IMMHO, (In my most humble opinion) if you only ever read one blog, Letters of Note is the blog you should choose to read. A big claim, I know. I stand by it, despite the fact that I have some fabulous blog buddies here in the Blogosphere whom I risk offending by making such a bold statement.
What is it about, you may ask? Letters of Note is a blog-based archive of fascinating correspondence, complete with scans and transcripts of the original missives. And, it is fascinating. Truly. It’s also variously enlightening, funny, clever, educational, thought-provoking – and, so much more.
Let me give you an example from Wednesday, 21 March:
F. Scott Fitzgerald with his daughter, “Scottie” and wife, Zelda
(image sourced from Letters of Note)
On August 8th of 1933, author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the following letter of advice to his 11-year-old daughter, “Scottie,” who was away at camp.
(Source: F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters ; Image: Fitzgerald with both his daughter, “Scottie,” and wife, Zelda, via.)
La Paix, Rodgers’ Forge
August 8, 1933
I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy — but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed pages, they never really happen to you in life.
All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare’s in which the line occurs “Lillies that fester smell far worse than weeds.”
Have had no thoughts today, life seems composed of getting up a Saturday Evening Post story. I think of you, and always pleasantly; but if you call me “Pappy” again I am going to take the White Cat out and beat his bottom hard, six times for every time you are impertinent. Do you react to that?
I will arrange the camp bill.
Halfwit, I will conclude.
Things to worry about:
Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Worry about. . .
Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions
Things to think about:
What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?
With dearest love,
P.S. My come-back to your calling me Pappy is christening you by the word Egg, which implies that you belong to a very rudimentary state of life and that I could break you up and crack you open at my will and I think it would be a word that would hang on if I ever told it to your contemporaries. “Egg Fitzgerald.” How would you like that to go through life with — “Eggie Fitzgerald” or “Bad Egg Fitzgerald” or any form that might occur to fertile minds? Try it once more and I swear to God I will hang it on you and it will be up to you to shake it off. Why borrow trouble?
And, this is just one example! I get one of these fascinating snapshots from somebody else’s life delivered to my in-box daily. I love it.
The man behind Letters of Note is Shaun Usher, a Manchester-based, 33-year-old writer. He is the self-titled curator of correspondence. He is also currently putting together a book on the best Letters of Note to date. It is due for release in November. If you don’t already subscribe, go and check it out for yourself here.
(I am off taking a wee sojourn to sunny Queensland over the next few days which means my response times to your comments may be a little slower than usual. I do love hearing from you, so please don’t stop! – It may just take me a little longer to get back to you. Cheers!)