[W. E. Henley [William Ernest Henley], author of 'Invictus', one of the most popular poems in the English language, and original of Long John Silver.] Autograph Letter Signed to 'Mr. Steuart' [John Alexander Steuart] on the breaking of his health.

W. E. Henley [William Ernest Henley] (1849-1903), Victorian poet, critic and editor, author of one of the most popular poems in the English language, 'Invictus', and original of Long John Silver
Publication details: 
On letterhead of St. George's Lodge, Chesswood Road, Worthing; 1 December 1899.
SKU: 21827

2pp, 12mo. On bifolium. In fair condition, aged and a little grubby. Folded once. Twenty-seven closely-written lines. The letter is addressed to the author James Alexander Steuart (1861-1932), and refers to his recent novel 'Wine on the Lees' (1899). There is also a reference to 'the Whitefriars men', i.e. the staff of the St James's Gazette, which was published in Dorset Street, Whitefriars. Henley begins by stating that he is 'gratified indeed' by Stuart's offer, but that he fears he 'must say no': 'Since my health broke in the Spring of '98, I have not once dined out; I have been but once in Town since I came to this place, ten months ago; & I find myself getting more & more immoveable as the weeks go by.' He does not know 'how things will be' with him in the following year, but hopes 'to have some time in London in the early spring', when he hopes that 'the Whitefriars men – to whom all manner of kindly messages – were still in a mind to receive me, I might find myself strong enough perchance to rise to the occasion. But, on the other hand, I might not. So that 'tis scarce worth while to speculate.' He feels he should tell Stewart that James N. Dunn, whom he probably knows, has 'had a big dinner in training for a whole year, & more. And that I've not yet been able to help him work it off.' He will be 'glad of the novel', and points Stewart towards 'the current N. American Review', in which he will find 'some verses […] which may interest – if only because they are the first for several years'.