In the foreward to Joe Sugarman’s excellent “The Adweek Copywriting Handbook,” Ray Schultz placed Joe among the greats in direct mail history. That list included Gene Schwartz, the copywriting legend, and Louis Victor Eytinge, a “convicted murderer who learned to write in prison.”

Wait. What?

Intrigued, I consulted Uncle Google to learn more about Mr. Eytinge. Ben Locker has a good summary. Joshua Buhs has also done extensive research.

It seems our friend Eytinge had a habit of passing bad checks. One day, he decided to add murder to the list.

In prison he learned to write sales copy. He got so good he was selling thousands of dollars worth of stuff from his cell. He wrote down some of his sales writing philosophy in the booklet “Writing Business Letters That Get The Business.”

In the end, many agreed Mr. Eytinge had talent. He just couldn’t get out of his own way.

Joe Ditzel is a copywriter, marketing consultant and award-winning public speaker. He is the founder of Vast Media Empire, a network of technology, business, information and entertainment websites. Contact Joe at joe@ditzelandco.com or connect on: LinkedIn Facebook Twitter Google+

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