Consisting of one document box, the Dorothy Gordon Collected Letters and
Works contain holograph and typewritten correspondence, postcards, a telegram,
unfinished typescript manuscripts, and printed material ranging in date from
1931 to 1950. The material is arranged into two series: I. Correspondence,
1938-1950, and II. Works, ca. 1931-1947. The bulk of the material consists of
letters from book dealer Mitchell Kennerley to Gordon. These letters span from
1940 through 1950, covering the entire period of operation of the Lexington
Avenue Bookshop and the period leading directly to Kennerley's death.
Series I, Correspondence, contains letters to Dorothy Gordon and letters
to Mitchell Kennerley collected by Gordon. The letters to Dorothy Gordon are
from Kennerley and poet Charles Erskine Scott Wood. The Wood correspondence
dates from 1938 to 1940, and includes two printed poems and letters addressing
the war in Europe as well as memories of serving in the Indian wars during his
The letters from Kennerley reflect Gordon's business dealings with the
Lexington Avenue Bookshop and the personal relationship that developed from
their business correspondence. The letters are arranged chronologically, and
document the literary tastes and interests of both correspondents. Prominent
authors, popular titles, and important book dealers and presses are discussed.
Kennerley reflects on his business dealings with and critical opinions of many
of his contemporaries, including E. M. Forster, Katherine Mansfield, Edna St.
Vincent Millay, Stanley Kunitz, and Augustus John. His letters are often
accompanied by enclosures, such as press announcements of Edna St. Vincent
Millay's first book
Renascence, which Kennerley published. Also
enclosed are price quotes offered from Manhattan book dealers in response to
Ms. Gordon's “want list,” and copies of poems written by Ms. Gordon
published in various newspapers and magazines.
The letters to Mitchell Kennerley collected by Dorothy Gordon span 1941
to 1947, and all relate in some way to Gordon; many are answers to questions
that the well-connected Kennerley passed on to various publishers and scholars
for his friend. In one example, German scholar Benjamin Huebsch answers a
question on German grammar for Ms. Gordon's translation of Rilke.
The second series, Works, contains essays by Dorothy Gordon and
pamphlets and clippings she collected. The two unfinished essays are
autobiographical accounts of the development of her interest in book
collecting. One of these essays, marked “personal,” gives insight into the
development of Gordon's archive; she describes how she came to meet Mitchell
Kennerley, and that a mutual friend instructed her to “keep everything he
writes to you.”
The collection of printed materials includes pamphlets by Mitchell
Kennerley and Richard La Gallienne, the poem
"Crossing the Bar" by Bliss Carman, materials
relating to the publication of
Dragon's Teeth by Upton Sinclair, and
"Cézanne: What He Said to Me" by Joachim
Gasquet, printed in
The Leaflet (Number 3: October 1931).