There is no danger down here

On October 31st, 1918, as the First World War neared its end, celebrated war poet and officer of the Second Manchesters Wilfred Owen wrote home to his mother. Sadly, this would be his last letter. Four days later–exactly a century ago–Owen was shot dead as he led his company across the Sambre–Oise Canal. His mother

Barbarous Saxons

In 1400, a middle-aged Welshman named Owain Glyndŵr spearheaded the Glyndŵr Rising—an ultimately unsuccessful but initially promising independence movement intended to shake Wales free from the ruling grip of Henry IV‘s England. The revolt started well, and within a few years Glyndŵr, now Prince of Wales, had control of the majority of the country and valuable

I am sorry for your loss

In December of 2012, shortly after his wife passed away at the NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, a local gentleman was sent a touching, eloquent letter of condolence in the mail by the doctor who had treated her in the emergency room. Such a lovely gesture, and I imagine an incredibly comforting note to receive at such a

I love June Carter, I do

On March 1st of 1968, 13 years after first meeting and just a week after he proposed to her on stage during a concert, the great Johnny Cash married fellow country singer June Carter. They remained together until her death, 35 years later. Shortly after June passed away, Johnny wrote the following note. He died two months later,

She is my best friend

In November of 2012, in a heartbreaking, handwritten letter addressed to “a few thousand friends I have not met yet,” Fiona Apple announced that she was postponing the South American leg of her tour due to the ill-health of her beloved pit bull, Janet — a 13-year-old rescue dog suffering from Addison’s disease and, more worryingly, a tumor

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

I beg you to take my child

In 1869, in response to a sharp rise in the number of babies being abandoned in New York, often in dangerous circumstances, The Foundling Asylum — run by Sister Irene Fitzgibbon, pictured above — opened to the public with a single white cradle on its doorstep, and immediately began to give safe shelter to unwanted infants. In the

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

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,

No Ovaries Removed

On April 28th of 1952, medical staff at the Cedars of Lebanon hospital in L.A. wheeled an extremely nervous Marilyn Monroe to surgery where she was to have her appendix removed. Some time later, with Monroe unconscious and the procedure about to begin, doctors pulled back her gown to find the following note taped to her stomach. It was

You will then know how to talke to me

In September of 1864, as the American Civil War approached its conclusion, a slave-turned-soldier named Spotswood Rice wrote the following furious letter to his former owner, Katherine Diggs, and sternly warned her that she would soon be seeing him again: he was returning to Missouri, together with a thousand-strong army of black soldiers, to rescue

Will you please have his place raided?

In September of 1931, with the sale of alcohol still banned in the U.S. due to prohibition, a frustrated housewife named Mrs. Hillyer wrote the following letter to the Seattle Bureau of Prohibition. Transcript follows. (Source: National Archives; Image above via.) Transcript Seattle, Wash.Sept. 22, 1931 Dear Sir: My husband is in the habit of

I shall always be near you

In 1861, as the American Civil War approached, a 32-year-old lawyer named Sullivan Ballou left his wife of five years and two sons at home, and joined the war effort as a major in the Union Army. On July 14th of that year, acutely aware that particularly perilous times were ahead, he wrote, but didn’t

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

Something extraordinary

July, 1922. In the final paragraph of an otherwise unremarkable letter to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, author F. Scott Fitzgerald passionately announces his desire to begin writing “something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” The novel he had mentioned for the first time was The Great Gatsby. Transcript follows. Image kindly supplied by

New Year Greetings

Here we have a wonderful New Year’s greeting from the early-1980s, written on an exposure sheet by the late-Norman McLaren—a pioneering animator who in 1941 established an animation studio at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal, a studio in which he produced numerous award-winning films and taught countless aspiring animators until his retirement in

I would like to get out of this world

Back in 1950, looking to publicise a new exhibition named “Conquest of Space,” the Hayden Planetarium in New York publicly announced that they were accepting reservations for the first trip into space, whenever that may be. Unsurprisingly, in the coming weeks and months applications from all corners began to arrive at the museum, from would-be

You are now my Enemy

From the pen of Benjamin Franklin comes a furious letter, written in 1775 to William Strahan — a British Member of Parliament who had, until that point, been a friend of thirty years — as the American Revolutionary War took hold. Franklin quickly had a change of mind after penning it, and it was never sent; however, word of its

From your friend “Babe” Ruth

Says Dawn: My late-father’s friend, Freddy, contracted Polio when they were kids, and apparently he had a tough time of it. A couple of weeks into his lengthy stay at the Children’s Hospital in Boston, Freddy (a baseball nut) was given this letter. It was from his hero, Babe Ruth, and is just so sweet.

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

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

Dear Bob

Dear Bob (mp3) Late-1993, some months prior to the release of Grace, Jeff Buckley took to the stage and impersonated Bob Dylan. He later explained: “I was at A Hole In The Wall in New York, and I’d seen Dylan the night before. So I did an impression of him singing I Want You. I

I was 2 busy listening 2 the grass grow

Here’s a sweet little handwritten letter from Prince in June of 1984, to a young fan named Annalisa Masters. Prince was 26-years-old at the time and had just released his incredible sixth album, Purple Rain; a month later, the movie to which it was the soundtrack was also unveiled. Until recently this letter was on

Your loving son, Jimi

October, 1966: Very soon after forming The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jimi Hendrix writes a postcard to his father back home in the U.S. and fills him in on recent developments. Two months later — as mentioned by Jimi — the band’s first single, “Hey Joe,” was released. Their debut album, “Are You Experienced,” soon followed; it is

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

Everyone has to be a child

Back in 1998, The Economist ran an article which resulted in a record amount of feedback for its author. The subject at hand was children: For children, just like cigarettes or mobile phones, clearly impose a negative externality on people who are near them. Anybody who has suffered a 12-hour flight with a bawling baby

I wanted to be a nun or a movie star

Madonna was a 20-year-old drummer and virtually unknown in the world of showbiz when she hand-wrote this typically unabashed cover letter to Stephen Lewicki, a first-time filmmaker on the lookout for a woman to play the lead in his erotic thriller, A Certain Sacrifice. It’s a great read and essentially a brief but entertaining look back

The price for ridding society of bad is always high

In June of 1945, this striking letter arrived at the home of 3-year-old Dennis Helms in Washington, written on a sheet of Adolf Hitler‘s letterhead. It had been penned by his father, Lt. Richard Helms, an intelligence operative with the OSS who, following Germany’s surrender the month before, had managed to acquire some of the

Burst through its bars

In August of 1665, an ageing scientist named Joannes Marcus Marci sent his friend — the great Athanasius Kircher — a truly perplexing book and asked him, via an accompanying letter, seen below, to do something countless other experts had unsuccessfully attempted: decipher it. Try as he might, Kircher failed to do so, and to this day the

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

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

Please don’t give in

On August 11th of 2007, a 12-year-old girl named Amy wrote the following heartbreaking letter to her father, 47-year-old Garry Newlove, as he lay comatose in hospital. The day before, she, her two sisters and her mother had looked on in horror as he was savagely beaten by a gang of youths outside their home. Sadly,

Don’t hesitate — Do it now!

Here we have a real piece of cinema history in the form of a hugely important letter from 1924, written by Walt Disney, in which he urges his good friend, the great Ub Iwerks, to up sticks and join him at the recently formed Disney Productions in Hollywood. Luckily for him — and us —

I am so lonely I can hardly bear it

American artist Rockwell Kent wrote the following love letter to his wife, Frances, in 1926. It’s a masterclass in romantic writing. Much-needed transcript follows. Image courtesy of the Archives of American Art. Large version here. Image: Archives of American Art Transcript Frances! I am so lonely I can hardly bear it. As one needs happiness

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

Please ask Ike to bring Elvis back

The following pleading letter is just one of thousands sent by desperate fans of Elvis Presley to the White House in the late-1950s, in an effort to have the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll returned to the United States from Germany, where he was posted with the U.S. Army. This particular missive was sent by

My Pilot days are closing in

Late-2000, in an effort to find a sponsor for his act, stand-up comedian Mitch Hedberg wrote to the makers of his new favourite pen, The Uni-Ball Gel Impact, and suggested such a partnership. His amusing letter — or, more specifically, a draft of it as written on tour with his wife, Lynn — can be seen below.

The Nevermind Happy Meal

Nirvana‘s second album — the immeasurably influential and multi-million selling Nevermind — somehow turns 20 tomorrow. The band sent out the following handwritten letter to a number of fans during the run-up to its release on September 24th of 1991, and jokingly referred to, amongst other things, a tie-in with McDonald’s whereby copies of the forthcoming album would

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

That man basked in your light

It’s not often you see a letter of thanks from one legendary figure to another, and certainly not as heartfelt as this example. It was written in 1976 by Ray Bradbury and sent to fellow author Robert Heinlein; a man who clearly influenced and guided Bradbury during his early years. His gratitude was plain to see, almost 40

The ring of fire still burns around you and I

Today we have two endearing pieces from the hand of Johnny Cash, a musical legend who needs no introduction. The first is a poetic, undated love note to his wife, June; the second, an utterly charming to-do list. Transcripts follow. First image taken from the forthcoming book, “House of Cash“; second image courtesy of Julien’s

I am gratefuler than ever before…

From 1888, a simple love note from the hand of Samuel Clemens — better known to most as Mark Twain — to his wife, Olivia. Transcript follows. Image courtesy of The Mark Twain House & Museum. Image: The Mark Twain House & Museum Transcript Hartford, Nov. 27/88 Livy Darling, I am grateful — gratefuler than ever before — that

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

My work is done. Why wait?

On the evening of March 14th, 1932, the founder of Eastman Kodak and inventor of roll film, George Eastman, gathered a group of his friends at his home in order to witness a change of his will. Eastman was 77 years of age, and for the past few years had seen his health decline rapidly

Sweetheart come

On February 7th of 1909, a 30-year-old mother of two by the name of Emma Hauck was admitted to the psychiatric hospital of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, having recently been diagnosed with dementia praecox (schizophrenia). The outlook improved briefly and a month later she was discharged, only to be readmitted within weeks as her condition deteriorated

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

Many times I have kissed and cryed over this

Here’s a fascinting missive written to Charles Darwin in 1839 by his wife, Emma, shortly after the inception of his theory of evolution, in which she openly worries about his dwindling faith and, midway through the letter, asks him not to be blinded to the possibilities of things “which if true are likely to be

The princess has arrested me

In July of 1951, in the historic Russian town of Novgorod, an unusual document — written on a piece of birch bark in a previously unseen form of Old East Slavic language, to be later named Old Novgorodian — was discovered by an excavation team led by archaeologist Artemiy Artsikhovsky. Over a thousand similar “birch bark

Long may the Grand Master live

The following birthday message was sent by telegram in 1885 to Victor Hugo, the French writer responsible for, most notably, Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. It was penned on the day of Hugo’s 83rd birthday by the father of both dynamite and the Nobel Prizes, Alfred Nobel. Short, but sweet. Transcript and translation follow.

You are scum

Letter removed at the request of Hunter S. Thompson’s Estate.

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

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

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

Our total love for you is everlasting

Following a routine mammogram on September 26th of 1974, just a month after becoming First Lady of the United States, Betty Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer. Below is a loving letter of support from Betty’s husband — then-U.S. President Gerald Ford — and her children, written shortly after the diagnosis. Betty Ford’s decision to be entirely open about her illness

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:

I have just written you a long letter

The late, great Lt. Col. Alfred D. Wintle was opinionated, brave, comical, intelligent, and, most importantly, hugely entertaining. A true “character.” He once attempted to escape a hospital dressed as a female nurse in order to rejoin the war effort, but his monocle gave him away; as a prisoner of war in France during World War

I was sickeningly awful

December 1984: During the run-up to the release of A Passage to India, one of its supporting cast, Alec Guinness, writes an embarrassed letter of congratulations to director David Lean. Even before the movie’s initial reviews — many of which quickly questioned the strange casting choice of Guinness as the Indian professor Godbole — Guinness had

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

Please don’t let this go to your head

Early-1980, whilst sitting in an Advanced Chemistry class at Laney High School in North Carolina, a clearly smitten, 18-year-old Michael Jordan wrote the following cheeky letter of apology to then-girlfriend Laquette, after recently making her “look pretty rotten.” Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Lelands. Image: Lelands Transcript Michael Jordan My Dearest Laquette How are you and your

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

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

Immortal Beloved

After his death in 1827, the following love letter was found amongst the personal papers of Ludwig van Beethoven, penned by the composer over the course of two days in July of 1812 while staying in Teplice. The letter’s unnamed recipient — Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved” — remains a mystery, and continues to generate debate. Below are images of the

I cannot remain silent

April 29th, 1865: Queen Victoria, still grieving and “utterly broken-hearted” following the death of Prince Albert four years previous, writes an empathetic letter of condolence to Mary Todd Lincoln following the recent assassination of her husband, Abraham Lincoln. Transcript follows. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. Image: Library of Congress Transcript April 29, 1865 Dear Madam, Though

Your ever gracious tenant, Bruce Springsteen

Early-1975, just months before the release of Born to Run — the breakthrough album that would see him almost immediately catapulted to mega-stardom — Bruce Springsteen was hand-writing apologetic notes to his “landlordess,” Marilyn Rocky, due to late rent payments. The autograph practice was soon put to good use as, according to Marilyn, by August of that year

It is a good thing to be laughed at

Although tame by today’s standards, when it was first aired by the BBC in 1962, the late-night satirical TV show That Was The Week That Was broke new ground as its incredibly talented cast and crew mocked the political establishment in a manner previously unseen on television, live to millions of viewers. Unsurprisingly, the reaction from

You are directly responsible for the loss of our son’s life

The following angry letter was sent to then-U.S. President Harry Truman in 1953 by the father of George Banning, a young soldier who had recently been killed whilst serving in the Korean War. When Truman passed away 20 years later, this letter was discovered in his desk along with Banning’s posthumously awarded Purple Heart. Transcript follows.

You are an “eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.”

On the evening of December 5th, 1950, a carefully selected 3500-strong audience filled Washington’s Constitution Hall to witness a singing performance by Margaret Truman, the only child of then-U.S. President Harry Truman (also in attendance), and, despite the generally held consensus that her singing talents were lacking, a wave of positive reaction greeted her after the

Thank you for not hitting me

Rolling Stone, April 25th, 1974 (Click for full article) John Lennon was already drunk when he arrived at L.A.’s Troubador nightclub on March 11th, 1974. A few Brandy Alexanders later and he was even heckling the main act, the Smothers Brothers, whilst being egged on by his friend, Harry Nilsson. A subsequent call for quiet by

I’m 82 and hate it!

Despite suffering quite heavily from emphysema and Parkinson’s disease during his final years, horror legend Vincent Price still kept up with his correspondence. Below are three postcards written by Price in the early-’90s to friend Bob Miller. Each touch on the declining health of both himself and his wife, Coral, who died in May of 1991 after

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

People are more interested in Apocalypse Now than the Holy Ghost

Bob Dylan — Slow Train (Live at Massey Hall, April 20th 1980) The following letter of support was handwritten by Bob Dylan in April of 1980 to a friend who had just joined the U.S. Military, and highlights a period in his life when he attracted much derision as a result of his religious leanings. A few

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

Take the world by the tail

In June of 2006, the legend that is Tom Waits wrote the following endearing letter to a 15-year-old named Colin, in response to a piece of fan mail written by the teenager a few months previous. It was accompanied by a signed photo, also seen below. The opening joke of Waits’ charming letter can be explained by Colin’s hometown

It wasn’t a rip off; it was a love in

An inflammatory article in The New York Times provoked the following letter from John Lennon in 1971, defensively penned on a couple of sheets of in-flight stationery as the Beatle crossed the Atlantic. Journalist Craig McGregor’s piece, entitled ‘The Beatles Betrayal,’ was clear in its accusation: that a number of white bands — The Beatles in particular

I have no interest in you or your life

Back in 1994, then aged 14, Tom Stuart wrote a letter to Lee and Herring — the British comedy duo behind one of his favourite shows, Fist of Fun — and, after introducing himself as a young fan of their work, asked a few questions. A fairly lengthy reply soon arrived, the vast majority of

Your happiness means my happiness

On August 6th of 1962, a day after 36-year-old Marilyn Monroe passed away, the following unsent letter, addressed to ex-husband Joe DiMaggio, was discovered at her desk, folded up in her address book. It is thought they were planning to remarry. Transcript follows. (Source: MM-Personal: From the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe; Image: Joe DiMaggio &

I would like to point out…

The following note was written by Eric Idle to fellow-Python Graham Chapman in the late-1970s. I apologise for providing an intro so lacking in context but I, and the person who submitted it for inclusion, know nothing else of it. If you can add some background, please do so in the comments below. That said,

It’s better to burn out than to fade away

On April 8th of 1994, an electrician discovered the body of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain at the musician’s home in Lake Washington with a shotgun resting on his chest, a bullet wound to his head, and the following handwritten letter on a nearby table. Addressed to “Boddah”—apparently the name of Cobain’s imaginary childhood friend—the letter is

Rock on Sarah!!

In 1996, two years after the release of Pulp Fiction, a 13-year-old film fanatic named Sarah wrote to her idol, Quentin Tarantino, and told him of her dream to one day become a filmmaker. She also praised his work on the recently released From Dusk till Dawn, and spoke of her love of horror movies.

I write for myself and I’ll say anything I damn well please

Back in December of 1996, worried about the influence of Green Day‘s “explicit” fourth album, Insomniac, on her 8-year-old son, an angry mother decided to write a slightly aggressive letter of complaint to the band. It clearly hit a nerve, and she soon received a handwritten response from then-24-year-old frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. Both letters

A library is many things

Early-1971, in an effort to attract as many youngsters to the premises as possible, Marguerite Hart — children’s librarian at the newly-opened public library in Troy, Michigan — wrote to a number of notable people with a request: to reply with a congratulatory letter, addressed to the children of Troy, in which the benefits of

I am volunteering for the “Man in Space” program

On May 5th of 1961, Alan Shepard became the second person — and first American — to enter space, just three weeks after Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth. The following amazing letter was written by Shepard to his parents two years before, and marks the very first announcement of his plans to volunteer for the “Man

I want us to break up the act

At their peak during the late-60s/70s, Morecambe and Wise were arguably Britain’s most celebrated comedy act. The duo regularly attracted the biggest names in showbiz to appear on their show (Elton John, The Beatles and Tom Jones, to name but a few); the Morecambe & Wise Show Christmas Special of 1977 famously pulled in a record-breaking audience

To my family — from Dad

At approximately 12:15pm on February 26th, 1993, Carl Selinger entered elevator number 66 on floor 43 of the World Trade Center in New York and began the ascent to his office. Almost immediately the elevator came to an abrupt halt, and within minutes the confined space began to fill with smoke. Unbeknownst to Carl, at

The romantic Mr Carlin

It was in June of 1998 that legendary comedian George Carlin married Sally Wade. Tragically, just two days before their tenth anniversary, he passed away. Below is just one of countless love letters he wrote to his wife during their time together, many of which feature in her memoir, The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship

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

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;

We are standing on the threshold of Great events!

On April 14th of 1993 — day 46 of the Waco seige — leader of the Mount Carmel Branch Davidian sect, David Koresh, released what would be his final letter to his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin. In it, he spoke of his excitement at being given permission by God to “put the Seven Seals in written form,” after which he

Being an actor is the loneliest thing in the world

A dispirited James Dean hand-wrote the following note as he sat in a restaurant in 1952, months after moving to New York in a bid to further his acting career. Full-time auditioning in the Big Apple clearly left Dean feeling a little isolated. Two years later, Dean would reluctantly move to L.A. to shoot East

What great births you have witnessed!

In May of 1889, author Mark Twain wrote the following beautiful letter of congratulations to Walt Whitman, the indisputably influential poet behind, most notably, Leaves of Grass. The cause for celebration was Whitman’s upcoming 70th birthday, the imminence of which saw Twain pen not just a birthday wish, but a stunning 4-page love letter to human endeavour, as seen

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

This “evil” was the greatest which can befall a man

When he wrote the following letter to George Eveleth in 1848, Edgar Allan Poe‘s wife, Virginia, had been dead for almost a year, having finally succumbed to tuberculosis after first contracting the disease in 1842. The latter part of this letter — the rest of which mainly concerns his ultimately unpublished journal, The Stylus —

Don’t disgust me, please

Writer Lafcadio Hearn was somewhat of a sensation in the early 1870s. Working for the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, Hearn’s graphic reports from crime scenes left very little to the imagination; his often surprising behaviour — “sticking his fingers into a dead man’s brain (…) even drinking blood from abattoirs” — further strengthening his reputation as

I am only 6 but I think I can do this job

The Director of Fun’s first day at work In July of 2009, having heard that the director of the National Railway Museum in York, Andrew Scott, was soon to retire after 15 years at the helm, 6-year-old train enthusiast Sam Pointon sent the following letter to the museum in an attempt to fill Scott’s shoes and land his dream job. Luckily

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

I may be killed in my attempt to get Reagan

On March 30th of 1981, 25-year-old John Hinckley wrote the following letter to actress Jodie Foster. In it, Hinckley—a man so obsessed with Foster as a result of her role in Taxi Driver that he had previously followed her to Yale University, enrolled in a class, and proceeded to stalk her—made clear his immediate plan:

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