Bob Dylan is one of America’s greatest cultural icons. A singer/songwriter who, for many, defined ’60s anti-establishment culture, Dylan has been a popular entertainer for more than five decades.
These days, Dylan still makes music, tours the world, and earns new fans. Long before he was a groundbreaking musician, however, Dylan was a teenager with dreams of stardom.
Recently, some of Dylan’s teenage dreams and ambitions were made public when a series of letters he wrote as a young man was sold at auction for a shocking sum.
Bob Dylan’s teenage love letters recently sold at an auction
In November 2022, Dylan’s teenage love letters sold at auction for under $670,000. According to CNN, the lot consisted of 42 letters, over 150 pages, all hand-written by Dylan when he was known by his birth name, Robert Zimmerman. He wrote the letters to his high school sweetheart, Barbara Ann Hewitt.
Dylan and Hewitt met in high school history class, where they connected and started dating. Dylan shared many of his dreams and aspirations with Hewitt in the letters written between 1957 and 1959. Most charmingly, the lot of letters include a special Valentine’s Day card from Dylan to his girlfriend, along with an unsigned handwritten note.
What Bob Dylan revealed about his musical aspirations in the letters
The auction was managed by RR Auction, a Boston-based auction house specializing in handling unique and vintage memorabilia. According to the New York Post, Hewitt’s daughter found all the letters in her mother’s house after Hewitt’s death in 2020.
After holding on to the letters for a couple of years, she auctioned off the valuable collection. For fans, the content of the letters is especially interesting. Dylan tells all about his aspirations of musical stardom, revealing to her that he is thinking of changing his name. He even invites her to a Buddy Holly show.
Dylan also discussed the day’s fashions, his favorite cars, and his thoughts on their classes. Throughout the letters, he includes fragments of poetry, offering a unique glimpse into the future brilliance of his songwriting.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, Livraria Lello bookshop purchased the letters. The Porto, Portuguese shop, dubbed “the world’s most beautiful bookshop,” announced on social media after the auction that it intends to make the letters available for study. This way, fans of all ages interested in Dylan’s history can check out the missives.
Bob Dylan’s memorabilia is very valuable
Of course, Dylan would go on to exceed all of the goals that he outlined to Hewitt. He changed his name, began recording songs, and rose to fame to become one of the world’s most iconic songwriters.
These days, memorabilia associated with Dylan is valuable. Many of the items used by the musician have sold at auction for large sums. In 2016, according to Louder Sound, Dylan sold 6,000 items from his personal archive, including handwritten lyrics and contracts, for an estimated $15 to $20 million.
Several years ago, Dylan facilitated another massive deal. He signed a publishing contract with Universal Music Publishing Group worth more than $300 million that would give the group rights to his entire catalog.
Additionally, in 2020, the University of Tulsa and the Kaiser Foundation acquired more than 6,000 pieces of Dylan memorabilia for nearly $20 million dollars. This “secret archive” of Dylan artifacts had long been rumored to exist but only recently confirmed.
Perhaps most impressive is that Dylan continues to write and create, proving that he is a creative force that will never truly rest.