By Jacob Silverman
April 1st, 2010
Letters of Note, a site devoted to “correspondence deserving of a wider audience,” has only been around since September 2009, but the site’s editor, Shaun Usher, has already compiled an impressive roster of epistles from figures as various as Joan of Arc, Fred Astaire, Albert Einstein, Matt Groening, and a furious Harlan Ellison. Each post begins with an explanatory introduction by Usher; next comes an image of the original typed or hand-written letter, followed by a transcription. It’s a fascinating project, and I share Usher’s surprise that he could find no similar site before he started his own. (Read more about the site’s beginnings in a helpful interview conducted by Laura Nathan-Garner on True/Slant.)
The best way to explore the site is probably just to dive in, though perhaps you might want to check out some of the most popular items, such as Jack Kerouac’s 1957 letter to Lucien Carr and his wife Francesca, written from Tangiers (“Burroughs has gone insane”); or Laura Huxley’s long letter describing her husband, Aldous, on his deathbed, when he asked his wife to give him LSD (“The most beautiful death”). (Huxley, along with C.S. Lewis, famously—or not so—died on the same day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.)
Usher has another interesting project: Letterheady, a collection of distinctive letterhead and stationary. Check it out, and if you like either project, he welcomes submissions.