The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Lenoir, Helen
Record 18 of 42

System Number: 00927
Date: 19 November 1885
Author: Helen Lenoir[1]
Place: New York
Recipient: Richard D'Oyly Carte[2]
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler D133
Document Type: ALS


November 19, 1885.

R. D'Oyly Carte, Esq.,
Savoy Theatre,
Strand, London, W. C.,

Dear Mr. Carte:-

I am sorry for the delay in answering about Mr. Whistler, but the reason was that I had failed to see Mr. Hathaway[3] on my first trip to Boston and had therefore written him, and his reply[4] to my letter which I enclose, arrived after I had started for the second time for Boston. I called on him, therefore, when in Boston and had a long talk with him, - the upshot being that he will be pleased to take Mr. Whistler[5] upon a percentage of the receipts, but that he would not be disposed to undertake any risk or pay [p. 2] any certainty. He is of opinion that the success would depend a great deal upon how the thing was worked, and that in order to work it well, it would be necessary to give a great deal of attention to the matter. He thinks there is no question that in New York and Boston, large houses would be certain, and probably sufficient in any case, to cover the expenses of Mr. Whistler's coming out. His success in the rest of the country would naturally depend in a great measure, on the effect he produced in New York and Boston. I find that in Boston, his name is exceedingly well known and so it is in New York. I should much have liked, as you know, to be able to work the affair myself, and I fancy I could have [p. 3] done something satisfactory with it, but I presume this cannot now be arranged. I had, as you know, expected that Mr. Whistler would come out about September. I do not see who is to undertake it, excepting Redpath[6], as his is decidedly the best established bureau out here. I have spoken to Mr. Browne[7] with regard to the gentleman who accompanied Mr. Mathew Arnold[8] [sic] on his tour, and I find that he is an admirable person to accompany any one, but he is not sufficiently bright to organize or arrange anything. He is a graduate of Harvard University, and would, I think, be just the sort of man to go around with Mr. Whistler, but not to "boom" the thing. If Mr. Whistler liked he could write or cable direct to the bureau, or but if he doesn't mind awaiting my return, we can have a talk on the matter[9] and decide what is best to be done.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Lenoir

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1.  Helen Lenoir
Helen Lenoir (1852-1913), née Coupar Black, actress and stage manager [more].

2.  Richard D'Oyly Carte
Richard D'Oyly Carte (1844-1901), impresario and property developer [more].

3.  Mr. Hathaway
George Henry Hathaway (1843-1931), President of the Redpath Lyceum Bureau [more].

4.  reply
See G. H. Hathaway to H. Lenoir, #02054.

5.  take Mr. Whistler
Lenoir had been discussing a proposal to take JW's 'Ten O'Clock Lecture' on a tour of American cities. The 'Ten O'Clock' was JW's chief public statement of his aesthetic ideas. It was first delivered in London on 20 February 1885 at the Prince's Hall, Piccadilly. Over the next few months, he repeated it at several other venues in London, Oxford and Cambridge.

6.  Redpath
The Redpath Lyceum Bureau was an agency specialising in the promotion of lectures, musical and other entertainments. The firm had branches in Boston and Chicago.

7.  Mr. Browne
Browne, employee of the Redpath Lyceum Bureau.

8.  Mr Mathew Arnold
Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), writer [more].

9.  talk on the matter
The lecture tour never materialised. In February 1886, Lenoir wrote that she had explained to the American agents on JW's behalf that he was postponing his trip due to exhibition commitments (H. Lenoir to JW, #00928). Other factors may have included JW's increasing involvement with the Society of British Artists (he was elected President on 1 June 1886) and his intensifying rivalry with Oscar Wilde who had preceded him with a lecture tour of America and Canada in 1882. Nevertheless, for a lengthy period between 1885 and 1886, JW remained intent on making the trip (see references in correspondence including JW to W. Merritt Chase, #00593; H. Wunderlich to JW, #07153; JW to O. Maus, #09235).