Letters

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Three versions of the same correspondence that demonstrate the extent to which Smith was willing to be an advocate for authors.

Boys and Girls House
Toronto Public Library
40 St. George Street
Toronto

Dear Miss Emerson,

I liked these stories of "Georgian Bay Holidy". The dialogue is lively and naturally worked out, there is a quite definite success in character portrayal among the Furry Folk and Little Folk and the stories themselves are fresh and amusing.

So much that recalls the north is there-- gulls, cardinal flowers, etc. that it has a real feeling of Georgian Bay. I think children would like it, particularly if it were in the format of a book for younger children--- large type and distinctive illustrations and a great many of them. It is good to see a book about Georgian Bay.

Yours sincerely,

(signed) Lillian Smith


A letter of rejection from Oxford University Press regarding an author's manuscript that Lillian Smith had left with the publisher.
13 August, 1942.

Dear Miss Smith:

I must apologize for the delay of several weeks in sending you this report on the manuscript by Kip Emerson, which you were kind enough to leave with me. As you may have seen by the papers, we have had a most disagreeable session in the Supreme Court. Afterwards I tried to snatch a couple of weeks' holidays, as I seemed to be in bad need of them.

I hope that you may find yourself in partial agreement, at least, with what I have to say about the manuscript. I can only assure you that it has been given very careful consideration, and that I have satsified myself that I at least am in complete agreement with our reader. I need not emphasize the fact that the language is well chosen; the descriptive passages are often very lovely, particularly the descriptions of water and rocks, storm and flowers. The author's colour sense is in general very good, and she has left a series of vivid pictures in the reader's mind. As I remember it, this appealed particularly to you. On the other hand, the story device used is stereotyped, and this sort of thing must be extremely well handled if the author wishes to avoid irritating the reader, especially the adult reader. I found the repetition of "superfundiferous" exasperating; and while I realize that it may be somewhat carping, such phrases as "There at the steps was Snooker looking mischievous, 'What about a cookie, young man?' He laughed." annoy me. I hate to be told what is amusing. "Oh, the humans call Sandy Bay 'Deep Bay,' Snooker. They don't know any better." And Teaser made a face at Billy - Surely this sort of thing could be omitted.

Notwithstanding also what I have said about the excellence of the descriptive passages, I felt the background of Billy Bounce's life was much too hazily sketched.

The programme of the summer's activities was more vaguely outlined than was necessary, possibly in an attempt to concentrate our attention on Billy Bounce's adventures. It seemed to me that a tale of this sort would profit by having an ordinary, everyday matter-of-factness about the background. True, the uncles, aunts and fater are matter-of-fact individuals enough, but their life in a Georgian Bay cottage, the setting of the cottage itself, are left largely to the imagination. Altogether, it makes me feel taht much of the material is the author's own experience. This, of course, is all right so far as it goes, but the pattern she knows well enough is only partly know to the reader, and somehow it leaves an unsatisfactory impression in the reader's mind as the manuscript stands. Apart from Billy's adventures I must confess that the holiday at the cottage sounded to me like a flat failure and a very dull time for a little boy. Heat, mosquitoes, constant berry picking, and not very inspiring adults for companions - surely we do things better than this in our Canadian north.

I should like to know what you think about the under-water incident, with its emphasis on the sleeping uncle unaware of the risk Billy Bounce took, and the quicksand marsh incident and the canoe incident. These all seem to me - an anxious parent - to suggest to young children rather dangerous experiments. I am inclined to think that the whole idea of wandering off on lonely expeditions in Georgian Bay is rather a bad one. I realize, of course, that I am viewing the story from a painfully practical point of view, and I don't want to be alarmist. Somehow I feel this needs the most careful consideration.

I hope that these comments may be worth recording and passing on to you. I apologize again for the length of time that has elapsed.

I return the manuscript herewith, in case you may want to get another opinion. Kindest personal regards.

Yours sincerely,

(signed) Kathleen Coburn