Letters: antiques of the recent past, relegated as containment devices for the bills we need to pay. Steadily, they are on a declining path to obscurity. But we must not forget the purpose of letters in their heyday. Before social media, text, and email, people had to use hand-written words to describe that delicious meal they just ate or paper postcards to show off their latest vacation destination. Letters and postage stamps were once the mediums through which the world communicated on a deeply personal level.
Noting that it’s illegal to read other people’s mail, a group of authors have found a way to share some of the most intimate letters from icons through history. With literally decades of letters compiled into books, it is now possible for you to experience the thrill that they, as a medium for communication, once provided for the world. Below are ten must-read letter collection books for you to kick off your National U.S. Postage Stamp Day with.
Could things get any better? Not only do you have the love letters, you are also treated to portraits corresponding to them. In this collection, you can witness the most intimate correspondences from some of history’s icons, from Beethoven and Mozart to Mary Wollstonecraft and F. Scott Fitzgerald. There’s a whole new side to these people for you to discover.
In this book, you get to experience the relationship between arguably one of the most popular presidents in U.S. history and his children. Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was renowned for the frequency in which he wrote and answered letters, meaning there’s a whole lot more where that came from when you’ve finished picking through this masterful collection.
He was one of America’s greatest authors, and now you can snoop in his mail. Comprising of letters from across his life, this is the best way to get to know this beloved author aside from reading his books. Unlike in fiction, you don’t need to pick through metaphors, hidden meanings, and indirect audience messages; it is all laid out for your enjoyment in these three volumes by Sandra Spanier and Robert W. Trogdon.
Shirley Jackson, the female author icon of the twentieth century, has written a number of letters, spanning her entire adult life. With this collection in hand, organized by her son Laurence Jackson Hyman and Bernice M. Murphy, you can now gain a new perspective on the life of this renowned author and role model of feminist literature.
He was undoubtedly the greatest president in the history of the United States. Now, with this book in hand, you can get a personal view of his life through the letters he wrote, as well as read his speeches which helped to change history.
If you’re a fan of her mystery masterworks, prepare to uncover a whole new series of evidence. Containing decades of letters to her closest family members and others, this book will demystify you on the life of one of the greatest mystery novelists of the twentieth century.
It turns out that, as much as the founding fathers made themselves busy with the creation of a new country, some also made time to engage in the spicy social medium of the time: sending letters. That was the case for John Adams, who became the second president of the newly formed United States. And, with this book in your hands, you can claim a front row seat in the relationship that took place between he and his beloved Abigail Adams.
Here’s a special treat: the love letters between the most notable author power-couple in history. Sounds like something out of a Fitzgerald book. But it’s deeper than that. In these pages of mail, you will get to see beyond the 1920s glamor that these two literary titans experienced.
When you lived in the desolate untamed realm of the Great Plains, there wasn’t much to do except survive…or write about it. If you like the western genre but are looking for something a little different, these authentic stories about the women who, quite literally, tamed the once lawless lands in the middle-country, will provide you with a new and uniquely female-centric take on the U.S.’s history.
If you couldn’t get enough of him from the musical, you can now read his mail which steered the wheels of history and also led to his reputation being dragged through the mud. They might not be as rhythmic or rhyming as the hit Broadway show that Lin-Manuel Miranda created, but you get to read the real Alexander Hamilton in this book.
With these collections, you can now appreciate the past significance of letters. Though the world is changing, and things are becoming ever the more digitized, at least we have one day a year (July 1st) to remind us of how these small folded pieces of paper contained more than just dreaded IRS emblems: they contained words that reveal the true nature behind people and wielded political and historic power.