The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Transcription/Database Record

the on-line edition

System Number: 08100
Date: [20 February 1886][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Elizabeth Jamison McNay[2]
Place: South Norwood
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 2/20/3
Document Type: ALS[3]


How very nice of you dear Mrs MacNay to write me such a warm kind letter[4]- I was greatly touched and am so grateful to you for not judging my friendship by my silence -

I always mean to sit down and write to you, and say [p. 2] to you many things and tell you how good and sweet I think you are to Maud[5] - and how sad we all have been about dear little Nora[6] - and then I am such a slave to my work - and one day is so much like another! - and things are so shocking - and so I never sit down at all! and only write fiendish notes to mine enemies!

This is why you never hear any of the nice things I have to say to you dear Mrs MacNay -

Now however this terrible American trip[7] is put off - and so I will be able to come down to Norwood and have a long talk about every thing - but I do hope it will be a little less cruel in the way of weather for I am simply frozen! -

Maud and I have looked up the tiny sketch[8] of Nora - and I will do what I can - but I fear [p. 3] very much that you could find nothing of the pretty child, I wanted to paint, in it - however we will try! -

With kindest regards to both
Always very sincerely Yrs

[butterfly signature]

I write to you from the doctor's[9] - for you know I am a bit of an invalid, and being taken care of! -

This document is protected by copyright.


Mrs Tom. MacNay
1. Upper Grove
South Norwood
[postmark:] LONDON. W. / D 7 / FE 20 / 86.
[illegible second postmark on verso]


1.  [20 February 1886]
Dated from postmark.

2.  Elizabeth Jamison McNay
Elizabeth McNay (m. 1859), née Charleton, formerly Jamison [more].

3.  ALS
Published in Anderson Auction Co. sale catalogue, New York, 28-29 November [n.y.], item 655.

4.  letter

5.  Maud
Mary Maud Franklin (1857- ca 1941), JW's model and mistress [more].

6.  Nora
Eleanore ('Nora') Ruth MacNay (1868-1886), daughter of M. I. and T. F. McNay [more]. Nora died on 30 January 1886.

7.  American trip
In February 1885, in the aftermath of JW's first public delivery of his aesthetic manifesto, the 'Ten O'Clock Lecture,' the idea of a American lecture tour arose. Although he contemplated making the trip on numerous occasions over the next few years (see references in correspondence including #00593; #07153 and #09235) it never materialised. Contributing factors may have been his increasing involvement with the Society of British Artists (he was elected President on 1 June 1886) and other exhibition commitments (H. Lenoir to JW, #00928).

8.  sketch
Portrait of Miss Nora McNay (YMSM 348).

9.  doctor's
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more]. JW was writing from W. McN. Whistler's address.