Actress Marian Seldes shares a letter that author Thornton Wilder sent to actress/writer Ruth Gordon
Marian Seldes: Well, and of a different world too, yes, a different- and think of his childhood. Wasn't it- a lot of it in China for instance? And think of his being a schoolteacher and think of him being a singular person who never married and as-- if we- uh.. if he had a very significant other we don't know who it was so that he wasn't like those other writers and he wasn't interested in the Jazz Age and going to cocktail parties. I mean he knew everybody and his letters are fascinating because we know everybody he talks about or we wish we did, and everyone wanted to meet him and talk to him. And a lot of people I think including the Kanins, Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon, felt sometimes that he should have been more selfish with himself and not written so many letters, but I don't feel that because now that the letters are published and we can read them they're so insightful. And the interesting thing is that he writes differently to each correspondent. He's thinking of the person he's writing to. He's not thinking of the future or- or w- I am this writer; I'm writing a writerly letter. Oh, I've got something wonderful to read to you. If I can find it, may I read it to you?
Marian Seldes: . Oh, I've got something wonderful to read to you. This is a- a little letter to Ruth Gordon and it s-- was published in her book, not in the book of letters that has just recently been published, and he had a nickname for her, Bella. I don't know what it comes from but maybe "beautiful" or maybe just a sweet name. She was feeling very depressed about her work and her future and here is the letter.
"Dear Bella, here are four empty sheets of paper, enough to write the Gettysburg Address, enough to write 'To be or not to be,' enough to write the Twenty-Third Psalm. What will you write? The same with your day. What will you do with your day? Make it memorable, regretful, wasted, fulfilled? Think it over." That "Think it over" and then he just signed it "T," but "Think it over" was uh.. a Thornton Wilder thing in conversation. He'd often say, "Think it over. Think it over." It's a lovely phrase, isn't it? Listen. It's just lovely to cheer someone up and to feel- to feel you're saying to someone, "You're worthwhile"? That's Thornton Wilder.