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Letters of Note: The 2022 Collection

Of Lost Time is a non-profit literary group that has collected the personal correspondence of historical figures and shares these famous letters with the public. The site has multiple volumes on various topics. Its goal is to

“open eyes to key moments in history.”

This year, it plans to publish several new volumes each of which will contain about 100 letters. The letters “tell a remarkable story.” Without them, the stories might otherwise be lost.

Letters for the Ages: Behind Bars

The hope is that the famous letters included in the publication “Letters for the Ages: Behind Bars” will provide insight into the problems and sorrows that come with imprisonment and oppression.

The published letters will be from incarcerated convicted criminals, politicians, and others who wrote to their families, their lawyers, and even to newspapers. Letters from detectives about the crimes they are working on or have solved are also included.

The famous letters go back in time to letters written by the Apostle Paul from his Roman dungeon to suffragettes who were arrested and wrote to their families.

One such letter that is included in this collection is one sent in 1913 from Suffragette Sylvia Parkhurst to her mother about being force-fed in prison. Parkhurst writes to her mother:

 “I am fighting, fighting, fighting. I have four, five and six wardresses every day as well as the two doctors. I am fed by stomach-tube twice a day. They prise open my mouth with a steel gag, pressing it in where there is a gap in my teeth. I resist all the time. My gums are always bleeding.…  I used to feel I should go mad first, and be pretty near to it, as I think they feared, but I have got over that, and my digestion is the thing that is most likely to suffer now.”

Letters for the Ages: Sport

Letters for the Ages: Sport includes famous letters of athletes themselves about their achievements and failures. Also included are letters from coaches, politicians, scientists, and others commenting on the public events involving the athletes.

One example is from 1966. The Jules Rimet World Cup made of solid gold and worth a lot of money was stolen while it was on display in a public exhibition. A ransom note was sent to the Football Association Chairman, Joe Mears. The letter asked for a £15,000 ransom for the return of the trophy and threatened that if the ransom was not paid, the trophy would “Go into the melting pot.”

The letter instructed Mears not to “inform the press or police” because “it would be a great pity to destroy this cup in view of its great history and beauty it portrays if I do not hear from you by Thursdays or Friday at the latest assume its one for the pot.”

Other Letters for the Ages Publications in Progress

There are other Letters for the Ages that will soon be available. They are:

The Selected Letters of Sir Winston Churchill: This focuses on letters Churchill wrote during his leadership as Prime Minister of England during WW II and when he assumed that position again from 1951 to 1955.

Christmas Cards for the Ages: This is just what it sounds like. Some letters that will be in this volume include a card from Winston Churchill to his mother, cards sent home from soldiers fighting in WW I, and the last card John F. Kennedy ever signed.

Enrico Caruso: By Himself: This collection includes Caruso’s letters, postcards, and more. Of Lost Time has translated these items from Caruso’s native tongue of Italian into English.

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