The Matchbox

Born in 1893, English author and poet Sylvia Townsend Warner wrote seven novels in her lifetime beginning with Lolly Willowes – the quirky tale of a lady who moves away from home following the death of her father and, as is often the case, takes up witchcraft – the book for which she is now

I am Danny DeVito’s mother

In 1973, at the very beginning of Danny DeVito‘s Hollywood career, he was cast in Scalawag—a largely forgotten movie directed by, and starring, Kirk Douglas which received, at best, lukewarm reviews upon release. No-one was prouder of the film, however, than DeVito’s mother, Julia, and soon after watching it she sent an endearing letter to

A book is like a man

During the nine months of 1951 that saw him working on his novel, East of Eden, author John Steinbeck began each day of writing by penning, in his notebook, a brief letter to his editor and good friend, Pascal “Pat” Covici. Early-1952, with the book finished, Steinbeck wrote him a final letter — a dedication to Covici in

Somehow the possibilities seem limitless

In October of 1993, a stand-up performance by Bill Hicks was controversially pulled from Late Night with David Letterman a few hours prior to broadcast — Letterman later claimed it was due to a potentially upsetting religious joke; Hicks, on the other hand, blamed it on a pro-life commercial to be screened during an ad break that

Dearest Andy

Silver Liz – Andy Warhol, 1963 Screen legend Elizabeth Taylor waited 14 years to acquire her own, personal version of the Andy Warhol silk-screens in which she featured; an iconic collection of pieces that were in many ways an extension of Warhol’s infatuation with the star. One can only imagine how much this subsequent letter of

Frank Sinatra on Crossword Puzzles

When he wasn’t charming audiences with his singing and acting skills, the inimitable Frank Sinatra could often be found with his head buried in a crossword puzzle. In fact, such was his love of the trusty crossword that, when he was referenced in the New York Times crossword in the early 1980s, he wrote a

We were not found wanting

On November 27th of 1963, Charles Jack Price, then-Administrator of Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas, proudly sent the following memo to all staff and made clear his appreciation for their professional conduct over the past week—a period during which, as the world’s population looked on in horror, the hospital had seen the deaths of

I need a monkey

Early-1983: Steven Spielberg writes a short note to Forrest Ackerman — editor of film magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland — and speaks briefly of the “insane” casting process on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions. Image: Heritage Auctions Transcript Dear Forry, Thank you for your kind and very amusing note the other

You are the greatest film-maker at work today

Stanley Kubrick wrote the following gushing letter of praise in 1960 to the man he considered to be “the greatest film-maker at work today,” and who he later cited as a major influence on his work: Ingmar Bergman. Bear in mind also that Kubrick was only 31 years of age at the time and yet

Jim is fundamentally a respectable citizen

Two letters today, both of which concern Jim Morrison, frontman of The Doors, but each at different stages of his tragically short life. The first was lovingly penned by Morrison in 1954, then just 10 years of age, and is an incredibly sweet letter of thanks to his mother for having helped him “face all the

I will always be grateful for your courageous action

The Beverly Hills crash site | Image: Bob McCaffery On December 23rd of 1946, five months after the plane crash that almost killed him, world-famous aviator and movie producer Howard Hughes wrote the following heartfelt letter of thanks to the man who saved his life: U.S. Marine William Lloyd Durkin. During its maiden flight in July

A drunken evening with Groucho Marx

On December 17th of 1957, having recently attended the world premiere of Peyton Place, the ever-witty Groucho Marx sent the following brief letter to the movie’s producer, Jerry Wald. Essentially a congratulatory note of thanks, Groucho’s unflagging sense of humour shines through as, after first mentioning the ongoing Leonard Ewing Scott murder case, he proceeds

Its true beauty, however, was that it worked

As he exited the Apollo Lunar Module on July 20th of 1969, ready to set foot on the Moon, Neil Armstrong‘s immediate safety was in the hands of an incredible feat of engineering that is often overlooked: his A7L Spacesuit and backpack. Built at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center by ILC Dover and Hamilton Standard, respectively,

I write for young readers, not uptight adults

In September of 2008, believing it to be “inappropriate” reading material for students, a staff member at New Hampshire’s Plymouth High School lodged a complaint with the school’s library in an effort to have John Irving‘s novel, The Hotel New Hampshire, removed from their shelves. Thankfully an internal investigation quickly followed, and an overwhelming vote

I hope you like “Queen II.”

In 1973, just as Queen finished recording their second album, 27-year-old Freddie Mercury, ever the gentleman, politely wrote the following letter of thanks to Jac Holzman, founder of their U.S. label, Elektra Records; Holzman had fought hard to bring the band to his label in 1971, and his faith in them hadn’t gone unnoticed by Mercury. With their debut

I will never be the next Rene Zellwegger

Today, a short but humorous letter of thanks – and briefly annotated envelope – from 2003; sent by Zach Galifianakis to Ryan McKee and Ron Babcock, founders of a fledgling comedy magazine named Modest Proposal that ran for just six issues until its demise in 2006. Galifianakis had recently been interviewed for the publication and

Art, like love, speaks through and to the heart

During the run-up to a benefit show at Carnegie Hall in January of 1961, civil rights activist Martin Luther King sent the following supportive letter of thanks to Sammy Davis, Jr., as a result of his active role in its preparations. At the time Davis was looking to star in an anticipated – but ultimately

An A&R man must be “human”

Following his departure from Sun Records in 1958, Johnny Cash joined forces with Columbia Records to release all future material; however it wasn’t until 1964, six years later, that Cash – a recording artist renowned within the industry for his inability to adhere to schedules – officially signed with the label. The following letter of commendation was

I hear you like Tomato Soup

As product marketing manager for Campbell’s, William MacFarland must have been overjoyed with the incredible public reaction to Andy Warhol‘s first exhibition as a fine artist in 1962, as present at the gallery was his now world-famous Campbell’s Soup Cans piece: 32 silkscreened portraits, each representing a different variety of the company’s soup product, all

It is a lovely book

In 2012, Canadian author Yann Martel received a thoughtful thank you letter in the mail in response to his award-winning novel, Life of Pi. Such appreciative letters are understandably not a rarity for Martel, however the writer of this particular handwritten note, a fan who had recently read the book with his daughter, happened to

He was there with you on the bridge

During his seven acclaimed years as Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Patrick Stewart was the recipient of numerous notes of thanks from viewers. The touching letter shown below was written in 1992 to Stewart, not by a fan directly, but by the parent of a young man afflicted with Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Dear Rear Admiral

Harry Allen Smith, an American journalist, author and humorist whose work was particularly popular in the 1940s and 50s, wrote the following letter of thanks in 1975 to a Dr. Aubrey Wilcox. Wilcox was apparently Smith’s proctologist, and it seems the brains behind an aptly shaped Christmas gift opened the previous day. Transcript follows. Source Transcript December

The quilt is beyond beautiful… Beyond!!!

In April of 2008, members of various online communities came together in an effort to send their idol, Johnny Depp, a unique quilt for his birthday the next year, and by February of 2009 it had been crafted. The quilt, comprising of over a hundred small squares of material – all signed by various fans around

What you say should be applied to others rather than to me

In January of 1890, six months before his death, a lengthy review of Vincent van Gogh‘s work appeared in the highly influential French gazette, Mercure de France. The entirely positive article is notable for two reasons, the first being that this was the only such review of the artist’s work to be published during his

Earth, by the way, is a garden of delights

A good luck gift from Marlon Brando prior to filming his first major role, as Superman no less, provoked the following letter of thanks from the late-Christopher Reeve in 1977. Of course, seasoned actor Brando was playing Jor-El, Superman’s father. Please excuse the quality of the scan. As always, a much needed transcript follows. Source Transcript 29th March,

I am a fat boy now

Below are two messages from the 1920s, both sent to the same man — Frederick Banting — as a result of his enormous contribution to a scientific development which to this day continues to save the lives of many. That development was the discovery and isolation of insulin. The first is a letter of thanks

What a dandy car you make

From 1932 until its bloody conclusion in May of 1934, Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow and an ever-changing gang of accomplices became a nationwide talking point as a result of a murderous crime spree which spanned the Central United States. Naturally, such a high-profile criminal gang depended on high-powered transport to evade the authorities and judging

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

Thank you Bob

In 1997, as a result of his tireless efforts to entertain American troops and campaign on their behalf, an act of congress was signed which resulted in Bob Hope becoming the world’s ‘first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces’. Nothing illustrates the effect of Hope’s humanitarian work more than the following letter,

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

My real name is David Jones

David Bowie was just 20 years of age and yet to make a dent in the music scene when, in September of 1967, he received his first piece of fan mail from America. The fan in question was 14-year-old Sandra Dodd, a New Mexico resident whose uncle, a manager of a local radio station, had

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

Please – no preferential treatment

As well as writing approximately 500 novels and many articles and essays, prolific and now legendary science fiction author Isaac Asimov somehow found the time to work for The Horn Book Magazine — a well regarded publication in which he reviewed and commented on science books — for nine years. The following letter, written by Asimov to

I cannot swagger out in these shirts

Whilst working at the public relations department of Levi Strauss, a Mr. Art Roth received the following letter from Cary Grant in 1958. In it, Grant thanks Roth for the shirts delivered to his home and then politely makes it known that the designs are far too offbeat for his conservative tastes. A great letter,

My dear little one day old baby

Lilian Gollan wrote the following letter to her new daughter Wendy on November 29th, 1934, just a day after giving birth to her at Jessie McPherson Hospital in Melbourne. A photo of the mother and daughter can be seen here.  Source Transcript “purity, truth and love.” CuriosityAmbitionImagination My own dear Baby,My dear little one day

Blade Runner will prove invincible

In 1968, author Philip K. Dick’s post-apocalyptic science fiction novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?—the story of a bounty hunter, Rick Deckard, whose job is to find and “retire” rogue androids—was published, almost immediately generating interest from film studios keen to adapt it for the big screen. Early talks and screenplay drafts failed to