DescriptionJacqueline Kennedy: An Amazing Archive of Previously Unseen Autograph Letters Signed, Written Between the Ages of 15 and 17
Letters of "the American Queen" ... as a princess. In 10 letters on 60pp an amazing glimpse of Jacqueline Bouvier between the ages of 15 and 17. The letters are a never-before-seen snapshot of the future First Lady and number one mistress of Camelot. Included in the letters is marvelous artwork of dress designs.
The wife of President John Kennedy, her interest in the arts inspired national attention to culture and she made the White House an historical museum. She demonstrated great courage after President Kennedy's assassination. After the death of her second husband, the wealthy Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, she became a book editor for Doubleday.
Ten autograph letters from a young Jacqueline Lee Bouvier to an older girlfriend, 'WOODLEY' or 'WOODLEIGH L.', written circa 1944-1947 when Jackie was attending Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut. The undated letters are on letterhead stationery from Miss Porter's School, The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, her own "JBL" initialed paper and her two Auchincloss homes: Merrywood in McLean, Virginia and Hammersmith Farm, Newport, Rhode Island. Written when Jackie was between 15 and 17, they are social, chatty, gushy at times, and at other times give glimpses of a savvy assessment of people and situations. There are many references to her step-brother, Yusha [Hugh Auchincloss], who was at Groton, and mutual friends including Bev Corbin, Ken Merritt, Peter Voght, Steve Spencer, and many others, mostly referred to by first name. Flirting with, thinking about, boys, going to New York to the Maisonette [at the St. Regis], dancing at La Rue, football games and parties are all a sophisticated teenager's whirl outside of serious study in school. All are signed with varying affections [lots of love, all my love, etc.] and "Jackie". Since none of the letters are dated, there is no way to put them in chronological order.
Jackie's handwriting is clear; her spelling varies for names [Woodley or Woodleigh]; she often doesn't use apostrophes in words [cant for can't] and often uses dashes [-] instead of periods. The letters as quoted use Jackie's spelling as it appears. Most people are mentioned by first names or nicknames, rarely is there a last name attached, some names can be detected from other written sources, such as America's Queen by Sarah Bradford (New York: Viking, 2000). Letters from this period of Jackie's life to Yusha are housed in the Kennedy Museum and Library and are closed to the public. The archive also contains a copy of a letter sent to Sotheby's by Caroline Kennedy requesting the letters not be sold. In part Caroline's letter reads, "I have read the letters, and they certainly capture her lively intelligence and sense of humor. They also reveal the kinds of thoughts and experiences typical of a time of life that one shares with a close friend ... In a life that was scrutinized so carefully, she considered her letters to be the one place where she could express herself freely, and in confidence."
Letter 1: 2 pages, ALS, beige paper with Hammersmith Farm, Newport, Rhode Island letterhead. This appears to be an early letter, girlishly a little silly, with approximately half page line drawing of her friend, Woodley and Woodley's guy "crush". Written while on a train, the handwriting is a bit shaky. Jackie writes: "Golly -Woodley-It makes me be sick to think how dreary this summer would have been without you-when I came here I was petrified of everything + pretty shy + not liking a bit the idea of going around with a lot of girls who were shallow + nothing but flirts - and talking about nothing but boys- It was so nice to find you because when I got sick of that I could talk to you which was more fun anyway...." Half of page 2 are drawings of Woodley and Ken Merritt with caption: "10 Years from Now A Toast on their 1st Anniversary" ["Ah Ken my love orange juice did bringeth us together"]; beneath is a drawing of two babies named Little Orange Blossom and Little Orange Peel, final caption: "50 Years from now-Notice the oranges I so thoughtfully put on your graves", drawing features two tombstones, one with "W. Merritt: her soul was an orange in disguise", other "K. Merritt: he loved his orange juice". She ends with a p.s. on the front "I don't have any more room on the back so goodbye + write me soon- Lots of Love Jackie".
Letter 2: 4 pages, ALS, beige paper with a black crest: MPS [Miss Porter's School]. This appears to be an early letter, with some pencil corrections, with Jackie beginning "AT LAST I got a letter from you! I swooned with joy + surprise..." and ending "... I want so badly for us to be friends for years + years because it's wonderful to have someone like you to talk to + think with + write to..." Signed "Lots of Love Jackie xxxxx". Most of this letter consists of Jackie giving Woodley advice on boys: "I know you wont pay any attention to this + you'll probably think it's silly-but I think you should get over just wanting every one for a friend. If boys know you are like that - automatically they will shy away from you. That isn't the only reason. You think you just want them for a friend but it's really that you dont like them enough to have them for anything else. Dont tell them you want them just as a friend. Say you dont like them as much as they like you. It's much better that way Woodley + it's much truer because you cant fall in love with everyone...."
Letter 3: 6 pages, ALS, beige paper with letterhead: The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia, and envelope. When Woodley is moving to England Jackie writes: "You are the only girl who's written me + we really have things to say to each other + when I think of tagging around with Rosie + Tanya who just giggle + are snippy + mean + sort of dumb- I don't want you to go at ALL..." Jackie also writes: "Do write just a postcard + tell me what your address will be in Engl.... I envy you in a way-because you are going to something new- + therefore exciting... You know so much more about things than I do - You lived so much more-traveling I guess + living with sophisticated people instead of homey little folks like mine!... I don't really know how to say it-but I'm so grateful for the couple of years I've known you because it's been the most wonderful friendship ever- + I'll always remember it- + I don't want to end it at all." Signed "Love Jackie". Together With an envelope with the Homestead address, blank on front and written on back: "One envelope is transparent so I used 2".
Letter 4: 4 pages, ALS, light blue paper with letterhead: Miss Porter's School, Farmington, Connecticut. Jackie's letter begins: "I just cant stand being back here in prison and when I think of that wonderful time I had with you my last night it just makes it worse-.... I wish I could have seen you more + talked to you more this summer Woodleigh - Because it's the most wonderful thing whenever I do-It stops me from being depressed + is so much fun + I'd rather live on a desert island with you than be the toast of the town. + have Kings gravelling at my feet..." Signed: "Give my love to Mr. Dominguez + loads to you -Jackie".
Letter 5: 3 pages, ALS cream stationery with letterhead: Jacqueline Bouvier "Merrywood" McLean, Virginia. Jackie describes a mutual friend at a Washington theater and does a drawing of his mother ".. .who is very queer looking - She has an old face + long gray hair + bangs...." The ink on parts of this page has run, but the writing can still be read. Jackie continues: "I had a neat time this vacation but nobody exciting fell in love with me or anything. I had fun squelching Alby who was IMPOSSIBLE- so I don't think he'll write back. He showed my roommate an old letter I wrote him + told her horrible things about me + told her not to tell me-but of course she did! ...." In large letters she ends "Lots of Love Jackie".
Letter 6: 2 pages, ALS on cream paper, no letterhead. Jackie writes: "I just this minute got your letter- I loved all the gossip-and now I've thought of hundreds of questions to ask you...." She continues: "You are an incurable matchmaker. Did Alby really convince you that he was a noble soul + a "swell guy" + that I was being very mean to him-How pathetic! Thou art gullible Woodleigh L..." And ends: "Poor you-it will be a day's work to answer all these questions but you don't really have to, just write 1.) I with so + so 2.) So + so from Newport was there 3.) Vie had Corny up etc + I will revel in it! I'll underline the most important questions- Isn't that sweet of me.. .1 miss you loads- Lots of Love Jackie".
Letter 7: 9 numbered pages on 3 folded sheets, ALS on gray paper with JLB red initials, dated Nov 12 [probably 1945 because of several events mentioned]. Jackie writes: "... At that cocktail party Nicky said you were a wonderful girl + I agreed so heartily I'm sure he thought I was a Lesbian!....-The rest of the time we talked about Petain...he gave me these deep chest-thumping views + I tried to look intelligent + nod at the right intervals - I know I'm no authority on anything-but he sounded like a little boy who's just read a big book + as having a lovely time expounding it all to little country urchin without really knowing what it was all about~+ I wanted to give him a big maternal kiss on the cheek + tell him he was really a big boy now!" She continues: "I've heard from John + Buddy-2 letters each + you don't know the agony I go thru writing them back- trying so hard to make them different + devastatingly witty!" Jackie describes her social life: "Go down to N. Y . Friday-spend the night with Daddy + see "Carousel"-Then go up to New Haven with him Sat. to see the Yale Harvard game-I'm going with John but Buddy will be there without a girl! + Steven Spenser + his girl-then we'll all drive back to N. Y. + go to La Rue that nite + they'll drive back here Sunday! I cant wait though I'm rather nervous you know I'm really ashamed of liking Buddy- It's all physical-but no one else can see it at all + looks at me as though I'm insane or have queer glands + I'm beginning to think so myself! Neither of them have kissed me-I'd upchuck if John did- + love it if Buddy did except I wouldn't let him the 1st time---" Signed "Goodbye + all my love Jackie xxx".
Letter 8: 12 numbered pages on 4 folded sheets, ALS on blue paper with light cream type: "Merrywood" McLean, Virginia, Telephone Woodley 4020. Includes several of Jackie's simple line drawings of dresses and one of mutual friend, Bayard. She writes: "Here goes about the weekend-I got to New Haven [for a game]... After the game we came to N. Y. on the train + had a lovely time in the day coach -smoking when the conductor wasn't looking-John left me at Daddy's + then called for me + we went down to the Maisonette + had dinner at Buddy's table-I sat between him + John + he was really sweet-but all I had to do to come down to earth was look at Alison's left hand with his ring blazing away on it- At the Masionette this wonderful girl sang these divine songs- + then we went to La Rue and saw everyone + it was wonderful... We got home about 3:30 + they went back to Harvard the next day.... Weekend at the Waldorf with Daddy which was wonderful... On Monday I shopped + got 3 heavenly evening dresses + Mummy was livid but she let me keep them!" [3 dresses illustrated and described]. On another weekend "... We went to La Rue afterwards + I danced with all Yusha's friends...The 20th I was so dead I stayed home + the 21st I went to the Senior Holidays-It was a dinner dance... .afterwards we went to these 2 horrible little dives on 52nd St-the Downbeat + the 3 Deuces. I was petrified + we were practically the only white people there-But there was this wonderful saxophone [sic] player there who was really good--" After more news, she ends, "I must stop now + wrap Xmas presents-So long + all my love Woodley- +1 hope you have a wonderful Christmas-Jackie".
Letter 9: 13 numbered pages on 5 folded sheets, ALS, white stationery: Hammersmith Farm, Newport, Rhode Island Jackie first writes about a boy whom Woodley fancies:... "I know in a few years Bayard will want to settle down-The reason those boys don't marry now is because they don't want to be tied down before they've had a chance to make a good start in the world-in business~+ it's always surer to last if they sow their wild oats first-But you + B-are so perfect together-He's just he kind of man I've always thought our would marry- + you have so much fun together + so much in common - I know it would work -so just stay in there pitching + soon I expect to be your bridesmaid-..." Then she writes: "Now I'm going to tell you what I've been longing to all thru this letter. At the end of the summer - after you left + I got back from Hot Springs Buddy started giving me a vague rush- + John Sterling too--... .Buddy + I had a heavenly long talk outside- But just about N.Y. + niteclubs + people there- which I've decided is a serious as he can get- John gave me his Brooks ring-but it was when Buddy + I were sitting outside + he came over + sort of put his arm around me + started talking quietly + gave it to me-so it wasn't very serious..." And concluding : "I don't like Buddy as much as I did- He's pretty shallow but has a lot of sweetness + I love to talk to John + he's a wonderful person but there's no physical attraction-so I'm in love with no one which is more comfortable. I must go now- this was all at the expense of U.S. History but to H- with that..." And ends with "You know what a wonderful friend I think you are + I always will + I'll miss you terribly all winter. All my Love Jackie".
Letter 10: 4 pages, ALS, cream stationery: Miss Porter's School, Farmington, Connecticut. This letter, the fall term before college, Jackie is concerned about grades and a visit from Woodley "...I've really had to slave as your fall term marks this year count most towards getting into college... I'm writing this with one eye on the clock hoping I can be through in 10 min + knowing darn well I'll go on for hours once I get started." She continues: "Wire me when you get this if you can come + if you'll spend the nite so I can get you a room- If you can come I'll send you a large sum of money which you must spend on the most delicious food you can think of-chocolate bars, cake + bring for me to gorge on + you can in a few bites..." But the postscript reflects the aftermath of Jackie's mischief: "P.S. This is being written 3 hours later. I've just been put on bounds, cant have any visitors for this or next weekend. All I did was misbehave at the table + throw water in the house. Damn Damn Damn. I hope you couldn't come anyway as I'd hate to think you could have + I ruined it. God I'm mad at this dumb school." Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.
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