Walter Hines Page to Jane Addams, August 13, 1908


133-137 East Sixteenth Street, New York

August 13, 1908.

My dear Miss Addams:

You will recall, I hope, that several years ago I took the liberty to propose to you that you should write out your experience and your philosophy, your creed, or whatever you call it, in the form more or less of an autobiographical narrative. I fear it seemed to you a very blunt suggestion and you naturally shrunk from it. The word "autobiographical" has a shock to it. Then you may recall that Mrs. Breck before her marriage had conceived hopes (I confess I encouraged her), and had, I believe, even made a plan to write such an explanation of your work and of its growth <and great influence> as would in fact be sort of a biography of you; and my recollection is that you gave at least a passive consent to this plan. But her marriage took her away.

But no marriage nor any other event, except the last final one that comes to us all, will ever get the conviction out of my mind that such a book ought to be written — that it ought to be written now, and that you, yourself, ought to write it. Or, if you have an unconquerable objection to writing it with your own hand, that it ought to be written by some sympathetic person who would act as nearly as possible as a medium for your own expression, of your own career and its meaning.

After all, some of the greatest books are autobiographical. The first fear of the word "autobiography" sometimes disappears in the seriousness of the message that is to be told.

I think I have read all the books that you have written and most, if not all, of the magazine articles that you have published through any of the journals that reach the public. I am not undervaluing them (for I set very high store upon them) but I say, important as they all are, they do not [page 2] carry the message of your great work and of its meaning to a large audience. Yet, there is a very large audience that would be grateful for it and would benefit by it, an audience that would get the spiritual and social benefit by contact with you in a fuller and better way than it can be given except by actual personal association.

Therefore, I renew my attack which I now give you fair warning will not be wholly given up as long as we both live, and I make this practical suggestion and earnest request if <that> you will permit me some time in September, if it is convenient, to go and see you and talk over the subject with the hope of finding some one among your close and sympathetic friends who will write such a book about you.

Very heartily yours,

Walter H. Page [signed]

Miss Jane Addams,
Hull House,
Chicago, Illinois.

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