Letter from Charlotte Logier Baker to Thomas Hardy, 24 October 1917

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666 Centre St.

Newton, Mass tts


Dear Mr Hardy.

- I have long wanted to write you a few words of appreciation of your art – ever since I first read The Woodlanders – three years ago – but I've never [Page 2] quite dared – fearing that my poor, uncouth words ^of admiration^ might be unwelcome – & that you might, at best, think me a silly, doting creature.

– So, though I never dared address you with thanks for your novels – I am now writing to you as a last resort, in the direst need. Please, Mr Hardy, forgive my timerity. & please help me!

My trouble is a terribly subtle one. & [Page 3] written down in black & white – shows none of the suffering of my poor, tortured mind - It's simply this – Mr HardyI can't find any place for myself in this world! It sounds terribly simple, doesn't it - but, really, it has nearly driven me to suicide several times – There isn't a single thing in this world that interests me in the slightest degree (except, perhaps, harmonic figuration & one can't exist on that). I feel like a soul from another world – & almost homesick. This seems like such a miserable, sad, world – & such a terrible one –I dread, every night, to go to bed, knowing that I must wake to another hideous day – & each day & hour & minute are ions of pain! I feel that something is radically wrong with me – if other people can live in the same world - & smile! & So I am writing to you, begging you, dear Mr Hardy, to [Page 4] tell me what the trouble is -

I am not a pampered child of luxury – but I have a comfortable home – (my father is a surgeon in the Navy –) & the dearest parents in the world – & a sister – & two automobiles – & a grand piano.

I am twenty years old (last Aug. 22nd) & study music at the Conservatory in Boston. I used, once upon a time, to love my music – [Page 5] It was life itself to me – but now ^the last 2 yrs^ I loathe it so that I have decided to give it up. It tortures me to even think of the whole hateful business – piano – harmony – counterpoint & solfeggio –

What is the matter – I seem so different from everybody else. Only the people in your beloved books seem at all like me. [Temperamentally] I am a mixture of Jude & Eustacia – without any of goddess qualities of the latter.

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Now, Mr Hardydo you know what ails me? I am engaged to the dearest man in the world – but I don't even care much for him & don't want to marry him– oh it is so abominable to be of no use in this world– I used to have dreams of being a great concert pianist – but these are shattered now – & I don't even care to be one! I feel, after having read all your novels, that you will understand me, if anyone can! Please help me!

I wish I could express my admiration of your books. I have loved & lived them for so long. They are the only real things in the world to me. I wish you might know their effect on me - they kill me almost - so terribly true - And how you feel Nature - & such at [misfortune]! My only wish is to visit the Hintocks & Egdon Heaththe Beal – the Isle of Slingers the Cliff without Name – & the other dear places! I love the Woodlanders best of all your books. The Return of the Native – 2nd –)

[Page 7] - I love your prefaces – especially this: "The place is pre-eminently the region of dream and mystery. The ghostly birds the pall-like sea, the frothy wind, the eternal soliloquy of the waters, the bloom of the dark purple cast that seems to exhale from the shoreward precipices, in themselves lend to the scene the an atmosphere like the twilight of a night vision". Am I correct – It is glorious – like an organ peal! Oh [Mr] Hardy you are so wonderful! Please forgive me for writing so much – & please help me.

I hope I may see you, some day. I have two pictures of you on my desk.