Burning the Jacqueline Kennedy letters?
Sir, – The Jackie Kennedy letters controversy has surfaced again (“Robert Kennedy’s widow tells priest Jackie letters could be ‘burned’”, Front Page, July 7th). A confidant of the Kennedy clan suggests their historical value is “a lot of malarkey”.
Her letters, from what we’ve read, reveal much about her charm and infectious good humour. She knew herself that Fr Leonard kept them because John A Costello wrote to her in the 1960s requesting permission to quote an extract, to which she willingly agreed.
Libraries and archives around the world are filled with the personal letters of previous generations and these institutions would be very much poorer without them.
The correspondence of the Lennox sisters is one example, without which Stella Tillyard may not have written The Aristocrats. The National Library of Ireland has just made available for online access correspondence between James Joyce and his son Giorgio, and the poignant letters and artefacts of the men who fought in the Great War have been willingly shared by their immensely proud descendants.
It is to be hoped that Jacqueline Kennedy’s letters to Fr Joe Leonard will survive in the care of one of our institutions, with proper archival resources, to be available to scholars at some future date. – Yours, etc,