A collection of moving and at times prescient personal letters written by a young Bob Dylan to a high school friend has sold at auction to a renowned Portuguese bookstore for nearly $670,000.
The Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal, which bills itself as “the most beautiful bookstore in the world,” intends to keep its archive of 42 handwritten letters totaling 150 pages complete and available for Dylan fans and scholars to study, auctioneer RR Auction said in a statement Friday.
Born in Hibbing, Minnesota, Dylan wrote the letters to Barbara Ann Hewitt between 1957 and 1959, when he was still known as Bob Zimmerman. They provide insight into a period in his life about which not much is known.
Remarkably, Dylan writes in some letters about changing his name and hoping to sell a million records. Decades later, the now 81-year-old Dylan and recipient of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature has sold some 125 million records.
The young musician also expresses affection for Hewitt, inviting her to a Buddy Holly show, inserting small snippets of poetry and talking about the kinds of things generations of high schoolers worry about, such as cars, clothes and music.
Hewitt’s daughter found the letters after her mother died in 2020. The original envelopes addressed in Dylan’s handwriting were sent to the Hewitt family’s new home in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb of New Brighton.
Several other items of Dylan memorabilia were also sold at auction, including an archive of 24 “Poems Without Titles,” written when the singer-songwriter attended the University of Minnesota, which sold for nearly $250,000; and one of the earliest known autographed photographs of Dylan to go for over $24,000.