Academic journal article The Conradian : the Journal of the Joseph Conrad Society (U.K.)

Conrad to Peter F. Somerville: A New Letter of 1919

Academic journal article The Conradian : the Journal of the Joseph Conrad Society (U.K.)

Conrad to Peter F. Somerville: A New Letter of 1919

Article excerpt

CONRAD INFORMED the influential literary journalist J. C. Squire on 17 October 1919 that he had instructed his agent J. B. Pinker to forward a "typed copy of a little something about Stephen Crane which was suggested to me by the enquiry of a young journalist whom I have never seen but who writes to me sometimes" (CL6 508). The "little something" was the essay "Stephen Crane: A Note Without Dates" and the "young journalist" Peter F. Somerville, who had solicited the work in anticipation of reviving his short-lived wartime journal, The Englishman.1

Conrad's favourable response to Somerville's request is published here.2

To Peter F. Somerville

TextTS copy Syracuse; Unpublished

Spring Grove,

Wye.

Sept. 20 1919

Dear Sir,

I think I can send you a short contribution giving my reminiscences of Crane, of whom I saw a good deal in the last period of his life. The question of payment does not come in at all here. It will be a pleasure to do that little bit for "The Englishman."

With best wishes,

Faithfully yours,

Joseph Conrad

P? F. Somerville Esqre.

As Somerville's plans for reviving the Englishman went unrealized, Conrad offered the essay to Squire for his then fledgling London Mercury, launched in November 1919.3 His submission appeared in the second number issued the following month, earning Conrad a payment of £10 {London Mercury, December 1919: 192-93; CL7 8).

Copies of both the typescript and manuscript of an earlier undated letter from Conrad to Somerville, again concerning Crane and published in the Collected Letters, are also held in Vincent Starrett's papers and shed new light on the tentadve dating of that correspondence (CL5 546).

An early Crane bibliographer, Starrett was given permission in 1928 by Somerville to issue a limited private printing of Conrad's undated text.4 In an effort to date the letter retrospectively, Somerville recalled that he received it shortly after Conrad's "reminiscences" had appeared, having written to the author as a result of his "reference to Crane" (Syracuse). …

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