Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls.
October 16, 2012 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Help me find letters written between close female friends.

I am looking for historic (pre-WWII) examples of on-going correspondence between female best friends. Ideally, I'd like to be able to read the letters between both parties, but I'm also interested if only one side is available. Letters from famous and non-famous people alike, but I am not interested in fictionalized correspondence.

Are there any books or websites where I can read such letters? Even biographies that devote part of the book to these types of letters would be great. Thanks!
posted by peacrow to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
These are sisters rather than friends (sort of both) and they both predate and include WWII but there's the Mitford Sister letters.
posted by vacapinta at 7:13 AM on October 16, 2012

Best answer: Check out Nina Sankovitch's website plus Facebook and Twitter feeds. You could probably even email her for suggestions.
posted by BibiRose at 7:18 AM on October 16, 2012

My husband loved the letters between Julia Child and Avis de Voto
posted by matildaben at 7:45 AM on October 16, 2012

Maybe Empty Without You: The Intimate Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickock, unless you want it to be absolutely clear they're just BFFs.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:49 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Kingston University's Iris Murdoch Archive has recently obtained 250-odd letters sent between Iris Murdoch and Philippa Foot, which are pre and post WWII. They're not published yet but I imagine that parts of them will soon appear online as other bits of her correspondence have done so.
posted by halcyonday at 7:55 AM on October 16, 2012

Virginia Woolf wrote many letters to female friends. Here's one to Vita Sackville-West, who was her best friend and lover. These letters are hard to find online, but easy to find in a library.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were great pals. Here are a few letters online, but once again you can find a larger collection in a library.
posted by saltwater at 8:40 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: unless you want it to be absolutely clear they're just BFFs.

Good point. No, letters between rumored (or openly) lovers are up my alley, too.
posted by peacrow at 9:08 AM on October 16, 2012

The Canadian writers. Margaret Laurence and Adele Wiseman began corresponding in 1947.
posted by brujita at 12:07 PM on October 16, 2012

Best answer: This may be a little too academic for what you want, but Carroll Smith-Rosenberg's 1975 article "The Female World of Love and Ritual" (sample) was all about female letter-writing friendships. It's chapter two in her book Disorderly Conduct.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:38 PM on October 16, 2012

Some of Flannery O'Connor's correspondence with her best friend Betty Hester is utterly compelling. Unfortunately, we don't seem to have Betty's letters to Flannery.
posted by Bluestocking_Puppet at 1:55 PM on October 16, 2012

Vita Sackville-West's letters to Virginia Woolf are great—but I'm also a big fan of Violet Trefusis's letters to Vita.
posted by hot soup girl at 4:22 PM on October 16, 2012

Bring Me a Unicorn by Anne Morrow Lindbergh has letters and diary entries. Not sure how much there is of ongoing or back-and-forth interaction. I read it many years ago and the tone of the prose has always stayed with me.
posted by CathyG at 4:53 PM on October 16, 2012

Response by poster: As Missy Elliot would say, "Oh thank you, you all are so wonderful!"

I would mark them all Best Answer if it wasn't too silly, but instead marked BA for the ones that gave me leads I didn't even know I wanted. The Smith-Rosenberg piece is fascinating.

I'm gonna have so much fun reading these. And if anyone else has more suggestions, don't hesitate to post 'em.

Thank you!
posted by peacrow at 5:18 PM on October 16, 2012

This is post-WWII, but the letters of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy are a terrific read.
posted by judith at 11:08 PM on October 16, 2012

Jane Austen's letters are great fun to read if you're also an Austen fan. There aren't many surviving return letters, but she wrote often to her sister, her closest friend, and to other female relatives and friends. There are several compilations, but make sure to get the most recent collection by Deidre Le Faye which has the more vicious observations left in.
posted by viggorlijah at 1:03 AM on October 17, 2012

Best answer: I sent this thread to my brilliant mother, who has an interest in literary women of this era and whom I gather has read all of the collections listed here.

She suggests the addition of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters. "It's only her stuff, and begins during, not before WWI, but it's the very best that a collection of letters can be: put together so you know her."
posted by DarlingBri at 8:41 AM on December 3, 2012

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