Elucidating 'Just So'.
KIPLING, Rudyard. T.L.S. to D. Avery regarding illustrations in the 'Just-So Stories'. Burwash, Sussex, 1924.
Typed letter on Kipling's Sussex address letterhead paper (20 x 26.5cm), dated 20th November 1924, signed by Kipling in black ink; together with the original stamped envelope to D. Avery Esq. London (14 x 10.5cm approx.) which is opened and annotated with 'Kipling's letter' in pencil, presumably in Avery's hand; also included is a copy of Avery's original letter to Kipling, dated Nov 25th 1924. Kipling's letter folded twice, with some very light creasing, else fine; envelope opened, a little browned and chipped/creased to edges; Avery's letter has been folded three times horizontally and once vertically, to fit inside the same envelope; aside from a very small split to one of the folds, it is near-fine. Provenance from the Library of a private Kipling collector, and previously through a professional bookseller.
Kipling's letter is responding to an enquiry regarding illustrations in the “Just So Stories”:
“Dear Sir, I am much obliged to you for your interesting account of your discoveries in the illustrations of my “Just-So Stories”; as I am struck with the zeal with which you followed your clues. As to the letters on the collar round King Solomon’s neck, any friend of yours who happens to be a Freemason will tell you what they mean. Wishing you success in your further searches, Believe me, Very Sincerely yours, Rudyard Kipling. P.S. I do not recall that there was any special significance in the rocks etc. above the cave in the illustration to “The Cat that Walked”. There you have the advantage of me."
Avery’s response to Kipling's letter is as follows:
"Dear Sir, Please accept my thanks for your kind letter. I am enclosing a rough tracing taken from the illustration of the “Cat that Walked” to indicate the outlines that suggested to me grotesque monsters devouring female figures – the waistband, skirt & foot indicating the one, and the back, part of upper of arm, waistline & part of skirt indicating the other figure. I thought you might be interested in seeing the foundation on which my imagination had built. Again thanking you for your Kindness, Believe me, Yours sincerely….”
Avery was a chemical consultant who lived and worked in Australia, but visited London in 1924 in an attempt to persuade British papermakers to use Eucalypts in their pulping processes. It was presumably during his time in London that this letter was written.
An interesting letter, giving insight into Kipling's motivations for the illustrations in Just-So.