NEW EXHIBITION OF J. D. SALINGER LETTERS AT THE MORGAN LIBRARY & MUSEUM SHOWS A YOUNG WRITER BALANCING CYNICISM AND HOPE
Between 1941 and 1943 J. D. Salinger sent nine letters and postcards to Marjorie Sheard, an aspiring Canadian writer. This important collection of documents, acquired by the Morgan in April 2013, sheds light on Salinger’s writing, and the authors that influenced him in the early stages of his career. A highlight among the letters is one in which the young author writes to Ms. Sheard of “the first Holden story” about a “prep school kid on his Christmas vacation.” The Morgan will display the complete correspondence in a show entitled “Lose not heart,” the first public presentation of these revealing letters, on view from September 10, 2013 to January 12, 2014.
In the summer of 1941, when Salinger began writing letters to Sheard, he was twenty-two years old. A Toronto resident, Sheard had read Salinger’s early short stories in publications such as Esquire and Collier’s and initiated the correspondence by writing an admiring letter. Salinger was apparently eager to begin and maintain a correspondence with the insightful Sheard, and he began to share news of his own creative output. A letter dated November 18, 1941, references the creation of the first story featuring his now legendary character, Holden Caulfield, hero of Catcher in the Rye. The New Yorker had accepted the piece and, Salinger wrote, was now asking for an entire series about the character. He ended the letter by asking for Sheard’s reaction to the story