The late Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was once so infatuated with a young woman 23 years his junior he sent her dozens of romantic letters and drawings of his beloved cartoon characters. Many of the themes of that correspondence made it into his daily comic strips at the time, and now those love notes from 1970-1971 are being offered for sale at Sotheby's in New York by the family of Tracey Claudius, who the auction house says is ill at her home near Philadelphia. It's estimated the notes will fetch $250,000 to $350,000 at the Dec. 14 auction.
Claudius met the cartoonist on March 16, 1970, while accompanying a friend on an interview assignment, ostensibly as a photographer but really for a chance to meet her idol. She was 25. The married Schulz was 48. There are 44 letters totaling 56 pages, including 22 original drawings of some of the characters, primarily Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Lucy. Many are signed "Sparky," a Schulz nickname. Sotheby's says it the most significant collection of correspondence and drawings by Schulz to come to auction. Click for more of the story, including how Schulz's correspondence with Claudius made it into his comic strips. (Read more Charles Schulz stories.)