August 17, 2016 | by Ted Hughes
August 12, 2016 | by Radclyffe Hall
The below comes from a love letter dated October 24, 1934, sent by the English writer Radclyffe Hall to Evguenia Souline, a Russian émigré. Hall, best known for her 1928 novel The Well of Loneliness, wrote with unprecedented openness about her lesbian identity; she often went by the name John. Though she lived with Una Troubridge, pictured above, she carried on a long love affair with Souline. Her letters to Souline are collected in Your John: The Love Letters of Radclyffe Hall, edited by Joanne Glasgow.
Why is it that the people I write of are so very often lonely people? Are they? I think that perhaps you may be right. I greatly feel the loneliness of the soul—nearly every soul is more or less lonely. Then again: I have been called the writer of “misfits.” And it may be that being myself a “misfit,” for as you know, beloved, I am a born invert, it may be that I am a writer of “misfits” in one form or another—I think I understand them—their joys & their sorrows, indeed I know I do, and all the misfits of this world are lonely, being conscious that they differ from the rank and file. When we meet you & I will talk of my work and you shall be my critic, my darling. If you wish to you shall be very rude—but I do hope you like your John’s work just a little. I want you to like my work, Soulina. Read More »
July 29, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
Chester Himes and John Alfred Williams met in 1961 and soon began a long and occasionally tempestuous correspondence about their personal lives and the difficulty of finding a fair reception as African American writers in the publishing world. By the late sixties, Himes had moved to Spain, where he wrote Williams frequently about the privations of life abroad. In the letters below, they discuss Himes’s beloved cat, Griot. These excerpts come from Dear Chester, Dear John, a 2008 collection of the pair’s correspondence. Himes died in 1984; Williams passed away last summer, at eighty-nine.
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July 18, 2016 | by Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson, who would be seventy-nine today, started smoking Kools when he was a sophomore in high school; he remained loyal to the brand until 1962, when he discovered Dunhills. In 1960, he wrote the letter below to the distribution manager of the Brown and Williamson Tobacco Co. You can read more of Thompson’s early correspondence in The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955–1967. The Paris Review interviewed Thompson in our Fall 2000 issue.
January 15, 1960
164 Ave. Flamboyanes
Hyde Park, Puerto Rico
Brown-Williamson Tobacco Co.
I regret to inform you that Salems have all but swamped Kools in the Puerto Rico cigarette market. I don’t know if this makes much difference to you or not, but let me tell you that it bothers the mortal hell out of me. I’ve been smoking Kools for close to ten years, but down here I’d have an easier time getting a steady supply of reefers. There are god knows how many cigarette machines in San Juan, and in only three of them can I find king-size Kools. This is working a tremendous hardship on me, and I’m writing you in hopes that you’ll do something about it. Read More »
July 1, 2016 | by A. N. Devers
At an auction in December 2010, I acquired a double-breasted men’s mink stroller coat owned by Edward Gorey. It was an unlikely purchase: I hadn’t intended to bid on anything, had never been to a proper auction before, and had very little money to my name.
I was there to write something about the once-in-a-lifetime auction of Gorey’s personal hoard of fur coats—twenty-one in all. I was a Gorey fan, not, outside a first edition or two, a collector. But that morning, I had deposited a meager paycheck from adjunct professing, and I began to feel the emergence of a dream. I could own the coat. Why couldn’t I at least try? I could at least pretend to be that person who wins precious objects at auction. Read More »
June 13, 2016 | by Fernando Pessoa
In 1929, after a nine-year silence, Fernando Pessoa renewed his correspondence with Ophelia Queiroz, with whom he had enjoyed the only romance of his life. Where his earlier letters, from 1920, found him effusive (perhaps excessively) in his affections, this later chapter sees him in a far more disturbed frame of mind; by the end of the year he had broken off their correspondence again, this time for good. Read more of his letters in The Selected Prose of Fernando Pessoa.
September 24, 1929
So tell me, my little Wasp (who’s not really mine, though you are a wasp), what words you want to hear from a creature whose mind took a spill somewhere on the Rua do Ouro, whose wits—along with the rest of him—got run over by a truck as it turned the corner onto the Rua de Sao Nicolau. Read More »