: The following collections contain all the letters mentioned in the previous section on
Letters of James Agee to Father Flye
. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971.
Baldwin, James. “My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation” in
. New York: The Dial Press, 1963.
Brockway, Wallace & Winer.
A Second Treasury of the World’s
. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1941.
Soul on Ice
. New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1968.
Dell, Ernest F.
Love Letters of Famous Men and Women
. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1941.
Selected Joyce Letters
. New York: The Viking Press, 1975.
Fall, Bernard, ed.
Ho Chi Minh on Revolution
. New York: Signet Books, 1967.
Frankfurter, Marion and Gardner Jackson.
The Letters of Sacco and
. New York: The Viking Press, 1928.
Fifty Famous Letters of History
. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1930.
Calamity Jane’s Letters to Her Daughter
. San Lorenzo: Shameless Hussy Press, 1976.
Last Letters from Stalingrad
. New York: Signet Books, 1965.
Lavan, George, ed.
Che Guevara Speaks
. New York: Grove Press, 1968.
Lawner, Lynne, ed.
Letters from Prison
. New York: Harper and Rowe, 1975.
Schuster, M. Lincoln.
A Treasury of the World’s Great Letters
. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1940, 1968.
By far the most widely ranging and useful collection of letters I’ve come across. It’s available in paperback, and well worth the price.
Longer and/or Literary Letters
Most of these selections require a fairly sophisticated reader, probably advanced, college-bound Juniors or Seniors.
Abelard and Eloise,
The Fire Next Time
Letter to an Unborn Child
Letter to His Father
Montagu, Lady Mary,
Rilke, Rainer Maria,
Letters of a Young Poet
Twain, Mark (S. L. Clemens)
(satire on Richardson’s
Lewis, C. S.,
The Screwtape Letters
(only for masochistic letter freaks)
Two good books for background on the Art of Letter Writing:
Irving, William H.
Providence of Wit in the English Letter
. Durham: Duke University Press, 1955.
Covers English letter writing as a literary phenomenon from the early 17th to the early l9th century.
A Window in the Bosom
. Hamden: Archon Books, 1977.
Excellent introduction to the letters of Alexander Pope. Chapter 2, “Precedents and Predecessors” traces Classical and French influences for further background.
C. Letter Instruction Books:
The Polite Letter Writer
. Philadelphia: 1839.
The Pocket Letter Writer
. Providence: B. Cranston and Co., 1839.
Punch’s Complete Letter Writer
. London:. Bradbury and Evans, 1845.
This book is a satire on letter manuals of the period, and should be read after some examples of the real thing.
They Carried the Mail
. Washington: Robert B. Luce, Inc., 1972.
A history of the American Mail Carrier from Colonial times to the present. The best book on the current state of the U.S. Post Office (facts and figures).
Origins of Intelligence Services
. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1974.
The most detailed account on the communication and spy networks of the ancient empires in the Near East, Greece, Rome, China, and of the Golden Horde. Rather dry.
Colonial & Revolutionary Post
. Richmond: Dietz Printing Co., 1931.
Solid introduction with good pictures.
A Short History of the Mail Service
. Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1970.
introductory work in the field, from ancient postal routes, through the Renaissance, Thurn and Taxis mail systems, right into the 20th century with airmail and electronic communications. Written mostly from the point of view of the U.S. mail service.
A Yankee Post Office
. New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Co., 1935.
Tells the story of the Guilford Post Office and its Postmasters. Readable, but a little tedious in the amassing of all the necessary historical details.
The Village Post Office
. Ann Arbor: Edwards Brothers, Inc., 1964.
About the mail service in Southport, Ct. Not as interesting or well put-together as
A Yankee Post Office
. From Pillar to
. London: William Heinemann Ltd.,
By far the most readable of the bunch. Does from an English perspective what Scheele does for the U.S. Not as complete and compulsive, it conveys better than any other book the vast cultural and life style differences in previous time periods, and the implications for the mail services.
Codes and Spies:
Foot, M. R. D.
European Resistance to Naziism 1940-45
. London: Eyre Methuen, 1976.
Overcompulsive in detail, trying hard to be the seminal work in the field, nevertheless it has an excellent section on communications, codes and ciphers (Chapter 5: “Technicalities”). Also great for some hair-raising escape stories.
and Secret Writing
. New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1972.
A light, readable introduction to the mathematical aspect of codes with good examples, and a few brainteasers for the people who are tired of the Sunday Times Crossword Puzzle.
. New York: The MacMillan Co., 1967.
This is it, folks. The final word on Cryptology. 1200 pages worth. From ancient times to the Cold War. Detailed descriptions of every imaginable code, cipher ever invented. Sections on codes in literature. Chapters on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway, and the Japanese master code: Purple, in WW II. Detailed discussions of cryptography, cryptanalysis, and steganography. Fascinating, well-written, the ideal tome for a rainy vacation on Block Island.
Secret Codes & Ciphers
. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1968.
The shortest and most superficial text—basically for grade schoolers. But it includes tramp and hobo signs, and basic, straightforward explications of elementary codes.
The Crying of Lot 49
. New York: Bantam Books, 1967.
A novel based in part on the history of the mail service, and a “possible” cloak and dagger postal conspiracy in Southern California, which had its origin in Italy around 1200. “Paranoia strikes deep.”
Wright, Ernest Vincent.
A Story of Over 50,000 Words
Without Using the Letter “E”
. Los Angeles: Wetzel Pub. Co., 1939.
An orthographic compulsive’s dream, the book is a testimony to the letter it ignores so categorically. Especially interesting is the paragraph on page 110, which tries to explain what a Post Office is, since words like “place, office, house,” are off-limits.
. New York: Harper and Rowe, 1967.
A basic introduction. One of those “how to” books from the time when handwriting analysis threatened to become the newest pop-psychological fad.
History of Communication
The Gutenberg Galaxy
The Making of Typographic Man
. New York: Signet Books, 1969.
Hailed as “the oracle of the electric age” when it first appeared, McCluhan’s provocative analysis of the history of communication is often tendentious and incorrect in its details, yet ultimately convincing about the differences in perception and result from written and oral modes. Contains fascinating details on the development of the alphabet, writing, printing, and reading.