Willie Snow Ethridge
Willie Snow Ethridge was an American author of both fiction and non-fiction, and is well known for her involvement in civil rights, including the feminism movement and anti-lynching movements. A fan named Henry Simpson sent Willie Snow Ethridge letters expressing his admiration for her writing. Over the years these two formed a close friendship. They cooresponded throughout the year for many years. According to the letters in this collection, Simpson often sent Ethridge small gifts via post. When Simpson traveled abroad, he scoured bookstores in England searching for out-of-print copies of Ethridge's books that he could send back to America for her.
Dec. 4th 1975
Dear Henry Simpson,
I was just sitting myself down to thank you for your thoughtfulness in sending me the copy of Robert Magidoff's book In Pity and Anger when your beautiful birthday card arrived. How did you know it was my birthday? I was so surprised to get that very kind and underserved sentiment and muchly pleased. I’ve had so many birthdays, not many people pay any attention to that important – at least to me – day in my life. Thank you so very, very much.
And I’m happy
to have Robert’s book. I was exceedingly fond of him and have missed him terribly since his death. I once had his book, but somehow it had got away from me. You are a most thoughtful man.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your recent trips and are now glad to be back at home.
Have a happy, happy Christmas. If anyone deserves one, you do. You make life so pleasureable for other people.
Gratefully and Fondly,
Willie Snow E.
Nov. 7th ‘77
Dear Henry Simpson,
I’ve been wondering what had happened to my most faithful, thoughtful fan; it had been such a terribly long time since I had heard from you. I decided you must have gone abroad again and forgotten us grubby ones at home.
And so now I see you have. I do envy you, traveling all over the face of the globe. I try to remember that I once was able to travel, too, and not be blue that my fate is now to stay put; but it is hard some time.
It’s so very kind of you to poke around in
the book stalls in England, booking for copies of my old books.
Really, you are too good to me. And to think you found a copy of “I’ll Bring Our Song, which is almost impossible to find. I’m so thrilled. I’m sure one of the fourteen grand-children will be delighted, too. I would have thought you would have come across any number of copies of Summer Thunder for it was published in England simultaneously with the publication in the United States. I even went to London for publication day. However it is not one of my favorite books, so I’m glad it’s Sing One Song that you found instead of Summer Thunder.
And I love the
Silver Jubilee card. I will certainly cherish it as a momento.
I haven’t forgotten that you asked me to send you a picture in place of that one in the newspaper
clipping that you mailed me, but I haven’t found one that I’m willing for you to see. I’ve grown so old and grey – Phew!
I don’t see why the University of Kentucky doesn’t invite me to teach at one of its Councils for the Aging. I know more about aging that anybody and I am an alumna of the University. At least the University gave me an honorary doctor of literature
degree. They certainly had fine instructors at the August council. I admire tremendously Sylvia Wilkinson and Dr. Tom Clark. I do wish I could have been in Lexington to sit at their feet. I know I would have learned a lot.
Please don’t wait until you have news to write. If I waited for news I’d never write. However, I have a lot for which to be thankful. Mark continues amazingly well for a man who has had two strokes.
So, you can get back to planting tulips – such a heavenly task – I’ll sign off. How I’d enjoy seeing those 500!
Ethridge, W.S. (1975). Oral History Interview with Willie Snow Ethridge, December 15, 1975 [Abstract]. Available from http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/G-0024/menu.html