Brookline bookshop searches for owner of love letter

Used books often arrive at Brookline Booksmith with mementos tucked between their pages. Usually, the staff leaves them around to see if the owner returns. It’s rare that anybody does.

But a recent transaction turned up a letter so deeply personal that the Coolidge Corner shop is making an extra effort to find the writer — or the recipient.

Lydia McOscar, a used book buyer at the store, wouldn’t reveal the full contents of the letter, written on blue and purple construction paper. But she provided some clues about what it says.


“Lili,” the writer, references a trip to Venice. The text of the undated letter to “Emily,” found in a black-and-white photography book by Walker Evans, quotes the poem “Ode on Melancholy” by John Keats.

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“We get a lot of things — anything that’s been used as a bookmark,” she said. “This is one of the more personal items.”

Brookline Booksmith’s website even has an entertaining section highlighting some its finds. Included are old photographs, ticket stubs, index cards, and news clippings.

McOscar said she usually flips through books to check for personal items not intended for sale.

“Looks like this one slipped [through],” she said.


Anyone who has a clue to the provenance of the letter can call the store at 617-566-6660.

Andy Rosen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen.