In 1847, Charles Dickens founded a house for homeless women in the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood of London. After setting up the center’s amenities, he publicized the house using leaflets and, upon hearing that London society was shocked that the center had a piano, spread a rumor that the center boasted a piano for every resident. At The Guardian, a look at a letter Dickens wrote to the matron of the house, to be sold at Christie’s in May. (h/t The Paris Review)
"A woman I did not know called me to help her with something I have always loved to do: write. Certainly it was fate, my involvement destined to be a seed for a fairy tale ending, I thought. I was wrong," Scott Saalman writes about the moral challenges of agreeing to help someone with their writing at The Morning News.
Most of our internet browsing results in wasted time and too many cat videos, but Nora Crook stumbled upon Mary Shelley’s unpublished letters while researching an obscure 19th-century novelist. In the letters, which range from 1831-49, Shelley fawns over her son and even discusses a 3 a.m. trip to her hairdresser when she got a ticket to the coronation of William IV in 1831. The letters will be published soon in The Keats-Shelley Journal.
A razor’s edge tribe between phoniness and dishonesty
I spoke to Poggioli about you, at Harvard. He would like to have you there for six months or a year, and this is an opportunity you should not refuse. Even though Harvard is not America, but a kind of Olympus containing the intellectual cream from all over the world, you would have the chance to see a bit of America traveling around. And one should not let slip any chances of “talking” to the Americans, of doing something to bridge this abyss which divides us, and it really is an abyss: this is a different world, as far from Europe and our problems as the Moon.
If there is one thing more depressing than reading other people’s old letters it is reading one’s own.
Presenting a Literary Lovefest
Friends of The Millions! Today is Valentine’s Day, and that means it’s time for your humble editors to show you how much we love… well… love. And because most (or all) of us are naturalized citizens of Bookland, we figured the best way to do that is to show you our favorite love letters. Think F. Scott Fitzgerald, Abelard, James Joyce and Sylvia Plath. Think wild yearnings, unrestrained lust and a slight, slight hint of the kinky. Think, in other words, of amazing writers in love.
To that end, we’ll be posting excerpts throughout the day right here on our lovesick Tumblr. If you’re looking to join in, post an excerpt of a letter we left out and tag it #Love of The Millions. We’ll post it ourselves if we like it. Why? Because we love you, of course.
One (women’s of course) magasine which considered publishing one chapter finally demurred (in frightened awe) but wanted my ‘picture’ and what of my life I cd spare: if you are a writer, they don’t want to buy and print yr writing, but rather a picture and what you eat for breakfast, &c. But then good God! that’s what the book’s about—It’s difficult not to strike a pose, for being ‘eccentric’ enough to try to get across that: What do they want of the man that they didn’t find in the work?