Elisina Grant Richards to Mildred Barnes Bliss, March 16, 1911
March 16th 1911Thursday.
Mr. Wainwright writing to me a few days ago used these words: “I fear the proposed investment in Grant Richards Limited has fallen through. No names were mentioned, but reading between the lines I think it possible the people who approached me advised that it should not be made”.
If that view is correct, then I fear I am up once more and in a most painful fashion against the old cruel business of evil gossip from which I have suffered so much in the past. I am sending you, for the love of the truth, the answers to several questions which the Trustee for the creditors, Mr. J. A. Moncrieff, a Trade Expert, gave me to show to whoever I wished, adding that he would satisfy himself personally any enquiries.The whereabouts of this document are unknown.
You see Mildred, people who make “enquiries” do not trouble to go to headquarters; they gather gossip, retail it and repeat it often, until it increases in volume and weight by being widely accepted, and the point of whether it has or has not one foundation is not apparently anyone’s business.
A great deal of envy and a great deal of malice and vanity were set to work on Grant Richards’ reputation. Authors who wished for an excuse not to meet their bills, or who merely wished to swell their own accounts of their popularity all pretended to be greatly his debtors. One particular person said to a full room that he was owed £150 on the last six months’ accounts. The real sum—if you will believe it—37/6S. Another, who had received an advance of £300 for work he never did, was no less violent in his attacks—always of course on generalities. One publisher at a dinner-party of 12 publishers, calling Grant Richards “Grantie” though he hardly knew him volunteered a great many quite fanciful and untrue stories to his discredit; and he was believed—so fond are we all of fairytales—though he is notoriously one of the loosest tongues in London.
These things distress and wound me very much, dear Mildred, because I hate to see injustice done—either to myself or to others. I have felt so keenly grateful to you—and I have no real reason that I know of to feel otherwise,—and your action made me feel once more the truth of the fact that women are the real mainsprings of action in life, the real cogwheels in the machinery of thought. The very tones in which Grant Richards sent the information of the sum required for his business in answer to Mr. Wainwright's enquiry in October were unexpectedly hopeful. The balm worked at once—by the balm I mean a reasonable possibility of success. When the offer was made definitely at the end of December as you wrote to me—I believe he saw his way clear; I sent you the announcement which it gave me so much renewed hope to see. Now this is all temporarily obscured in my mind. But one thing I know. Whatever happens I shall now no longer let evil gossip have its way—and whenever I meet it I shall speak out, and use these documents if necessary. I used to incline to the belief that one mustn’t stoop to meet one’s detractors but pass them by. But they can do so much harm—and it is my children’sGioia Richards Owtram, Gerard Franklin Richards, Charles (“Carlos”) Geoffrey Richards (1902–1959), and Geoffrey Herbert Richards (1906–1983). name that is being blackened.
If you can, and if Mr. Wainwright’s surmises are correct, I hope you will let your friends in London see these papers. I think it is an act of Justice.
I will write again when I hear from you. This letter is not a very serene one. I hope you won’t look upon it as an intrusion and quite unwarranted. Royall and I are working hard and it is such a joy to me to be able to help him and to do some good serious work. William is thriving beautifully and he sends you his best love. I very much hope you don’t think the ceremony of baptism as an essential point of his relationship to you! My best love to you and my kindest messages to your husband.
Yours always truly
I think I ought to add that the source of all the malicious stories was Grant’s brother-in-law, who has since been declared to be suffering from paralysis of the insane and placed under restraint. I have a letter to prove his responsibility and will send you a copy of it.The whereabouts of this copy are unknown.