We were both asleep when the boat hit

On April 24th of 1912, 24-year-old John Snyder wrote the following letter to his father, Frank, and recalled the night of April 14th; an altogether tragic night that saw him and his wife, Nelle, escape the RMS Titanic following its collision with an iceberg, only to then witness the ship sink to the bottom of

May we all get better together

In 1985, following a complaint from a local reader, staff at the public library in the Dutch city of Nijmegen decided to remove Charles Bukowski’s 1983 collection of short stories, Tales of Ordinary Madness, from their shelves, whilst declaring the book “very sadistic, occasionally fascist and discriminatory against certain groups (including homosexuals).” In the following

Letters of Note – The Book

I need your help, to produce a book. A Letters of Note book. A beautifully bound, satisfyingly weighty book filled with many of the website’s best letters, plus a selection previously unseen. It will be lovingly made using thick, uncoated paper — the perfect material on which to print reproductions of such amazing correspondence. As

We’re 2!

Dear All, Letters of Note turns 2 today. Before you tear open that packet of celebratory scotch eggs, let me first thank you all for revisiting the website as much as you have. Had it not been for the positive reaction I’ve witnessed since its inception, particularly the lovely responses I received following Commentgate, I

Drought imminent

In a couple of hours I’ll be going on a much-needed holiday for a few days with my little family, and I cannot tell you how excited my overworked little brain is. As a result, new letters will be sporadic at best over the next week; possibly even non-existent should my withdrawal symptoms be manageable. I briefly

The Sale of Manhattan

The letter below, sent by representative of the States General, Pieter Schaghen, to the directors of the WIC on November 5th, 1626, is the only written evidence of an amazing transaction: the sale of Manhattan. According to Schaghen’s letter, written upon return of the Arms of Amsterdam ship in Holland some months later, Dutch settlers — headed

And then…silence

Dear All, In a move which thankfully won’t affect the vast majority of you, I have today disabled comments on Letters of Note. Permanently. All complaints should be directed towards a section of society to whom the concept of even vaguely civil discussion means nothing. This collective waste of flesh, bone, and dangerously limited brain


The Webby Awards results have just been announced, and unfortunately Letters of Note has failed to win either of the two prizes up for grabs in its category. To be honest I’m gutted, as winning an award of such prominence would’ve shone quite a bright light on the website and potentially brought a lot of

We’re 500-letters-old!

Dear All, We hit 500 published letters yesterday. I just had an extra sugar in my tea to celebrate. I wanted to mention it, if only to officially mark the arrival of a milestone that has taken 20 months of week-daily posts and many hours of (spectacularly enjoyable) effort. Of course this is just the


Dear All, Forgive my shameless persistence, but I need your help in order for Letters of Note to win a Webby Award. We’re currently in the lead but are steadily losing ground, so, to those of you who haven’t already done so: please make a 32-year-old man happy and take a few minutes out of your

As soon as I stop speaking the pearls disappear

It was in 1963 that Diana Vreeland became the highly influential editor-in-chief of Vogue, having previously worked at Harper’s Bazaar for 25 years first as a columnist and then fashion editor. Add to these achievements her “discovery” of both Lauren Bacall and Edie Sedgwick, plus her role as style-advisor to Jaqueline Kennedy whilst First Lady, and

Please Help Me Win This Thing

Dear All, I was informed earlier today that Letters of Note has been chosen as a nominee at the 15th Annual Webby Awards. This is instantly really great news but potentially — should the site win — stupendous, as these particular awards bring with them an enormous amount of publicity for the winners, which in

Tell me, what is a “she-male?”

In this amusing note sent to the famous (but since closed) Gotham Book Mart in 2001, author John Updike thanks the manager, Andreas Brown, for his recently received copy of Field and Vision, but more importantly poses a couple of light-hearted questions relating to the packaging in which his order was wrapped. Transcript follows. Image supplied

The Deck

Today, I am proud to announce that Letters of Note has joined a carefully selected roster of sites that includes the likes of Metafilter, Daring Fireball, Kottke and FFFFOUND! to become a member of The Deck; an ad network helmed by Jim Coudal that I am genuinely excited to be a part of. Essentially, this means that

Love, the anti-christ

[Warning: Possibly Offensive Language Ahead] On March 31st of 1994, a highly-charged Madonna appeared as a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman. Over the course of the now-infamous interview she said the word “fuck” a record thirteen times; called Letterman himself a “sick fuck”; asked the host to smell some underwear she was holding;

You have something graceful and tender and feminine

When he wrote the following letter in 1966, Marlon Brando was above the Atlantic Ocean flying from New York to London. Also on that plane was the letter’s recipient — a senior air stewardess who, having taken care of another passenger following a sudden downturn in health mid-flight, had spent much of the journey sitting directly in

Merry Christmas!

I’m now taking a break for a short while, at least until after the big day, in order to fully appreciate what will hopefully be a disgustingly lazy Christmas. I hope you all have the opportunity to do the same, and would like to wish you all as happy and stress-free a Christmas period as is

The first mail to be carried over the Atlantic

Alcock & Brown shortly after takeoff | Image: Wikimedia On June 14th of 1919 at St. John’s, Newfoundland, Captain John Alcock and his navigator Lt. Arthur Brown made history as they began what would become the world’s first non-stop transatlantic flight. For their troubles they were awarded £10,000 by the Daily Mail, a newspaper then-renowned

Love that color on you, by the way

Courtesy of a reader named Farrah, today we have a letter – purportedly written by Hugh Laurie – that was sent to a number of critics earlier this year along with advance copies of the first two episodes of House, season 7. In it, ‘Laurie’ attempts to sell the show by way of amusingly explaining the benefits

I greet you at the beginning of a great career

Now widely considered one of the greatest books of poetry ever written, Leaves of Grass was first published in 1855 and financed entirely by its author, Walt Whitman. Whitman – then an aspiring, unknown poet – immediately sent one of the 795 copies to Ralph Waldo Emerson, a highly respected man who, a decade previous, had

In search of a Komodo dragon

Between the years of 1954 and 1963, in what was his first major presenting job at the BBC, David Attenborough fronted Zoo Quest, a documentary series that saw him traipse around the globe in search of various animals; the objective being to bring them back to London Zoo where they would then be homed. Viewers

Together we can “BEAT IT”!

I’m suffering miserably from a bout of man-flu at the moment. As a tribute to its seemingly monstrous grip – and due in no small part to the fact that very little research is required when writing the introduction – I bring you a brief but endearing ‘get well soon’ letter, written by Michael Jackson


On July 18 of 1969, as the world waited anxiously for Apollo 11 to land safely on the surface of the Moon, speechwriter William Safire imagined the worst case scenario as he expertly wrote the following sombre memo to President Nixon‘s Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman. Its contents: a contingency plan, in the form of a speech

I am the servant of the king, my lord, the dirt at his feet

The following remarkable letter was written on clay tablet between the years of 1350 and 1335, BC, by Ayyab – king of the city of Aštartu in the Canaan region – and sent to Amenhotep IV, then-Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt. It was discovered in the 1880s in Amarna, and is just one of 382 such Cuneiform

Letters of Note by Email

This will be brief. It is now possible to have new letters delivered to your email address each weekday; so, to subscribe to Letters of Note by email, follow this link and do whatever Mr. Feedburner tells you. Of course, even better would be the option to have a physical copy of each letter delivered each

We’re One Year Old!

Huzzah! Amazingly, it’s Letters of Note’s first birthday today. Since September 9th of last year, at which point I kicked off proceedings by posting this letter from the 1938 offices of Disney, I’ve featured a total of 341 pieces of notable correspondence on the website; all the while truly enjoying the overwhelmingly positive reactions of the

Dear All

There will be no updates on Letters of Note for the next few days, as on Tuesday I became a father. Unfortunately for my girlfriend, Billy really didn’t want to be born just yet and as such made a gallant attempt to stay in the dark, however Karina somehow battled through an incredibly long and


To celebrate a new decade, I’d like to begin by introducing a new blog I’ve started by the name of Letterheady. I shall steal the description straight from the site as I’m unable to muster a fresh alternative… letterheady–adjective1. overcome by a strong emotion due to a letterhead design. Much like its sibling, Letters of

Dear All

Before everyone trundles off home to begin the weekend, I thought I’d take the opportunity to quickly thank you all for following Letters of Note so eagerly since its inception just 5 weeks ago, and reacting with such positivity. It has been, and will continue to be I’m sure, a pleasure to kickstart this blog

Dear All,

“A fascinating blog…” – Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic “…a fantastic blog…” – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing “The internet’s cultural magpie” – GQ Magazine “Fantastic idea […] and well done too” – Jason Kottke, kottke.org “…a wonderful collection…” – Scott Beale, Laughing Squid Welcome. Letters of Note is a blog-based archive of fascinating correspondence, complete with