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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Gentle Persuasion



March 15, 1933

Gentlemen,

I suppose you'd be more interested in even a sleight-o'-hand trick than you'd be in an application for a position with your magazine, but as usual you can't have the thing you want most.

I am 23 years old, six weeks on the loose in N.Y. However, I was a New Yorker for a whole year in 1930-31 while attending advertising classes in Columbia's School of Business. Actually I am a southerner, from Mississippi, the nation's most backward state. Ramifications include Walter H. Page, who, unluckily for me, is no longer connected with Doubleday-Page, which is no longer Doubleday-Page, even. I have a B.A. ('29) from the University of Wisconsin, where I majored in English without a care in the world. For the last eighteen months I was languishing in my own office in a radio station in Jackson, Miss., writing continuities, dramas, mule feed advertisements, santa claus talks, and life insurance playlets; now I have given that up.

As to what I might do for you — I have seen an untoward amount of picture galleries and 15¢ movies lately, and could review them with my old prosperous detachment, I think; in fact, I recently coined a general word for Matisse's pictures after seeing his latest at the Marie Harriman: concubineapple. That shows you how my mind works — quick, and away from the point. I read simply voraciously, and can drum up an opinion afterwards.

Since I have bought an India print, and a large number of phonograph records from a Mr. Nussbaum who picks them up, and a Cezanne Bathers one inch long (that shows you I read e. e. cummings I hope), I am anxious to have an apartment, not to mention a small portable phonograph. How I would like to work for you! A little paragraph each morning — a little paragraph each night, if you can't hire me from daylight to dark, although I would work like a slave. I can also draw like Mr. Thurber, in case he goes off the deep end. I have studied flower painting.

There is no telling where I may apply, if you turn me down; I realize this will not phase you, but consider my other alternative: the U of N.C. offers for $12.00 to let me dance in Vachel Lindsay's Congo. I congo on. I rest my case, repeating that I am a hard worker.

Truly yours,

Eudora Welty
Eudora Welty

William Maxwell
This letter was written in March 1933 by the creatively adventurous, Eudora Welty when she was twenty-three years old. She wrote this letter to The New Yorker! They turned her down. Of course, they accepted many of her future pieces for the magazine, and she won many awards for her work, not the least of which was the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1973. Through working with The New Yorker, Welty came to know William Maxwell, a beloved writer and editor at The New Yorker, and went on to write numerous pieces for the magazine, but it wasn't until 1951 that they finally accepted one. I suspect since she went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1973, they were glad they finally made that decision.

What There Is to Say We Have Said, edited by Edith Marrs. The correspondence between Eudora Welty and William Maxwell

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Kaye. I adore her writing. She had the ability to latch onto the emotional part of the simplest story and bring it to life.

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