Fan Letters

Barnes, Mary

Mary Barnes to Susan Warner, Collycroft Clifton Ashbourne, Derbyshire, n.d.

Mary Barnes to Susan Warner
Collycroft Clifton Ashbourne, Derbyshire

My very dear Miss Warner.

I am afraid you will think me very presumptuous in addressing you, but I have so often longed to thank you for all the pleasure you have given me, that at last the impulse has overcome all prudence, -- I must write!  Pray forgive me!

I always feel when thinking of you what Miss Mulock writes of E.B. Browning, ‘a very dear friend, who does not know, & may never know me, but who has for years been the good influence of my life, whose name includes, & transcends all praise.’

I well remember my first introduction to you, some ten years ago, as gathering round a bright fireside in our old ivy covered home, an elder sister read aloud to ‘the children’ – the  “Wide Wide World.”  Those happy, happy hours!—

Then – I forget how – “Queechy” came into my hands, & every spare moment I had, I crept up into a cold room where the treasure lay hidden; old & worn it was & minus a finale, but I never felt the cold as I sat curled up on the bed devouring my book.  I have a nice edition now, & also “The Old Helmet,” “My Brother’s Keeper,” “Hills of the Shatemuc” & “Say & Seal” smiling side by side in a cosy corner of my book shelf, & they come down one after the other in turn, sweet as in the first days of our acquaintance.  Mother laughs at me over “Say & Seal,” & calls it “Mary’s Bible”.

I am often tempted to think of you with envy, it must be such pleasure to be able to create such worlds of delight in which to live – pleasure to oneself I was thinking – besides the pleasure & the profit given to so many outsiders.  Yet sometimes I feel just a wee bit inclined to scold you too!  Your characters are so delicious that, spending a few hours with them, almost unfits one for the society of the frivolous – shall I say empty? folks[1] one meets is apt to come in contact with, -- at least at this side the Ocean!  I always feel that I get good from reading any one of your works, & often & often I muse over your many sweet thoughts & lessons.  I think I am one of those people “who are never satisfied” that you mention at the end of “Wide Wide World,” for I so often wish for a further peep into the future, especially that of Elizabeth Haye, whom of all your heroines I think I love best, yet thinking of Fleda & sweet little Faith, I am tempted to waver.  But I think you have written sequels to none of them, but I trust there are many yet to come, mine is a very large shelf!—

But indeed I have no right to take up your time in this way, -- that is to say if this letter ever arrives at its destination – But I must first tell you that if there is ever anything you want doing, if I can be of any service to you, I am at your command, & with my best love & many many thanks ever remain – I feel like Reuben and cannot write friend

so, Sincerely Yours, Mary Barnes













[1] This word has also been transcribed by Jessica DeSpain as jobbers