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Autograph Letter Signed ("Jph. Conrad"), to James MacArthur of Harper's
Pent Farm, Stanford near Hythe, 1902. 8 pages. 8vo. On two bifolia of personal stationery; slight toning to first and terminal pages, horizontal fold. 8 pages. 8vo. "I am very sensible to your offer of hospitality in ... Harpers' publications" An important, unpublished letter in which Conrad discusses the recent publication of "Typhoon;" expresses dismay with its American publisher Putnam; mentions other works in progress; and, in offering a long story, initiates what would become a fruitful, decade-long relationship with the American publisher, Harper & Brothers, which saw the publication of Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and several other works. The letter is response to one from Harper's editor James MacArthur, who wrote on October 24, "'Typhoon' has stirred us mightily in the Harper establishment ... had I thought there was any chance of getting you away from Doubleday or McClure, I would have been after you like a shot. There is always an open door for you here, both in magazine and in book form. What about your next book? Could I have a chance at it? ... Meantime, we would like to have anything you can send in the short story...." Conrad's reply in the present letter reads, in part: "My dear MacArthur ... I heard great things of the efficiency of the Harper's House and was glad of it, knowing that you were working under its roof. The publication of Typhoon ... was a matter of arrangement between McClure, Pawling and Putnam with which I had nothing to do. I haven't even seen a single copy of the book, the Putnams not having had the simple civility of sending me one. 3 reviews (2 good and one indifferent) I have seen, but not the Harper's Weekly one. The story with 3 others shall appear here next spring with Heinemann's imprint. I've worked hard clearing up arrears. In a few days the vol of Youth and 2 other stories is coming out from the B[lack]woods House. Thus I have now worked out my engagement to that firm ... That volume shall be published on your side by McClure; but not before next spring. I assure you I am very sensible to your offer of hospitality in the pages of the Harpers' publications. I don't think that an occasional contribution would be any breach of my general understanding with McClure with whom I am on the best of terms. And in time a vol of stories could be made ready in that way for your imprint. But do you care for short stories? My next long book is engaged to McClure and Heine[mann] on a long standing agreement. 2/3ds of it are written. I think it will be done by March ... I think I may have soon a thing of 8000 words. Would that be too long for you?" MacArthur wrote in his reply of November 8, "By all means send along the 8000 words story. It's a bit longish, but then 'it's Conrad' ... Yes we care for a book of short stories if a novel is not forthcoming meantime. Don't let slip any chance of informing me when there will be a volume ready for publication." Thus began a relationship that must have exceeded the expectations of MacArthur and which resulted in the publication by Harper and Brothers of two of Conrad's most important novels--Nostromo (1904, Harper's publishing both the London and American editions) and The Secret Agent (1907)--as well as The Mirror of the Sea (1906); Under Western Eyes (1911); and Some Reminiscences (1912, published in America as A Personal Record). Several short stories also made their first appearance in the pages of Harper's Magazine during that period, including "The Informer" (December 1906); "An Anarchist" (August 1906); and "The Secret Sharer" (1910). Both of MacArthur's letters cited above are included in A Portrait in Letters: Correspondence to and about Conrad (1996), which notes: "Conrad's reply [i.e. the present letter] does not appear to have survived." MacArthur (1866-1909) had corresponded with Conrad in 1900 while he was living in London as the foreign representative of Doubleday, McClure, and Co., which that year published the American edition of Lord Jim. He joined Harper & Brothers when he returned to the U.S. in 1901. From 1894-1900 he had been an editor of The Bookman (New York) for which he had favorably reviewed Almayer's Folly in 1895.
      [Bookseller: James Cummins Bookseller]
Last Found On: 2017-10-08           Check availability:      Biblio    

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