Letters Home

LizzieLou | reading | Thursday, December 13th, 2007

When Mother was last here she brought me some books she had found at a library donation drive where she was volunteering. One of them, from 1903 (C.E.), is called “Letters Home” by W. D. Howells. W. D., according to the title page, is “Author of ‘Literary Friends and Acquaintance,’ ‘Literature and Life,’ ‘The Kentons,’ ‘Their Silver Wedding Journey,’ Etc. Etc.” On the inside front cover someone has noted that this is a “First Edition” but I think it was probably the Only Edition.

I started reading the first of the letters home from one “Mr. Otis Binning to his sister-in-law Mrs. Walter Binning (of Boston)” and was pleased to find that he (Mr. Binning) writes about how fabulous and terrible is New York City. Then I find, next to the passage that says, “…no one that is any one lives there, for New York is in nothing more anomalous than in having the east side for her fashionable quarter…,” a comment, in pencil, that informs me: No longer so – 1917.

It would seem that one Mrs. Ellen Allison Kerney, as noted on the label pasted in the front of the book, wanted future readers to know that the East Side was less than fashionable a scant 14 years after this book was written. Mrs. Kerney made other notations as well, more ambiguous, via underscores, margin squiggles, Etc. Etc. However, one could guess Mrs. Kerney liked that New York was described as “this apotheosis of Opportunity, this myriad-visaged Chance, this Fortune on a million wheels!” One could also assume Mrs. Kerney agreed that, “there is something about the New York way of dressing and talking that makes you know them at once as far as you can see them.”

Where the author writes, “…in an old place like this there must be a society so sufficient to itself that it need not be at the pains to be exclusive…,” Mrs. Kerney wrote: This is true – there is a New York who refuses to know the Astors and the Vanderbilts & who does not hang on the outskirts of highish society.

To the author’s quip that “…nothing would do American but to come to New York. That was better than Europe, anyway…,” Mrs. Kerney enthusiastically penciled: Yea, verily – Here is better than that!


Sadly, Mrs. Kerney seems not to have read past chapter XII. Or perhaps she lost her pencil.

I think if she were around today, she’d blog.


  1. FIRST!

    Well, as the odds of there being sexy slashiness in this book seem abysmally low, I don’t think I’ll be reading it any time. At all.

    Comment by eelaine — December 14, 2007 @ 12:43 pm

  2. Hey. Was there an entry before/after this one, or are you pulling a “Gaslight” on me???

    Comment by eelaine — December 16, 2007 @ 9:07 pm

  3. Entry? What entry? I don’t know what you are talking about my Dear. Perhaps you are tired? Would you like to lie down? I have to go out. You stay here and rest. You’re not well, you know.

    Comment by LizzieLou — December 17, 2007 @ 9:39 am

  4. Hi Lizzie Lou! This has nothing to do with your post, but Linsey wants to know if you knows anything about Mini Med School (when it is, etc).

    Comment by Janie — December 25, 2007 @ 11:53 pm

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