Indulge In Epistolary Voyeurism: Read Other People's Letters
I used to be a great letter writer and postcard sender, although now I enjoy texting more than putting pen to paper. Luckily for us, people in earlier times did write letters instead of email and text, and folks valued and kept them.
There is nothing in my mind more enjoyable than reading other people's letters. It's like morally ok eavesdropping. So take a moment, dear reader, and sample some of these interesting and varied selections of letters.
"A collection of illustrated letters from Father Christmas recapping the activities of the preceding year at the North Pole. The letters were written by J.R.R. Tolkien to his children."
Letters From Family
"A charming, intimate and fascinating collection of correspondence between broadcaster and #1 New York Times bestselling author Anderson Cooper and his mother, the celebrated Gloria Vanderbilt"
"A collection of Jackson's letters from prison, Soledad Brother is an outspoken condemnation of the racism of white America and a powerful appraisal of the prison system that failed to break his spirit but eventually took his life. Jackson's letters make palpable the intense feelings of anger and rebellion that filled black men in America's prisons in the 1960s."
- The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela
- Che Guevera I Embrace you with All my Revolutionary Fervor: Letters 1947-1967
- Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters
- Lin Zhao Blood Letters: The Untold Story of Lin Zhao, a Martyr in Mao's China
Letters From Friends
"The first and definitive collection of letters (most of them previously unpublished) both from and to the incomparable Noël Coward, a unique and irresistible portrait of a society and age—from the Blitz to the Ritz and beyond"
- The letters of the Mitford Sisters
- The letters of Virginia Woolf
- A Queer Love Story: The Letters of Jane Rule and Rick Bébout
"Bruce Chatwin is one of the most significant British novelists and travel writers of our time ... Careful and considered in drafting his published work, the letters are Chatwin's only unedited writing, and a paean to a disappearing mode of communication: tangible proof of a life as it was lived, and possibly one of the last great collections of a writer's letters."
- Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker 1974-1989
- Diana Athill Letters to a friend
- In Tearing Haste: Letters between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor
- Love letters of Vita Sackville West and Virginia Woolf
"The story unfolds through a series of letters between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books."
Letters from Thinkers
"Along with the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Seneca's Letters from a Stoic is one of the major texts of Roman Stoic philosophy. Themes include the rational order of the universe, how to lead a simple life, the effects and benefits of misfortune, and the necessity of facing mortality"
"We see some of the most fascinating thinkers in history at their most private and profound, reaching out to a friend, sharing, testing, confirming discoveries about the complexity of life, how to rise above its hardships and enjoy its pleasures."
"I’m an explorer, OK? I like to find out!” -- One of the towering figures of twentieth-century science, Richard Feynman possessed a curiosity that was the stuff of legend. Even before he won the Nobel Prize in 1965, his unorthodox and spellbinding lectures on physics secured his reputation amongst students ... here was an extraordinary intellect devoted to the proposition that the thrill of discovery was matched only by the joy of communicating it to others."
- Edward O Wilson's Letters to a Young Scientist
"Lewis's satire is a Christian classic. Screwtape is a veteran demon in the service of "Our Father Below" whose letters to his nephew and protagonist, Wormwood, instruct the demon-in-training in the fine points of leading a new Christian astray. Lewis's take on human nature is as on-target as it was when the letters were first published in 1941." For the author's actual letters to his friends and readers see also The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis.
Letters From Lovers
"The relationship between Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning began in his admiring her poetry. His audacious first letter moves from loving her books to loving her. ... the fullness of their love is revealed in these letters."
- Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet and The Letter From a Young Worker
- The Letters of Sylvia Plath
"On July 17th 1939, Eileen Alexander, a bright young woman recently graduated from Girton College, Cambridge, begins a brilliant correspondence with fellow Cambridge student Gershon Ellenbogen that lasts five years and spans many hundreds of letters. "
- Love, Kurt: The Vonnegut Love Letters, 1941-1945
- The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy
So, if you're inspired by this blog, why not write a letter (or even a postcard) and send it to someone as an unexpected act of friendship in 2022?