Mark Twain and Helen Keller
We would never have guessed that storied American humorist Mark Twain and deafblind author and activist Helen Keller — what with their 45-year age difference, among other things — were besties, but it seems they were. In an incredibly sweet and supportive letter Twain wrote to Keller in 1903, after reading her autobiography, he described their relationship as “an affectionate friendship which has subsisted between us for nine years without a break, and without a single act of violence that I can call to mind. I suppose there is nothing like it in heaven; and not likely to be, until we get there and show off. I often think of it with longing, and how they’ll say, “There they come—sit down in front!” I am practicing with a tin halo. You do the same.”
Henry James and Edith Wharton
Though Henry James and Edith Wharton shared, to a certain extent, subject matter, there wasn’t much else to draw them together. In fact, they twice attended the same dinner parties without noticing each other at all. However, around 1900, the pair struck up a polite correspondence that soon blossomed into a thriving epistolary friendship, Wharton writing to her “Cherest Maitre” and James responding to “Princesse Rapprochee!,” among other things. Though each writer was often threatened by the other, they helped each other through many a hard time — affairs, book deals, snubs. After all, what else are friends for?
J.D. Salinger and Ernest Hemingway
We’re not sure why we’re so surprised by this — maybe it’s just because we’ve had Salinger’s author-as-recluse image pounded into us so many times that we can’t imagine him hanging out with anyone, especially anyone as outdoorsy and brash as Hemingway. Or maybe it’s because Holden Caulfield totally hated that “phony book” A Farewell to Arms. But in fact, Salinger was very impressed by Hemingway when they first met in Paris during WWII — and vice versa. According to Vanity Fair, “He told one friend that Hemingway was essentially kind by nature but had been posturing for so many years that it now came naturally to him. Salinger disagreed with the underlying philosophy of Hemingway’s work. He said that he hated Hemingway’s ‘overestimation of sheer physical courage, commonly called ‘guts,’ as a virtue. Probably because I’m short on it myself.’” But despite their differences, the pair’s relationship — and their esteem for one another’s writing — only grew after this meeting.
Full list at Flavorpill