Money is the absolute pits. It makes the world go round and yet the love of it is the root of all evil. To make matters worse, when you do manage to get some, apparently you can’t use it to buy happiness. It’s a lose-lose situation. Consider today’s newsletter a quick blast of therapy: a reassuring reminder that 99.9% of people have at some point worried about, needed more of, and sometimes written awkward, angry, or amusing letters about, money.
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I want more money I want more money I want more money I want more money I want more money I want more money I want more money I want more money I want more money I want more money I want more money.
John O’Hara | Letter to The New Yorker editor Harold Ross, 1939 | About Town: The New Yorker and the World it Made
Am about half thru my novel but went down to the bank last week + found my account so distressingly not to say so alarmingly low that I had to do a short story at once.
I hope you’ll like it. I think its the best thing I’ve ever done.
F. Scott Fitzgerald | Letter to Metropolitan editor Carl Hovey, 1920 | Correspondence of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Spring is here—and I could be very happy, except that I am broke. Would you mind paying me now instead of on publication for those so stunning verses of mine which you have? I am become very, very thin, and have taken to smoking Virginia tobacco.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
P.S. I am awfully broke. Would you mind paying me a lot?
Edna St. Vincent Millay | Letter to Poetry editor Harriet Monroe, 1 Mar 1918 | Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay
YOU PURPOSE PEAPOTS OWE ME A QUID FOR THOSE TWO POEMS. How are you? Try to remember to keep some lunch dates free for me when I come up to town in about a fortnight’s time. I’ve got some new poems and some new jokes and some new diseases, I’m feeling fine. A WHOLE POUND YOU PEAPOTS. IN THE HUMAN INTEREST—MY EYE. MONEY, TINKLY MONEY, FOR GOD’S SAKE.
Dylan Thomas | Letter to Purpose editor Desmond Hawkins, 22 Oct 1936 | Collected Letters
You scurvy pigfucker. I was just about to send you some mescaline when I talked to Jann & found out that all my daily expenses on the Salazar/Vegas stories were disallowed—for reasons of gross excess & irresponsible outlay. That $500 you sent wasn't for my expenses at all, it was my fucking June retainer, which means I was spending my own money all that time.
Yes—for all those coconuts, for that hammer, all those lightbulbs, the White Whale. You treacherous pig.
Hunter S. Thompson | Letter to Rolling Stone editor David Felton, 9 May 1971 | Fear and Loathing in America
What a hell of a bore to have to think of it even—and I’m enough of a flibbertigibbet to have panics in the middle of the night about money.
Virginia Woolf | Letter to Ethyl Smyth, 2 Jul 1934 | The Sickle Side of the Moon
Please stop writing these abusive letters about my overdraft. I consider it to be quite a nice one and if you keep insulting it with such wildly extravagant phrases such as ‘couldn't support indefinitely’, ‘unsecured overdrafts’, ‘matter of some urgency’, ‘extremely high-borrowing’ and ‘so far to no avail’, it will understandably, I feel, take offence and move to a different house where it will be more comfortable.
Graham Chapman | Letter to his bank manager, Mr. Coombes | Calcium Made Interesting
Respected Paternal Relative:
I write to make a request of the most moderate nature. Every year I have cost you an enormous—nay, elephantine—sum of money for drugs and physician's fees, and the most expensive time of the twelve months was March.
But this year the biting Oriental blasts, the howling tempests, and the general ailments of the human race have been successfully braved by yours truly.
Does not this deserve remuneration?
I appeal to your charity, I appeal to your generosity, I appeal to your justice, I appeal to your accounts, I appeal, in fine, to your purse.
My sense of generosity forbids the receipt of more—my sense of justice forbids the receipt of less—than half a crown.
Greeting from, Sir, your most affectionate and needy son.
Robert Louis Stevenson (15) | Letter to his father, Apr 1866 | The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson
If John Barth doesn’t come back next year and you pay his replacement four grand per course more than I am getting, I’m going to wonder if a woman’s fist shouldn’t be painted on my classroom door. Even if John Barth stays at his same salary I’m going to wonder: I know it is a desperate time of money at Boston University but if a man gets it then why doesn’t a woman? Need I list my qualifications as a writer, teacher etc? If I’m important I want to be paid importantly.
Anne Sexton | Letter to George Starbuck, 3 Dec 1972 | A Self-portrait in Letters
I am in receipt of your “Final Demand” for payment of my account. I have to inform you that my normal practice concerning the settlement of debts is to place all of my bills in a hat once a month, from which I draw out two or three for payment. I have followed this procedure with regard to your bill. However, if I receive another letter from you, Sir, the tone of which I consider to be rude, your bill will not be put in the hat at all.
British Naval Officer | Letter to a creditor, 19th Century | Dear Sir, Drop Dead: Hate Mail Through the Ages
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