Bill Shapiro ’87 has edited an entertaining and often fascinating book, Other People’s Rejection Letters (Clarkson Potter), in which he has collected 150 rejection letters sent to famous and ordinary people and presented exactly as they were written.
The letters included are surprisingly varied, sent by text message, e-mail and by the U.S. Postal Service, and messages are handwritten, typed, illustrated and scrawled in lipstick and crayon. Alongside letters rejecting Gertrude Stein, Andy Warhol and Jimi Hendrix, readers can peruse notes from former lovers, relatives, would-be bosses, potential publishers, universities, Walt Disney Productions, the pope and even “the Private Office of His Majesty the King.”
At the end of the book, Shapiro offers the stories behind several of the letters and an update on some of the recipients. Some of them serve as lessons and inspirations.
Shapiro is currently editor-in-chief at LIFE.com.