Sunday, January 08, 2006

Note should be taken of the obituary in the 30 December 2005 NYTimes. It announces the death on the 20th of William White Howells (at age 97)in Kittery Point. W W Howells was the son of John Mead Howells and the grandson of William Dean Howells. He was a distinguished physical anthropologist. Interesting family. His father was a distinguished architect. His grandfather was a distinguished novelist, editor and critic. Good genes in the family.

WDH has two delightful entries in the Letters after the birth of his grandson. One is a couple of days later, the other is a sweet note to the baby written on Valentine's Day the next year.

Here are the two entries in Mildred Howells' Life in Letters. The first was on Valentine's Day of 1909. She notes that it "was written by Howells to his elder grandson on his first St. Valentine's Day:"

To Billie

Dear little Child whose count of days
Is of like number with my years,
I Have but rounded on my ways,
And in your start my goal appears.

My hopes have been what yours shall be,
Your joys to come in turn were mine;
May the same love in you and me
Keep us each other's Valentine.
W. D. Howells

The other is a wonderful letter written on WDH"s own birthday in 1909:

130 West 57th St.
March 1, 1909

Dear Billy:
It is very sweet of you to send that birhday card, where we are walking toward the sunset together. It is a lovely sunset, but sad, and the night is beyond it. Hold fast to my hand, dear little boy, and keep me with you as long as you can. Some day, I hope not too late, you will know how I love you.
Your aff'te grandfather,
W. D. Howells

Gary Culbert