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Articles on Letters

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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

Before Shark Week and ‘Jaws,’ World War II spawned America’s shark obsession

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.
Hemingway and his eldest son, Bumby, pose in Havana harbor in 1933. Collection of David Meeker

How Hemingway felt about fatherhood

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.
Older generations have sometimes been shocked that some younger people can’t read a handwritten note. (Shutterstock)

Why cursive handwriting needs to make a school comeback

Developing fluency in handwriting matters for literacy outcomes, and handwriting is an elegant testimony to the unique power of the human voice.
Leonard Cohen pictured in July 2008. His 2016 letter to his ‘muse’ Marianne Ihlen went viral after his death in the same year. Rolf Haid/EPA

Mythmaking, social media and the truth about Leonard Cohen’s last letter to Marianne Ihlen

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.
Martin Luther King Jr.‘s dream – which alternated between shattered and hopeful – can be traced back to Hughes’ poetry. AP Photo

Langston Hughes’ hidden influence on MLK

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

Essays On Air: Reading Germaine Greer’s mail. The Conversation24.4 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.

How a young Ernest Hemingway dealt with his first taste of fame

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.
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

The long history, and short future, of the password

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. Ben/Flickr

Hold the post: there’s no such thing as a dead letter

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.

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