1. From a record company, to U2.
“Dear Mr Hewson,
Thank you for submitting your tape of ‘U2’ to RSO, we have listened to it with careful consideration, but feel it is not suitable for us at present.
We wish you luck with your future career.
2. From Disney, to a female artist.
“Dear Miss Ford,
Your letter of recent date has been received in the Inking and Painting Department for reply.
Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men. For this reason girls are not considered for the training school.
The only work open to women consists of tracing the characters on clear celluloid sheets with Indian ink and filling in the tracings on the reverse side with paint according to directions.
In order to apply for a position as “Inker” or “Painter” it is necessary that one appear at the Studio, bringing samples of pen and ink and water color work. It would not be advisable to come to Hollywood with the above specifically in view, as there are really very few openings in comparison with the number of girls who apply.
Yours very truly,
Walt Disney Productions LTD”
3. From a record company, to The Who.
“Dear Mr Lambert,
I have listened again and again, to the High Numbers’ white labels, taken from our test session and still cannot decide whether or not they have anything to offer.
You may, of course, in the meantime, have signed with another company, in which case, I wish you all the luck in the world. If you have not, I will be very interested to hear any other tapes you may have, featuring the group.
4. From NASA, to a female candidate.
“Dear Miss Kelly:
This is in response to your letter of February 20, 1962.
Your offer to go on a space mission is commendable, and we are very grateful.
This is to advise that we have no existing program concerning women astronauts nor do we contemplate any such plan.
We appreciate your interest and support of the nation’s space program.
O.B. LLoyd, Jr.”
6. From a publisher, to Gertrude Stein.
I am only one, only one, only one. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one. Only one life to live, only sixty minutes in one hour. Only one pair of eyes. Only one brain. Only one being. Being only one, having only one pair of eyes, having only one time, having only one life, I cannot read your M.S. three or four times. Not even one time. Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.
Many thanks. I am returning the M.S. by registered post. Only one M.S. by one post.
A. C. Fifield”
7. From MOMA, to Andy Warhol.
“Dear Mr. Warhol:
Last week our Committee on the Museum Collections held its first meeting of the fall season and had a chance to study your drawing entitled Shoe which you so generously offered as a gift to the Museum.
I regret that I must report to you that the Committee decided, after careful consideration, that they ought not to accept it for our Collection.
Let me explain that because of our severely limited gallery and storage space we must turn down many gifts offered, since we feel it is not fair to accept as a gift a work which may be shown only infrequently.
Nevertheless, the Committee has asked me to pass on to you their thanks for your generous expression of interest in our Collection.
Alfred H. Barr, Jr
Director of the Museum Collections
P.S. The drawing may be picked up from the Museum at your convenience.”
8. From a record label, re: Madonna.
I enjoyed listening to Madonna. This production, arrangements and she are very strong. The direction is a good one, in my opinion. The only thing missing from this project is the material. I liked “I Want You”, “Get Up” and “High Society”, but I did not like “Love On The Run” at all. I do not feel she is ready yet, but I do hear the basis for a strong artist. I will pass for now, but I will wait for more.
Good luck and thank you for thinking of me.
“Dear Mr. Lee,
You work looks as if it were done by four different people. Your best pencils are on page 7, panel with agents (lower left corner), and close up of face. The rest of the pencils are of much weaker quality. The same can be said for your inking. Resubmit when your work is consistent and when you have learned to draw hands.
Eliot R. Brown”
From the New Yorker, to Sylvia Plath.
“Dear Miss Plath,
I’m sorry we decided against these poems. We like the second section of AMNESIAC very much, but cannot see any relation between it and the first section. Perhaps we’re being dense. But would you think over the possibility of printing the second section alone under the title? If you would care to resubmit it that way, we’d be happy to consider it again.
Thank you for sending these poems to us, and we hope to see others.
10. From Disney, to Tim Burton.
Here are some brief impressions of your book, The Giant Zlig.
STORY: The story is simple enough for a young audience (age 4-6), cute, and shows a grasp of the language much better than I would expect from one of today’s high school students, despite occasional lapses in grammar and spelling. It may, however, be too derivative of the Seuss works to be marketable—I just don’t know. But I definitely enjoyed reading it.
ART: Considering that you suffer from a lack of the proper tools and materials, the art is very good. The characters are charming and imaginative, and have sufficient variety to sustain interest. Your layout is also good—it shows good variety in point-of-view. Consequently, I not only enjoyed reading about the Giant Zlig, but I got a chuckle watching him, too.
I hope my comments please you. Thanks for the opportunity to read The Giant Zlig; keep up the good work, and good luck.
Very truly yours,
T. Jeanette Kroger”
11. From The Atlantic Monthly, to Kurt Vonnegut.
The Atlantic Monthly
August 29, 1949
Dear Mr. Vonnegut:
We have been carrying out our usual summer house-cleaning of the manuscripts on our anxious bench and in the file, and among them I find the three papers which you have shown me as samples of your work. I am sincerely sorry that no one of them seems to us well adapted to for our purpose. Both the account of the bombing of Dresden and your article, “What’s a Fair Price for Golden Eggs?” have drawn commendation although neither one is quite compelling enough for final acceptance.
Our staff continues fully manned so I cannot hold out the hope of an editorial assignment, but I shall be glad to know that you have found a promising opening elsewhere.
And one that was fair enough.
PS, if you like this sort of thing, visit Letters of Note for more.