Some unpublished letters of William Ernest Henley 1849-1903
This edition of unpublished letters is an attempt to illustrate the life and achievements of W. E. Henley, man of letters, and is the result of the location of over 2300 letters in both public and private hands. More than half are located in the U.S.A. and Canada and were found after extensive inquiries by using the reference sources available in this country and by writing to the main libraries in North America. Advertisements in the press, both at home and abroad, resulted in a few letters and a meeting with Henley's sole surviving niece, Audrey Hunt. A meeting with the daughter of a friend of Henley proved invaluable in expanding this writer's knowledge of Henley and his family. The literary copyright holder was found after a long search by letter and advertising in Canada, and agreed to transfer the copyright to Audrey Hunt who gave permission to publish. No complete edition of Henley's letters has been previously undertaken. The present edition is based on 662 letters, just over a quarter of those found, chosen to give an insight into Henley's personal and professional life and his position in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century world of letters. The selection was difficult and required care to avoid any letters already published. The letters demonstrate Henley's interest in the theatre with his collaboration in drama with Robert Louis Stevenson, his various editorial projects, notably in painting and slang, his support for emerging authors, eg. H. G. Wells and Arthur Morrison, his friendships, especially that with Stevenson, and also his wide literary interests. Henley's editorships of London, The Scots (later) National Observer and The New Review show his influence and strong political views. The extant letters to Charles Whibley, some 560, were not available for this edition and will be included in a projected collected edition of Henley's letters.