No son of mine is going to write stories LIKE THAT and live in MY HOUSE!
On this day in letters
Happy birthday to the following letters, all written on this day in history. And be warned: the Dawn Powell excerpt—6th down; the long one—is possibly not for the squeamish. It concerns the removal of a cyst she named Terry Toma.
If possible, have a good (Good) Friday.
[S]ometimes I read your writings supposing you man but come to the contrary con clusions from internal evidence[.] No my sister, there are things about us that no man can know & consequently no man can write.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Letter to Mary Ann Evans [George Eliot]
15th April 1869
Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe
I gather that you are going to a dance; and I believe you go because you think your wife the most beautiful woman in England, and she goes because she thinks so too. Kiss her, most passionately, in all my private places—neck—, and arm, and eyeball, and tell her—what new thing is there to tell her? how fond I am of her husband?
Letter to Clive Bell
15th April 1908
We are sinking fast passengers being put into boats
15th April 1912
Somehow I don’t care about writing a novel and I like to write short stories and I like to work at the bull fight book so I guess I’m a bad prospect for a publisher anyway. Somehow the novel seems to me to be an awfully artificial and worked out form but as some of the short stories now are stretching out to 8,000 to 12,000 words maybe I’ll get there yet.
Letter to Maxwell Perkins
15th April 1925
Selected Letters of Ernest Hemingway
About my letters. For heaven’s sake don’t send them to me. If there is one thing more depressing than reading other people’s old letters it is reading one’s own.
T. S. Eliot
Letter to his mother
15th April 1927
Letters, Vol. 3
Here is the family scandal I must now reveal. This here cyst (dermoid) or terra toma is a twin. That is, it is my own frustrated twin, a type of cyst that occurs (not very often) in the chest or other sections—even the head of a man or woman. It is made up of parts of various things—hair, teeth, sometimes an eye or a jawbone. It lives off your heart and lung and is “benign”—unless it gets overgrown and shoves out the organs you need which mine started to do. It was as large as a grapefruit and had cut off all but ⅓ of my lung space so it was about ready to shove me out. These twin cysts run in the family. (I shouldn’t be surprised but what Grandma’s choking spells, etc., indicated one.) They are simply parasites. Well, I was so pleased to hear about my twin Terry Toma that it kept me fascinated right along. It had the staff here fascinated too, so the operation—a five-hour job with three transfusions (3 pts. R.H. negative blood @ $105!)—had quite a gallery of chest experts. The surgeon is one of the best thoracic surgeons—Alexander Ada, a fine-looking, keen, very distinguished man about 45. The nurses who were witnesses said he lost six pounds, also that he was in my chest up to his shoulders.
Letter to her sisters
15th April 1949
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell
I remember when I was a kid, 16, 17, I was just beginning to play with short stories. Came home one night and here were all my clothes thrown out on the front lawn—coats, shirts, shorts, stockings and short stories. The old man had dipped into a drawer, uninvited, and had become a literary critic. “No son of mine is going to write stories LIKE THAT and live in MY HOUSE!” “Come on out here,” I told him, “and I’ll beat the shit out of you.”
Letter to Steven Richmond
15th April 1966
Selected Letters: 1960-1970
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Letter to You
15th April 2022
This was in fact his first letter to Perkins, who became Hemingway’s editor the next year.
I very much enjoy these collections of snippets.