Auctions | October 14, 2022

John Steinbeck Letter Offering Son Advice on Love Sells for $32,426

RR Auction

John Steinbeck's letter offering advice on love

A John Steinbeck handwritten letter offering his wise, fatherly advice on matters of the heart sold for $32,426, according to Boston-based RR Auction.

The remarkable two-page draft letter to his 14-year-old son, Thomas, is dated November 10, 1958. In it, Steinbeck's sage advice to his love-torn son, in part: "if you are in love—that's a good thing—that's about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don't let anyone make it small or light to you."

On losing, Steinbeck said, "If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away."

The text of this famous letter has been widely circulated in print, Steinbeck: A Life in Letters, published by Penguin in 1989, and by outlets large and small—these enduring words thus form a bridge between one of America's greatest writers and contemporary pop culture.

It is a marvelous exposition of love—what it feels like, what it means, and what it can be. Steinbeck treats his son's revelation in a serious and straightforward manner—perhaps in response to a denial of "puppy love"—and warmly offers a hand in expressing and understanding these newfound feelings.

"The letter offers an intimate, private glimpse into Steinbeck's family life— it also expresses his ideas about love stated simply and eloquently," said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.

The winning bid was from a collector who wishes to remain anonymous.

Highlights from the sale include, but are not limited by:

* Edgar Allan Poe's handwritten letter soliciting a donation for the Southern Literary Messenger sold for $149,999.

* Benjamin Franklin's handwritten letter deciding the fate of the mutinous crew of John Paul Jones's flagship sold for $62,500.

* Emily Dickinson's handwritten poem soliciting a shopkeeper's smile sold for $61,875.

* Benedict Arnold signed document certifying an oath of allegiance for a fellow officer sold for $31,250.

* Ernest Hemingway's handwritten letter on collecting, "If you get all the first editions, you'll have more than I have!" sold for $24,953.

The Fine Autograph and Artifacts Featuring Literature and Revolutionary rarities auction from RR Auction began on September 23 and concluded on October 12.