The Mary MacLane Project

The definitive website on the life and work of the pioneering feminist writer, film-maker, and media personality Mary MacLane (1881-1929)

The Letters of Mary MacLane

Below is a very small selection of the many dozens of letters written by Mary MacLane that have been preserved in libraries and private collections. There are undoubtedly other letters not yet known - any reader with knowledge of such is invited to contact the Project.

All known letters will be published, with an introduction and notes, in the forthcoming volume Mary MacLane: The Complete Letters in 2019.

From Michael R. Brown's introduction to that volume:

As with every avenue of self-expression, Mary MacLane's touch is unmistakable. Her letters make for some of the most intriguing and, depending on the period, entertaining reading and contain some of her best stylistic work. One of her most frequent correspondents was one of her great unrequited loves, Harriet Monroe, and cover the greater part of MacLane's life; MacLane's letters to the poetess and editor make up in intensity what they at times lack in candor. MacLane's other most common adressee was Melville Elijah Stone, Jr., partner with his brother Herbert in MacLane's first publisher, Herbert S. Stone & Co. Her letters to him cover two periods - primarily business letters prior to Stone & Co.'s merger with Fox, Duffield & Co. in the mid-1900s, and MacLane's pitched battle to gain the remainder of her payments from Stone after he agreed, entirely without legal compulsion, to cover the company's debt personally.

These letters, covering love and business, show the power of MacLane's personality and pen and, again, how unaged her voice is. She would shock, enliven, repel, and attract today, and we see again that she was no reactionary but was constantly striking out in new directions as she wrestled with her onn inheritances of the human condition.

Following are selected texts from Mary MacLane's letters to Harriet Monroe from 1902 to 1912


[c. August 1902]

[Cambridge, Massachusetts]

Dear Harriet Monroe -

I remember you.

I remember you on a summer forenoon.

You were there and I was there.

We went out to walk by the lake-shore.

The lake-shore was very beautiful.

You were so fascinating that day. You were so strong. You were so true.

Particularly you were so true.

I loved you.

I had infinite faith in you.

And you were kind.

You were kind - so that I felt it without knowing it.

Which is a wonderful thing and goes far.

Surely no Pharisee was ever yet kind like that.

For a summer forenoon:

My love to you - oh, my love to you.

Dear Harriet Monroe -

At any rate - good-by.

Mary MacLane

- My love to you, always. -


[c. August 1902]

[Cambridge, Massachusetts]

Dear Harriet Monroe -

My love reaches out to you. My love reaches you through distance and silence and mystery, and through the inevitable things.

And my love reaches out to you in your dark or your light.

If there is a little dark about you my love will shine clearer to you, but if your light is bright and so fades my love in its reflection, still you will know that it is there. - -

Your friend -

Mary MacLane


Sunday [August 1903]
Hotel Metropole
Denver

My Dear Harriet Monroe -

It is a long time since I have written you?

But I have thought of you a great many times.

I have read a story of yours in the Atlantic. It was like you, and I sat with it in my lap for some half-hours together.

I am waiting for the Houghton-Mifflins to bring out your book of plays.

I find your writing fascinating.

I used to love you.

Perhaps I do, yet. -

Lucy Gray showed me a letter of yours in which you spoke of writing me - and she would not let you send the letter. She said it was not like you.

Next time, don't consult my friend Lucy Gray. Am I so small that I can't be allowed to read anything which does not praise me?

Perhaps I may see you when I stop in Chicago on my way from here to Boston.

I wish all good things to you. - -

Mary MacLane


[December 10, 1904]
10 Bay Street
St Augustine, Florida

Dear Harriet Monroe -

But surely it is a long time since you have written me a letter.

-I sometimes wonder as I go through life why it is you don't write me a letter. -

A letter from you is a valued thing by various tokens.

When I used to have a letter from you I looked long at it, and I said 'Perchance she wrote me this letter against her Better Judgment.' And if it were so it were all the more to be valued.

It outrode prejudice.

Nearly all the good things that have come to me - perhaps quite all of them - have come to me from people against their Better Judgment. They come purged. They come free as air.

Free as air. -

It is one of the tokens by which I value a letter from you. -

- Moreover, in reality, I do love you. -

Since last summer I have been reading your books - Valeria, and the book you wrote about your brother[-in-law].

Your books are wonderfully like you - so compact as to personality, so firm as to lips and as to hands, so full of repressed emotions and of subdued brilliances. -

I'm not greatly interested in Mr. Root or in Architecture - I know not either of them - but to me the Memoir-book is quite as much you as Mr. Root.

I had known you but a very few hours when you began to talk about your friend Mr. Root. The while you sifted sand through your fingers, by the lake-shore.

Even in your book you sift sand.

- There is a bay before my eyes which is today so pale and vague and light as ever your lake was.

On it are two white, white sails. And beyond the bay is an island, - and so richly-green and so fair and tranquil is it, lying in the sea and the sunshine, that I never cast my eyes on it without wondering if there's indeed no balm in Gilead.

- I should like to walk with you once by the side of this bay.

Above the bay is the sky - so peaceful, so restful is it that it makes me long for the time when I shall be no longer held fast to the earth, but may rest in the sky if I will. -

- I wish you might walk with me once beneath the sky. -

Moreover, in reality I do love you. I send you still other messages. -

Mary MacLane


[December 20, 1906]
Box 22
St. Augustine, Florida

Dear Harriet Monroe -

I do hope that the memory of me in your mind is sufficiently alluring and picturesque to make this photograph something desirable upon your birthday. I wish it to be so, and I guess it will be if all the thoughts I've sent you, ever and anon, reached you and told you that I keep certain warm tenets of friendship for you always by me. I frequently think thoughts of you - thoughts of various colors. - One being a wish that I knew you more intimately than I've yet been permitted to, what with time and distances and things. I feel that there's much of you that I've not seen and heard. The memory of you that I carry since that wonderful ten days that I had in Chicago with you and Lucy Gray is always alluring and picturesque. - If one loved you a great deal but wasn't fascinated by you at all - wouldn't you rather that she'd love you something less and "be fascinated? I should myself. -

I don't care at all to be loved by anybody for my good and gentle qualities - (if I had any) - but only because I'm I, and in spite of my manifold wickednesses of temperament, - or, too, maybe because of them. - So I feel always vaguely fascinated by the depths of your personality and all your mental lights (there being astonishingly few persons that have either, I find) - and I hope some day to know more of them. But I love you, withal. -

I'm hoping that you're not still in Vermont, or anywhere else so bleak and barren-sounding - because I want this to get to you for your birthday. - ...

- My love and all my good wishes for your birthday. -

Always your friend,

Mary MacLane

I haven't heard from Lucy Gray for months. It worries me. - -


January 14, [1907]

St. Augustine, Florida

Dear Harriet Monroe -

I was glad to know, in your letter which came New Year's day, that the gift which you sent me is a snuff-bottle. That fact sets it forever beyond the pale of vulgar use and preserves its gifthood intact. Because, you see, I don't take snuff ....

I've waited all these years for you to send me a photograph of Harriet Monroe ....

I am thankful that the tiny feather fan was in time to blow away the mists and shadows from your birthday. A larger fan would have shrunk from a task so terrific as rescuing a December-23 birthday from the thick-tangled mazes of Christmas. But I fancied that little one might do it. I was careful to send no Merry Christmases with it - on the long slip of paper. -

But I said Happy New Year to you in the ribald rococo letter that I wrote you. - And your letter brought me one. Your wish was that mine should be 'outrageously happy' - which is so inspiring a phrase as to be almost its fulfillment. -

My love to you. -

I hope I can see you some day and before errant and wondrous youth has touched us for the last time and fled away.

Your friend,

Mary MacLane


May 24 [1909]
71 Irving Place
[New York]

Dear Harriet Monroe -

I hope you will forgive me for my long, long neglect. Of course I received the poem about the Seasons that you sent me at Christmas. I have read it more than once since then, and with no realizing sense that I had never thanked you for it. I am very sorry about it. I have the same affection for you that I've always had. I think of you frequently - sometimes every day for days there'll be some little vision, a happening that reminds me of you. And occasionally I come upon some of your writing. I remember seeing a poem of yours a month or two ago in Life - reprinted from some other magazine - about the modern hotel and all that makes it. I thought it extremely striking and real, and a wonderful vivid picture. The phraseology and the whole thing were characteristic of you. I have always found New York - any city - seething with poetry, on every sordid street corner, in the shops and subway stations, and all. We wear out our lives rubbing against it all daily - and yet these magazine poets, instead of making pictures of it, persist in doing weak-kneed verses about moons and rivulets and other things infinitely remote. - I say 'magazine poets' because you never were one. There is always red blood in your poems, - or, not so much red blood as something suggestive of muscular force and vitality. - I think it's particularly true of this one on the Seasons. And the metre alone has strength. - ...

Mary MacLane


September 10 [1909]
71 Irving Place
New York

Dear Harriet Monroe -

... I want to make this book so big a thing that I can come back and not merely look at this New York thing but live in it. The book's got to bring me money and make me my place - a notorious one probably, but, all the same, not cheap or tawdry. New York simply enchants and fascinates me, the more for all its terrors. And I know the terrors will always be in it, for me - even when I come back to it with renewed sinews.

But if one has the wit and the will one can grasp even them in one's two hands. -

I'm just now writing a chapter that I think is the biggest I have done thus far - it's about the worn and tired youth which makes about one-third of New York - the unattached young women who work at different things daytime and pursue pleasure by night, phantom pleasures that are always out of reach, and lead them on, and never wait. It's a maddening and futile chase, but one we think we've got to keep up. It's as hard on feminine youth as the pavements and cobblestones and skyscrapers and the shrieking of wheels. It makes for pallid faces and drooping lips and shadowed eyes - how many thousands of them I've seen! And there's a look that goes with it - aged and hardened youngness. And for all their outward grooming and delicately-wrought complexions - it's a look suggestive of inward bleeding and burning - the beginnings of decadence in worn young bodies. I know all about it myself. It's but one of New York's tragic things.

- I think I am making a vital picture of it. I point no morals and draw no conclusions in any of my chapters. I write what I see, and I portray my own fantastic personality. And I keep as much to terse vivid words and brief sentences as may be.

But I really oughtn't to talk about it. I think it diffuses strength to talk about one's work. It is to keep it all within till it's ripe. -

I should like to talk over many things with you. I look forward to it. -

My love to you.

Mary MacLane


September 18 [1909]
New York

Dear Harriet Monroe -

... I'm glad of your hope for my book. It can't be all big - it is too much myself, and I'm aware of many shallows among my depths. Still - my idea is, if a thing is human, in art, it's big even in its pettiness. Indeed, I point out that, to me, there is something informing and illuminating in the trivialities and futilities of my own mentality. It's to me a vast and subtle field of thought, - I mean, just that idea of the futilities. -

But my Tired Youth chapter is still the best. - -

My love to you.

Mary MacLane


March 5, 1911
1007 W. Park Street
[Butte, Montana]

Dear Harriet Monroe -

Came your gray letter with the seven little white ivory rapiers ranged soldierly, on a square of darkling blue, bespeaking the Eastern Seas. I insist upon regarding them as rapiers - or poniards (poniard is a nice word), but be they what they will, they're entirely suggestive, in their quaint girlhood, of nobody but you.

How wonderful to have been in Moscow! What little I know about it I learned from the young Russian women anarchists that I used to meet in New York. It seemed a place of mystery, tyranny, and semi-barbarism which quite threw back to the Middle Ages. 'Twas passing strange to remember that it and 'all the Russias' were co-existent with such things as aeroplanes, graphophones, William H. Taft, and - Akron, Ohio, for instance. (I can think of nothing more disconcertingly modern than a Middle Western middle-sized town, particularly in Ohio. But I like them and the idea of them - for vague reasons.) - Speaking of throwing back, it occurs to me that I throw back, when it comes to letter-writing, to Abigail Adams, Harriet Martineau, and Charlotte Bronte: they all used parentheses. But no one seems to now. -

Since the brief time I had with you and Lucy Gray a year ago and a little more, I have stopped off at the side of the world - where a few ill winds blew about me. I reached Butte on Christmas night, 1909, comprehensively tired, and the altitude of this plateau - and we are set upon the mountains above that - does not let one rest. I had the tiredness of two or three years in me, and the altitude but quickened my heart-beats and wrought up my frazzled nerves the more. All of which culminated when I had been home twenty days in a most accursed calamity - Scarlet Fever. There's a terror in the sound of it for me now. Week after week and week after week again, I lay battling with it - with the nurse, when not spraying me with water and soap, anointing me with olive oil, - from head to foot and without ceasing. And the medicines were legion - there were eight different ones every four-and-twenty hours, and their personnel was changed weekly so that their effect needn't be lessened. "We're keeping you alive," said the nurse and the doctor. And my own food was deadly white milk. There were motes and beams in my vision and after four days my voice sank to a whisper - and was heard no more for twenty-seven days. With all this I had diphtheria, which was indeed but a trifle except that it kept me gasping for breath, and except that it meant anti-toxin which paralyzed my fevered flesh and didn't save my throat from a seething blade at that. - But, well, nobody dies of scarlet fever, though it adds to the ranks of the halt and the blind, and after nine weeks (we were quarantined but seven) I found myself weak and well with but a scar on my neck (where I had to be knived again for a most virulent abscess - but that's better than being left stone deaf) and the rapid losing of my hair, to tell the tale. I regret to confess that the neat brown hair in the photograph that I sent you is all false, root and branch. (Not a wig, but a cunningly placed swatch or two.) I had then only a short fuzzy mop of an unspeakable snarliness and of mouse-colored hue. I quite intended to wear false hair for the rest of my life if that were the best the gods could do for me. My own pre-scarlet-fever hair in its red-and-bronze curliness had been so pretty! - I cursed that red terror again on its account alone. - You love your fingernails and all of your cuticle but of course these come again as good as new. - And now - for three weeks, praise be to Allah - I have discarded the false hair; for my own, if no longer red-and-bronze, has grown in apace, with all the pristine Canadian curliness. And if it's no longer red-and-bronze its equally no longer mouse-colored as in the reconstruction period. It's fascinating to be wearing my own soft hair again with a bunch of curls behind and the prevailing fringe of "bangs," thin delicate bangs de luxe, on my forehead: beneath which seethe the iridescent, unhopeful, somehow disillusioned, but entirely scornful and unafraid thoughts of mid-youth. I have no more strength - and particularly no more vitality and elasticity - in my slim young body than a decadent poet who is nourished on absinthe. But perhaps I shall get out of this altitude which is fit only for the habitation of pigs - and then I shall be strong again. Not that I live on absinthe - far from it. I eat, oh, an astonishing amount of food - red, red meat and countless eggs. But a quaint ghost called mal-nutrition preys upon me. Do what I will - and eat what I will - I can't weigh more than 108, and me a tall rack of bones! And sleep! - I can sleep anytime, anywhere, - standing on a precipice, sitting on a stone step. Nothing - nothing could get me out of my bed before noon every day. I could take a nap - an hour thereafter. - An altitude for pigs.

This is all-too-egotistic - though, at that, I'm a.-t.-e. But if you'll write to me I'll write to you again of other things. I had one or two other things to tell you - but of these anon. I'd like much to hear from you. I've taken to worshipping brains. And you have so much.

My love to you.

Mary MacLane


January 15, 1912
1007 W. Park Street
Butte, Montana

Dear Harriet Monroe -

I have been reading your poem ever and anon, since Christmas day, and thinking of you (but that I have always done, oftener than ever and since we first met) - and I've been glad that at last you touch my life again with those hands of yours. Your touch has always suggested to me something of mingled snow and flame, something only too human shot with strong and determined spirit-things, - and it, like you, at once fascinates and repels me. Possibly "repel" isn't the word - but you take my measure in places where I'm so frightfully lacking, and so acutely conscious of it, that something in me rises up in resistance. - But there's no denying the fascination. - And after all, as to the other, if I should meet and know you now, I should not only resist your measurings - I should combat and challenge them. For I've come back into my own, in ways, and I have "my• triumphant moments of the mind and spirit, when no one can measure me! -

"The Dance of the Seasons" speaks to me of your triumphant moments and for that, and for itself, I love it very much. I have been reading a great deal of poetry in the last year - Keats and Shelley and Elizabeth Browning are the ones. And they illuminate life - everything for me, - as they must have for so many, many others - and will for centuries. It's so wonderful to be they, and still, not to be Keats or Shelley or Elizabeth Browning would I exchange being myself and having them to bloom and glow for me, when I like. Virgil once meant about everything in poetry for me - and the Aeneid has some incomparable bits. - Do you remember something about "The mist which hangs forever over and all about us, from the tears which are falling, falling always"? Those things were my mental awakening in my high-school days. And yet how Virgil lacks the subtleties and intimate shadows, compared with John Keats! Do you know, Harriet Monroe, if ever I go to Rome it'll not be for the Coliseum ruins - and that, but to lay a lily on the grave of John Keats. I could "weep for Adonais." And the Browning woman's Sonnets from the Portuguese - I suppose I've read them a hundred times since the last New Year's time - and each time I have felt them, afresh, with heart and mind and, in a sort of way, with my nerves - they all have touched other poetry, and other things, with new meanings. "The Dance of the Seasons" seems very real, very vital. I love its fleeting pictures and the sweep and hurry of the rhythms. It suggests the maddening flight of time with all the lingering lovelinesses that it leaves on earth as it flies .... I hope that [your poem] will open the way for the others that you speak of - and for all the young poets, with new songs and new messages. I read in some paper that you were to start a magazine of only poetry. It seemed to me a seductive and quixotic idea. - A picture of you headed the paragraph which I cut out and have on my wall among dozens and dozens of women, of widely differing types and personalities, who have been much or little in my life. I have been asking you a great many years for a photograph, - I suppose I shall be asking still many more.

- If I were not absorbed in some writing (which is to mean the crucial turning-point - the cross-roads - in my life) which demands and exacts all my strength and weakness, I should try very hard to inveigle you - though I know your life's all too full - into a bit of correspondence. I'd like to know more - and more deeply and analytically - about your inner life and the trends of it, and more than that, about your human equations from as many angles as might be - than I've been let to know, thus far. You're one of the impregnably reticent sort - and to myself it seems like infinite impertinence to even think of scaling your outer walls - battering them down, rather. But that adds to the fascination - and there is a fascination in you, for me. - Besides, I have so many thing of my own - phases of temperament inexplicable to myself, trends and tendencies which are enthrallingly real to me and yet seem to make for nothing but desolation and futility and ruin - to tell you of. - I should like, in fact, to experience real friendship with you - the subtle enchantments of meeting you and touching hearts and brains and finger-tips, in floods of dazzling sunshine, in the gray-and-gold dusk, in the dark of the moon! We could do all that in letters - and more. - Perhaps, some time, we may. I'd like you to tell me if it sounds of an interestingness to you. -

Except for being a fragile bit of flesh - I weigh but a hundred and twelve which means bones, and having nerves - forever half-fluttering nerves - I'm perfectly well. Every afternoon there's a sunset - of wisteria and amethysts and thrice-fired gold, above the desert and the frowning peaks. For that alone I could live, from day to day, in delectation! - I'm sorry you threw away your Birthday, a year ago. But my love to you - always.

Mary MacLane


November 3 [1912]
[1007 W. Park Street]
[Butte, Montana]

Dear Harriet Monroe -

Your letter has lain near me since it came - too many weeks ago for a letter from you to go unanswered. It has been near me, though - and awaiting only some gleam-mood. But those are elusive things - they mostly brush one, sometimes lingeringly, with their wing-tips as they flit away, and only by that one knows they ever come. Still, I think any mood in which I turn to you must have a bit of gleam in it. The thought of you - your humanness and poetry and brain-power together - lights some tiny deep-flamed torches in me, as if with recognition - and that. -

I feel deeply interested in your poetry magazine - I hope all is going well with it! The whole idea looks so full of lustrous possibilities, to be developed with the years - possibilities for the hungering spirits who will be read and known, and for those to whom the reading will be like eating lotus and gathering-in stars! I'd rather think it was to discover and awaken mute Keatses and Brownings and William Blakes than to establish an American school - do you suppose there could be an American school of poetry? - but it could do both. It's difficult to conceive a soul and brain in this age sufficiently Homeric to do this America-thing into poetry, what with the mixture of races and the sordid, complex non-vision and uninspiredness of it all. 'Twould want a seer and prophet as well as poet, to do more than pick out the poignant details. But spirits and hearts are always the same - the only delectation that could be added to the poetry already made for them would be in knowing, while we read, that the hearts that make it are beating now. - For that, and all reasons, the poetry-magazine plan seems to me an intensely interesting and appealing thing. I regret that I can't help it with money - other than a wan subscription-fee. Should one send that now - is the first issue out, or soon to be? You gave me its address in the Fine-Arts building. - I'm too poor to help it with money now and too absorbed in my own kind of work to think of writing a bit for it - even if I weren't rather afraid of myself in verse. Some day, perhaps. -

You asked me about my book in your letter. I changed the entire plan of it some months ago, which is almost the same as abandoning it and writing another. But I at least feel now - though all my thought and feeling about the work itself is a perfect horror of mixed Hope and Despair - that I've got it into the field where I'm strongest. I've but to stick, in absorbed concentration, to see the end, or at least to feel that it's dimly in sight. There are months of work in it yet. And I love it though it's as hard as it is fascinating. There's no royal road, at least there's none for me, in the writing game. It's simply "labor" - travail - to translate the brain and the soul of me into simple scintillant English. And I can't tell you half the feeling of woe and desolation which alternate with only occasional short-lived hope, over it all. - But I must say no more about it now. The only way I can achieve anything is to keep it all inside me, with all my silent forces bent upon it, till it's done. It means everything in life to me. - I've led a very solitary life ever since I've been back in Butte. Beyond a somber sense of fitness that I always feel in my living in the restless gloom of it, and the Tie of Blood (which is only the tie, but I'm not indifferent to it) I loathe the place. It never held any real companionships for me, and in the last year or two I've cut out all, or rather the few, chance people whose trivialities both bored me and would dissipate energy. My chief feeling for the people here is a scornful antagonism - and the antagonism I've always felt from them. But - n'importe! People, for the present, are nothing to me, and I allow myself but few letters. - The western mountains are still shot with gold every day at sunset, and, immediately following, the dusk-and-dun sky is full of rose. It often breathes a calm upon me - and, times, it fills my two gray eyes with tears. - I read mostly the early-nineteenth century English poets. -

Yes, I'm quite recovered from the scarlet-fever after-effects - except for nerves, which I suppose I'll always have. They mean black hours of torment, but one is fortunate not to be left diseased or stone-deaf from that scourge. -

I'm so glad you have a heart-feeling, and some others, in you for me. Let them live - and grow! Even though time crowds you too much to write me, and I can't write you without robbing my brain-child - I shall feel them. And I need them. There are a thousand things in me - oh, ten thousand! - that you would utterly regret and condemn. Without cherishing them I regard and garner them all. But still, more than I ever did, I want to survive with you. - -

My love to you, as always.

Mary MacLane

Please don't be don't be forgetting your photograph!



Following are selected texts from Mary MacLane's letters to Stone & Company and Melville Elijah Stone, Jr. from 1902 to 1911.



April 22, 1902
419 North Excelsior Street
Butte [Montana]

Dear Sirs,

Your favor of the 19th inst. is received. I confess that I am annoyed in learning that your title for my MS. has been retained. I do not fancy that title at all, and I hoped that my communication might reach you in time to have it changed. However, it is a trivial matter, and since your judgment and experience in such things must be superior to mine, I let it pass - particularly as there is no help for it in any case.

I agree with you that the sale of the book might be promoted by interviews with newspaper writers, and I shall receive any that may come. And I think you may rely on me to use discretion in the matter. I shall grant an interview wherever I can see that it will be an advantage to the book, but I shall try to avoid anything like mere cheap notoriety and sensationalism which can only detract from it.

I think the best possible advertisement for it would be a severe criticism in the Bookman or Book-buyer or some equally well known reviewer. I believe if any of them could be persuaded to review it at length, my book would be fairly started on a career of sorts. An exhaustive criticism and an attractive binding must need go far toward the success of any book.

I should like to have a signed copy of the contract. Will you oblige me by sending one?

Believe me, sincerely yours,

Mary MacLane


14 June 1902
Butte [Montana]

My Dear Mr. Stone -

I have your favor of June 11.

About these absurd letters - I think you have taken unnecessary trouble with them. I receive many of them every day which I never think of reading, not only because of their probable character, but because they do not interest me and I have not time to waste upon them. I usually look at the signatures of some of them, to be sure that they are not from persons I know, and then destroy them. Doubtless there are many kind and sincere ones among them - like the one you enclose - but I do not feel called upon to give any attention to these unsought tributes.

I appreciate your motives in opening them, but it is a matter of indifference to me whether I receive them or not.

Sincerely yours,

Mary MacLane


July, 1902
Cambridge [Massachusetts]

My Dear Mr. Stone -

Doubtless your natural kindness of hearty leads you to intercede for the Boston reporters. Certainly the pathetic appeal in your telegram led me to think twice before refusing the next group that appeared. (They appear in groups - bunches, in fact - they are afraid to come singly.)

Still - -

Always I consider my own physical and mental comfort before most things - things such as reporters, publishers' telegrams, my own writer's-interests, and even pathetic appeals of sorts. My physical and mental discomfort upon arriving in Cambridge made the avoiding of interviews a necessity.

However, when your wire came I had begun to receive a reporter now and again. I have given interviews to the Herald and the Globe, and have promised one to the Transcript.

Nothing will induce me to see a reporter from the Post, or from any paper of that ilk. They may make interviews if they will - I shall not be greatly troubled. But, I assure you, it would require a very large number of telegrams from publishers - containing a very large number of pathetic appeals of sorts - to cause me to change my decision.

You, peradventure, are you - whilst I, perforce, am I.

Sincerely yours,

Mary MacLane


[c. August 7, 1902]
[San Remo Hotel]
[New York City]

My Dear Mr. Stone,

I have just returned from Newport and the pomps and vanities of this wicked world - and am now at the San Remo Hotel. You must magnanimously forgive me for not wiring you it, but Mr. Hersh of the World is not yet ready to have the snap given away. After Miss Gale's story, however, it will not matter.

I am now in the midst of my Impression of Newport. It has to be turned in by Monday noon for the next Sunday World. I am learning what it is to write when one must write.

...The World is giving me very good treatment and I think it's worth my while. I wasn't quite satisfied with the agreement you suggested. I want to write only one month for the paper and that while here in New York. I will write one article per week for $150 each and all my expenses paid. That is my contract with them. ...

Sincerely - and hastily -

Mary MacLane


[c. 8 August 1902]
San Remo Hotel
New York

My Dear Mr. Stone -

... About what I write - I am obliged to cheapen myself - a little, which means a great deal, I suppose. In the Newport article I gave of my very best, as I intended before I left Boston. Mr. Hersh like it very well, but told me plainly that it was not yellow enough. So I added and inserted some inexpensive paragraphs which doubtless will suit the masses. However the good is with the bad. There are some very good things in that Newport article as you may see when it appears, a week from next Sunday. And, good or bad, it's all well done.

... I am learning to find my way easily, I go about alone, and from here to the World building up-town every two days, or three. - Mr. Hersh comes to take me driving sometimes and to lunch with him - with no chaperone, a shocking thing. But I am not yet known. When the storm bursts, next Sunday - 'twill be "good-bye, lunches."

Sincerely yours,

Mary MacLane


Tuesday [c. October 1902]
Crest Hall
Winthrop Beach, Massachusetts

My Dear Mr. Stone -

I shall make an effort to send you a MS. by January - not the first, but perhaps soon after.

I shall make the effort, but I do not expect to succeed.

To produce anything worth-while - from any point of view - in two months seems atrocious to me.

But I will see what I can do - and keep you informed as to the book's progress.

But it is more than likely that April only will see it finished.

I am capable of turning out some very rotten work if pressed too hard.

Yet I have done some of my best, under pressure.

My Gray Dawn was done, against time, in an hour and fifty minutes.

But we will see. -

I have the last check for my weekly money - I neglected to acknowledge it.

- Will you please send me three Mary MacLanes? The Boston book-shops are continually sold-out of it.

Sincerely yours,

Mary MacLane


Wednesday [c. October 1902]
[Crest Hall]
[Winthrop Beach, Massachusetts]

Dear Mr. Stone -

I am very well, thank you.

Also I am glad to know that you agree with me about my work on this new book.

I will get it to you as soon as possible without a compromise in favor of time - (which, indeed, is said to wait for no man).

Your suggestion of an edition of Mary MacLane in paper covers brings to my mind dreadful thoughts of Albert Ross and Bertha M. Clay - but still, I make no objection. And five cents is five cents. And an ad, an ad.

- This second book is, as we agreed in Chicago, a cater. I've no doubt but it will receive plenty of severe criticism simply because its author is the author of Mary MacLane. But even Boston can not object to it on high moral grounds.

In some ways it is even more original - (the critics will probably say "freakish") - than the other - and I think it better work in the main.

And it's a cater.

And in the third, still, I must hand it out. (One must keep them guessing.)

But looking forward always to the time when I may rub it in - I am,

Sincerely yours,

Mary MacLane


Thursday [c. December 1902]
12 St. James Avenue
Boston

Dear Mr. Stone -

Doubtless H.S. Stone & Co. are out of patience with me and my book - and with reason, from their view-point.

I am myself out of patience with it. I should like nothing better in life than to wake some morning and find it finished.

But it will not go rapidly, - it is heavy, up-hill work. Some of the chapters I read over with huge dissatisfaction.

Can't we let it go over till fall? Do you think the public will read me with less avidity for having been kept waiting? I confess that I have long harbored the fond hope that the critics would deal less savagely with this book if it didn't come too hard upon the heels of the first.

The purple memory of Mary MacLane is not yet so dim but that I can afford to be deliberate with my effusions while we know that I am catering to the public as hard as ever - still I think it would be bad policy to let the public know it. It is infinitely preferable to let the public think I am supremely indifferent. It will then knuckle down all the more.

And Mary MacLane is not yet dead. Only last week came two with a standard play saying the held the rights, and would I kindly claim the authorship that money and fame might be mine? And only last month they ceased Mary McPaine at Weber and Fields' in New York.

Still I know I must not stand the public off too long. The public is not to be trusted.

Sincerely yours,

Mary MacLane


Monday [June-July 1903]
[Boston, Massachusetts]

Dear Mr. Stone -

As to the agreement [for My Friend Annabel Lee] - according to the terms of my last contract with you I should be foolish not to stipulate for a single twenty per cent royalty - that being what your friend McClure offered last spring for my second book. And by the said contract you agree to do as well by me as any other publisher might.

Therefore I hereby strike for twenty per cent. -

I expect always to send you my books - if you continue to want them - and especially if my friend Lucy Gray remains always with you.

And my opinion is that no house would have given me quite the good treatment that always the Stones have given. That has been worth several per cent and upwards.

I trust that I am not exorbitant, - and certainly I would be foolish to overlook the advantage your last agreement with me holds out.

Sincerely yours,

Mary MacLane


Sunday [June-July 1903]
[Boston, Massachusetts]

Dear Mr. Stone -

Your letter yesterday with all those percents and statistics I stared at helplessly for some time, and then concluded that this contract would do very well indeed.

As a matter of form I demanded twenty per cent. At the same time I had this signed ready to send.

I knew that I was no match for you.

I even waive the matter of the straight fifteen per cent, which is truly foolish. -

Sincerely yours,

Mary MacLane


Sunday [August-October 1903]
Hotel Metropole
Denver, Colorado

Dear Mr. Stone -

... The Denver Post does itself proud in its treatment of me and my friend. In some ways it throws the World in the shade as a host.

I have gathered from the Post that it prefers, if 'tis all the same to me, the Mary MacLane of Mary MacLane to her of Annabel Lee.

A judicious mixture will be its. -

Sincerely yours,

Mary MacLane


September 14, 1906
Rockland, Massachusetts

Dear Mr. Stone -

... What with 'matching' and playing rouge-et-noir I have managed thus far to eke out 3 ||'s per day, and one or two blue tailor-made suits a year - (what, in short, is called a slender livelihood) - in which I have looked attractive and have appeared, almost, a lady. I have indeed tried many charming and illegal ways of earning my living, even to beating my way about the green, green country, and shoving the queer - in both of which methods I have been somewhat unsuccessful, I must confess. While I'm always aware of my slender livelihood by plain gambling - though to be sure sometimes it's so very slender that you almost can't see it - yet the time comes when the bare necessities pall and one hankers for a day or so of luxurious living, for a change. So I write you this gray-and-purple note to ask you to please pay me some of the money you owe me - if you have any yourself, that is - (if you haven't, won't you go and borrow it?) - so that I can have 2 days or so of luxurious living. ... I am now living in penury and want - in want, at least, of a Good Time - on a lucky shot I made last winter at rouge-et-noir. I put fifteen dollars on number 12 - (usually I lay mine on the color, for even money) and the little white ball actually rolled into the number 12 when the wheel stopped - and I was rich! It gave me the pleasantest sensation! ... When the lid was finally shut down in St. Augustine I was several hundreds to the good solely as the result of being a Sport and betting at odds of 35 to 1. - ...

Mary MacLane


January 17 [1907]
St Augustine

Dear Mr. Stone -

Haven't any of the Duffield notes fallen due yet? - I should very much like to know about them because I have the bad taste to be still broke - exceeding broke. - The Wolf and I are living on Slim Hopes, sometimes in the form of a salad, but more often warmed over and chopped fine. It's a dry fodder. - Hence my refrain. - Please pay me some money. ...

Yours sincerely,

Mary MacLane


April 22 [1907]
[Hotel Alcazar]
[St. Augustine, Fla.]

Dear Mr. Stone -

... A glance at my statement of the ancient debt of H.S. Stone and Co. shows me that you still owe me $1,012.66. - If I had that I should positively be solvent once more. It makes me a little bit dizzy to think of it - like drinking a little slim pousse cafe at somebody else's expense, a pousse cafe in red and green and pink and brown and colorless layers....

Yours sincerely,

Mary MacLane


Friday [May [?], 1907]
[Fifth Avenue Hotel]
[New York]

My Dear Mr. Stone -

If you look me up here at 1 o'clock to-day we'll go, withersoever you may lead, to some little table where we may eat, drink, and be merry.

On me.

May there be no word spoken between us that's fit for publication.

- Give this raw lad an answer so that I may know you concur in the matter of time and place. If it will be more convenient for you to meet me at some other than what I've named, you've but to say so. -

Let us only hope that you are not out of town, now when at last I find the way clear to redeem my pledge. -

Yours sincerely,

Mary MacLane


July 17, 1908
11 St. James Ave.
Boston

Dear Mr. Stone -

... [W]hat I would like [to afford] would be a journey to Butte-Montana, in company with the gowns and the Merry Widow hats and the silken hose, there to set up for a time as a woman with a past - broken heart, coldly cynical pose, brutal type of conversation - that sort of thing. It would be fun for me. - There is also a gentleman of sorts there whom I have a standing invitation to be married to. ... If I had the money due me from H.S. Stone and Company I could carry out that delectable program. It haunts my dreams. - ...

But any sum, from five to fifty dollars, would relieve the damned and dingy pressure and would also render me grateful. -

I hope you will bear in mind my dinginess and do your best to relieve it. My raiment is unpicturesque shabbiness, my food is dry husks. It is months since I've known a dinner with music and cocktails and red candle shades. Ain't it awful, Mabel?

Sincerely yours,

Mary MacLane


21 November [1908]
25 Cortes Street, Suite 5
[Boston]

Dear Mr. Stone -

... I have had more meetings with people and notes of invitation in the last six days tha I've ever had before in Boston. One of the papers started a story that I had mysteriously disappeared from Rockland and was hiding in Boston. And that set the reporters to hunting me up - and there have been a great many half-column interviews and photographs since. - Some of the newspaper people were attractive women - and even a cub reporter looks attractive to a woman who has absolutely no one in the whole town to talk to. Three days of solitude in a wilderness of people really seems like rather more than three months. -

One of the newspaper women invited me to Keith's with her one afternoon when the Elinore sisters were doing a turn. The elder Elinore sister has always been to me the most delectable I have seen in her line. I wrote her a note of appreciation, to which she responded with an invitation for me to come around to the stage door the next day. I accepted (in spite of my lack of wardrobe) and met Kate Elinore - a warm-hearted Irish woman, and she introduced me to a throng of "artists" and stage hands who had all heard of me - such is fame. But what I would wish to make plain to you is that I have had several such invitations - which looked interesting to me - all of which I had to let go by me because I had nothing to wear. My one suit and the hat that goes with it are part and parcel of my solitude. You can't wear such things to dinners - nor even to luncheons anywhere but on Hanover street. Moreover I want to replenish my wardrobe for this reason: I am thinking of going to New York, by the advice of a friend there - a young literary woman, and to try to get one of the newspapers. My friend thinks I could hold down a department - in the Ella Wilcox or Beatrice Fairfax way. I don't think I could, but I should like to try. - One thing I'm sure of however; I'm not going to New York without something to wear. I have no desire to try this one suit in the White Way. It's bad enough in Boston. -

So let me ask you again, as many times before, when you can liquidate, to liquidate. - Meanwhile it will soon be a matter of food and drink and room-rent. The end of the check is in sight.

Yours sincerely,

Mary MacLane


December 31, 1908
25 Cortes St., Suite 5
Boston

Dear Mr. Stone -

... I gladly will make a try at Hearst's Evening Journal and his $25 a week. To tell the truth, if I had a blessed thing to live on meanwhile, I should prefer to make the try for a week or two without a salary - merely in order to prove conclusively to Mr. Brisbane and me and the Public whether or not I'm worth that, or nothing, or a hundred, a week, to the paper. - I'm by no means sure of making good - but what I am sure of is that I want to and that I'll do my best. I wish i knew what sort of things I'm to do.

... Owing to the as-yet-uncertain outcome of the Journal project I shall not give up my lodging here until it's settled. This will be a warm and cheap refuge to flee to in case I fail to 'come through' in N.Y. - and besides, it holds my somewhat cumbersome Lares and Penates: consisting of all the boys' books Trowbridge ever wrote, and twelve large photographs of Alice and Marie Lloyd. - When I find myself really on my job in Park Row, or wherever, it'll be time enough to take a Sunday off and come and fetch them. -

... I shall be very glad of your chaperonage and advice at the start, and I'll let you know by a line posted Sunday where to look me up Monday forenoon after I've left the boat. I shan't venture to engage so much as that night's lodging in New York until I've seen the Journal people. It may be: back to the woods, on the boat that brought me. - But I hope not. -

Thank you for finding me a job, and Happy New Year. -

Yours sincerely,

Mary MacLane


January 12 [1909]
24 Irving Place
New York

Dear Mr. Stone -

... It's the going to Boston and getting things settled that has been using up one's coin at a so rapid rate. And there'll be nothing doing in the pay-envelope from A. Brisbane - the biggest newspaper man in the world - till next Saturday. - When there is, and when it's up to 50 a week, I'll be in a position to lend you money. It'll be a fascinating novelty. -

I'll keep the Sherry story till you come tomorrow - I expect you to come about 11 - and I'd like you to read it. I've made it terse, flippant, and marymaclanesque - a cater to the 1-cent public.

Truly yours,

The Luckiest Slob,

Mary MacLane


January 19 [1909]
[24 Irving Place]
[New York]

Dear Mr. Stone

I find myself somewhat better this evening - I've been having a fever all day - and I'll be glad to see you tomorrow afternoon. I don't expect to have the Bread Line story finished but you will perhaps have something to tell me about Mr. Brisbane's attitude toward me. - Not that I don't know it, as well as one need - I almost foresaw it from Boston, - but I'd like to know what he said. As I never exactly pinned my affections to Mr. Brisbane I can stand his dictum anent me with heroic calm. - I shall also be glad to see you, for yourself, because I like you. I have no more affections to pin to anybody - you'll think that sounds young - but likes and dislikes certainly cling to one. ... Yours sincerely,

Mary MacLane


May 12 [1909]
71 Irving Place
[New York]

My Dear Mr. M.E. Stone, Jr. -

... I have a landlady of "New Thought" ideas whose room is hung with illuminated signs such as "Fill your Day with Light" and "Be Sunshine for Somebody," but whose real motto is Pay or Git. ...

Yours sincerely,

Mary MacLane


17 May [1909]
71 Irving Place
N.Y.

Dear Mr. Stone

I send you the copy of a letter which I have just posted to Mr. Heinze. In case you have objections to your name being used as a "security," you can voice them before I get an answer and Mr. Heinze and I "talk business."

As a matter of fact, I doubt if the letter will elicit so much as an answer, let alone the two thousand. In view of the fact that the Heinze is under indictment and out on bail, and all that, and in view of my chief security being nothing more tangible than a book in embryo - I doubt if the letter elicits more than a soft oath or two, - he is noted for the frequency and fitness of his oaths. - Still I thought it worth a try.

And I thought I might as well say two thousand while I'm asking. Then, if you're counted out of my list of securities, and your people pony up this week, and I get the Heinze's two thousand - I'll have upwards of three thousand dollars! I'll be a rich woman. Just thinking about it is pleasant.

Yours sincerely,

Mary MacLane

The Elinore sisters are at the Colonial Theatre up at 63rd St. They'll do your head good.


[May 1909]
71 Irving Place
[New York]

Mr. F.A. Heinze New York

Dear Sir:

You will perhaps think this erratic and none-tenable, but it's in fact a simple matter of business for you to take up or turn down as you see fit.

I write to you for two reasons: because you were once of Butte-Montana, and because I think you may have money to lend. For I, too, was once of Butte-Montana, and I should like to borrow two thousand dollars.

I am a young woman, of whom you perhaps have heard, who wrote a book a few years ago which had a seething notoriety that extended considerably beyond the confines of Butte. In short, it made a hit and brought me a lot of money.

I have left just about a thousand dollars of the money and I'm doing another book of the same sort except that its setting is New York instead of Butte. The aim of my life now is to keep myself alive until I can finish it. I am now quite absolutely broke. My thousand dollars is not in my own hands. It is owed me. There are months of hard work in the book yet, and I figure that it will take two thousand dollars to grub-stake me - as they used to say on the Butte hill.

So I ask you to lend me two thousand dollars on these securities - my note for the amount; on the book which is promisingly started; and a sort of lien on the man who owes me the thousand - he, too, has tied-up resources. He lives in New York and, I believe, is known to you. His name shall be forthcoming if we talk business.

But, take it from me, the book is at once the best security and the best gamble of the three. - I was able at nineteen, in the obscurity and barrenness of Butte, and with next to no knowledge of life, to write a book which drew instant blood from the public, the newspapers, the vaudeville stage, and Anthony Comstock. But I feel myself better able, at six-and-twenty, and hard-by Broadway - the intervening years having been spent in by-no-means wholly easy converse with a tough and fascinating world - to do the trick again.

Yours sincerely,

Mary MacLane


June 14 [1909]
[71 Irving Place]
[New York]

Dear Mr. Stone

... Three invitations have varied the precariousness of this week. ... [T]he third was from young Mrs. Thaw who called me up to ask if I would like to go with her to Pell street to have an opium-pipe, tonight. I should have liked to try a pipe experience, but I have developed a nice vein of snobbishness which caused me to decline to go. (It's not wholly unlikely that I may be, once more, some day, a subject for the yellow papers. In which case I case I hope not to be visited with the added indignity of being pals with Evelyn Thaw. Besides, she's not interesting - a sort of mongrel American, - no particular personality. I've met her but twice.) Had the Elinore Sisters invited me to hit a pipe, now - I should have gone hot-foot. But they would be about as likely to smoke opium as they would be to jump over the moon. A black coffee, after dinner, would be heavy dissipation for them. Vaudeville people are that way.

So no more at present, from

Yours truly,

Mary MacLane


October 15 [1909]
[New York]

Mr. M.E. Stone, Jr.
New York

My Dear Mr. Stone,

In answer to your request, I hereby state that you have never borrowed any money from me and that personally you do not owe me anything. My claim is against the firm of H.S. Stone & Company. You took over this indebtedness voluntarily and, I believe, have done and are doing the best you can to settle it with me. I am appreciative of this fact and I wish no legal or other interference in the matter. I am satisfied that you are now doing, by handing me weekly personal checks, more than you could be compelled to legally as a member of the Stone firm.

Yours sincerely,

Mary MacLane


October 10 [1911]
1007 W. Park Street
[Butte, Montana]

Dear M.E. Stone Jr.

It is in truth a long time between drinks but however, at last, here's regards! - (as they say in Tom Sharkey's) -

I remember when I last took leave of you, on a blow-y December day in 1909, that I promised to write to you - a promise that I fully expected to redeem long ere this. I don't know what effect bad intentions have on the human equation - but good ones, God wot, are absolutely fatal. Hell, they say, is paved with them. - But I've thought of you, ever and anon during this interval and I've read your magazine assiduously. I became particularly interested in it when you broke into print yourself with the "T.R. Please-Answer" articles. They're the only magazine articles I've ever seen that seemed to me to deal entirely in hard facts, and to be written quite without frills and without prejudice - a rarity in these days. Most magazine articles, though they make fascinating reading, contain palpable four-flushing and they're addressed largely to the emotions, - a good lay, at that. But you go them all one better by putting yours over without it, with a sustained interest. Some class to that. I think the whole magazine has acquired an editorial individuality since you took it over - though it's of a sort to appeal more to the high-brows than to the fifteen-cent public. At any rate one felicitates you upon it and your articles.

For myself, none of my lit'ry plans panned out as I had them half-projected when I last saw you. My wits were as good as they ever were, doubtless, but my "woman's body" (to quote from the book that made Chicago famous) was about at the end of its tether. You see, I got home to Butte that time on Christmas night with the tiredness of the journey and also the tiredness of two years on the Island of Manhattan all over me. Add this high-pressure altitude to that, and the excitements of this quaint town to a returned prodigal, and it's not surprising, to me at least, that on the third week after I returned I came down with that scourge, scarlet fever. And I came down with it hard. It was death's door for little Mary - eight weeks lying prone and burning up. But a pair of doctors and a nurse brought me through, a battered piece of wreckage. In the role of a yellow skeleton I spent the following summer on a porch hammock, waited on by my mother and my brother (who are the two best bets of my life). I'm entirely recovered now, and as good as new but for one hell-and-demnition item - "nerves." Cigarettes, which my doctor recommends - as many as I want, and absinthe, which he doesn't absolutely condemn - knowing that I'd take codeine otherwise - are what make long wakeful nights bearable when I'm having nerves. They'll always be on the blink, till I cash in. Still I've got good health. But take it from me: if ever you feel scarlet fever coming on, go and drown yourself. There'll be more fun in it, believe me. Well, all this militated against the book that I had partly written and I gave it up. But I used most of the material in it in a series of articles which I wrote for one of the Butte papers, and which attracted so much attention from the Middle-Western and Coast Sunday papers that I had them syndicated after the first two. Incidentally they revived the sale of the original M.-M. book and the somewhat depleted stock of it was soon exhausted. So then the Duffields wrote me that they had planned a new edition of it and they asked me to write some new chapters for it. So I did - I wrote one long chapter, a sort of epilogue to the book, showing how the leopard had changed her spots - and all that. And it has two later portraits. But possibly you have seen it. The new chapter shows, I think, a somewhat surer talent and a poise - but it lacks whatever charm-of-first-youth that the book had. It was published in July of this year.

I continue to do articles, now and then, for Chicago papers where they seem to make rather a hit. They're always "featured."

But I have in mind a most alluring plan for a book that I fear to mention almost lest my concentration in it be lessened. I begrudge the time I put on any other writing because of it. I've just started now on a series of articles that a Chicago paper wants. But I long to be at the other.

Butte is the same Butte it's always been except for an added deadliness, consequent on copper being "down" and the mines mostly working only half shift and some of them not at all. The colony of fervid millionaires is much smaller than it once was and Butte's once-famous tenderloin is dissipated into darksome byways. The town will come up again when copper does, but meanwhile the deadly thrall pervades it.

I didn't intend to inflict quite all this on you - but there is a charm about writing you a letter which has no 'touching' proclivities. I remember that fifteen per that I used to cop off your 'wages.' I wonder who's touching you now!

My best wishes to you - and in case you have achieved a wife, to her too. And always sincerely

Mary MacLane

This is the last article I wrote, which I rather liked myself except for the drawing of me which looks rather too much like a cutthroat, and the paragraphing of the wooden-headed proof-reader. - If you're not too busy, 'twill perhaps lend a mild interest to the shank of your afternoon - along o' your general interest in my early career.

M. MacL.

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