Penpal-palooza: Part II (love letters and beyond)
I’ve had a revived desire to write letters. Nostalgia for days gone by.
As a child in the Philippines, I had penpal from Ireland, thanks to the show, Big Blue Marble. It was fun, learning about how someone my age talked, thought, and acted in a land I’d only imagined.
As an adult, I’ve read several books of correspondence: Walker Percy, Saul Bellow, Anais Nin, and George Bernard Shaw. There was also this great blog thread, “You’ve Got Mail“, created by Harvard’s rare books library that ran for a time. They posted and deconstructed various correspondence between literary folks.
It’s Shaw’s letters with Mrs. Patrick Campbell that have struck me most – recently, at least. Love letters between two people who couldn’t be together. Tragic – if they really truly had a connection and love between them. Cliche – if it was just two married people playing with fire. It lasted years, and transcended relationships and circumstance.
Shaw’s & Mrs. Campbell’s lives impacted our literary landscape, whether we like it or not. Supposedly, he wrote Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion just for her. Imagine being inspired to create something so resonant? Imagine being the one that inspires such creativity!
To be known, to be understood, to be immortalized.
A girl can dream…
[Featured image is of Mrs. Patrick Campbell as Eliza Doolittle, from the 1913 playbill for Pygmalion.]