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Green Arrow PhOtOs-Gandhi's Letter to Hilter +Others Are Released

Dear Adolf...yours, Gandhi: An intimate collection of private letters featuring some of history's most famous names has become a surprise bestseller. Read on and you'll see why.....

By Daily Mail UK, 12 January 2014

From Clementine Churchill’s scolding letter to her beloved husband, to Robert Falcon Scott’s tender last words to his widow, there is something tantalising about reading the private correspondence of some of history’s most famous figures.
That, no doubt, accounts for the runaway success of Shaun Usher’s Letters Of Note: Correspondence Deserving Of A Wider Audience, which was a surprise Christmas bestseller.
The book contains 125 letters written by figures both great and obscure, each remarkable for its tone and context, whether an intimate note or a noble gesture of compassion. Here are some of our favourites...


Lady Clementine Churchill, wife of Winston, warned the prime minister his colleagues disliked his sarcasm

My Darling,
I hope you will forgive me if I tell you something that I feel you ought to know.
One of the men in your entourage (a devoted friend) has been to me & told me that there is a danger of your being generally disliked by your colleagues and subordinates because of your rough sarcastic & overbearing manner — It seems your Private Secretaries have agreed to behave like school boys & ‘take what’s coming to them’ & then escape out of your presence shrugging their shoulders — Higher up, if an idea is suggested (say at a conference) you are supposed to be so contemptuous that presently no ideas, good or bad, will be forthcoming.
My Darling Winston — I must confess that I have noticed a deterioration in your manner; & you are not so kind as you used to be.
I cannot bear that those who serve the Country and yourself should not love as well as admire and respect you.
Besides you won’t get the best results by irascibility & rudeness. They will breed either dislike or a slave mentality — (Rebellion in Wartime being out of the question!)
Please forgive your loving, devoted & watchful
I wrote this at Chequers last Sunday, tore it up, but here it is now.


Mahatma Gandhi implored the Nazi leader to do what he could to prevent a war breaking out in 1939

Dear friend,
Friends have been urging me to write to you for the sake of humanity. But I have resisted their request, because of the feeling that any letter from me would be an impertinence. Something tells me that I must not calculate and that I must make my appeal for whatever it may be worth.
It is quite clear that you are today the one person in the world who can prevent a war which may reduce humanity to a savage state. Must you pay that price for an object however worthy it may appear to you to be? Will you listen to the appeal of one who has deliberately shunned the method of war, not without considerable success? Anyway I anticipate your forgiveness, if I have erred in writing to you.
I remain,
Your sincere friend
M. K. Gandhi


The explorer finished this letter shortly before perishing on his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole.

Captain Robert Scott wrote the letter shortly before dying on his failed expedition to the South Pole

To: My widow
Dearest darling — we are in a very tight corner and I have doubts of pulling through — In our short lunch hours I take advantage of a very small measure of warmth to write letters preparatory to a possible end — the first is naturally to you on whom my thoughts mostly dwell waking or sleeping — If anything happens to me I shall like you to know how much you have meant to me and that pleasant recollections are with me as I depart —
I should like you to take what comfort you can from these facts also — I shall not have suffered any pain but leave the world fresh from harness and full of good health and vigour — this is dictated already, when provisions come to an end we simply stop where we are within easy distance of another depot.

Therefore you must not imagine a great tragedy — we are very anxious of course and have been for weeks but in splendid physical condition and our appetites compensate for all discomfort. The cold is biting and sometimes angering but here again the hot food which drives it forth is so wonderfully enjoyable that we would scarcely be without it.
We have gone down hill a good deal since I wrote the above. Poor Titus Oates has gone — he was in a bad state — the rest of us keep going and imagine we have a chance to get through but the cold weather doesn’t let up at all — we are now only 20 miles from a depot but we have very little food or fuel.
Well dear heart I want you to take the whole thing very sensibly as I am sure you will — the boy will be your comfort I had looked forward to helping you to bring him up but it is a satisfaction to feel that he is safe with you.
I must write a little letter for the boy if time can be found to be read when he grows up — dearest that you know I cherish no sentimental rubbish about remarriage — when the right man comes to help you in life you ought to be your happy self again.
Dear it is not easy to write because of the cold — 70 degrees below zero and nothing but the shelter of our tent — you know I have loved you, you know my thoughts must have constantly dwelt on you and oh dear me you must know that quite the worst aspect of this situation is the thought that I shall not see you again.
Since writing the above we have got to within 11 miles of our depot with one hot meal and two days cold food and we should have got through but have been held for four days by a frightful storm — I think the best chance has gone we have decided not to kill ourselves but to fight it to the last for that depot but in the fighting there is a painless end so don’t worry.

What lots and lots I could tell you of this journey. How much better it has been than lounging in comfort at home — what tales you would have for the boy but oh what a price to pay — to forfeit the sight of your dear dear face — Dear you will be good to the old mother. I write her a little line in this book.
Also keep in with Ettie and the others — oh but you’ll put on a strong face for the world – only don’t be too proud to accept help for the boy’s sake — he ought to have a fine career and do something in the world. I haven’t time to write to Sir Clements — tell him I thought much of him and never regretted him putting me in command of the Discovery.
— Give messages of farewell to Lady Baxter and Lady Sandhurst keep friends with them for both are dear women & also both the Reginald Smiths.
Here, the letter ended . . .


The gangster Clyde Barrow, who worked with Bonnie Parker, wrote a letter of admiration to Ford cars

From 1932 until May 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow conducted a murderous crime spree. Judging by the number he stole over the years, Barrow had a soft-spot for Ford’s V8-powered Model B car. A month before Parker and Barrow died in the car they had grown to depend on, Henry Ford received this admiring letter, with spelling errors.

Dear Sir,
While I still have got breath in my lungs I will tell you what a dandy car you make. I have drove Fords exclusivly when I could get away with one. For sustained speed and freedom from trouble the Ford has got ever other car skinned and even if my business hasen’t been strickly legal it don’t hurt enything to tell you what a fine car you got in the V8,
Yours truly,
Clyde Champion Barrow


Aged 12, Cuban Premier Fidel Castro wrote a Spanglish letter congratulating Roosevelt on his election

My good friend Roosvelt,
I don’t know very English, but I know as much as write to you. I like to hear the radio, and I am very happy, because I heard in it, that you will be President for a new (periodo).
I am twelve years old. I am a boy but I think very much but I do not think that I am writing to the President of the United States. If you like, give me a ten dollars bill green american, in the letter, because never, I have not seen a ten dollars bill green american and I would like to have one of them.
My address is:
Sr Fidel Castro
Colegio de Dolores
Santiago de Cuba
Oriente Cuba

I don’t know very English but I know very much Spanish and I suppose you don’t know very Spanish but you know very English because you are American but I am not American.
(Thank you very much)
Good by. Your friend,
Fidel Castro


A comedy script editor read a draft of Fawlty Towers but branded it 'a collection of clichés and stocks'

After reading a pilot script written by John Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth, a comedy script editor by the name of Ian Main sent this disapproving memo.

Subject: ‘Fawlty Towers’
I’m afraid I thought this one as dire as its title.
It’s a kind of ‘Prince of Denmark’ of the hotel world. A collection of cliches and stock characters which I can’t see being anything but a disaster.


Jack The Ripper left this chilling note with a box containing half a human kidney preserved in wine

George Lusk, chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee — a group of citizens who searched for the serial killer behind the so-called ‘Whitechapel Murders’ — received this chilling letter, full of spelling mistakes, from someone claiming to be Jack the Ripper.

It was sent along with a box containing half a human kidney preserved in wine. Catherine Eddowes, Jack the Ripper’s fourth victim, was thought to have been its previous owner.

From hell

Mr Lusk,


I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer

Signed Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk


Ronald Reagan wrote to his son Michael (pictured) who, at the age of 26, married his 18-year-old fiancée. Ronald, seen here with first wife Jane Wyman and daughter Maureen, could not attend the Hawaii ceremony

In this month, 26-year-old Michael Reagan married his 18-year-old fiancee in Hawaii. His father, the future U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, and by then on his second marriage to Nancy, could not attend but sent this letter.

Dear Mike,
You’ve heard all the jokes that have been rousted around by all the “unhappy marrieds” and cynics. Now, in case no one has suggested it, there is another viewpoint. You have entered into the most meaningful relationship there is in all human life. It can be whatever you decide to make it.
Some men feel their masculinity can only be proven if they play out in their own life all the locker-room stories, smugly confident that what a wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
The truth is, somehow, way down inside, without her ever finding lipstick on the collar or catching a man in the flimsy excuse of where he was till three A.M., a wife does know, and with that knowing, some of the magic of this relationship disappears.
There are more men griping about marriage who kicked the whole thing away themselves than there can ever be wives deserving of blame. Any man can find a twerp here and there who will go along with cheating, and it doesn’t take all that much manhood. It does take quite a man to remain attractive and to be loved by a woman who has heard him snore, seen him unshaven, tended him while he was sick and washed his dirty underwear. Do that and keep her still feeling a warm glow and you will know some very beautiful music.
Mike, you know better than many what an unhappy home is and what it can do to others. Now you have a chance to make it come out the way it should. There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.
P.S. You’ll never get in trouble if you say “I love you” at least once a day.


Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger wrote to Andy Warhol (centre) about the design of his upcoming record

Dear Andy,

I’m really pleased you can do the art-work for our new hits album. Here are 2 boxes of material which you can use, and the record.

In my short sweet experience, the more complicated the format of the album, e.g. more complex than just pages or fold-out, the more f***ed-up the reproduction and agonising the delays. But, having said that, I leave it in your capable hands to do what ever you want...........and please write back saying how much money you would like.

Doubtless a Mr. Al Steckler [the U.S.-based boss of Apple records] will contact you in New York, with any further information. He will probably look nervous and say ‘Hurry up’ but take little notice.


Mick X


Writer Virginia Woolf left this note for her husband, Leonard, on the day of her suicide in the River Ouse

On the day of her suicide, Virginia’s husband, Leonard discovered this letter on their mantelpiece. Her body was found weeks later in the River Ouse, her pockets filled with rocks.

I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do.
You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe you all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that — everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.
I don’t think two people could have been happier that we have been.
  • Letters of Note by Shaun Usher is published by Unbound/Canongate
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