Letters of Note - Edited by Shaun Usher (4 stars)

Hard-hitting anthology in form of beautifully constructed book

Letters of Note - Shaun Usher (ed)

Over the past three years Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note website has become a treasure trove of celebrated correspondence, the finest examples of which have been selected for inclusion in this stunning volume. Witty, tragic, educational, inspirational – there are over 150 letters contained in this beautifully constructed book, which includes scans of many of the handwritten and typed originals. The impeccable design, from cover to typesetting and layout, befits a project that is clearly a labour of love.

Beyond surface curiosity, the anthology hits hard, and the emotions stirred by random browsing are as varied as the themes covered, from the Queen’s note to President Eisenhower with her recipe for drop scones, to Virginia Woolf’s heartbreaking suicide note, or an SOS telegram sent from the Titanic. The highlights are many, but among those to really leave a mark are exchanges from lesser-known individuals, such as Sol LeWitt’s letter to fellow artist Eva Hesse encouraging her to overcome her self-doubt. The letter is touching, inspiring and affectionate, much like the anthology itself. Letters of Note a book that entire afternoons will be lost in for years to come.

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