Lot 6: Sherwood Anderson Letter from 1920s Paris
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
October 26, 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Sherwood Anderson Writes from Paris********** ANDERSON, SHERWOOD. (1876-1941). American novelist and short-story writer. ALS. (“Sherwood Anderson”). 1¼pp. 8vo. Paris, Friday [June 1921]. On Hotel Jacob & d’Angleterre stationery. To English actress ROSALIND IVAN (1880-1959). ********** “We have been tremendously busy in Paris and are a little uncertain as to just when we may even be landing. It is nice to think of seeing you in England! Paris we are finding very lovely and the people here [?] are very kind and thoughtful — particularly of our ignorance of all things French. When we shall come depends somewhat upon the working out of my plans for French publication. With love and looking forward to seeing you… Tennessee send[s] love” ********** After enduring a difficult childhood in Ohio, Anderson focused on becoming a successful and prosperous businessman. However, in 1912, the pressures of business precipitated a nervous breakdown, marking a turning point in his life. After his recovery, he wrote his first novel, Windy McPherson’s Son, divorced his wife of twelve years and, in 1916, married his mistress, sculptor Tennessee Claflin Mitchell (1874-1929). ********** Anderson’s lasting literary fame was assured with the 1919 publication of his short story collection Winesburg, Ohio. On a mission to ensure the publication of his works in French, Sherwood and Tennessee sailed to France in 1921, where, after their arrival at Le Havre on May 23, they travelled by train to Paris. “At last Sherwood was in Paris, the city he had dreamed about since he had picked up in a secondhand store a copy of Eugene Sue’s The Mysteries of Paris and had begun picturing Paris as a metropolis of wide avenues, beautiful women, and palaces set beside dark, violent tenement streets filled with… ‘thousands of simple people wondering what it’s all about--and not realizing that they’re living in a place most of us would give our eye-teeth to get to.’ During his six weeks in Paris, Sherwood remained for the most part delighted by the city and the people,” (Sherwood Anderson: A Writer in America, Rideout). During their sojourn there, Anderson wrote, saw the sights and mingled with American expatriate writers, including Gertrude Stein. ********** Shortly after their arrival, Anderson had “one of his few less-than-happy experiences, a first meeting with Gaston Gallimard, who still delayed with publishing translations of his work… Accompanied by Sylvia Beach, proprietor of the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, who had agreed to act as interpreter, Anderson went to the publisher’s office at the Nouvelle Revue Française and was kept in the waiting room so long that, in Sylvia’s words, he ‘got angry and threatened to break up the place.’ Fortunately, Gallimard did finally see him and mollified him with assurances that some of his books would be published as soon as they could be property translated,” (ibid.). On July 4, the Andersons sailed to England. ********** “Like Sherwood, Tennessee was a Midwesterner who had been drawn in her youth to Chicago, worked hard to make a living and developed artistic inclinations… her mother was warmhearted and given, much to young Tennessee’s embarrassment, to defending unpopular causes, such as antivivisection… Just before Tennessee was born, her grandfather had had as house guests Tennessee Claflin and Victoria Claflin Woodhull, the beautiful flamboyant sisters who were then scandalizing the nation by their stock market speculation, muckraking journalism, advocacy of socialism, and unconventional love lives. According to Tennessee Mitchell’s autobiographical account, her mother had ‘an especial affection for the charming and spirited Tennessee Claflin’ and herself a ‘gentle feminist,’ on a neighboring woman’s dare gave her firstborn daughter the name of a ‘rampant’ one… so the new baby was named Tenne C., the middle initial being Content,” (ibid.). Tennessee, a friend of Anderson’s wife, had supported herself as a piano tuner and by teaching “rhythmics” to the children of wealthy Chicagoans, before finding as her vocation as a sculptor. Prior to meeting Anderson, she was romantically involved with author Edgar Lee Masters, who portrayed her in his Spoon River Anthology. Sherwood and Tennessee divorced in 1924. ********** Ivan was a prominent stage actress both on Broadway and in London’s East End. Between 1944 and 1954, she appeared in a total of 14 films, appearing as the memorable nagging wife of Edward G. Robinson in Fritz Lang’s film noir Scarlet Street. ********** Folded and creased with normal wear and in very good condition. Rare from this period.