A painting for the U.S. Army’s Stars and Stripes newspaper shows a downed pilot fending off sharks with a knife.
Ed Vebell/Getty Images
As part of the nation’s massive wartime mobilization effort, millions of Americans, for the first time, traveled abroad – where many had their first encounters with the marine predators.
The written word has guided us through distance from our loved ones for centuries. Here’s how it can bring us closer
The gravestone of John Keats in Rome’s ‘non-Catholic’ cemetery.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Doubt can be uncomfortable. It is often tempting to jump to conclusions. But Keats counsels otherwise.
Charles Dickens in his study at Gads Hill Place, England. Line engraving by Samuel Hollyer, 1875.
Dickens worried for the safety of his sons when diphtheria broke out in France and - in a newly discovered letter - wrote about how the truth was difficult to find.
‘The Dyings have been too deep for me,’ Dickinson wrote in 1884.
190 years after her birth, Dickinson’s life reminds us of how to confront the depths of loss with courage and hope.
Hemingway and his eldest son, Bumby, pose in Havana harbor in 1933.
Collection of David Meeker
While the man the world knows as ‘Papa’ balanced the demands of parenting with his work, his letters and fiction offer a window into the depth of his paternal feeling.
Then – as now – Americans found themselves transfixed by the news.
International Center of Photography
During our current bout of collective trauma, many of our coping strategies have mimicked the ways Americans responded to the Kennedy assassination.
On paper, lives were lived, trysts arranged, manifestos mailed and wars waged.
Will there ever be an electronic equivalent of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ or Émile Zola’s ‘J’Accuse!’?
Older generations have sometimes been shocked that some younger people can’t read a handwritten note.
Developing fluency in handwriting matters for literacy outcomes, and handwriting is an elegant testimony to the unique power of the human voice.
Archivists put an immense amount of work into organizing, digitizing and maintaining repositories.
AP Photo/Matt Dunham
The media trope negates the work done by archivists, who are often well-aware of the existence of ‘long-lost’ letters, journals and stories.
Leonard Cohen pictured in July 2008. His 2016 letter to his ‘muse’ Marianne Ihlen went viral after his death in the same year.
Leonard Cohen’s letter to his former girlfriend on her death bed became a viral phenomenon. But the words that circulated on social media were a paraphrased version, not his own.
Sending my love.
Stacks of treasured love letters can tell the intimate stories of war.
Martin Luther King Jr.‘s dream – which alternated between shattered and hopeful – can be traced back to Hughes’ poetry.
In order to avoid being labeled a communist sympathizer, King needed to publicly distance himself from the controversial poet. Privately, King found ways to channel Hughes’ prose.
From the initial avalanche of mail triggered by Germaine Greer’s book The Female Eunuch grew a collection of 50 years of letters, emails, faxes, telegrams and newsletters.
Marcella Cheng/The Conversation NY-BD-CC
Essays On Air: Reading Germaine Greer’s mail.
The Conversation 24.4 MB (download)
The Germaine Greer Archive offers a powerful, often amusing, sometimes perplexing glimpse into the lives of people affected by her work, as well as the many faces of Greer herself.
Ernest Hemingway with a bull near Pamplona, Spain in 1927, two years before ‘A Farewell to Arms’ would be published.
Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
A newly published batch of Ernest Hemingway’s letters could change the way we think about the author’s influences, relationships with other writers and views on race.
New research gives weight to Noam Chomsky’s idea of a universal language ability.
Over a period of 30 years, millions of criminals and political prisoners were sent to Soviet labor camps.
The recently translated letters of Latvian poet and journalist Arsenii Formakov depict everyday life – and suffering – in the Gulag.
An artist’s depiction of the ‘shibboleth incident.’
Detail from art by H. de Blois, from The Bible and Its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons, vol. 3, edited by Charles F. Horne and Julius A. Bewer, 1908
Going as far back as the Bible, and as widely known as the phrase ‘Open, Sesame,’ passwords are a textual link to our past. But they may not be around much longer.
We don’t send as many letters these days but, as historians know, there’s nothing quite as resilient.
Australians might now prefer to send emails over private letters but let’s not overlook the letter’s unique, tactile role, particularly in its most intimate expressions.
Lord Byron sent out love letters left right and centre.
“My dearest Theresa,” Lord Byron wrote to his mistress in his garden, August 1819. A century later, on a July afternoon in 1916, Captain Alfred Bland, a British officer in World War I, sat down before…