LETTER: TLS to Henry Miller.
McCullers' Fan Letter to Henry Miller:
"if you are my Henry Miller"
McCullers, Carson. Typed letter signed "Carson McCullers," to Henry Miller. Columbus Georgia, June 3, [ca. 1942].
Single leaf; creased; signed in pencil. In a specially made cloth slipcase.
McCullers writes in response to a letter from a "Henry Miller," requesting copies of her books sent to his friends in Africa and France. She writes back, very willing to attend to the favor, and adding an effusive history of her admiration for his work, if he is, in fact, "the author of Tropic of Cancer and the Cosmological Eye. If so it is extraordinary," she writes, "I have been trailing those books for a long time. She explains to him the difficulty she had in locating his books, and asks if he could have his publisher send her some, with a bill, if indeed he is "my" Henry Miller.
I first came across your work years ago, when I was a youngster banging around N.Y., and I shall never forget that experience. Later, I was able to borrow more of your work from a friend. Then, when I had some money, I tried to buy both these books in N.Y., but for some reason I was unable to get hold of them. I want to own them, so if you are my Henry Miller, will you tell me where I can order them, or ask the publishers to send them to me with a bill?
Miller apparently wrote her about some complication with the English editions of her books. She devotes her second paragraph to addressing this issue. She explains she had been sick for a period of time and couldn't remember the details of her agreement, and thanks Miller for his advice on the matter. "All I can remember is that I signed a contract with some English firm, and there was a mention of fifty pounds advance, which I have not yet received. I'll write my agent and try to clear this up. In any case thank you very much for your kind advice."
In closing, she reveals that after reading Miller's letter, she stopped working for the afternoon to drink red wine. "The wine down here has a flavor of dead cockroaches and God knows how they make it. But I wanted something, for your letter excited me. If you are the Henry Miller I know it is a great thing for me to know how you feel about my work." The wine seems to have had its effect on McCulllers; the second and fourth paragraphs have a few mistakes she emended in type. She closes, "If, however, I have made a mistake, please forgive me-and thank you again for your letter."
It was not a mistake. McCullers's biographer V. Spencer Carr writes that "Perhaps Carson's best-known fan at the time-with whom she had not yet established a personal acquaintance-was novelist Henry Miller. He wrote her several admiring letters that spring, impressed by the psychology of her books, and sent her all of his own books as well-an overture which astonished her." (The Lonely Hunter. A biography of Carson McCullers, by Virginia Spencer Carr, New York: Doubleday, 1975, p. 209)