One of my favorite insights into the Perkins family is a book I've mentioned before: Father to Daughter- The Family Letters of Maxwell Perkins. It contains letters and illustrations Maxwell Perkins created for his five girls.
In 1928, their daughter Bertha was taken out of school to accompany a relative on a Mediterranean cruise (sounds nice right now doesn't it?). I was reading some of the letters Maxwell wrote to Bert while she was on her trip and I enjoyed this one.
January 26th Zippy is furiously writing at her story. She is sitting on the arm of the big brown chair at the blue covered tabled, dressed in her red suit. Janey is in that reddish, tight, french suit in which she looks so well, sitting by Mother on the sofa at the side of the living room. Its a cold night. --I can feel the cold from the window by this desk. We shall have skating, I think. We have had no snow here but snow covered the country below Talmadge Hill today, though thinly;--yet N.Y. had none. I had a gay letter from Hemingway today, from Switzerland. He said he had not written for some weeks because for two he had been blind, --though now he could see. He had been skiing in Switzerland. Doing that, you wear goggles, for the snow glare. Once he fell very hard and the glass of both lenses was broken to bits, but hurt him not the least. That night he went to say goodnight to his little boy in the dark. The boy put his arm up and the nail of his finger cut across his father's eyeball. He says he thought for a time he would never see again. ... Mr. Scribner goes away tomorrow for two months. I had lunch with him and his son, and we had a pleasant time too. Generally before he goes away he is worried and worries us. Today he let it go with saying that he'd bet an English publisher he doesn't like with whom I am negotiating a contract would "get the best of me before he was through if I regarded him as a Gentleman"; and that "things were in good shape but that we'd all be in trouble before his train was out from under the river."--These things he says with humor, you know Bert. I've liked him increasingly ever since I've known him, --some years now too."
I love the way letters give us insight into people's personalities. I love this letter because it's addressed to his daughter, but includes stories for two influential figures he worked with, Ernest Hemingway and Charles Scribner. Max Perkins definitely had an interesting life; it's great that he shared that with his family in his letters. It's also a wonderful gift to all of us that the Perkins girls have given by sharing these family treasures with all of us.