Samara O'Shea

Letter from a Publishing Legend: Helen Gurley Brown

Welcome to (gulp) my first blog. I’m such a joiner—I know. I do hereby solemnly swear never to blog about going to the grocery store or dying my roots (although I do have it down to 35 minutes). No, no, none of that. This blog is going to be about letters. The letters I send, receive, and write for people (only with their permission of course!). I’ll also keep you abreast of all that’s going on in the letter-writing world (it’s more than you think).

Onto the first letter: I proudly present my favorite letter of 2006. It’s from the doyenne of publishing and letter writing herself: Helen Gurley Brown. Helen is an author and was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years. Helen’s first book, Sex and the Single Girl (Bernard Geis Associates, 1962), was way ahead of its time. The age of innocence wasn’t officially over in 1962. The Beatles hadn’t even performed at Shea Stadium yet, but there was Helen writing an instruction manual for single girls to live whimsically and love freely—it was the inadvertent prerequisite to Sex and the City.

In addition to being an editor and author, Helen is also an avid letter writer. Much of her amusing correspondence has been complied in the book Dear Pussycat: Mash Notes and Missives from the Desk of Cosmopolitan’s Legendary Editor (St. Martin’s Press, 2004). I wrote Ms. Brown a letter toward the end of last year asking if she’d take an early look at my book and consider giving a quote for the back cover. A week later she replied. Sadly, she couldn’t give me a quote (with good reason), but I decided I preferred the letter to the quote anyway. I’m going to frame it. . .

Letter from Mrs. Helen Gurley Brown

Next Blog (Thursday, April 12):
Jack the Ripper: Serial Killer and Letter Writer. . .