Book Review: Letters of Note

Letters of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher
Letters of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher

What do letters mean to you? Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience, compiled by Shaun Usher is a treasure trove of 125 interesting letters. An eclectic collection, indeed, this anthology includes notable correspondence from individuals such as Jack the Ripper to Iggy Pop. The letters convey heartache, humor, anger, inspiration, and of course, romance. Many letters are of historical interest, but the collection also includes pop culture and everyday life.

There are too many public figures who have written letters in this book to name, and some of the letters are meaningful letters from relative unknowns. The best thing about this book is that you do not necessarily have to be a fan of the person writing the letter, since the letters draw you in, because they are just so fascinating.

It is impossible for me to choose a favorite, so I will share a few that really resonated with me.

  • Queen Elizabeth II’s letter and appended recipe for drop scones to U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower includes a gracious account of the President’s visit to Balmoral Castle in Scotland and in my mind, paints a picture of the Queen making the scones regularly in the palace kitchen.
  • Elvis Presley’s plea to U.S. President Richard Nixon to become a Federal Agent at Large, penned in Elvis’ hand on American Airlines stationary.
  • Mick Jagger’s letter to Andy Warhol regarding Warhol’s design of the album sleeve for The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album.
  • Mark Twain’s letter to Walt Whitman to congratulate him on his many accomplishments and his 70th birthday.

Letters of Note is available on Kindle, but you may want to think twice about going digital. The substantial hard cover version boasts high quality images, heavy paper, paper dust jacket, and ribbon marker. Each letter includes a transcript when needed, and many letter facsimiles, with associated blemishes that give the letters genuine character. Contextual notes from Usher are objective and are right on point to inform the reader of requisite background information.

There is something for everyone in this truly eclectic collection and this book is just waiting for display on your coffee table!

Click here for additional information about the book Letters of Note.

Shaun Usher also has a website by the same name, Letters of Note, with an archive of interesting letters.


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