— But you will be ready to say, what was your hope in doing this? — What did you look forward to? — To any thing, every thing — to time, chance, circumstances, slow effects, sudden bursts, perserverance and weariness ... Every possibility of good was before me, and the first of blessings secured ... — from Emma, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

October 26, 2013

The beginning of a wonderful friendship...



from today's The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1900 that Henry James wrote his first letter to the budding novelist Edith Wharton, beginning a long friendship. Wharton was an admirer of James's work, and she sent him one of the first short stories she ever wrote. He wrote back to say that he liked the story but that she shouldn't write about Europe if she didn't live there. He said, 'Be tethered in native pastures, even if it reduces [you] to a back-yard in New York.' His advice inspired her to write about the New York society she'd grown up in, and the result was The House of Mirth (1905), which became her first big success.

They remained friends for the rest of James's life, but while Wharton became more successful, James's novels sold less and less well. When he learned that she'd used the proceeds from a recent book to buy herself a new car, he joked that he hoped his next book would provide enough money for him to buy a new wheelbarrow. But he always appreciated her friendship, and once wrote to her, 'Your letters come into my damp desert here even as the odour of promiscuous spices ... might be wafted to some compromised oasis from a caravan of the Arabian nights.'
{This is a postcard I bought when JoAnn and I visited The Mount. It shows Henry, Teddy Wharton and their mutual friend Howard Sturgis on the terrace overlooking the gardens. I was sure Henry was the man in the middle until I read the other side, but then again Henry probably wouldn't have been caught dead in tweed. :)}


7 comments:

JoAnn said...

You're right - Henry probably wouldn't have been caught dead in tweed, lol! Some day I'd love to read the letters he and Edith exchanged.

Hope you're having a good weekend :)

Lark said...

What a great post! I have long been a fan of both Henry James and Edith Wharton; I love their books, and have always loved their friendship, too.

Frances said...

Henry was fastidious on all accounts to say the least. That would not have been the outfit for him. :) Like JoAnn, I would love to read their letters one day, to know more of their friendship in general. Still envying you your outing to the MOunt with JoAnn by the way.

JaneGS said...

I enjoyed reading about the friendship between James and Wharton. I've read bit of Wharton but want to read more, and visit her home. I love to see where writers laid down roots.

Lilac In May said...

Those letters sound great, are they published as one work do you know?

Audrey said...

Dear Lilac in May...
I have an edition of their letters called Henry James and Edith Wharton: Letters 1900-1915, edited by Lyall H. Powers (published in 1990) - hope this helps!
Audrey

Vintage Reading said...

Good that Henry James had a sense of humour! Never read him ... another huge gap in my literary life.

Thank you for visiting!

Card Catalog

#6barsets #emma200th #maisie #PalliserParty #Woolfalong A.A. Milne Agatha Christie Alexander McCall Smith Amy Lowell Angela Thirkell Ann Bridge Anne Perry Anthony Trollope Anticipation Armchair Travels Art Audiobooks Barbara Pym Biography Bloomsbury Bookish things Boston British Library Crime Classics Cambridge Cathleen Schine Charles Dickens Coffee-table books Cookbooks D.E. Stevenson Deborah Crombie Donna Leon Dorothy L. Sayers E.H. Young E.M. Forster Edith Wharton Elinor Lipman Elizabeth Gaskell Elizabeth Jenkins Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth von Arnim Emily Dickinson Ernest Hemingway Eudora Welty Fiction Films Food from Books Food Writing Found on a Blog George Eliot Georgette Heyer Helen Ashton Henry James History Homes and Haunts Ideas Imogen Robertson Isabella Stewart Gardner Jacqueline Winspear Jane Austen Joanna Trollope Julia Child Language Laurie Colwin Letters Library Books Literature Louise Andrews Kent Louise Penny M.F.K. Fisher Madame Bovary Madame de Sévigné Madame de Staël Margaret Kennedy Margery Sharp Mary Shelley Memoirs Miss Read My Year with Edith Mysteries Nathaniel Hawthorne Nonfiction Nook Only Connect P.D. James Paris in July Persephones Plays Poetry Pride and Prejudice 200 Queen Victoria R.I.P. Reading England 2015 Ruth Rendell Sarah Orne Jewett Short Stories Switzerland Sylvia Beach Team Middlemarch The 1924 Club The Brontës the Carlyles The Classics Club Thomas Hardy Virago Virginia Woolf Washington Irving Willa Cather William Maxwell Winifred Peck Winifred Watson