Eighty years ago Friday, young Eudora Welty sent a letter to the New Yorker seeking employment. This was four decades before she would win the
Here's a portion:
"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....I have a B.A. ('29) from the
"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!"
There's more; the complete letter is up at Letters of Note, the brilliant British literary blog that unearths, well, letters of note. Moving, funny, fascinating: The letters he finds demonstrate just how much we're losing by abandoning our epistolary past. A Letters of Note book is coming out later this year in England -- won't someone make it happen in America, too?
As for Welty -- while her future was bright, it was not to be with the New Yorker. The magazine, unfathomably, did not hire her.