Memories of a Hostess: A Chronicle of Eminent Friendships, Drawn Chiefly from the Diaries of Mrs. James T. Fields

Memories of a Hostess: A Chronicle of Eminent Friendships, Drawn Chiefly from the Diaries of Mrs. James T. Fields

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Memories of a Hostess: A Chronicle of Eminent Friendships, Drawn Chiefly from the Diaries of Mrs. James T. Fields

Memories of a Hostess: A Chronicle of Eminent Friendships, Drawn Chiefly from the Diaries of Mrs. James T. Fields

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Excerpt

In the years immediately before the death of Mrs. James T. Fields, on January 5, 1915, she spoke to me more than once of her intention to place in my possession a cabinet of old papers -- journals of her own, letters from a host of correspondents, odds and ends of manuscript and print -- which stood in a dark corner of a small reception-room near the front door of her house in Charles Street, Boston. On her death this intention was found to have been confirmed in writing. It was also made clear that Mrs. Fields had no desire that her own life should be made a subject of record -- "unless," she wrote, "for some reason not altogether connected with myself. " Such a reason is abundantly suggested in her records of the friends she was constantly seeing through the years covered by the journals. These friends were men and women whose books have made them the friends of the English-speaking world, and a better knowledge of them would justify any amplification of the records of their lives. In this process the figure of their friend and hostess in Charles Street must inevitably reveal itself -- not as the subject of a biography, but as a central animating presence, a focus of sympathy and understanding, which seemed to make a single phenomenon out of a long series and wide variety of friendships and hospitalities.

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