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5 Trash-Talking Letters Between Writers

Dear Reader,

Hello! I hope you are well.

I imagine you share my interest in letters between writers. Recently, I took a closer look at such correspondence and was surprised to find a significant amount of trash-talk among authors' hand- and type-written pages. From subtle burns to scathing critiques, here are a few choice examples of writers telling their contemporaries how they really feel.

Who has time for you?

""
James Joyce. Image ID 1544998. The New York Public Library.


To: James Joyce
From: H. G. Wells

Who the hell is this Joyce who demands so many waking hours of the few thousand I have still to live for a proper appreciation of his quirks and fancies and flashes of rendering?

1928 | read more




 

I did it first. And better.

""
Aldous Huxley. Image ID 1264280. The New York Public Library.


To: George Orwell
From: Aldous Huxley

In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World.

1949 | read more





 

You are finished.

""
William S. Burroughs. Image ID 3969687. The New York Public Library.

To: Truman Capote
From: William S. Burroughs

Enjoy your dirty money. You will never have anything else. You will never write another sentence above the level of In Cold Blood. As a writer you are finished.

1970 | read more






 

You won't get away with this.

""
Anthony Burgess. Zazie44 via Wikimedia Commons.

To: Anthony Burgess
From: Hunter S. Thompson

I want that Thinkpiece on my desk by Labor Day. And I want it ready for press. The time has come & gone when cheapjack scum like you can get away with the kind of scams you got rich from in the past.

1973 | read more




 

(Just about the) Worst. Comic book. Ever.

""
George R.R. Martin. Henry Söderlund via Wikimedia Commons.

To: Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
From: George R.R. Martin

You were just about the World's worst mag when you started, but you set yourself an ideal, and, by gumbo, you achieved it!

1963 | read more






 

Oops! It looks like that George R.R. Martin line—written when he was a 15-year-old fan of Fantastic Four—actually turns out to be a compliment.

(Don't you love happy endings? I do.)

Sincerely,
Courtney

P.S. – Click on any writer's name above to explore their work in The New York Public Library's catalog. Don't have a library card? Apply for one online or in person at one of 92 NYPL locations in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

P.P.S. – If you're a serious correspondence fanatic, you can find the Capote/Burroughs letter in NYPL's Berg Collection.

Comments

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And We Think the Internet is Bad?

Thanks for posting the trash-talking letters. Nothing is funnier than when sedentary, solitary, lone-wolf authors get mad!

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