TLS To Bill McElwee

New York: N.p., 1962

TLS: 1p., 280 x 215 mm, folded for envelope (not present). Invitation: single piece of stiff paper, folded once to form 4pp., 150 x 110 mm, printed in black, the invitee's name handwritten in blue ink. A little light creasing and edgewear to TLS. Corners of invitation bumped, a little light creasing.

TLS FROM W.H. AUDEN TO BILL McELWEE, dated 14 November, 1962:

'Dear Bill, [McElwee's daughter] Harriet came to dinner last night and I must write to tell you how charming I found her. I am always alarmed when I meet jeunes filles that we shall not know what to talk about, but as Harriet turned out to be an opera fan, that was no problem.
Her chief difficulty here seems to be getting to know people of her own age. Most of the sons and daughters of my friends who would qualify are away at College, but I will do what I can.
love, [sgd.] Wystan'.

Bill McElwee was a longstanding friend of Auden's from his university days. McElwee had been an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford, and the two friends spent part of the Christmas vacation of 1926 visiting Austria together. Auden had clearly been attracted to McElwee, writing poetry to and about him which left no doubt, but most biographers agree that the relationship was always platonic -- a fact which probably explains its longevity. Here, more than three decades after their first meeting, Auden chats happily and approvingly about Bill's daughter. Auden was clearly taken with her: he invited her to a party at his home to celebrate the publication of Chester Kallman's book Absent and Present early the following year, and wrote the invitation himself.

Keywords: W.H. AUDEN Bill McELWEE"

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