Before Sherwood Anderson became a successful and acknowledged novelist at age 41, he had worked as a copywriter at a Chicago ad agency. Just as many other writers, William Faulkner or Bill Nye to name a few, Anderson took a corporate job that paid his bills, and was writing his novels after hours and during lunch breaks. When the time came and Anderson was finally ready to focus entirely on his craft, he resigned and left behind a letter that has been remembered as ‘the best resignation letter ever written’. All thanks to its ironic distance and delightful wit. The letter can be found in the remarkably humorous book, ‘Funny Letters from Famous People:
You have a man in your employ that I have thought for a long time should be fired. I refer to Sherwood Anderson. He is a fellow of a good deal of ability, but for a long time I have been convinced that his heart is not in his work.
There is no question but that this man Anderson has in some ways been an ornament to our organization. His hair, for one thing, being long and messy gives an artistic carelessness to his personal appearance that somewhat impresses such men as Frank Lloyd Wright and Mr. Curtiniez of Kalamazoo when they come into the office.
But Anderson is not really productive. As I have said his heart is not in his work. I think he should be fired and if you will not do the job I should like permission to fire him myself. I therefore suggest that Anderson be asked to sever his connections with the company on [the first of next week]. He is a nice fellow. We will let him down easy but let’s can him.