Follow your dreams, not your boyfriends

Friday smorgasbord

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It’s Friday. We made it.

To ease you into the weekend, here are some of the letters I’ve been chewing on this past week, lazily plucked from my bookmarks because energy levels are low. There is no thread connecting these excerpts, they’re arranged in no particular order, and I love them all.

Enjoy your weekend, if you can x


My affectionate & most excellent wife is as you are aware still living—and I am proud to say her health is good. Nevertheless it is always well to take time by the forelock and be prepared for all events. Should anything happen to her, will you supply her place,—as soon as the proper period for decent mourning is over.

Till then I am your devoted Servant.

Anthony Trollope | Letter to Dorothea Sankey, 24 Mar 1861 | The Letters of Anthony Trollope


I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days—three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.

John Keats | Letter to Fanny Brawne, 3 Jul 1819 | John Keats: Selected Letters


Your writing absolutely fascinates me. It is entirely unlike anyone else’s. You cheerfully break every rule of the theatre that I was brought up to believe in, except the cardinal one of never boring for a split-second. I love your choice of words, your resolute refusal to explain anything and the arrogant, but triumphant demands you make on the audience’s imagination.

Noël Coward | Letter to Harold Pinter, 21 Aug 1965 | The Letters of Noël Coward


You are completely and utterly self obsessed. If you spent a quarter of your time thinking about others instead of how much you hate your thighs, your level of contentment and self worth would expand exponentially. One thing I learned way too late in the game for my own good was that you can effectively increase your self esteem by doing estimable things. Therefore, I have signed you up to build homes for the homeless during your entire summer vacation. Your Christmas will be spent serving food at a battered women’s shelter and Easter is designated to reading stories to children in the paediatric cancer ward. Four months out of 16 years dedicated to human beings other than yourself; you have gotten off easy. Oh and honey, expand your horizons, your world is a bigger oyster than your low self esteem wants you to believe. Love yourself, think of others and be grateful. I love you, I believe in you, and I look forward to respecting you.

Me. You. Us.

P. S. Follow your dreams, not your boyfriends.

Gillian Anderson | Letter to her 16-year-old self, 2011 | Dear Me


If there is any overtone of regret in this letter, ignore it. I regret my stupidities but only as I might regret my big ears and shapeless nose. They are all a part of me and I could no more cut off my stupidities than my nose to spite my face.

John Steinbeck | Letter to Marion Adams, 27 Jun 1961 | A Life in Letters


I have never been able to write with anything more than the left hand of my mind; the right hand has always been engaged in something to do with personal relationships. I don't complain, because I think my left hand's power, as much as it has, is due to its knowledge of what my right hand is doing.

Rebecca West | Letter to Alfred Rowse, Dec 1947 | Glimpses of the Great A. R. Rowse


[Recalling a dream] I identify Tolstoy as the driver of a beat-up white van on the expressway. I ask the old guy at the wheel of this crumbling van what he can do to keep his flapping door from banging against the finish of my car. When he leans over to the right I see that he is none other than Leo Tolstoy, beard and all. He invites me to follow him off the expressway to a tavern and he says, “I want you to have this jar of pickled herring.” He adds, “I knew your brother.” At the mention of my late brother I burst into tears.

Saul Bellow | Letter to Martin Amis, 30 Dec 1990 | Saul Bellow: Letters


It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment. When I have clarified and exhausted a subject, then I turn away from it, in order to go into darkness again; the never-satisfied man is so strange if he has completed a structure, then it is not in order to dwell in it peacefully, but in order to begin another. I imagine the world conqueror must feel thus, who, after one kingdom is scarcely conquered, stretches out his arms for others.

Carl Friedrich Gauss | Letter to Farkas Bolyai, 2 Sep 1808 | Titan Of Science