Bliss Carman's Letters to Margaret Lawrence 1927-1929

Edited by D.M.R. Bentley

Assisted by Margaret Maciejewski

Letter 28

King Cotton Hotel

Greensboro, N.C.

4. November. 1927



Dearest Margaret:


Your very heavenly remembrance over the wire reached me just before I had to "go on" for my reading and was most invigorating. It was ever blessed of you to be at that pains to reach a pal. I was just having a sip of cherry-brandy before dinner with a new friend when the word came over the phone, and the word was more potent than the goodly alcohol. Having given thanks for the one, I gave double thanks for the other.

The reading was very select and appreciative as to audience, though a majority of the three hundred were men students of the co-ed State University.1 It is a fine old institution with some very nice buildings. The most beautiful being a very old red stone Greek-temple sort of place now used as a little theatre. Their theatre here is about the best of its kind in America I should say. I have seen nothing like it, for thoroughness and successful performance, though I have not seen them play. Chapel Hill is a lovely old (very small) town. The little old Chapel from which it takes its name is a beauty, and the whole place very quiet and atmospheric, in a pine-wood country.

To-morrow morning I leave for Spartanburg, reading there at Converse College, the best woman’s college of the South.2 Men are all very well—but I should say the lydies is easier to read at. I have never had an audience walk out "on me". But I could not blame them if they did.

This hotel is a huge new most luxurious place, "all same" Toronto or any other queenly city, with innumerable black bell-hops, waiters, fine orchestra at dinner, and all [  ] the rest of it, reading light at the head of the bed—at the head of both beds, for that matter, so that we could both read—if there were any both. This is a happy thought of Willie‘s.3 But to me it seems rather sad and too utterly trivial for the occasion.

My dear darling I must flop down to sleep now, being tired after a busy interesting day, and having to be up at six.


More love and more




This is O. Henry’s town,4 and there is a large hotel here named The O. Henry.

  1. The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, chartered in 1789 and opened in 1795. [back]

  2. Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is a womens’ college founded in 1889. (See also Letters 29 and 30.) [back]

  3. An abbreviation of Carman’s first name (see Letter 8 n.12), and possibly a reference to "Willie Monkey," "Carman’s comic interpretation of the theosophical ‘elemental’ or incorporeal spirit inhabiting one of the four elements, visible only to those with inner sight . . . a whipping boy he could blame for his imperfect comprehension or for any minor misdemeanour" (Gundy in Letters, 308). In "Lorne Pierce’s 1927 Interview with Charles G.D. Roberts (as Reported by Margaret Lawrence)," ed. Terry Whalen, Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews 21 (1987), 75, Roberts observes that "[w]hen [Carman] was happy we called him Willie." [back]

  4. Spartanburg is the birth-place of William Sydney Porter (1862-1910), the American short-story writer who published under the name O. Henry. Notable examples of his work are "The Furnished Room" (1902), "The Trimmed Lamp" (1906), and "The Last Leaf" (1906). [back]