Tag Archives: walter hines page

More Walter Hines Page

And a quick link to a post I wrote over on the Houghton Library’s blog about a few of my favorite letters from the Walter Hines Page papers:

You’ve Got Mail: “We cannot feel sufficient confidence in our ability to make a success of your book”

How far downhill has freelance journalism gone in the last 120 years?

Very far. In 1891, Walter Hines Page writes the following letter of acceptance for an article for the Forum:

My dear Sir:

I thank you for submitting your interesting paper on “Europe’s Military Frankenstein,” which I shall be glad to use in an early number of The Forum. I shall ask you to accept our check for the sum we usually pay per article — $75, which is not a large sum, to-be-sure. We shall be able to give you, however, the most appreciative audience reached, we think, by any periodical.

$75—“not a large sum, to-be-sure”—is, wait for it… $1796.34 in 2010 dollars. The letter doesn’t say how long the article was, but I’d guess not more than 2 or 3 thousand words.

ETA: Page follows up with a check for $100 ($2395.12) instead of $75, because he “could not find a paragraph that [he] could suggest [the author] to leave out. What, after all, are a few pages more or less, when you have an interesting paper?”

Citation: MS Am 1090 (1039), Houghton Library, Harvard University

From the archives: famous writers edition

From Frank Norris to Walter Hines Page, concerning a letter that Norris’s landlord evidently sent to Page (Norris’s publisher):

My Dear Mr. Page:

The old beast that wrote you I had forgotten to pay my rent will I hope die a sudden and violent death and fry on a particularly hot grid.

The last I heard from him was that he was hoping to sublet my old apartment so that I would not have to pay September’s rent. Very naturally I waited to hear from him again. And then he knifes me.

Well I sent him his damn money to day and may it perish with him.

Citation: MS Am 1090 (792), Houghton Library, Harvard University

From the archives

From the Walter Hines Page papers: WHP records “Typical Tar Heel Specials.” Most are uninteresting, with these exceptions (all misspellings sic. The document is undated, but if I had to guess, I’d say the late 1880s):

Trespasres Notice

Trespasers will take notice that they will be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law by one mongrel dog which aint never been over friendly to strangers and one double barl shot gun which aint loaded with no sofy pillars. Dam if I aint getting tired of this here helraisin on my property.

A notice found on an old shop door in Anson county: The copartnership heretofore resisting between me and Mose Skinner am this day resolved, and them what owe the firm will settle with me and them what the firm owes will settle with Mose,
Ned Barley.

Citation: MS Am 1090.3, Houghton Library, Harvard University