UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: house, lease
Record 16 of 70

System Number: 09391
Date: 3 September 1872
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: William Michael Rossetti[1]
Call Number: Private Collection
Document Type: ALSf


[3 September 1872]

[p. 2][2] is chronic! and to take up a pen at all is next to impossible with me! - so you must believe in my affection in spite of my silence - I am so glad to know that Gabriel[3] is in good health again - at least I have heard from time to time from one source or another that he was rapidly regaining strength - and so I suppose that by this he must be nearly well and will soon return[4] to Chelsea.

How glad I shall be to see him again - When you write, give him my love - and believe me my dear William

Ever your [p. 3] sincere friend

J A McN Whistler

I know also through Miss Park[5] that you had great sorrow because of the long illness of your sister[6] - but I heard that she too was since convalescent and I hope is now quite restored.


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Notes:

1.  William Michael Rossetti
William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), civil servant and critic [more].

2.  [p. 2]
The first page of this letter, which includes the date, is not currently available. The date is given in the sale catalogue: Sotheby's, New York, 17 December 1992, lot 248.

3.  Gabriel
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), artist and poet [more]. In June 1872, Rossetti had his first serious breakdown, exacerbated by years of alcohol and chloral abuse. Taken with water, chloral acted as a sedative and hypnotic. Rossetti had used the drug to combat insomnia but it made him subject to paranoia and hallucinations. On 8 June 1872, he overdosed on laudanum, an opiate derivative. Later, he recuperated in Scotland at the homes of his friend William Graham (1817-1885), MP and collector [more] (see Rossetti, William Michael, The Diary of W. M. Rossetti 1870-1873, ed. Odette Bornand, Oxford, 1977 [p. 166], p. 207). He was probably still in Scotland at the time of this letter.

4.  return
D. G. Rossetti returned to London only briefly in 1872. Instead, he spent most of his time over the next two years at Kelmscott House in Gloucestershire. In June 1871, he had taken a lease on the house with William Morris (1834-1896), painter, designer, poet and socialist [more], for an annual rent of £75. This included the use of a studio. He finally returned to London in July 1874, having given up his country residency. See Salmon, Nicholas and Derek Baker, The William Morris Chronology, London, 1996, pp. 61, 72.

5.  Miss Park
Probably Louisa J. Parke (b. ca 1832), friend of the Rossetti family and governess to the Leyland family [more].

6.  sister
Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894), poet [more]. Christina Rossetti was recovering from a thyroid infection. She had been seriously ill since May (see Marsh, Jan, Christina Rossetti: A Literary Biography, London, 1994, p. 400). The illnesses of his sister and brother were doubly upsetting for W. M. Rossetti. He wrote in his diary on 5 June: 'This diary-work is becoming too painful now if important matters are to be recorded, and too futile and irritating if the unimportant are made to take their place. I shall therefore drop it.' The diary does not resume until 3 November. See Rossetti, William Michael, The Diary of W. M. Rossetti 1870-1873, ed. Odette Bornand, Oxford, 1977 [p. 166], pp. 206-7.