'The Faber Book of Letters' by Felix Pryor
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The Faber Book of Letters
Edited by Felix Pryor

A friend recommended this book to me when I first moved out to California in the mid-eighties. It's a collection of letters written by prominent people between 1578 and 1939. There's something touching about these notes; the writers seem so intent on expressing themselves in an authentic way. I think, in this e-mail age, we're learning all over again the importance of being able to communicate in a clear, expressive way. Some of the examples are very funny, like the letter sent care of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, asking, "Could you get this to Sherlock Holmes for me?" And then there are some that are historically important, like the note Dickens wrote just hours before he died. When I read that one, I just got chills.

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