An Engineered Literary Hoax

In September 1810, Scottish writer Walter Scott (1771 – 1832) wrote a letter to Robert Southey (1774 – 1843) relating about a plagiarism allegation he received from an anonymous individual: A witty rogue, the other day, who sent me a letter subscribed “Detector,” proved me guilty of stealing a passage from one of Vida’s Latin […]

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Gleanings from the Past #82

Wasted Time I wasted time, and now doth time waste me; For now hath time made me his numbering clock: My thoughts are minutes; and with sighs they jar Their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch, Whereto my finger, like a dial’s point, Is pointing still, in cleansing them from tears. Now sir, […]

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Checks Written in Blood

Charles K. Feldman (left) and Alexander Korda (right) Film producer Charles K. Feldman (1905 – 1968) related this story: I lost at gin rummy with Alexander Korda one evening, and mailed him a check next day. It was written in red ink, and accompanied by this note: “Dear Alex: You will see that this check is written in […]

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Gleanings from the Past #78

Arrière-Pensée Sir, Will you allow me to draw your attention to a very interesting example of the ethics of modern journalism, a quality of which we have all heard so much and seen so little? About a month ago Mr. T. P. O’Connor published in the Sunday Sun some doggerel verses entitled “The Shamrock,” and […]

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Fred Allen’s “Apology” Letter

In 1940, comedian Fred Allen (1894 – 1956), in his radio program, talked about a time he checked into a hotel in Philadelphia where the rooms were so small that a moth had to furl its wings and walk on the floor and even the mice were humpbacked”. This caused Philadelphia’s politicians, tourism board and […]

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Mark Twain’s Complaint Letters

The following is a letter written by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) to Hartford City Gas Light Co.: Gentlemen, There are but two places in our whole street where lights could be of any value, by any accident, and you have measured and appointed your intervals so ingenious as to leave each of those places in […]

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Getting His Money’s Worth

In 1930, a man from Boston wrote the following amusing letter to The Christian Science Monitor, a weekly periodical: Dear Sir, When I subscribed a year ago you stated that if I was not satisfied at the end of the year I could have my money back. Well, I would like to have it back. On second thought, […]

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A Customer’s Suggestion

Stanley Marcus (left), Herbert Marcus (right) A well-meaning customer of Neiman-Marcus, an American chain of luxury department stores, sent the following letter to Stanley Marcus: Dear Mr. Marcus, I have been receiving beautiful and expensive brochures from you at regular intervals. It occurs to me that you might divert a little of the fortune you […]

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Writing His Own Termination Letter

When novelist Sherwood Anderson felt that he wasn’t happy with his job anymore, he opted to fire himself by writing a termination letter for himself. The letter was addressed to Bayard Barton, his general manager, and it was dated June 25, 1918: Dear Barton, You have a man in your employ that I have thought […]

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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Minor Investment

Franklin D. Roosevelt (left) and Jesse H. Jones (right) In 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a memorandum titled “F.D.R. miscellany (memorandum in F.D.R.L.)” to his Federal Loan Administrator Jesse H. Jones regarding a minor investment — in horse racing: Reference Elliot Roosevelt (Editor) (1950). F.D.R: His Personal Letters 1928-1945.  

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