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True to the Letter: 800 Years of Remarkable Correspondence, Documents and Autographs.

True to the Letter: 800 Years of Remarkable Correspondence, Documents and Autographs. Pedro Correa do Lago. Thames & Hudson. [pounds sterling]29.95. 288 pages. ISBN 0-500-51206-X. Mr do Lago is President of Brazil's National Library and, as this book testifies, is an inveterate collector. This volume contains some 350 items from a collection numbering some 30,000 which he has built up over thirty-five years. His aim is to convey 'the pleasure of searching, acquiring, studying and conserving' the autographs, documents and letters he has collected. The collection begins in 1500 and runs through the twentieth century. The selection is enormous: it begins with Alfonso VII of Spain and ends with 'The Beatles' and 'The Rolling Stones'. In between one finds the most extraordinary range of signatures, cheques, envelopes, page proofs, postcards, letters and autographed photographs: Elizabeth I, Cardinal Richelieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, the Marquis de Sade, Goethe, Nelson, Napoleon, Byron, Hugo, Queen Victoria, Mark Twain, Degas, Rodin, Freud, Richard Strauss, Nicholas II and Rasputin, Stalin, Nijinsky, Yeats, Beckett, T.E. Lawrence, Corbusier, Cocteau, Alfred Hitchcock, Edward VIII, Laurel and Hardy, Walt Disney, Eva Peron, John F. Kennedy and Maria Callas to name but a few. The book is enhanced by over 450 illustrations in colour and black and white and this makes it a fascinating read. (E.B.)
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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2005
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