Just Because: Four Fiendishly Funny Letters
November 15th, 2011

One conversation that is beginning to tire us is the one where everyone has a good moan about how new technology has coarsened our lives and ruined our manners. I’m sure the same was said of the telephone back in the day. Truth is, if Dorothy Parker was with us today she’d definitely be tweeting, and what’s wrong with the occasional text that makes us LOL?

But, and here’s the but, if these words were not put down on a sheet of actual paper, it’s unlikely we’d be able to celebrate them today. (So keep buying your stationery, please.)

1. Letter to Marilyn Monroe (below). An exasperated New York Times journalist tries, without avail, to reach the increasingly elusive star in 1960.

2. Letter from Proust to Princesse Clermont-Tonnerre. This one was so delightfully dotty that Maira Kalman couldn’t resist turning it into an illustration, reproduced below.

3. Publisher’s rejection letter to Gertrude Stein (below). Clearly this publisher saw no charms in now-famous lines like, “A rose is a rose is a rose.”

4. Diana Vreeland memos from Vogue. We’ve saved the best for last. DV was the incandescently brilliant editor of Vogue in the late 60s. Each morning her routine would be to dictate, from her bathroom, a memo to her secretary for immediate circulation to an inner circle of staff. These missives were to become legendary in fashion circles, and they still make for great reading today. (Visionaire published 150 of them in a now very collectable edition.)

(Scratchy quality so transcript follows each one.)

“December 9, 1966. Re: Pearls. I am extremely disappointed to see that we have practically no pearls at all in the past few issues. In fact, many necklines could have been helped by pearls worn inside the dress that show inside the cutaway sides and back of most ordinary dresses on top…

“I speak of this very often — and as soon as I stop speaking the pearls disappear.

“Nothing gives the luxury of pearls. Please keep them in mind.”

And here’s one more memo we couldn’t resist:

“December 6, 1966. Re: Cover situation. Our cover situation is drastic…

“I do not hear from anyone an idea or a suggestion of either a face or something that would be sutiable…

“We are on the verge of a drastic emergency.”

* Sources: We found the Marilyn letter and Vreeland memos at Letters of Note. We’d recommend subscribing, as we did, to this wonderful blog, so each morning you get a new letter in your inbox. They are marvelous way to start the day.


Leave a Reply