A Friendship In Letters
by Katharine S. White and
February Garden Bloggers Book Club Meeting
This book of letters written between 1958 - 1977 gives so much insight into the lives of Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence. What started out as a feeler to expand Elizabeth's networking with admired professional gardeners and garden writers blossoms into an enduring friendship. It is very interesting indeed. They shared information and encouraged one another in their efforts to continue writing. In a time before computers with internet connections and E-mail this must have been part of the accepted way to gather information and stay in the loop in the field of horticulture. Of course the telephone was available but it does not look like either woman took advantage of the quicker means of communicating. I found myself wondering why.
Maybe for the same reason that they only met once. Maybe they preferred a friendship that was separate from the rest of their lives, that only included who they were when they were writing. The letters could be read or written in ones own time, even in the middle of the night while sitting in bed recovering from yet another illness or taking care of an ailing parent, to be put aside if need arises then returned to at a more appropriate time.
I found myself jotting down names of people, plants and places to look up later. Like Cecil Houdyshels Little brochures and the market bulletins about which Elizabeth talks of writing a book. I can see where these letters and the books and other documents these women collect over the years would be of use to historians and students at university. I can also understand keeping letters to read again and again. My childrens father spent time in Vietnam and our only communication was through letters for over a year. It is a surprisingly intimate way to speak to one another.
Emily Herring Wilson did well to allow the letters to speak for themselves injecting only enough comment to set the order of the letters.