I do not apologize for myself nor my fears

On December 13th of 1963, at a dinner event in New York, the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee awarded its annual Tom Paine Award to Bob Dylan, for his contribution to the fight for civil liberties. Despite not having prepared one, a nervous and slightly drunk Dylan gave a speech that evening — a controversial speech in which

May the muses embrace you

In September of 1988, Salman Rushdie‘s fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, was published in the UK to both critical acclaim and immediate controversy. By February of 1989, following months of protests and death threats, his execution was ordered by way of a fatwā issued by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Rushdie was

Pornography is an attitude and an intention

Ever since it was first published in France in 1955, Lolita — Vladimir Nabokov‘s novel about a middle-aged man’s obsession with, and seduction of, a young teenage girl — has, unsurprisingly, courted controversy. The following letter was written by the author in 1956 to a friend named Morris Bishop, and offers in its third paragraph

I feel disposable, used and insignificant

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that extramarital affairs are an extremely common occurrence, and as such letters similar to the one below — in which a recently jilted lover begs a cheating husband for further secret contact — are nothing special, and certainly not unique. However this particular letter, written five weeks after the

The KKK will receive a taste of its own medicine

May, 1964: The world looks on as peaceful, non-violent protests against racial segregation turn sour in St. Augustine, Florida. During the coming weeks many protesters will receive verbal and physical abuse from local segregationists, most notably Klansmen. The SCLC, founded by Martin Luther King, lends support to the protests. June 30th, 1964: Controversial activist Malcolm

Unhappy Franksgiving

A mild panic swept over the U.S. in 1939, following a brave decision by President Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving forward from the final Thursday of November to its penultimate Thursday, in an effort to lengthen and boost Christmas spending after the holiday during what were the last groans of the Great Depression. In the days

This issue transcends all others

2 years prior to Hitler‘s rise to power in 1933, Germany was chosen as host of the 1936 Olympic Games. As the games approached and Hitler’s regime shocked the world, the air was filled with rumours of boycott, both from individual athletes and entire governments. Walter White, then executive secretary of the NAACP, wrote a

You must have the wrong author

The BBC have just uploaded a small collection of correspondence to and from author Enid Blyton and it makes for fascinating reading, providing more proof that Blyton, whilst adored by the millions of children who read her material, had a tougher time when it came to convincing adults that she was a writer of talent.

There is no time to be tactful

For fans of Mad Men it will prove difficult to learn of the story behind ‘Peace, Little Girl‘ – a brutal 60 second television spot which first aired on September 7, 1964 – and not imagine the offices of Sterling Cooper. The ad was conceived by agency Doyle Dane Bernbach on behalf of President Lyndon

Full Metal Jacket offers no easy answers

On September 30th, 1988, a full year after controversially being classified VM18 by Italian authorities, Full Metal Jacket was reclassified and given a VM14 rating in Italy, effectively allowing anyone over the age of 13 to watch the movie. The original decision in 1987 had sparked much debate in the media, mainly as a result

UNADULTERATED HOGWASH

Whilst working for Leon Schlesinger Productions in the early 1930s, animators Tex Avery, Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett were highly instrumental in the development of the Looney Tunes cartoons, during what would eventually be known as the ‘Golden Era’ of animation. Fast forward to 1969, and animation historian Michael Barrier interviewed Clampett about that very

My husband is planning “an accident”

According to her butler, Paul Burrell, the following four-page letter was given to him by Diana, Princess of Wales in October of 1993, ten months after her separation from Prince Charles was announced. Should it be genuine, it would seem Diana was under the illusion that Charles was planning an accident so as to clear the way

Tobacco Placement, 1983

Here’s an interesting glimpse into the world of product placement. As you can see, in the early 80s, now defunct tobacco giant Brown & Williamson hired a company by the name of Associated Film Promotions (also now defunct) to secure screen time for their cigarettes in major motion pictures. This particular letter outlines their plan

I refuse to salute the flag

Jehovah’s Witness Billy Gobitas was just 10 years old when he wrote the following letter to the board of his school in Pennsylvania. A few weeks previous, Billy had refused to salute and pledge allegiance to the flag during school, on the basis that it violated a commandment in Exodus 20:4-6. Both Billy and his

I did NOT hear the Martians “rapping on my chamber door”

For your enjoyment, two beautifully contrasting reactions to the original airing of Orson Welles‘ adaptation of H. G. Wells‘ The War of the Worlds. For the uninitiated, on the evening of October 30th, 1938, the CBS Radio Network broadcast what sounded (to some) like a series of genuine news bulletins depicting the unfolding invasion of