TARKINGTON, Booth (1869-1946). Autograph letter signed (''N. B. Tarkington''), to Mr. Phillips, 4 January [no year]. WITH TWO HUMOROUS PENCIL AND INK DRAWINGS. 3 pages, 4to.
TARKINGTON, Booth (1869-1946). Autograph letter signed ("N. B. Tarkington"), to Mr. Phillips, 4 January [no year]. WITH TWO HUMOROUS PENCIL AND INK DRAWINGS. 3 pages, 4to.
DRINKING HIMSELF UNDER THE TABLE WITH A GIFT BOTTLE OF SCOTCH
"Mrs. Tarkington has gone to the Opera," Tarkington tells Mr. Phillips, "& I am spending the evening quietly at home enjoying your present," a bottle of scotch. Tarkington draws a comic self-portrait of himself lying drunk under the table with the near-empty bottle and a knocked over glass resting on the tabletop. "There are some presents," he continues, "that one wants to share with others, and some with which one would rather be alone. And the latter is the case with yours. During the whole evening only one other person has dropped in." And here the second drawing appears: a bug-eyed, bloodshot, green snake-a DT's hallucination. "In a way I feel guilty about accepting this amber bottle, since I know the supply of such good stuff is necessary limited... At all events I couldn't give a great deal of it back now..." If the letter dates from after 1911 then it's a tongue-in-cheek lampoon of his former, hard drinking self. If it's pre-1911, then it's a fairly accurate depiction of how he passed his evenings. In 1911 Tarkington's alcoholism destroyed his first marriage and caused him to swear-off alcohol for good. His restored health and energy led to his greatest artistic achievements. His two masterpieces, The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams, both date from his sober years.