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Lot 439

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Description: JOHN STEINBECK
(1902 - 1968) American author and one of the greatest fiction writers of the twentieth century. His works include The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, and East of Eden. For his efforts he was awarded the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes. Superb content A.L.S. 1p. 8vo., [n.p. but Monte Sereno, CA., Dec. 1932], to his publisher, Robert O. Ballou> In part: "...I had intended to acknowledge your good letter, and then didn't because we were subjected to a maddening tragedy. For it developed that Tillie [Steinbeck's Airedale dog 'Tillie Eulenspiegel'] had been given ground glass. It took her two weeks to die of it and we only knew what it was after she was dead. It made us very sad and quite tired. I gave her salt injections every fifteen minutes for about sixty hours. No chance of knowing who did it or I might get a little national publicity for an ax murder. I don't know whether you celebrate Christmas. If you do I hope it's a good one. We shot Santa Claus and are having him for dinner. His skin is pretty good too if the hair doesn't slip. By the way - (not by the way at all of course) Mrs. O in a letter of the middle of November, said the check would be forthcoming on the first of December. Can it be that this has been lost in the mail...These are my Christmas cards. Have you heard of the one C. de Mille sent last year? Beautiful reproductions of a Da Vinci Last Supper with the Christmas bread cut out and the de Mille head stuck in. I've met people who've seen it...". In a June 1931 letter to George Albee, Steinbeck noted that he would at some point write stories about Tillie which, may have culminated in his 1960 classic Travels With Charley. A month after this letter, in a letter to Ballou in Jan. 1933, Steinbeck again revealed his love for his dog: "Tillie, properly Tylie Eulenspiegel, was an Airedale terrier and a very beautiful one. She was beautifully trained - could point quail, retrieve ducks, bring in hares or clear a road of sheep. More important than these though, she had the most poignant capacity for interest and enjoyment of the world. It was much more important to us that she be alive than that people like Hearst and Cornelius Vanderbilt foul up the planet..." (Steinbeck: A Life in Letters by John and Elaine Steinbeck). A month after this letter, Steinbeck would yet again write to Ballou about his loss: "We are happy. I need a dog really badly. I dreamed of dogs last night. They sat in a circle and looked at me and I wanted all of them...Tillie haunts the house terribly...". Just four months later, his desire would be realized in the form of an Irish terrier pup! Boldly penned and fine.

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March 30, 2011 11:00 AM EDT

Stamford, CT, US

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