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Spike Milligan: Man of Letters

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

We’re nearing the end of series two, with episode 23 broadcast on 1 July 1952 at 9:30pm on the Home Service. Turn to page 22 of this week’s Radio Times for details.

Spike Milligan was a prolific writer, including letters to just about anybody. Yesterday’s blog featured the actor Andrew Scott reading one such missive penned to George Harrison, but there are loads more.

Spike Milligan: Man of Letters, a collection of his mailings, was published in 2014 and is available on Amazon for not very much money. However, today I wanted to celebrate the work of Shaun Usher, the man behind the incredible Letters of Note blog and project.

Usher has been researching letters and publishing his blog since 2009, collecting communications from thousands of years ago as well as more recent missives. The project has expanded to include videos – such as the Andrew Scott one – and live events, and he has published several books.

One Milligan letter, which Usher featured on his blog in 2012, is a favourite of mine and appears in the first Letters of Note book, published in 2013. Read the letter and story behind it in full here.

The below Twitter thread is a good read, giving examples of Milligan missives and anecdotes. Quite a few of them demonstrate how outraged he got. A vocal animal rights campaigner, he once called up Animal Vigilantes and was so annoyed by the response he got that he penned a letter to “the lady who answers the phone”.

Letters of Note is a wonderful project and continues to expand. Visit the website here.

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