La Préfète, Montfavet, Vaucluse, France, 1926. Four closely typed pages, on four quarto sheets of airmail stationary. Folded, several old paper clip rust marks, some marginal breaks at folds, but good to very good. A superb letter from Bolitho (1891-1930), South African journalist and biographer, intimate friend of Hemingway, Noël Coward, Walter Lippman and others, to editor and literary agent, Coburn Gilman (1893 - 1967). Extending to ca. 1000 words, with frequent manuscript corrections and insertions, Bolitho responds to questions posed by Gilman ("...how you torture me. Your questionnaire has haunted me more nights than a most unbusinesslike habit and pathological loathing of answering letters will excuse ...") with what amounts to an autobiography and self-appraisal, including his upbringing in South Africa and education, his service in the Great War ("...they made me a bomber, because I had taken Metaphysics and the Classics at University and therefore know nothing totally whatever of Chemistry. I was in three battles ... you did not need to know drill or do anything, just get killed, so ended by being buried at the Somme ..."), and his recuperation and service for the British War Council. He gives an account of his work as a journalist (specifically for the NEW YORK WORLD), his life in France, and his writing: "Now you know pretty well Mr. Gilman, that all that is why my stuff reads so queer and new and aloof. What Walter Lippman said about me is true. I write like the Man from Mars, I like to polish it a bit and say that I am the discoverer of Europe ... Why should anyone buy my books? I don't know except that they are new and must be strange ...Why should Christopher Morley take one of my essays (Saxophone from Leviathan) and put it into his Modern Essays? Why should Harpers of all people become my publishers and every post bring me fan-letters and other publishers['] affable pressing invitations to write a novel? All this I know I shall understand better when a skilled man, outside me, as I am perforce outside the rest of the world sends me the significant inch of ad [i.e. advertisement] that he will boil it all down to. But don't lose this letter: I swear to never write what is in it again, as I never have before." Signed "William Bolitho," with a manuscript postscript offering to send a photo if Gilman does not yet have one. In 1926, Harper & Bros. published the US edition of MURDER FOR PROFIT, and it is likely that this autobiographical epic is associated with that forthcoming publication. Bolitho died at the age of 40, from peritonitis brought on by appendicitis. (Inventory #: WRCLIT76537)
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