The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Browse Subjects > Document Display

return to search results

Documents associated with: birth (JW)
Record 1 of 4

System Number: 06829
Date: [1893/1894][1]
Author: JW
Place: [Paris]
Recipient: [none]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W818
Document Type: AD[2]

Whistler -

Determined that no dull mendacious scamp shall tell collect the foolish truths about me when centuries have gone by, and anxiety no longer pulls at the pen of the "pupil".... who would sell the soul of his Master to the Publisher, I propose myself now proceed to take the wind out of such speculation by immediately furnishing myself the fiction of my own biography - which shall remain - and is the story of my life -

My life - or the beginning of it - for it is worth noting that all who have much to do, assuredly remain to do it -

Curiously too I find no grief in noting the closing of more than one middleaged eye that I had before now caught turned warily upon me with a view to future foolscap to improved from slight intimacy

To begin with I am not an Englishman - The journalists of London have so often, and so noisely, and with such lifting of the chin, declared that the their great comfort satisfaction.. derived..[3] was theirs in the fact this, that it may be well to hasten and acknowledge that before it be the contrary be necessarily accepted as the fact -

In many papers the press I have been born in Russia - in France - in America - and, of late .. even in England -

Again, with further detail, I have read that I was born in Pomfret, cultured[4] Connecticut, in Boston, and even Lowell! - This last I have I think heard more than once, whispered in the outskirts of the family - But the my people were great Southerners de race - [protigents"?] - and if there were any truth in this strange Northern cradle of their sons they would have lived it down in silence - rocked.. rumour..[5]

My dear good Mother[6] as a Christian would have seen it

For my part, though enticed for a moment attracted by the drollery of . . . down East, without a drop of yankee blood in my veins, upon the whole it wont do - - I don't think I care about it - No - the time has gone by when a man shall be born, without being consulted - That though When, one of these days I return to my native land, I shall expect to be born in every town in the United States, - and meanwhile I have chosen Boston Baltimore

[p. 2] I was born then in Baltimore[7].

[p. 3, pen and ink sketch[8] of man] 'According[9] to Miss B P[10] this is as sketch of Tolouse-Lautrec[11] entering Whistler's studio - by Mrs Whistler'

This document is protected by copyright.




Notes by J. M. Whistler for possible memoirs -

(On the back is a sketch by Mrs J. M. Whistler of Toulouse Lautrec entering the studio!)

R. Birnie Philip -[13]'


1.  [1893/1894]
Dated by the reference to Beatrix Whistler and the Paris studio (see below).

2.  AD
These notes were made by JW, possibly to form a memoir or autobiographical note. They are written on large sheets of paper. The envelope is large and was used to store the pages; the writing on the envelope is not in JW's hand.

3.  mother
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more].

4.  Baltimore
JW was in fact born in Lowell, MA, but denied this several times over the years; see #13373, #06294 and #07434, where JW insists he was not born in Lowell: 'No, - I was not born in Lowell - and Massachusetts knows me not -'.

5.  satisfaction.. derived..
Added in the left margin.

6.  cultured
Added in the left margin.

7.  rocked.. rumour..
Added in the left margin.

8.  pen and ink sketch
B. Whistler, Toulouse-Lautrec entering the studio (z274). Beatrix drew other caricatures of people in the Whistlers' circle, which are held in the Hunterian Art Gallery, like Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde (1854-1900), writer, critic and playwright [more], and Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), industrialist, collector and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art [more] (see GLAHA 46408, 46561, 54810).

9.  According ... Mrs Whistler
This note was added in pencil to the right of the drawing by Margaret F. MacDonald, and its information derives from the envelope (below).

10.  Miss B P
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more].

11.  Tolouse-Lautrec
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), painter and lithographer [more].

12.  Memoirs
Double underlined. This word is followed by 'M' and, in red crayon, '20', written in unknown hands.

13.  R. Birnie Philip
The note above is probably in the hand of Prof. A. McLaren Young, but the signature was written by Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more].