The wittiest letters of all time

When it was first suggested to Groucho Marx that his letters be published in book form, he wrote: “Your letter received and promptly burned. I prefer not to have strangers prying into my mail. Would discuss this in detail but my secretary has a date in five minutes — with me.” Luckily, Marx changed his mind after a bit of persuading, and a collection of his letters was donated to the Library of Congress in the mid-’60s. This month is the 30th anniversary of Marx’s death, and marking the occasion is a new edition of The Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx.

Marx carried on lively correspondence with his famous brothers as well as with equally esteemed men of letters including E. B. White, T. S. Eliot, and James Thurber. The collection not only allows the comedian’s personality and legendary wit to shine but gives an extraordinary glimpse into history with Marx’s take on Hollywood and politics — and it will make you nostalgic for a time before ephemeral e-mail.

BUY The Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx (Simon & Schuster; 319 pages; paperback)

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The wittiest letters of all time