Two signed letters from the author and essayist E. B. White to Oliver Jensen (co-founder of
American Heritage Magazine). Included in this four-piece collection are the carbon copies
(on onion skin) of a letter in reply, as well as a company memo by Oliver Jensen, which
provide significant (and extremely amusing) context for these letters. The first signed letter in this collection (October 1969) is on the stationary of The New Yorker. E. B. White joined the staff of the New Yorker in 1927 and contributed essays and articles for almost six decades. This letter thanks Mr. Jensen for sending a gift of the newly published American Heritage Dictionary. The letter makes a humorous dig at the fact that the dictionary includes a picture of the poet Archibald MacLeish, while White gets none. This prompts a reply from Jensen (unsigned carbon copy) where Jensen tells White that the publishers Houghton Mifflin have heard about the quip and would like to use White’s letter in promoting the new dictionary. The second signed letter (January 1970), on E. B. White’s personal stationary, asks that his letter of October not be used for the purposes of promotion stating that it was meant only in the context of their personal exchange. White concludes the note by mentioning that he must get back to the kitchen where he is preparing vichyssoise. The final item is on American Heritage Publishers Memo paper and instructs that White’s original comments should not be used for promotional purposes. The closing paragraph of this memo points out the brilliant subtle humor of E. B. White by deciphering his comment about preparing vichyssoise as a cryptic way to inform the American Heritage publishers that they misspelled the word in their new dictionary!