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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.)


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.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

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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