A well-known bookstore in Portugal recently purchased at auction a collection of heartfelt personal letters written by a teenage Bob Dylan to his high school lover. The collection brought in close to $670,000.
The Livraria Lello, located in Porto, Portugal, boasts the title of “the world’s most beautiful bookshop” on its website, and “according to a statement released by the auctioneer on Friday, arrangements are in place to ensure that the collection of 42 handwritten letters with a total page count of 150 remains intact and is made accessible for Dylan lovers and academics to examine.”
In the years 1957 and 1959, while Dylan was still going by the name Bob Zimmerman, he sent a series of letters to Barbara Ann Hewitt. The letters were written in Hibbing, Minnesota. They provide a glimpse into a time in his life about which not much is known, but they do so by providing an insight into that time.
Surprisingly, in a few of the letters, Dylan discusses changing his name and expresses the desire to sell one million copies of his recordings. After many years, Bob Dylan, who is now 81 years old and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, has racked up record sales of around 125 million copies.
The young musician also shows his passion for Hewitt, extends an invitation to her to attend a concert by Buddy Holly, offers a few bits of poetry, and discusses the kinds of things that high school students over the years have been worried about, such as automobiles, clothing, and music.
After her mother passed away in 2020, Hewitt’s daughter discovered the letters that her mother had written. The original letters, which were written in Dylan’s handwriting, were sent to the Hewitt family’s new home in the suburb of New Brighton, which is located in the metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
At the auction, several other pieces of Bob Dylan memorabilia were sold as well, including an archive of 24 poems titled “Poems Without Titles,” written while the singer-songwriter was attending the University of Minnesota, which sold for almost $250,000, and one of the earliest known signed photographs of Dylan, which sold for more than $24,000.