Letters to Various Correspondents
Mar. 16, [191-?] from 309 Fifth Ave., New York to Rupert Hughes
Lewis thanks Hughes for responding to a letter, writing in part: “I strongly suspect you of being an angel! How the devil you can take time to write to youthful aspirants is beyond me!”
Mar. 20, 1915 from 38 West 32nd St., New York to George Foxhall, Springfield, Mass.
Lewis was then working as an editor and publicity man for George Doran. From his office, he writes that the firm will be unable to publish Foxall’s essay, “The Real Uplift”: “There would be no possibility of our success with so small a pamphlet.”
[1915?] from Port Washington, Long Island to Mr. Egan
Lewis thanks Egan for his praise of The Trail of the Hawk: ” … I liked so much the note of your letter that with this naivete I’m confessing that I’m not a Serious Author but, like Hawk, ‘just folks.’”
Jan. 10, 1916 from St. Augustine, Florida to Dr. Weeks
“I don’t know why the deuce anyone should prize my humble (honest!) autograph, but here it is!”
July 1, 1916 from Sauk Centre, Minn. to Somerville
He and his wife Grace “are starting West next week — in a Ford! To motor all the way, camp kit and tent along. Bought the Henry-bug last week & have lotsa fun with it.”
June 14, 1917 from 227th St. and Independence Ave., New York to Mrs. Finch
“I am young — 32 — and have been reasonably poor most of my life, though just now the magazines threaten to make me rather well -to-do … I hope you may like my next book, “The Innocents”, which Harpers will publish in the fall. It is the story of two sweethearts of 65 & their re-discovery of youth …”
Jan. 15, 1918 from 516 Summit Ave., St. Paul, Minn. to Lyman Pierce
He promises to send Pierce an autographed copy of The Job: “I shall have to wait a few days before doing so, however, as the bookstore here has run out of copies …”
Sept. 24, 1919 to A.N. Marquis and Co., Chicago, Ill.
A document from the publishers of Who’s Who in America, which reads in part: “The following personal sketch .. will be published in the next edition after being revised and editorially approved. Please read the sketch with particular care, making necessary additions or alterations …” Lewis has corrected and signed the document.
Sept. 27, 1919 to A.N. Marquis and Co., Chicago, Ill.
Lewis makes further changes in his biographical sketch for Who’s Who: “… In returning proof on the account of myself … I added my new novel, Free Air, but somehow or other I failed to add my play, entitled Hobohemia, which was produced in New York this year …”
Jan. 14, 1921 from Washington, D.C. to Elizabeth Marbury, The American Play Company, New York
Lewis confirms arrangements to begin work on the dramatization of Main Street, in collaboration with Harvey O’Higgins and Harriet Ford.
Jan. 14, 1921 from Washington, D.C to E.J. Clode, Photoplay, New York [carbon copy]
Lewis thanks Clode for his interest in the film rights to Main Street, but informs him that “The play and movie rights are now entirely in the hands of the American Play Company.”
Jan. 18, 1921 from Washington, D.C.to Elizabeth Marbury, The American Play Company, New York
He plans to arrive in New York on Thursday : “I shall be glad if I can spend either Thursday evening, or part of Friday, or both, with Mr. O’Higgins and Miss Ford … ask them if they have thought of the fact that a play could be made with Fern and Cy Bogart as central characters and Carol really as a minor character …”
Feb. 4, 1921 from Double Duck Farm, New Jersey to Dick Madden, the American Play Company, New York
Lewis wants to show him the first draft of the dramatized Main Street: “It has gone bully — it’s a real play.”
Feb. 16, 1921 from the Queen City Club, Cincinnati to Mr. Lowman
Lewis reports that the dramatization of Main Street has been completed: “Harvey O’Higgins, Harriet Ford and I finished it ten days ago …”
March 1, 1921 from the Queen City Club, Cincinnati to Rupert Hughes
He thanks Hughes for his praise of Main Street, and writes: “In the room next, with a bottle and a bowl of ice on the table, are two young-old gentlemen from Kentucky getting beautifully stewed…”
Aug. 5, 1921 from Maidstone, England to Dick Madden, The American Play Company, New York
He gives directions about the forwarding of his Main Street royalties, and asks Madden to “Please find out what has been done about ‘Hobohemia,’ the musical comedy Harry Smith made out of my play … Can’t something be done with this?”
Oct. 19, 1921 from Pallanza, Italy to Dick Madden, The American Play Company, New York
He has not received any acknowledgement of his previous letter. “Of course I don’t, at this distance, know anything about how the Main Street play is going, and I hope that when you receive this note … it may still be living!”
Oct. 27, 1921 from Pallanza, Italy to Dick Madden, The American Play Company, New York
Lewis thanks him for his report of the play.
Nov. 17, 1921 from Rome, Italy to Dick Madden, The American Play Company, New York
He is staying in Rome for the winter, but would like his royalty statements sent to his bank in London.
Dec. 2, 1921 from Rome, Italy to Dick Madden, The American Play Company, New York
There is a $100 accounting error in his royalty statement: “does somebody get told to be careful?”
May 30, 1922 from One West 47th St., New York to Charles Breasted
“I was sorry as the devil not to be able to see you again before I left London … Good crossing — I worked every day & got the new novel, Babbitt, done … My best to Spike Hunt.”
Mar. 4, 1925 from “Paris — but off on Saturday to Cannes, Italy & Munich” to Otto & Mrs. Theis, London
Lewis thanks them for their praise of Arrowsmith: “I had heard only from such prejudiced and parental persons as my wife and publishers, who darn well had to like it in order to live at peace with one!”
Oct. 19, 1925 from 383 Madison Ave., New York to Harry Hansen
Lewis discusses his feud with Harold Stearns, which erupted after Lewis satirized him in The American Mercury: “It is my invariable practice in a controversy of this kind to say nothing at all and it usually results in the controversy closing much quicker thus.”
Jan. 9, 1926 from 383 Madison Ave., New York to Reverend Ralph Stoody, St. Johnsbury, Vermont
“… Before I really get into the ministry book, I’m going to take a rest … I’m leaving next week for New Mexico, and I shall motor through the Southwest for perhaps three months.”
April 5, 1926 from Kansas City, Missouri to Gouverneur Morris, Monterey, California
“A friend of mine, a big real estate developer who has a notion of architecture, is going to Spain in May, both for the fun of it and to get some ideas for the sort of Spanish houses one now sees at Pebble Beach and thereabouts. To what towns do you think he ought to go?”
June 6, 1926 from Pequot, Minn. to Otto Theis, London
“I’m glad you liked the Pulitzer stuff. Of course most of the bright boys of the editorial columns explained my action as a fevered quest for publicity! In the year since I have been home I have wandered all over the country, from New York down to Arizona and up to San Francisco, mostly viewing the Rev. Clergy, in re my next book.”
Jan. 28, 1927 from The Grosvenor, New York to Leon Wexelstein
He has been tired, and is sailing for Europe. “I am afraid that we shall have to leave the autobiographical sketch of me until I return.”
July 30, 1927 from Paris to Mr. Norton
Lewis thanks him for praising Elmer Gantry. “I hope that you are feeling vastly better after the sanitarium. I have been in a sort of a sanitarium myself, in thus wandering and as I dictate this to you, I am looking out at the pleasant trees …”
Sept. 19, 1927 from Berlin to Miss Roberts, The Century Company
Lewis thanks her for her letter: “It seems very homelike to have a letter with the familiar stamp of the Century Company on it; I have many friends, for example Harrison Smith and Joseph Anthony, who have at one time or another worked for the Century …”
June 2, 1928 from Berlin to D. Douglas Demaretst, Little Neck, Queens
“I am glad to hear that you liked Elmer Gantry and that you lent it to your minister. I hope he was not too worried by the book! I hope your boy will read it, as you say, before he goes to college and will believe that it really does pay to be decent.”
Aug. 30, 1928 from 383 Madison Ave., New York to Art Young
Lewis congratulates him on his new book: “I will go out and spend some real money on it when it comes out … I shall be around New York this winter and I hope I shall see you often.”
Sept. 16, 1928 from Barnard, Vermont to Harry Hansen
“I’ve just bought this Vermont farm and plan to stay here till snow flies. Then, NY all winter. About the presidential vote, regarding which you tenderly inquire. I don’t know yet.”
March 1, 1929 from 37 West 10th St., New York to Powys Evans, London
He cannot sit for a portrait immediately; perhaps he will be able to when he is next in London: “Jonathan Cape, my London publisher, always knows when I am there.”
April 6, 1929 from 37 West 10th St., New York to Mr. Smith
Lewis thanks him for his note about Dodsworth: “It has come to me here in New York where there isn’t a single cafe and only 30,000 speakeasies, since the passing of the Jones Law, so that we all lead sober, godly and righteous lives and write books because there is nothing else to do.”
May 27, 1929 from Twin Farms, Vermont to Miss Mary Hileman, Aberdeen, Washington
He sends his greetings: “I don’t very often answer letters.”
June 1, 1929 from Twin Farms, Vermont to Charles Edison, Orange, New Jersey
He declines his offer to host “a radio evening”: “I dislike personal publicity and do not care to do so …”
July 19, 1929 from Twin Farms, Vermont to Miss Hazel Shor, Worcester, Mass.
“I have never heard of M. Sauret, & ‘M. Saurier’ is an entirely fictitious name …”
Jan. 18, 1930 from 37 West 10th St., New York to Aunt Grace
“… You haven’t yet met the new Mrs. Sinclair Lewis, whom I hope you will love. Naturally you would be prejudiced in favor of any one named Grace, but I hope that you will find it in your heart to love her also. She directs me to say that although she is a simple and rustic lass she has a heart of gold.”
Aug. 4, 1930 from Twin Farms, Vermont to Mike
Recipient unidentified; reads in part: “If you publish any of these, be especially careful to run nothing that would get J.B. into trouble …”
Oct. 18, 1930 from Twin Farms, Vermont to Dr. Kettig
“Thank you for sending me the incredible Babbitt-Fran-Rotary coincidence. I must say that the picture of the Babbitt in question indicates that he is anything but a veritable babbitt …”
Dec. 29, 1930 from Berlin to Mrs. Theis, Everyman, London
He cannot give her an interview: “My wife has just had an operation for appendicitis …”
Feb. 16, 1931 from London to Miss Morgan
“As I always type my MSS…there are practically no examples of my handwriting extant…”
Feb. 18, 1931 from London to Louise (?)
He is optimistic about his ex-wife’s book, Half a Loaf, by Grace Hegger Lewis, which was to be published shortly: “I had thought about the book by Arnold Bennett’s ex-wife, and I hope that in my case it will go the same way …”
Apr. 3, 1931 from Westport, Conn. to Lion Feuchtwanger, Berlin
He recommends the Viking Press over Cosmopolitan; “I have myself refused an extraordinarily large advance from the Cosmopolitan people and I did so without hesitation … Dorothy is delighted to be back with the baby …”
Oct. 12, 1931 from Twin Farms, Vermont to Mr. Willson
I’m sorry but I couldn’t possibly be one of the critics of your planned magazine … And why should you youngsters care a hang for the criticism of older writers?”
Nov. 27, 1931 from 21 East 90th St., New York to Harvey (?)
He will take the book on the Underground Railroad, but is not interested in the others: “What about the magazines you were going to round up?”
Dec. 3, 1931 from 21 East 90th St., New York to Harry Hansen
“The Linguaphone Institute statement is about half bologna”; the method did not teach him Swedish for his Nobel Prize speech.
June 30, 1932 from Twin Farms, Vermont to Mr. Norman Bassett, Wisconsin Library Association, Madison, Wisconsin
“I shall be off to Europe in so short a time that I shall not be able to autograph any books … But I am enclosing a check for $5.00 and here (written while the radio roars the demonstrations from the Democratic convention) is an autograph / Sinclair Lewis”
July 16, 1932 from Twin Farms, Vermont to Mr. Albert Bobrowsky, Brooklyn, New York
He cannot recommend a source for Cheap and Contented Labor, but suggests that Bobrowsky contact the headquarters of the United Textile Workers: “I believe that the pamphlet is now out of print.”
July 16, 1932 from Twin Farms, Vermont to Frank Wilstach, Motion Picture Producers and Distributors, 28 W. 44th St., New York
Lewis corrects some inaccuracies which appeared in a newspaper article, writing in part : “… The farm which I bought was not at Woodstock, Vermont but ten miles away from it and I did not buy it three years ago but four years ago … It has not become an artist’s and writer’s colony. There were two writers and no artists resident in Woodstock before I came here; one of them has recently moved away, which leaves this boiling writer’s colony of Woodstock, as described, with a population of one …”
Jan. 31, 1933 from Semmering, Austria (off to England in 4 days) to Lewis Gannett, New York Herald Tribune, New York
Lewis supplies Gannett with a list of books he recommends, including Willa Cather’s Obscure Destinies and Ernest Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon.
Feb. 15, 1933 from Georgian House, London to R.C. Nelsen, London
Lewis thanks him for “the outline of Dr. Pailthorpe … I am leaving for America in a couple of days and so shall not be able to go very deeply into her agenda …”
Dec. 31, 1933 from 17 Wood End Lane, Bronxville, New York to Lewis Gannett, New York Herald Tribune, New York
“These are the books I have recently, as we say in the literary business, enjoyed … Dorothy Parker’s After Such Pleasures, of which it can only be said that it is in evey way as fine as a book by Dorothy Parker. I never believed that she would meet Ernest Hemingway in the same ring and lick him, but she has …”
Feb. 13, 1934 from 17 Wood End Lane, Bronxville, New York to Mr. Chidsey
Enclosed is a check for $5.00; “I like it very much indeed.”
March 10, 1934 from St. George’s, Bermuda to Mr. Day, Winnipeg
Lewis thanks him for sending the review of Work of Art.
June 2, 1934 from South Pomfret, Vermont to Mr. Chidsey
His wife’s book “is to be signed Dorothy Thompson and not Mrs. S.L.”
July 18, 1934 from South Pomfret, Vermont to H.V. Prochnow, Chicago
“I have no office, and I have no secretary — I never do have one, except temporarily, for special work. And I have no idea whether your Work of Art ever came. It would have been unwrapped, like other books, by the maid. I am returning your stamps.”
Jan. 16, 1935 from 17 Wood End Lane, Bronxville, New York to Mrs. Bertha MacMonnies Waller, New York
“My dermatologist is trained both in Vienna and N.Y. and — perhaps blindly — I trust to him. I hope you had good holidays. We were very quiet here, but cheerful, with an entire FAOSchwartzload for Micky.”
Dec. 11, 1935 from 17 Wood End Lane, Bronxville, New York to Lewis Gannett, New York Herald Tribune, New York
Lewis recommends Van Wyck Mason’s The Washington Legation Murders: “I liked it even though it drips with a Kipling-1900-General Sherrill brand of childish Fascism …”
Dec. 31, 1935 from 17 Wood End Lane, Bronxville, New York to Lewis Gannett, New York Herald Tribune, New York
He recommends Rose Wilder Lane’s Old Home Town, and writes in part: “There are few books which bring back to me more completely the small town of the nineties; that enchanting time and place … I recommend it to everyone who was not born on Hester Street …”
Feb. 2, 1936 from Washington, D.C. to Mr. J. Wesley Baleria, Sorento, Illinois
“… I do, usually, chuck autograph hunters’ letters into the basket, but I do not regard your letter as such. I regard it as a friendly message which I am very happy thus to acknowledge …”
Feb. 3, 1936 from Washington, D.C. to Mr. Louis R. Stamelman, South Side High School, Newark, N.J.
“No, there is absolutely no truth in the story that I used the name ‘Babbitt’ with any thought whatever of Professor Irving Babbitt of Harvard — a man for whom I have always had the greatest respect, even though I have disagreed with almost all his literary principles.”
Feb. 4, 1936 from Washington, D.C. to Mr. Mark Prentiss, New York
He cannot participate in the dedication of a memorial to James Fenimore Cooper, “however much I admire the spirit of the occasion.”
March 13, 1936 from Paget, Bermuda to Mr. George Loh, Der Arbeiter, New York
Lewis will not issue a statement on “the leaflet which the Nazis of Yorkville are circulating…the whole thing is so obvious.”
Oct. 18, 1937 from 42 West 58th St., New York to Robert Gessner, New York University
He will recommend Gessner for a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Dec. 13, 1937 from 42 West 58th St., New York to Blanche Knopf, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York
“I’d be delighted to see you and talk about your new young author … I’m here nearly every late afternoon.”
March 11, 1938 from 42 West 58th St., New York to Miss Allen, Oteen, N.C.
“I almost never answer letters of either congratulations or condolence at such length, but I liked immensely the spirit of your letter.”
“Apr. 2 (not 1) 1939″ to John Craven
A humorous look at Hollywood: “Mighty simple folks here, John. Mebbe ye think they’re too simple … And look! There’s that young Spencer Tracy, they just took onto the section gang — Had a fight with the boss, Gable, today. Yessir, simple uncouth folks … But don’t ye be fooled, John. Their hearts are just as warm as Cal Coolidge’s …”
Jan. 13, 1940 from New Orleans to Miss Wisner
“I’m afraid I shall not be here when you arrive.”
Jan. 22, 1940 from New Orleans to William Shaw, Oxford, Ohio
“I’ve never had any real trouble with censorship, yet I see its hand heavy on the movies. But I suspect that censorship is an eternal trait of all human society of any sort, & never defeated for more than a few moments.”
Nov. 18, 1940 from 148 East 48th St., New York to Keith Baker, Rochester, Minnesota
Lewis cannot autograph his books: “Perhaps you can paste this letter in one of them as a substitute.”
Nov. 26, 1940 from 148 East 48th St., New York to Blanche Knopf, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York
He cannot recommend any of his pupils from the University of Wisconsin.
Dec. 3, 1940 from 148 East 48th St., New York to Mrs. Henry Holt
“I’d be delighted if it were only possible to send you a copy of my speech on the radio (my only feat of the sort, so far) … but I haven’t one …”
May 2, 1943 from 300 Central Park West, New York to Mr. Sanders
He has recommended that the Readers Club re-publish Ramon Guthrie’s Marcabrun, but they have not been able to locate a reading copy.
Sept. 25, 1943 from 300 Central Park West, New York to Addison Lewis, Minneapolis, Minn.
“I’m back from Hollywood … I’m glad to be back in the crisper and more energetic climate of NYC.”
Feb. 10, 1944 from 300 Central Park West, New York to Addison Lewis, Minneapolis, Minn.
He has been working on Cass Timberlane, and is recovering from 3 weeks of the flu, “during which I read all the books that have ever been published.”
June 17, 1944 from 2601 East 2nd St., Duluth, Minn. to Addison Lewis, Minneapolis, Minn.
“I was glad to see your scrawl on the idiotic pamphlet. When are you coming up this way?”
Feb. 14, 1945 from 300 Central Park West, New York to Lewis Mumford
“Uncle Dudley arrived safely…” (My Uncle Dudley by Wright Morris, pubished in 1942)
April 8, 1945 from 300 Central Park West to Addison Lewis, Minneapolis, Minn.
Lewis plans to meet him in Minneapolis: “On Apr. 20, I start driving …”
April 14, 1945 from 300 Central Park West, New York to John Aschemeier, New York
He enjoyed the caricature; “I don’t actually look quite so vinegary.”
July 10, 1946 from Thorvale Farm, Williamstown, Mass. to William Targ, The World Publishing Co., New York
Lewis is pleased with the Living Library edition of Main Street, and makes some corrections.
Sept. 6, 1946 to Loew’s, Inc., New York
He has renewed the copyright to Willow Walk; he confirms that they still have the rights.
May 18, 1947 from Thorvale Farm, Williamstown, Mass. to Harrison Ryan, Santa Barbara
“I miss Hazel and you very much — am really homesick for you and Santa Barbara. But I am working hard and the hills here are even more beautiful than yours. Barny Conrad, who is due tomorrow, wrote me that he had some fine chess games with you I shall expect him to be a master when he arrives. I have had a few games, particularly with a neighbor who is a lawyer and therefore, as you will understand, no good at anything so subtle as chess.”
Dec. 27, 1947 from Thorvale Farm, Williamstown, Mass. to Harrison and Hazel Ryan, Santa Barbara
“I miss you! It’s beautiful here, all silver and pine-green, but I want to see you & your sun again!”
Wednesday, no date, to Charles H. Joseph
“I quite see your point about the Y.M.H.A. [Young Men’s Hebrew Association] …”
Sept. 29, no year, from the Hotel Algonquin, New York to Marty
“I’m pleased as hell … and flattered that you would like to do a portrait of me. But it will have to wait …”