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Henry B. L. Webb. autograph letter [circa September 1915] to Morton Luce

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Henry B. L. Webb. Autograph letter signed, [n.d., but ca. September 1915], to an unnamed addressee [Morton Luce], four pages on two leaves. Henry discusses some of his and his wife’s literary efforts. He mentions his recent attempts to sell insurance, and tells of Mary’s activities as a “market woman,” repairing men’s buttonholes, and selling vegetables. In 1915, the Webbs’ marriage was thriving. The two years that Henry and Mary lived at Rose Cottage in Pontesbury were among their happiest—seeking individual freedom, they lived close to nature in a quiet country house, growing their own food, and working at their writing with little intrusion from the outside world. Henry writes: “We hope to get a new typewriter soon, and make it hum. Meanwhile we are (entre nous) looking for a smaller and cheaper house, and keeping triumphantly out of the only two evils that seem to matter—being separated and ‘potboiling.’” Both were pursuing literary careers, hoping to live from their writings (supplemented by Mary’s £100 annual allowance from monies inherited by her mother, and by sales of extra vegetables and flowers grown in their garden). Mary was busy writing her second novel Gone to Earth (to be published the following year), while Henry was working on a verse epic about Gilgamesh, to be published under the title of The Everlasting Quest in 1917. An autobiographical passage in The Golden Arrow reveals Mary’s contentment: “To give—to be with her man—to be so utterly at one that no explanation was ever necessary—to work, laugh, sleep and watch the splendid seasons together, being in other things than sex free and equal, and in sex so mutually generous as to forget self and rights. . . .”