Columbus State University Archives and Special Collections

Cassette Tape 12 Side A -- Letters to Carson McCullers from John L Brown and and his wife. Simone




Cassette Tape 12 Side A -- Letters to Carson McCullers from John L Brown and and his wife. Simone






cassette tape




John Lackey Brown (1914-2003) and his wife Simone were friends of both Carson and Reeves McCullers. John had a long career with the Department of State. His papers are at the archives of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C]

All the letters on this tape are from John and/or Simone and are addressed to Carson and/or Reeves, unless otherwise noted. The effects of the McCarthy-inspired purge of the Department of State caused by the activities of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee touch the Browns in 1953 and are frequently referred to, as well as Carson's departure from France and separation from Reeves, and his deterioration over the course of 1953 and 1954. Sullivan reads:
"This is a series of letters having to do with the death of Reeves, but I'm going to read some happier letters first from John and Simone Brown. He was with the Foreign Service of the United States of American in France."

August 10th, 1950 from the Browns to Carson and Reeves. John described his family's August vacation situation, with Simone and the children in the mountains above a river and him on Mount Parness. He enclosed a "rather idiotic" review of The Member of the Wedding and tells them that Carl Brooks is very interested in bringing out her short stories, and remains hopeful about her new novel "in utero", saying "all seems sweetness and light on the HM [Houghton Mifflin] front". He is looking forward to the month of September in the Dordogne region of France where he hopes to finish a study of local domed churches and the Byzantine influence in France. He also hopes to reread some favorite books and study Dante and not look at a newspaper for the entire time. He asks Carson for a copy of her poems.

December 31, 1950 (postcard) wishing Reeves and Carson a happy new year for 1951

Good Friday evening, 1951 saying that although they had not had much time together, the McCullers had seemed much more like family that their "real" families, and they looked forward to seeing more of them in the future. He describes an idyllic day in the French countryside, gathering eggs from their hens and ducks for breakfast, walking in the fields full of daffodils, visiting a nearby chateau and a 9th century church in the village, remarking on the contrast to the turmoil going on in Paris, just 15 miles away with the on-going strikes of railway workers, bus drivers, subway workers and even of the undertakers. He describes a recent tour he had made through eastern France and Belgium lecturing on recent American novelists (much of it focused on her works). He says that they hope to be in the U.S. in September on home leave and that he longs to smell the air of Times Square and ride on a Fifth Avenue bus. He closes saying that he hopes the moon is shining as brightly in Nyack as it is where they are.

December 31, 1951 poem dedicated to Carson, "Remembering the Nyack Symposium"

February 19, 1953 note on U.S. Information Service stationary enclosing a magazine article

letter dated "Sunday" from Simone on stationary from Houghton Mifflin's Paris offices. Simone says she hopes Carson won't mind the stationary, but it was among her father's things. She says that they have received Rita's letter and are happy to hear that Carson is recovering and that what she needs is a long rest. She has asked Madame Joffre to pack and send Carson's books to Nyack, but that there may be a delay due to lack of money. She also mentions Carson's trunks which Madame Joffre and M. Levy [the McCullers' housekeeper and man-servant at their French home] have delivered to the Browns with instructions to forward to Nyack as well. Simone is concerned about some of the things to be shipped, such as silverware, porcelain and her clothing. There may be a heavy duty to get the silver through customs. She is also concerned that the porcelain is not packed well enough for shipment. They have, of course, not opened the trunks but want to know that it is well packed before they ship it. The clothes also will require a detailed listing to indicate that it belongs to Carson and thus will not subject to duties. The boys are well. "Today is John Brown Jr.'s 5th birthday, Papa is still working on his book, the dogs are being sweet."




“Cassette Tape 12 Side A -- Letters to Carson McCullers from John L Brown and and his wife. Simone,” Columbus State University Archives and Special Collections , accessed May 26, 2024,