroyd. It began: I have, by now, got rather fond of Mr. James Bond. I like most of the things about him, with the exception of his rather deplorable taste in firearms. In particular, I dislike

Dear Sixteen-Year-Old Me

If you had the opportunity to write to your 16-year-old self, what would you say? That was the question put to a number of celebrities in 2009 when, in an effort to raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, a book filled with such letters was planned. The end product, Dear Me: A Letter

A promise is a promise!

In 1947, in his book, Secrets Behind the Comics, then-24-year-old Stan Lee offered readers a chance to have their comic book artwork reviewed for the price of $1. 25 years later, shortly after Stan Lee had become head of Marvel, an aspiring artist named Russell Maheras cheekily attempted to take him up on his old offer by sending him his Souperman spoof along

Part of playing for high stakes under great pressure is the constant risk of mental error

On April 5th of 1993, with 11 seconds of the title game left and his team losing 73-71, acclaimed college basketball star Chris Webber infamously called a time-out when in fact his team, the Michigan Wolverines, had none remaining. The resulting foul effectively sealed their loss. Days later, the incredibly dejected member of the iconic group

I dare you all, test your strength: Open a book.

January 24th, 1992. Writing to a class of students in an effort to promote the art of reading, legendary animator Chuck Jones urges them to open a book and recalls the literature that helped inspire the creation of Wile E. Coyote and Pepé Le Pew, just two of the many cartoon characters he had a hand

Be your own self. Love what YOU love.

In 1991, schoolteacher William Stanhope wrote to a number of high-profile personalities and politely asked for the following: a description of an obstacle they had faced in their lifetime, big or small, and the story of their attempt to overcome it. He then collated the responses and used them to teach his class. The lovely

Older mistresses are so grateful!!

On June 25th of 1745, Benjamin Franklin wrote the following letter of advice to Cadwallader Colden. The first paragraph sees Franklin suggesting marriage as the best remedy for Colden’s sexual urges; what follows is an eight-strong list detailing the advantages of an older mistress which, due to its “obscene” nature, resulted in the letter being omitted from published

You can beat it just like I did

On September 5th of 1994, eager to pose a question, 8th-grade student Branden Brooks found himself raising his hand during the Q&A session of a presentation by then-Senator Joe Biden. After the event, having noticed the young man’s stutter as he spoke, Biden pulled him to one side: Sen. Biden told me that he used to stutter

Dear Sixteen-Year-Old Me

In 2009, a gaggle of notable personalities were asked to contribute to a book entitled Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self in order to raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation; the idea being for each celebrity to write a letter to themselves, aged sixteen. Below is a charming example of such a missive,

Fake!

In 1986, having just completed some layouts for a Jonny Quest strip, professional comic book artist Steve Rude decided to fax his work to a personal hero – celebrated cartoonist Alex Toth – in the hope of garnering some productive feedback. Toth’s brutal handwritten response, the reading of which must have been more than a little

Limitations are the greatest assets in producing a work of art

Image: Peter Emslie In 1976, having recently been introduced to – and quickly enchanted by – his work by way of a cover of TV Guide – seen above – aspiring artist Peter Emslie decided to contact acclaimed caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. Unaware of Hirschfeld’s address, Peter sent a letter to the offices of TV Guide along with some of

DON’T GIVE UP!

From the pen of Pixar animator Aaron Hartline, here’s a highly endearing letter of encouragement to an aspiring animator named Willie Downs that only serves to confirm my suspicion that employees of Pixar can actually do no wrong. Downs – a huge fan of Pixar from the beginning who, it seems, was simply in need

Fraternally, Brother Vonnegut

In 1989, eager to seek feedback from an established, highly influential author, and in an effort to simply reach out to a long-time inspiration, first-time novelist Mark Lindquist wrote to his idol, Kurt Vonnegut. Some time later a reply materialised in the form of the admirably gracious typewritten letter seen below, in which Vonnegut spoke of

Characters are more important than jokes

In the 1980s, intrigued as to the techniques employed when producing one of the world’s most adored comic strips, aspiring artist and Calvin and Hobbes fan Todd Church took a chance and sent an inquisitive letter to the offices of the strip’s Kansas syndicate. A few weeks later – much to his surprise – Todd

The best reappraisals are born in the worst crisis

On February 11th of 1961, just a week after her final movie was released to disappointing reviews, a depressed, exhausted and frequently ill Marilyn Monroe admitted herself for psychiatric treatment in New York. Whilst there, Marlon Brando sent the following note of support. Tragically, just over a year later Monroe passed away. The note sold

You don’t understand “ordinary people”

Unhappy at being treated “increasingly badly” at the Institute for Advanced Study in 1985 and as a result eager to begin an institute of his own within which to continue his research, 26-year-old computer scientist Stephen Wolfram looked to ex-colleague and physics Nobelist Richard Feynman for advice. Feynman’s honest, humorous, and less than encouraging response can

An offense that comes from misinterpretation is vulnerable

No sooner had the above cartoon been published than complaints from offended readers began to reach the offices of The Rebel Yell, student newspaper of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. It was early-1997, not long after a controversial decision by the school board of Oakland to recognise Ebonics as a primary language had kick-started a national

Wills are subject to change

During his final fourteen years, actor W. C. Fields enjoyed an oft-turbulent relationship with Carlotta Monti, a minor actress who became his mistress in the early 1930s. In 1939, midway through their affair and with marriage out of the question (Fields, although separated, still had a wife), Monti informed Fields of her intention to marry another

It is my dream and goal to capture TRUTH

In 1988 as his record-breaking Bad World Tour rolled on, Michael Jackson penned a rare note to Bill Pecchi, a camera operator who, due to his recent work on the movie Moonwalker, had been asked to film crowd reactions prior to and during each of the 123 concerts. The letter followed a clearly emotional conversation between the

Come on, George. Loosen up. Swing, man.

Still feeling the strain following his hugely successful solo album debut three years previous, George Michael told the LA Times‘ Calendar Magazine in September of 1990 that he would be shunning the limelight prior to, and during, the decidedly low-key release of his new album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1; specifically there were to be

Don’t keep remembering what you’ve lost

In 1964, more than forty years after losing his own leg in a childhood accident, award-winning cartoonist Al Capp – creator of the wildly successful Li’l Abner strip – generously sent the following letter to a young fan who had recently become a fellow amputee. It’s beautifully written, and one can only imagine just how

Lou Gehrig’s Disease

In July of 1939, after nine years of fruitless treatment, multiple sclerosis sufferer Bess Bell Neely took a chance and wrote to baseball legend Lou Gehrig in the hope that he may be able to help. Gehrig himself had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis the previous month following a visible decline in his health

Advice for an aspiring architect, in 1931

In December of 1931, as the Great Depression took hold, a young man by the name of Richard Crews wrote to a number of prominent architecture firms in the city of Chicago. Soon to enter the profession himself, Crews was curious to learn about an established architect’s typical working day, and so sent letters to

The worst is to come…

From the Laboratory of Thomas Edison comes this brief letter to William Le Roy  Emmet, an award-winning engineer who began working at GE back when it was still known as Edison General Electric and then stayed with the firm for many years. In 1926 Emmet’s success caught Edison’s attention, and, as seen in the following

Hang on, my love, and grow big and strong

It took nine months for Iggy Pop to reply to then-21-year-old Laurence’s fan letter, but really the timing couldn’t have been more perfect as on the morning his thoughtful note did arrive at her home in Paris, Laurence’s family were being evicted by bailiffs. Laurence recalls that moment back in 1995: “By the time I

Your pal, John K.

In 1998, aged just 14, aspiring young cartoonist Amir Avni decided to send a letter to the creator of Ren & Stimpy, John Kricfalusi, along with a few cartoons he’d drawn, some of which contained relatively unknown characters of John’s. An incredibly generous reply soon arrived in the form of the wonderfully supportive, illustrated letter

Anything which weakens you, weakens America

Just a few days after appearing before the Tower Commission as a result of his involvement in the Iran-Contra arms scandal, Ronald Reagan received the following handwritten letter of support from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In it, Thatcher empathises with ‘Ron’ over his harsh treatment by the press, informs him that his previous achievements

You gave me a valuable gift: you took me seriously

During an illustrious career which saw him win multiple awards and worldwide recognition, Theodore Geisel published over 60 books, the majority of which he wrote and illustrated under the pen name Dr. Seuss. Despite his busy schedule, and just months after the release of The Cat in the Hat, Geisel set aside time to write

Philip K. Dick on dreams

Science fiction novelist Philip K. Dick wrote many letters to Claudia Bush; a woman who, due to a thesis she was writing, had chosen to initiate contact with the author as he was the subject of her paper. Below is one of the letters he wrote. In it, Dick tells of a recurring dream he

Your own private book event

The letter below, written by Chuck Palahniuk in response to a piece of mail from fan Mike Kitchen, is just one of thousands the Fight Club scribe sent at the end of 2006 after opening the floodgates via his official website. Palahniuk has long been known to reply to as much mail as possible, but

You will not stop me, Reverend

Not only is 77 year old Joe Arpaio the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, but he’s also known as – and happily promotes usage of the title – ‘America’s Toughest Sheriff’; a moniker which also happens to feature in the titles of his two published books. In April of this year, Al Sharpton decided to

To all aspiring animators

In 1973, an aspiring young animator named Will Finn wrote a lengthy piece of fan mail to one of his idols, Disney legend Ward Kimball (pictured above), and Kimball responded with the wonderful letter below — an endearingly enthusiastic reply filled with friendly, sage advice. Even 15-year-old Will’s swipe at Hanna Barbera was dealt with expertly

Einstein’s One Great Mistake

On August 2nd, 1939, after consultation with fellow physicists Leó Szilárd and Eugene Wigner, Albert Einstein signed the following letter to then-U.S. President, Franklin Roosevelt. The letter warned that the construction of an atomic bomb using uranium was indeed possible, advised the U.S. Government to invest time and money into its research, and then hinted that

Homosexuality is nothing to be ashamed of

In 1935, the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, was contacted by a worried mother who was seeking treatment for her son’s apparent homosexuality. Freud, who believed that all humans are attracted to both sexes in some capacity, responded with the following letter of advice. (The letter was later passed on to Alfred Kinsey and reproduced

Vote for me I will help you out

When 13 years of age and a pupil at Perkins School for the Blind, John Beaulieu wrote the following Braille letter to then President Dwight D. Eisenhower after winning a mock stump speech contest in school. With assistance from his teacher – she wrote out the words above the Braille – John’s letter even illicited

It will be sunny one day

Early-2006, during a bout of depression, a young lady by the name of Crystal Nunn wrote a desperate letter to Stephen Fry. Says Crystal: “I had no idea who to turn to. But I really needed someone to turn to and to ease the pain. So I wrote to Stephen Fry because he is my hero, and