NEW YORK — Last week WWD graded editor’s letters in Allure, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Jane, Glamour and Marie Claire. The responses we subsequently received from the happy or dejected pupil-editors proved, in many cases, to be better than the letters themselves.

Linda Wells: Wells, whose soul-wrenching prose won her letter an “A,” left a gracious — but existentially ponderous — voice-mail message.

This story first appeared in the August 2, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Hi Peter, this is Linda Wells, also known as Jean-Paul Sartre. [Actually, we called her ‘the Albert Camus of beauty journalism’.] I’m just sitting here with my Gaulois wondering about being and nothingness and mascara — and torturing myself. Keep it up, it’s spicy. Thanks for giving me the grade I always wanted in life. I wonder if that will translate into anything here at Condé Nast. Probably not.”

Cindi Leive: Leive received a “C,” partially because of her deliriously happy editor’s letter page photo. Her response was — you guessed it — zesty. She sent an 8 x 10 framed version of the photo, autographed with a note: “Dear Peter, I know you love this picture — thought you might want one all your own! Cindi.” To bury us in positive vibes, the photo was delivered by messenger in a smiley-faced bag and accompanied by smiley-face cookies and lollipop. When congratulated by telephone for being such a good sport, Leive responded, “Hey, you just criticized my photo. It could have been worse — I could have received Marie Claire’s grade.”

Lesley Jane Seymour: Seymour received a “D” for her half-baked debut editor’s letter, but her handwritten response to the grade merits an “A”.

“Dear Professor Braunstein,

Sorry my first try at my editor’s letter was so poor: my cat ate the best version, the second got caught in the rain, the third got slipped under the door of the wrong teacher! Herewith: my make-up editor’s letter awaiting a better grade. Please, please beware, I need a good GPA this year. Best, Lesley.”

As for the others, Anna Wintour of Vogue, when asked for her comment, replied “I can’t believe it’s that slow a news day.” Jane Pratt, meanwhile, is too busy editing Pamela Anderson to respond to her “B-” and Glenda Bailey of Harper’s Bazaar, who has seen her grade rise from a B- to a B in the last six months, is hoping we’ll do away with this feature altogether.

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