Edna St. Vincent Millay on the love of music – a beautiful 1920 letter.
Women’s rights pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton in a letter to her daughter, 1872.
One day last week I pulled up to a four-way stop in my taxi. At one of the other stop signs sat a police officer in a chase cruiser, and at the third, a telephone installer in a Bell Canada van. What made the occasion memorable was the fact that all three of us were women. We celebrated with much joyful laughter and raised thumbs.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
November 1980 issue
Raymond Chandler’s wisdom on writing, culled from 20+ years of his correspondence.
I resigned from my job yesterday as a matter of principle. I was given a letter to type by a senior secretary to the auditing firm that had recently been in our books. A woman headed up the team of accountants at our company for several weeks.
The letter was opened to “Gentlemen.” I changed it to “Greetings.” I was told that the letter must be redone because it was the policy of the company to use the salutation “Gentlemen.” I was told that management determined company policy, not uppity secretaries who didn’t know their place. I decided to resign and didn’t redo the letter.
I’m looking for another job, but I did raise quite a few eyebrows and, hopefully, someone’s consciousness.
September 12, 1982
It occurred to me the other day to wonder at the discrepancy in wages that I pay to those high-school students who baby sit and those who do lawn cutting and gardening for me. Most of the “lawn and garden” people, who happen to be boys ask for a dollar an hour. Most of the baby sitters, who usually happen to be girls, ask seventy-five cents an hour.
Now I ask myself, is caring for my children less important, less valuable, less a responsibility? Or is lawn cutting and gardening considered harder and more taxing physical work? (Two active children under five can be pretty hard, taxing, physical work, too.) Or is it that boys just ask for and receive high wages from the beginning? And is it that child care is, anyway, considered to be “women’s work” and not deserving of pay? Click!
September 1974 issue
On occasion, I write pretty well.
In which young Kurt Vonnegut, still relatively obscure, volunteers his services to JFK’s presidential campaign. Pair with Vonnegut on the shapes of stories, his daily routine, and his 8 keys to the power of the written word.
On the clock striking twelve he appeared slightly agitated, but he soon recovered, walked twice or thrice along the coach-house, stopped to bark, staggered, exclaimed “Halloa old girl!” (his favorite expression) and died. He behaved throughout with decent fortitude, equanimity and self-possession.
An amusing letter Charles Dickens wrote on the death of his beloved pet raven, Grip – one of history’s notable literary pets extolled in famous authors’ letters and journals.
Our cat is growing positively tyrannical. If she finds herself alone anywhere she emits blood curdling yells until somebody comes running. She sleeps on a table in the service porch and now demands to be lifted up and down from it. She gets warm milk about eight o’clock at night and starts yelling for it about 7.30. When she gets it she drinks a little, goes off and sits under a chair, then comes and yells all over again for someone to stand beside her while has another go at the milk. When we have company she looks them over and decides almost instantly if she likes them. If she does she strolls over and plops down on the floor far enough away to make it a chore to pet her. If she doesn’t like them, she sits in the middle of the living room, casts a contemptuous glance around, and proceeds to wash her backside.
Raymond Chandler on his cat Taki, and other famous authors’ effusive love letters to their pets.
A flirtatious excerpt from one of 9 newly discovered letters by young J. D. Salinger.