Our differences unite us

In 2012, 10-year-old Sophia Bailey-Klugh wrote and illustrated an endearing letter to U. S. President Barack Obama and, as the daughter of a gay couple, thanked him for supporting same-sex marriage. Her letter, and the reply she soon received, can be seen below. Transcripts follow each letter. (Huge thanks to Sophia’s family for allowing us to

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

In September of 1893, at 26 years of age, Beatrix Potter sent the following illustrated letter to Noel, the five-year-old son of her friend and former governess, Annie Moore. The letter contained a tale of four rabbits, and in fact featured the first ever appearance of Peter Rabbit; however it wasn’t until 1901, eight years later, that

To the next Burglar

As he slept upstairs on September 8th of 1908, two young burglars entered Mark Twain‘s home, took an entire sideboard into the garden and proceeded to break it open. They were eventually caught by police with a stash of silverware. The next day, with the help of an aspiring young artist named Dorothy Sturgis, Twain

Merry Christmas!

I’ve decided to break with tradition today as this is the last post of 2011. Rather than feature a letter, I’ve chosen a couple of charming Christmas cards that were sent to family and friends, circa 1920, by Harry Houdini. They’re both delightful. I’m taking a short break now. Letters of Note — and Lists

Thanks for being my Dad

Today marks a decade since the death of George Harrison; with that in mind, here are two endearing handwritten letters from the late-Beatle. The first was written in 1968 to a fan who, having previously been advised by Harrison to learn the sitar, had then cheekily asked him for the money needed to purchase one.

Here are the pictures

Jimi Hendrix sent the following letter to Reprise Records in September of 1968. It was essentially a set of fairly strict instructions with regard to the sleeve design of his forthcoming record, Electric Ladyland: a photo of the band surrounded by kids in Central Park, taken by Linda McCartney, was to feature on the front

It is the woman who pays

Says Marianne: “In 1990 my husband passed on; I was 36-years-old and left with 3 small children. For some reason I wrote to Kurt Vonnegut and thanked him for his books and his compassion. I did not expect a reply. He must have been a kind man, as he sent this to me within a

Handy Nervous Breakdown Avoider

Irving Hoffman was a busy man in the 1950s and as a Broadway publicist, columnist for the Hollywood Reporter and cartoonist, he reportedly wrote and received hundreds of letters each week to and from all manner of people. However, he only had so much time. For those occasions when a personally written reply just wasn’t possible, Hoffman instead

COPY TO HUGH HEFNER

When he wasn’t making the population laugh as part of Monty Python, the late-Graham Chapman could sometimes be found penning amusing letters. Below are just two brief examples — the first written by Chapman to his bank manager; the second to an amorous female fan. Enjoy. Transcripts follow each image, both of which are from the

We get a kick outa being flattered!

Back in 1986, some years after first becoming a fan of the character as a child, Dale Lund wrote a letter of thanks to Hank Ketcham, the cartoonist responsible for originally creating, drawing, and writing the Dennis the Menace cartoon strip. This charming, illustrated note was Dennis’ reply. Transcript follows. Image courtest of Dale Lund. Image:

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

North Polar Bear’s leg got broken

In December of 1920, J. R. R. Tolkien secretly began what would become an annual event in his household for the next 20 years: in the guise of a shaky-handed Father Christmas, he lovingly handwrote a letter to his 3-year-old son, John, placed it in an envelope along with an illustration of his home near

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

John Denver’s Nightmare

According to this illustrated letter to Seattle-based band Aerobic Death in 1984, Dave Grohl was compiling and selling mixtapes with his friends at the age of 15 — this particular compilation bearing the name “John Denver’s Nightmare.” Two years later, 17-year-old Grohl dropped out of school to become the drummer for punk band Scream. A few years after

IN MEMORY OF A ONCE FLUID MAN

On January 31st, 1967, during a break from filming his role as Kato in Green Hornet, Bruce Lee wrote and illustrated the following letter to friend and metal-worker George Lee, the man responsible for crafting the Jeet Kune Do founder’s weaponry and other fighting equipment. This was the year Bruce Lee’s new, dynamic martial arts system

Tchaikovsky was an awesome composer

In January of 2011, chief music critic at the The New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, concluded a two week project in which he discussed the world’s finest composers by unveiling a list he had personally compiled: Top 10 classical music composers in history. (For reference, his top 10 went like this: 1. Bach; 2. Beethoven; 3. Mozart;

love, thom

Below are two letters, both sent by Thom Yorke to fans of Radiohead — the first handwritten in 1994, pre-Bends, and the second typewritten in 1996. At this point in their career, Radiohead were still on the lower rungs of the ladder in terms of success, as evidenced by the earlier letter — written in the studio

I think I no how to make people or animals alive

In June of 1973, spurred on by the recent discovery of a dying bird in his garden, 9-year-old Anthony Hollander wrote to the presenters of the BBC’s much-loved children’s television show, Blue Peter, and asked for assistance in his quest to “make people or animals alive.” Below is his letter, and the encouraging response written by the programme’s

The tracks sound terrific so far, especially King Bee

December, 1964. An 18-year-old aspiring musician called Roger writes an endearing illustrated letter to his girlfriend, Jenny Spires, in which he describes his band’s first recording session. It was, in fact, the first of many, and before long both Roger and his band, The Tea Set, would become known by different names: he, as Syd Barrett; his band, Pink

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

Script-written cartoons are like rap music

Happy new year everyone. To begin 2011, below is a letter from Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi (on letterhead of his now-defunct production company, Spümcø) to a fan, in which he discusses Rocky and Bullwinkle; reveals his love for Roger Ramjet; debates storyboard-written vs script-written cartoons; and then compares the latter to rap music. Transcript follows. Image courtesy of

A true Lovers Knot to thee my Dear I send

Popular amongst a small section of Pennsylvania Quakers in the late-18th and early 19th century, the ‘True Lover’s Knot’ is both an undeniably romantic form of love letter and an impressively intricate, labyrinthian work of art of which very few examples still exist. Handcrafted using quill, brush and compass, the stunning knot seen below was

SUGGESTED REAL NAME: KATHERINE “KITTY” PRYDE

Mid-1978, 18 months prior to the character eventually debuting in Uncanny X-Men #129, Marvel Comics artist John Byrne unveiled his new creation – Katherine “Kitty” Pryde – in an illustrated letter to writer Chris Claremont. Fans approved, and Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat has since become an integral part of the X-Men. Also of note in the letter: the introduction of a

I have never drawn PEANUTS for children

Image: Jeff Overturf Reader David Desmond remembers fondly the day he received the following letter from the late-Charles Schulz, creator of what is widely considered to be one of the greatest comic strips ever created: Peanuts. I can still recall the feelings of amazement and excitement that I experienced when I received this letter. Even then

The birth of Wonder Woman

Here we have a piece of comic book history from early-1941 in the form of a letter from cartoonist Harry G. Peter, written to William Moulton Marston, in which he unveils some very early sketches of Marston’s new superheroine, Wonder Woman; Marston’s handwritten response to Peter can also be seen, penned in red below the original message.

I sure am thinking of you

On October 8th, 1916, seven months after his first comic strip debuted in the Chicago Herald, 24-year-old cartoonist Elzie Segar took out a sheet of his employers’ letterhead and wrote and illustrated the following love letter to then-girlfriend, Myrtle Johnson. Three years later, by which point he had married his sweetheart, his third comic strip – Thimble

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

Doctors always know best

The publication of Blaggard Castle – a 1932 comic book featuring Mickey Mouse and sidekick Horace Horsecollar, in which three mad scientists (Professors Ecks, Doublex and Triplex) claimed that X-rays, if fired at someone, would burn their brains – caused so much unease amongst young patients in Pennsylvania that a Dr. Reuben G. Alley was

I am quite sad that you are ill

Today I bring you a vibrantly illustrated ‘Get Well Soon’ note – presumably coloured in such a way so as to cheer up its recipient – sent to renowned French poet Jean Cocteau in 1916 during a short period of bad health. The letter was sent to him by his friend, Pablo Picasso; a man

Pixar films don’t get finished, they just get released

Mid-2008, hoping at best to receive a signed photo from his idol in return, a young man named Adam wrote to Pete Docter, the award-winning director of Monsters, Inc. and, more recently, Up. In the letter he spoke of his admiration for Docter and, as an amateur filmmaker and huge Pixar fan, mentioned his desire to

I will be stopping Calvin and Hobbes

Click here to embiggen Late-1995, ten years after it was first syndicated, Bill Watterson sent the following letter to the thousands of newspapers which carried his widely-adored Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, in doing so announcing the forthcoming end of its run. True to his word, on December 31st of that year the final, 3’160th

Popeye’s favorit tree

Here’s an utterly charming letter from Popeye in which he ponders an apple tree’s life cycle, written and drawn by Bill Zaboly in 1942. Zaboly was one of the artists responsible for the comic strip following Elzie Segar‘s death in 1938 and lovingly produced this piece for a fan by the name of Jennette Winterhalter. Reading the

Your Friend, Conan

In 2003, with her prom fast approaching and a date as yet undecided, Ohio-based Nikki Simmons took a chance and sent an invite to her idol: a certain flame-haired talk show host. She says, “I asked Conan O’Brien to prom when I was in eleventh grade… so many many years ago… Although he turned me

Supermensch

From the archives of Heritage Auctions comes what appears to be the hilarious last page of a letter from Comic-Con co-founder and letterer Shel Dorf to legendary DC Comics editor Julie Schwartz. Usually I’d refrain from posting less than the entire missive but this particular sheet, written on Dorf’s early ’80s letterhead and bearing a striking

I hadn’t any idea that I talked about my guitar so often

Saul was just 14 when he wrote and illustrated the following letter to Michelle Young — an ex-girlfriend who had just recently ended their relationship and, in a previous letter, blamed the decision on Saul’s unending talk of his guitar. The guitar obsession never ended and Saul soon became Slash, one of the world’s most admired

Drive safely and don’t abuse alcohol, drugs or candy

When asked by his teacher to write to a contemporary artist as part of a school project in 1997, 13-year-old Green Day fan Austin Kleon immediately opted to contact collage artist Winston Smith – the man responsible for creating the artwork for the band’s 1995 album, Insomniac – and after finding his address via a

My life couldn’t fill a penny postcard

In response to a request for ‘biographical information’ by Harper’s Magazine‘s managing editor Russell Lynes, 21-year-old Andy Warhol wrote the following self-deprecating note. It was 1949, Warhol had recently moved to New York following his graduation at Carnegie Tech, and he was already starting to impress as a commercial artist having just illustrated Vega, a

I painted you a letter

Russian-born artist Moses Soyer wrote a number of letters to his teenage sons; nearly all replete with fantastic illustrations as charming as those seen below. This particular work of art was sent to David in the late 1930s while he attended summer camp miles from home, and must’ve been a perfect remedy for homesickness. Similar

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

No wonder Mary Poppins was awful in this regard

Following its release in 1988, the production team responsible for Who Framed Roger Rabbit were instantly applauded by the millions of stunned moviegoers who subsequently saw the film, and rightly so, as even now (an unbelievable 22 years later) the most hardened critic would have difficulty finding fault with the near-seamless interactions between live-action and

The Sunday Strip

In a move which simultaneously riled newspaper editors and delighted fans, famously strong-minded cartoonist Bill Watterson returned from a nine month sabbatical in 1992 and demanded that the Sunday edition of his comic strip – Calvin and Hobbes – be allotted a full half-page each week by newspapers, or nothing at all. The fear of

I want to buy it

In August of 1982, aged 22, Marvel Comics fan Randy Schueller received the following letter from then editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics itself: James Shooter. The letter, which boasts a stunning letterhead and simply begins ‘I want to buy it’, was sent in response to an idea Randy had submitted to Shooter’s offices; an idea which

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

Langlois Bridge

A letter written by Vincent van Gogh to Émile Bernard on March 18th, 1888, a month after leaving Paris for Arles. He begins the letter with a sketch of sailors and their ‘sweethearts’ strolling riverside towards a drawbridge, and goes on to mention his current preoccupation with the scene. In fact, the Langlois Bridge later

This is me

Colorado artist Allen Tupper True – at one time consulting artist at the Hoover Dam – wrote and drew the following note to his daughter Jane whilst staying in New York, 1927. The illustration on the hotel letterhead clearly didn’t convey a realistic sense of scale in Allen’s eyes, so he modified the picture for

SAY YES I NEED A JOB

In 1989, at the end of a disastrous telephone interview in which he alluded to playing pirated versions of their games, Tim Schafer was advised by David Fox to send in his resume and a covering letter relating to the role of Assistant Programmer/Designer at LucasArts (at the time still named Lucasfilm). Schafer, in an

Number One Snoopy Place

A couple of days ago, as the axe was barely settling in the head of Charlotte Braun, I was alerted to another letter by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. He wrote this one back in 1986, in response to an inquisitive letter from a 15 year old boy named Randee. Randee had questioned Schulz regarding what

The Ax

On November 30th, 1954, a character by the name of Charlotte Braun made her debut in the much-loved comic strip, Peanuts. Loud, brash and opinionated, “Good Ol’ Charlotte Braun” quickly annoyed the strip’s readers and on February 1st, 1955 — after just 10 sightings — she appeared in a storyline for the last time. 45

Please clean up the oil spill

On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker collided with Bligh Reef and proceeded to spill 40 million litres of crude oil into the sea, ultimately leading to one of the most devastating man-made disasters in history. According to the BBC, approximately ‘250,000 seabirds, nearly 3,000 sea otters, 300 harbour seals, 250 bald eagles

I ♥ U

Experts believe the following love letter to be approximately 100 years old. If you have some time to kill, I’d suggest attempting to solve the code yourself before looking at the transcript. The idea’s simple: each image represents a piece of text, e.g. ☼day would translate as Sunday. Good luck. Slightly larger photo here. More info

TO A TOP SCIENTIST

In 1957, following the announcement that the Soviets had trumped the U.S. with the successful launch of Sputnik 1, Australian schoolboy Denis Cox sent this urgent letter to the Royal Australian Air Force’s Rocket Range at Woomera, in an attempt to enter Australia into the Space Race. Much to Denis’ dismay, his letter, addressed to

The creative work is performed by young men

Back in 1938, women who applied for animation jobs at Disney were destined to receive a visually attractive but ultimately depressing rejection letter like the one below — a missive in which it was advised to instead shoot for a lower star in the tracing department; a place where, it seems, ladies could be trusted with ink. Interestingly,