Bayswater's Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor Blog

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Letter

     Once in a great while, we are lucky enough to find a letter that someone has left behind in a used book. This week was one of those fortunate occasions and we are even more excited because the author of the letter and her husband were national figures during the 1960s. What are the chances?

     Hidden away in the pages of a signed 1962 copy of Louis Untermeyer's compilation of selected poems entitled, "Long Feud," was a letter written 56 years ago by Untermeyer's wife at the time, Bryna Untermeyer, to the owner of a small country book store in Lacona, New York. A former fiction editor for Seventeen magazine, (which, believe it or not, has been in existence since 1944) Bryna thanks the owner of the small bookstore for sending her a book of essays and states that because she is fortunate enough to be able to borrow from the Library of Congress, she will be seeking out more books by the same author. Upon researching, we found that, for the most part, individuals are not allowed to borrow from the Library of Congress, so Bryna must have gained special access through her position or that of her husband, Louis. Once you read more about him, you may understand why.

   Louis Untermeyer, the author of the book, was even more well-known during his time than Bryna. Born in 1885, Louis left his father's jewelry business behind in 1902 to pursue his passion of becoming a writer. His leap of faith and perseverance paid off, as he eventually taught at several universities and was named poetry consultant to the Library of Congress from 1991-1993. That position later became known as the poet laureate of the United States. Louis' anthologies were widely used in colleges across the United States and are even said to have helped to establish the reputation of famed poet, Robert Frost.

     Louis chose to thank the owner of the bookshop in New York by sending him an autographed copy of his book, "Long Feud" - the very same book that we found here with his wife's letter hidden away in it. If you are following us, all of this means that we found a signed copy of a 1962 poetry collection from the then-poet laureate of the United States, complete with a letter from his wife! How great is that? You never know where a letter might lead you...

     The autographed copy of “Long Feud” (with the letter included) is available for $20.00 here at Bayswater. You can catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor at and on facebook. Better yet, stop by our store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!

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