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Hello, it's lovely to be back. Since we last met, I’ve been amazed and gratified that so many people, in so many countries, have supported, bought, read and given my first collection, Letters of Note. THANK YOU for helping make it happen.
One of the best things about the slightly surreal process of publishing a bestseller is the huge number of readers, libraries, authors' estates, archivists and literary curators who have got in touch to alert me to wonderful new caches of correspondence. In the two years since I finished Letters of Note I’ve been busy going through these and have come up with a second selection – Letters of Note: Volume II – which I genuinely think is even stronger and more varied than the first.
Here are some of the treasures it will contain:
- Eleanor Roosevelt writing to the Daughters of the American Revolution to cancel her membership, in protest at their racism
- ‘Oh my ass burns like fire!’ – a letter from Mozart to his cousin Marianne
- A beautiful condolence letter from Emily Dickinson following the death of her nephew
- Florence Nightingale's letter home about the appalling horrors of the Crimean War
- Norman Mailer refusing to give his father money to feed his gambling addiction
- A customer complaint letter from 1450 BC
- An excited letter home from Janis Joplin, just as she's on the cusp of stardom
- Alan Turing's letter to fellow mathematician Norman Routledge shortly before he was charged with gross indecency
- Charlotte’s Web author E.B. White writing to his little boy pretending to be Daisy the family dog.
- A telegram from Peter Sellers to Spike Milligan, two months before he died, pleading that they reform The Goons
- John Cleese's response to a query about his fan club, claiming that all his members have been killed by Michael Palin's fan club
- A letter from John Lennon to Eric Clapton asking him to join his supergroup
- Heartbreaking notes scrawled by the passengers on Japan Airlines flight 123, written minutes before it crashed.
- Marge Simpson writing to Barbara Bush after she called The Simpsons the 'dumbest family she ever saw'
- Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding to Churchill in 1940, making the request which would later ensure British aerial supremacy in the Battle of Britain
- A letter from Carl Jung to James Joyce discussing his reservations about Ulysses
- Anthony Hollander's letter to Blue Peter about ‘making animals alive’ and the reply, which inspired him to become a world-renowned doctor
- Che Guevara’s note to his children to be read in the event of his death asking them to feel 'deeply any injustice committed against anyone’
What, where, when
The book will contain 125 letters, more than half of which will not yet have appeared on the Letters of Note site. Physically, the book will be the same shape, size and quality as last time. I’m delighted to be working with Caz Hildebrand and the team at Here Design again, who will be coming up with something stunning that will match the last book (and Lists of Note) – particularly when lined up on a shelf (these things matter…)
We have a crack team in place ready to clear permissions and I’m working hard to finish off the editing.
All of which means that – as long as you help us hit our target – the brand new Unbound special edition will be despatched in the Autumn, in plenty of time for Christmas.
While you’re waiting you might be interested in another letters venture I’m involved in, inspired by the success of the book. It’s called Letters Live, a series of staged events featuring actors, performers, writers and musicians reading their favourite letters. We started last year and the roll call of performers involved has been astonishing including Benedict Cumberbatch, Louise Brealey, Juliet Stephenson, Stephen Fry, Nick Cave, Russell Brand, Rob Brydon, Gillian Anderson and Neil Gaiman.
The next series runs for 5 nights at the Freemasons’ Hall in London from Tuesday March 31st – Saturday 5th April. Tickets are selling fast, so book now at the Letters Live website.
Below: Benedict Cumberbatch reads "Yours in distress", Alan Turing's letter to Norman Routledge.
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I know what taste is and what vulgarity is
Tennessee Williams to Joseph Breen
October 29th, 1950
In 1947, A Streetcar Named Desire premiered on Broadway to rapturous applause, glowing reviews and, the following year, numerous awards. Written by Tennessee Williams and directed by Elia Kazan with a cast that included Marlon Brando, Jessica Tandy, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden, it ran for two successful years with few alterations. In 1951, a film version hit the big screen, adapted by Williams, directed by Kazan, and boasting largely the same cast. It went on to win four Academy Awards. But it wasn’t all plain sailing. In 1950, the year before its release, the film ran afoul of the Motion Picture Production Code, who deemed a “pivotal” rape scene to be in breach of their guidelines. In response, Tennessee Williams wrote to the code’s administrator, Joseph Breen.
- 24th July 2015 First look at the cover of More Letters of Note
As promised, here's a first look at the cover design for the next volume of Letters of Note (more on the details soon). It's the first ever Letters of Note book with moving parts – and I'm excited for you to see what's on this very special library-style card in the pocket on the front of the book...
Thanks so much again for helping to bring this beautiful book to life.
Shaun…2nd June 2015 Tell the world - help get Letters of Note: Vol II to 100%
Apologies for my radio silence, I've been hard at work writing so that we can get the new book out in time for Christmas. I want to wish a huge heartfelt thank you to the 1,117 people who have pledged for Letters of Note: Volume II and helped it reach 74% of its required funding so far.
I'm extremely happy to share with you all that the book is now complete. These entertaining, unusual and inspiring…
These people are helping to fund More Letters of Note.
Jurgen W. Glasmacher
FEROSE VELLOPARAMPIL RASHEED