Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Letters to Kathryn Winslow

In 1944, writer Kathryn Winslow (1906 - 1989) met Henry through his Big Sur cabin-mate, Lynda Sargent. To help out a struggling Miller, Winslow opened a gallery in downtown Chicago called Studio M (a.k.a The Studio of Henry Miller). Besides displaying various items related to Miller, it also became a popular artist hangout. Money raised went to help support Henry, whose gratitude sometimes fell beneath Kathryn's expectations. The gallery held out until 1958. In 1986, Winslow wrote a Henry Miller "memoir" called Henry Miller: Full Of Life. Though the first half of the book is mostly about herself, the second half tells the story of her relationship with Henry and Studio M.
Currently on Ebay, someone is offering to sell several letters Winslow had gathered during her research for Full Of Life. These are letters received from publishers and acqunaitances of Henry.

Henry Miller rented his Partington Ridge home from Keith Evans. In a letter dated March 18, 1982, he explains to Winslow: "Lynda wrote me a letter about Henry M and I was glad to have a relatively permanent tenant while I was absent. This was '44 and '45 and as per agreement he moved out when I returned early '46 -- I remember he paid rent of 15.00 or perhaps 20.00 per month -- always paid on time too. He took reasonable care of the place, Lepska was not too happy about moving to Anderson Ck but Henry stuck to the agreement."

Hargraves published Miller and Fraenkel's Hamlet correspondance (1962). In his typed letter to Winslow from December 28, 1986, he wrote: "I agree with you about the new Nin book. What bothers me more is the book Opus Pistorum. Another Anais authored book. For a woman I must admit she wrote pretty good typical men's pornography. The fellow Milton L. should be shot as well as Barney Rosset of Grove Press for publishing it and claiming Henry wrote it. If these people would have read Jay Martin’s bio on Henry they would have known better. Although Henry hated that book & Martin, there is some very good stuff there and a lot of clarifying..."

And from December 18, 1986: "I got to know Henry quite well during the last five years of his life. I was able to secure the rights to the Hamlet letters from Daphne Fraenkel way back then but couldn't get anyone to publish it (even though Henry wrote an original preface for me). That preface did get published in a small book I published several years ago to help finance the printing of the entire book but alas that didn't work either."

Letter from Michael Hargraves to Kathryn Winslow, December 28, 1986.

Most of the other information is culled from Winslow's own carbon copies of her letters, to people likes James Laughlin (see the Comments section below for more references to her correspondence with Laughlin), Noel Young and Barney Rossett. From these notes, we learn that Winslow's original title for Full Of Life was, Henry Miller Among Friends. As well, she claims to own the original manuscript for Miller's "Dream Book" which she offers Grove Press to publish but is rejected (as is her own Full Of Life). The seller quotes a letter from Winslow in 1983, in which she tries to pitch her book to Grove Press: "I operated a shop which I called M, The Studio for Henry Miller, located near the U. of Chicago. During those ten years all proceeds… went directly to him…I kept nothing…nothing has ever been written about it. I know of no other artist or writer who had such a place devoted entirely to his support. Anais Nin, Michael Fraenkel, Kenneth Patchen were some of the people who were closely connected with the studio. None of this has ever been written about…At one time I owned the largest collection of Milleriana extant."

Please note that I have no connection to the Ebay seller of these letters or to the letters themselves, and cannot personally vouch for either (should you want to buy them).

Here is a review of Henry Miller: Full Of Life from 1987. There is also a Kathryn Winslow Collection at the Archives of California, which includes biographical information. The holdings consist mostly of correspondance with her friends, Miriam and Kenneth Patchen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried to read her book once, and couldn't get into it, I'm afraid.

2:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Eric, I found Winslow's book fairly tedious and self-serving. Awhile back, though, a few letters from James Laughlin to Winslow, as well as a carbon of Winslow's original letter to Laughlin, "came with" a book of Miller's that I bought.

In Winslow's letter (17 November 1981), she refers to Laughlin visiting the "M" studio in 1949 and asks about advances that Miller received for THE COSMOLOGICAL EYE and THE WISDOM OF THE HEART. She further asks for early sales figures of THE COSMOLOGICAL EYE. Winslow closes the letter by remarking that she "last heard from [Miller] three weeks before his death."

For his part, Laughlin (16 December 1981) can't recall the advance, but says that the $200 figure Winslow mentions "sounds reasonable." He also says that between 1,500 and 2,000 copies of THE COSMOLOGICAL EYE were printed in 1939 and that no reprint was needed until 1943. In the second letter (2 Novemebr 1983), Laughlin ends with following statement: "I miss dear old Henry very much."

10:42 pm  
Blogger RC said...

Thanks for this obviously unique information, James.

11:49 am  
Anonymous Marcus said...

Interestingly, apropos of the above letter to Katherine Winslow from Michael Hargraves and his reference to Opus Pistorum as ‘Another Anais authored book’, according to the notes proceeding Katy Masuga’s “Crossing Brooklyn Bridge: An Ekphrastic Correspondence between Walt Whitman, Hart Crane and Henry Miller” - issue 7 of Nexus; The International Henry Miller Journal, - this novel was not penned by Nin at all but a woman called Caresse Crosby, an American ‘patron of the arts’ and poet / publisher friend of Henry’s, who ghost-wrote it for him in order to fulfil a writing contract when he was away on his Air-Conditioned tour of the US.

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