February 2, 1925
New York City
Your letter, transmitted to me through your Legation at Washington, confers upon me great honor and gives me great pleasure. I am glad to have carried a message from the
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, First President of Czechoslovakia
Bohemian neighbors, whom I loved as a child, to their home country.
I have just returned to New York from Red Cloud, Nebraska, where my father and mother still live. I spent the Christmas holidays with them, and while there I had the pleasure of taking the living “Antonia” and six of her many fine children to the first moving picture production of “A Lost Lady.” I have the good fortune to preserve friendly relations with most of my characters, even after I have put them in books. “Antonia” and her twelve splendid children are flesh and blood realities. Every time I go back to them I feel how much more interesting and lovable they are than my picture of them. I wish I could present them to you in person.
The life of our Middle West is so big and various, so ugly and so beautiful, that one cannot generalize about it. All one can do is to write of what came against one’s own door-step, so to speak.
I regret that I cannot satisfactorily comply with your kind request for biographical material. I avoid biographers, asking them to wait until I get my work further along. My first novel was published in 1912, and a period of twelve years is scarcely long enough for a writer to find the form best suited to what he has to say. I was not young when I began to write, and though living is a good preparation for writing, it takes some time to acquire a simple and unobtrusive manner of presentation, however well one may know what one wishes to present.
I am able to send you a very good photograph, taken recently. I enclose a short biographical account which my publisher uses for publicity purposes, and some casual reviews. Biographies usually begin to come along just about the time a writer has no more to say, and I do not feel that that time has yet come to me.
I beg you, President Masaryk, to believe in my grateful appreciation of your letter.