Letters to a Friend, Written to Mrs. Ezra S. Carr, 1866-1879 By John Muir


Letters to a Friend, Written to Mrs. Ezra S. Carr, 1866-1879 By John Muir


John Muir


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William and Maymie Kimes Annotation

These letters reveal a warm and lasting friendship. They clearly show the influence of a wise and cultured woman on the development of a Wisconsin immigrant farm boy who became an accomplished writer and naturalist sought by men of prominence. Mrs. Carr, an ardent lover of nature and intensely interested in botany, was a sympathetic listener, ever ready with encouragement, assistance, and guidance. She had a strong faith in Muir's extraordinary capabilities and his ultimate achievements. Her profound influence on his life makes this book of letters one of the most important in the study of John Muir. Although this book was published posthumously, the contents had been carefully selected by John Muir. Prior to the death of Mrs. Carr on December 14, 1903, Muir had been attempting to secure the ninety or more letters he had written to her. Instead of returning them to Muir, she gave them to the writer-lecturer George Wharton James. According to James, in a letter he wrote to Muir July 16, 1908 (CStoC), Mrs. Carr gave them to him with the stipulation that the letters be edited and published, preferably after Muir's death. While associate editor of The Craftsman, James included a lengthy Muir letter (no. 254) and excerpts from other letters (no. 254A) in an article he wrote for the magazine without Muir's permission, which may have precipitated the controversy that ensued. According to Mrs. Hazel Wiedmann, niece of A. C. Vroman, by the end of January, 1909, Mr. Vroman, a bookman of Pasadena and friend of both Muir and James, had borrowed the letters from James and had them typed. In April, 1910, the letters were returned to James in a manila envelope. On it Muir had indicated which of the letters he wished destroyed in part or whole; there were seventeen in all. Mr. Vroman, as well as other friends, had been trying to assist in resolving the dispute amicably; however, Mrs. Wanda Muir Hanna, elder daughter of John Muir, indicates in a letter to Mrs. A. H. Sellers dated March 10, 1915, that the publishing of the letters was a case in court in southern California. Mrs. Hanna further indicates that she has arrangd with the Houghton Mifflin Company to copyright and publish the letters in a limited edition "by the time the suit is settled," thus effectively eliminating the possibility of a James edition. Mrs. Hanna states that she intends to keep most of the copies and will sell only the few necessary to hold the copyright.


Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company


[196] pp.


21 cm. Edition limited to 300 copies: slate-green laid paper boards with printed label on spine; pages of laid paper watermarked with a chained gate. Price: $3.00.


For a reprint, see no. 433.

Letters to a Friend, Written to Mrs. Ezra S. Carr, 1866-1879 By John Muir