Rare Letter from both Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy to Bill Grefrath

The Stan Laurel Correspondence Archive Project

Stan once told biographer and Sons of the Desert co-founder John McCabe, “If I had never been a comedian, I would really have enjoyed owning a stationery store, running it myself. I don’t know why that is, but outside of my work, my favorite thing to do is just go out and visit stationery stores.” Perhaps that is why he used such a variety of stationery for his letters throughout the years.

The Archive is arranged chronologically. Start by clicking on one of the years (or grouping of years for the earliest letters) in the top masthead. You will then be directed to a page that features another menu to the left of Stan's letters. There you can select individual months (or years when selecting from the earliest letters).

Each of the letters in The Stan Laurel Correspondence Archive is prefaced by an indication of the stationery used for that particular letter, and the address it was sent from. Some letters have a clickable “Red Letter” link (to the right of the stationery listing), which when clicked will bring up a high-resolution photograph of the actual letter. We have only included images of letters where the quality warrants the larger display.

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Noted Correspondents

Short bios of people Stan writes to frequently

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Illustrations on all pages of the website can be clicked for higher-resoltion images along with more information, where available. Items in the Sidebar (to the left on each Letters page) when displayed with a PLUS + sign can be clicked, which will accordion open to reveal their full contents. Click the MINUS - sign to collapse each Sidebar entry. When you get to the bottom of any page, there is an upward facing arrow on the lower right, that when clicked, will whisk you back to the top. At the end of each Letters page is a PREVIOUS button, which will take you back to the previous page, as well as a NEXT button, which will take you to the next.

To preserve the documents’ content as best as we can, we have made the decision to keep most of Stan’s spelling and grammar intact. Sometimes, this results in an oddly spelled word or errant punctuation. We have corrected obvious typing errors here and there and removed spaces or periods from some addresses to aid in accurate searchability. For the purposes of recreating Stan’s correspondence as accurately as possible, everything reprinted here is quoted verbatim—it is exactly as Stan wrote or typed it.

Stan uses lots of commas and hyphens rather than ending statements with periods. Think of it as a conversation with the letter writer, with topics leaping from one subject to the next as new thoughts cross his mind while he writes. He frequently misuses punctuation in contractions. Stan will almost always write “do’nt” instead of “don’t.” Then there are his abbreviations that refer to the previously received letter: “ult.” for ultimo—last month; “prox.” for proximo—next month; and “inst.” for instant—the present month.

Additionally, we have created a Stan Laurel signature stamp for each piece of correspondence that was hand-signed. This can be a critical detail in identifying Stan’s relationship with each addressee—he usually signed only his first name for close friends and colleagues.