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Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience
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Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  5,054 ratings  ·  607 reviews
Letters of Note is a collection of one hundred and twenty five of the world's most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters, based on the seismically popular website of the same name - an online museum of correspondence visited by over 70 million people.

From Virginia Woolf's heart-breaking suicide letter, to Queen Elizabeth II's recipe for drop scones sent to President
Hardcover, U.K., 384 pages
Published October 24th 2013 by Canongate Unbound
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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Mutasim Billah
Letters of Note is a collection of over a hundred correspondences across time. There isn't a unique theme to these letters and their arrangement is quite random.
"The highlights are endless, but let me pluck a handful from the bag to whet your appetite. We have a letter from Mick Jagger to Andy Warhol that contains a wonderfully laid-back design brief for a Rolling Stones album cover; a handwritten note from Queen Elizabeth II to US President Eisenhower which is accompanied by Ma’am’s personal
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: excellent, own, re-read
This one is truly amazing.
Such a beautiful collection of inspiring letters.
Will reread this many times, I think.
Wish I had the physical copy, I would treasure it forever.
Just lengthening my already humongous wishlist, I guess.

Update April 2017:
Did in fact get a physical copy and reread it! Still great.
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful book. If you haven't seen it in real life, this is a beast of a thing. A huge, very well produced hardback, that would make a great coffee table book or an excellent gift.

I've read through the 125 letters and they've made me both laugh and cry. There are some real gems included, by the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, Leonardo da Vinci, Elvis Presley, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. There are many letters by authors such as Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Jack Kerouac and E
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a member of what feels like a very limited group of people who still favor “snail mail” and the written word. There is an element of romance involved which can’t be found in a text message or email. Although self described as a “poor letter-writer”; Shaun Usher equally sees the beauty of letters and compiles 125 of them in, “Letter of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience”.

“Letters of Note” follows a simple concept: a compilation of 125 letters presen
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Letters of Note started four years ago with the sole aim of bringing people, “correspondence deserving of a wider audience.” The collator of the blog and book is Shaun Usher, a writer himself, and I have long been a fan of his – so I was thrilled when he pitched the idea for a Letters of Note book to the crowd-sourced publisher, unbound. Eight pages at the back of the book list all of the unbound subscribers who made the Letters of Note book a reality, which is just lovely. ...more
Emma Sea
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Marvellous book. I love that reproductions of (most of) the actual letters are included: they're exquisite, unreadable, elegant, crass, heartbreaking.

It's fitting that the book is a beautiful artefact as well. The paper is a great weight, and not too glossy. I heart the shiny embossed cover. The size works great with the letter reproductions, but it did make it hard to read. This definitely wasn't commutable, and it was too big to read in bed or in an armchair. It requires a table and undivided
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
Hidden treasure between the covers. Letters from around the world, different times, the famous and not so famous, all have one thing in common, they are fascinating! I've had this on my coffee table for a couple weeks and everyone who has picked it up has had trouble putting it down. ...more
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
Some remarkable letters here, some of which are reproduced, which is all the better. I confess to not reading every single one. I dislike Ernest Hemingway, for example; I have Hemingway over-saturation and never need to hear of him again.

My 2 favourites here were
1. "Sweetheart, Come," a profoundly sad letter from a crazy woman to her husband, especially worthwhile for being reproduced
2. "To my old master," from a former slave to his former master, which is basically an effective flipping of the
Conor Ahern
Cute idea--reproducing correspondence between famous people to give insight into their personal lives, or the events of the time--but became a bit tedious after maybe 1/3 of the way through.
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, letters
This is a wondrous collection of 125 letters selected from the cream of the crop on The letters are wide ranging, letters of great historical importance, letters of consolation, some light hearted notes, letters from famous personages and letters from not so famous personages but that are equally as interesting.

The collection includes such gems as a job application from Leonardo Da Vinci, Iggy Pop’s letter to a fan, Albert Einstein’s take on god, F. Scott Fitzgerald's letter o
Katy Noyes
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of my books of the year, I think I can say. It sounds rather lofty - a collection of letters from history - but I haven't reacted to any one book with not only tears and laughter but also feelings of great admiration, warmth and hope for mankind.

Currently my colleague is reading it too, at my recommendation and feels just the same.

So how does one book manage this? Collected together are letters from various points in time, from various countries and famous and not-so-famous people. The lette
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have loved reading and writing letters since I was a little girl. It was ever so thrilling to go to the mailbox and bring back an envelope addressed to me, open it with reverent anticipation, and pour over the words meant for my eyes only. I know firsthand that one can KNOW a person from their letters. It's how I got to know my grandmother in spite of being miles and miles apart. Now a senior citizen I enjoy the friendship of five pen pals. We've written for over 15 years, pouring our hearts o ...more
This took me quite a while to read because I read a letter here and a letter there, and then forgot that I had it in my Kindle app for a period! It’s an interesting concept - a collection of letters to and/or from famous people. Some are more interesting than others - some of the “famous” people I’ve never heard of, so they didn’t mean much to me.

I liked that a lot of the letters included a copy of the original, so you could read them in the person’s own handwriting, if you wished. If their hand
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
One of my books of this year! It shocks, it makes you laugh, it makes you want to cry, read passages out loudly, it inspires you and restores your faith in humanity. Read it slowly and savour it. It's perfect. ...more
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I disagree with the folks who found these letters boring! What an array of choices from a letter engraved on bark dating to 1350 to the hilarious retort to the Dept. of Environmental Quality from a Michigan man about a beaver dam in his stream.

But my favorites are letters from the heart:
1. A note found on a 16th century mummified male in South Korea from his wife which starts "You always said, "Dear, Let's live together until our hair turns gray and die on the same day." How could you pass away
This book has been on my radar for a while due to its unique nature, and I finally picked it up after seeing it in a bookstore and feeling a magnetic pull towards it.

The curation of this book is superb, for one, in that the layout makes it enjoyable and easy to read and decipher the letters - it doesn't over face you in the quantity of information surrounding the letters which ensures that the focus of the book remains on the letters themselves, rather than the context and further information o
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is something so intimate, so enriching about letter-writing. In them we have access to the heart of the writer and what feels like the beginnings of a connection. This particular collection of letters is essentially an homage to humanity, where letters from Royalty and Presidents, children to leaders, creators, freed slaves to old owners, and from spouse to spouse, act as both confirmation and celebration to the brokenness and beauty within humanity.

Susan Hanson
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking...illuminating
The collection of letters within this book is a revelation.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this! Eclectic is the right word--letters from Andy Warhol sit next to letters from Leonardo da Vinci but its complete lack of organization is part of its charm.
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014, letters
Letter collections have never struck me as very exciting reading material, but I adored this collection. The format is gorgeous, with reproductions of many of the letters filling oversized pages, accompanied by transcripts of the handwritten ones. I was very grateful about the latter, as when I first paged through this book, I was worried it was going to be hell on my eyes.

It really is just what it claims to be—an eclectic collection. You can read a kind letter from Queen Elizabeth II to Preside
Astrid Edwards
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience is based on a simple yet brilliant concept, and is wonderfully executed.
Shaun Usher has collated some of the most famous letters and notes of history (think of what the alternative draft for the moon landing said in the event that it was not a success), and interspersed them with personal letters of the average men and women whose thoughts are so rarely recorded by history (think of the letter a single mother
Amy Neftzger
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an eclectic and yet incredible collection of actual letters (some photographed so that you can see the handwriting or stationery upon which the letter was written). Some of these letters were written by authors, some by politicians, others were written by famous or notable individuals, such as Albert Einstein.

Each of these letters holds unique significance, either because it provides insight into the mind of the writer or to an event/ time in history. For example, Queen Elizabeth shared
I laughed (Dorothy Parker bored in the hospital, Eudora Welty asking for a job). I cried (Louis Armstrong responding to a soldier's fan letter). I learned more about things I thought I knew (Vonnegut's letter to his parents about Dresden, William Safire's presidential speech in case Armstrong and Aldrin were left stranded on the moon). I was deeply deeply puzzled (why the hell did Amelia Earhart get married if that was how she felt?).

But holy Moses, I am intensely grateful to this book for expos
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading through all these letters! Some standouts: the letter Mary Stuart wrote before she was to be executed - Charles Dickens' plea for an end to public executions - the words that would have been read by Nixon if Apollo 11 had not returned from the moon - a surreal letter written by Mark David Chapman - Albert Einstein's answer to a letter about whether scientists pray - and so many more. This edition has a ribbon bound into the binding so you can mark your place as you read ...more
Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wow! This was a real cultural treat for a mind - great correspondence assembly, amazing each, with some shining diamonds among them, like Virginia Woolf's last note to her husband, Ray Bradbury's or Hemingway's letter to Scott Fitzgerald. Shaun Usher had done a tremendous work, his collection is incredible and my only remark consists of his area of interest (which is pretty obvious) - American culture and history - it makes this book less universal as it seems to be. ...more
Craig Wallwork
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Inspiring. Humbling. Funny. Crazy. Monumental. Heartbreaking. Just some of the words that are evoked when reading this collection of correspondence from famous historical figures to uber cool contemporary icons. For anyone interesting in the epistolary form, this a must have. For those who are not, buy it anyway because you'll find something in here that will floor you. ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know when I’ve had a better time browsing through a book. It’s a collection of the most interesting letters ever written. It includes some classics (Little Virginia’s letter to Santa Claus! A new poet’s inquisitive letter to Rilke!) and some that were new-to-me, but, if you are like me, you won’t skip over many. It’s a must-read, folks!
reading is my hustle
May 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bibliophiles
My husband got this for me for Mother's Day and I LOVE IT. ...more
Celeste Ng
I love this blog and this is a fascinating collection of some of the noteworthy letters from it.
Anthony Archbold
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
The rich tapestry of life, as showcased in a diverse collection of letters from celebrities, professionals and average-joes alike. Who would've thought Iggy Pop could be so eloquent :/ ...more
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Shaun Usher was born in St. Albans in 1978 and currently lives in Wilmslow with his wife and two sons. He is the sole custodian of the popular blog, Letters of Note, a much-anticipated book of which is to be published in October 2013 following lengthy periods of hair-pulling and despair. His obsession with correspondence is particularly interesting given that he regularly receives--and more often ...more

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“As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness. Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out. Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.” 11 likes
“Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.” 8 likes
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