Sherwood Anderson on Art and Life: A Letter of Advice to His Teenage Son, 1927 | Learning, Teaching & Leading Today |

"'The object of art is not to make salable pictures. It is to save yourself.'"


"The quest to find one’s purpose and live the creative life boldly is neither simple nor easy, especially for a young person trying to make sense of the world and his place in it.

In the spring of 1926, Sherwood Anderson sent his seventeen-year-old son John a beautiful addition to history’smost moving and timeless letters of fatherly advice. Found in Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children (UK; public library), the missive offers insight on everything from knowing whose advice not to take to thefalse allure of money to the joy of making things with your hands:


'The best thing, I dare say, is first to learn something well so you can always make a living. Bob seems to be catching on at the newspaper business and has had another raise. He is getting a good training by working in a smaller city. As for the scientific fields, any of them require a long schooling and intense application. If you are made for it nothing could be better. In the long run you will have to come to your own conclusion.'


'The arts, which probably offer a man more satisfaction, are uncertain. It is difficult to make a living.'


'If I had my own life to lead over I presume I would still be a writer but I am sure I would give my first attention to learning how to do things directly with my hands. Nothing gives quite the satisfaction that doing things brings.'"