10. 6 January 1988 [NM] (Book on Bacon)
My dear Eric
I have let two months go by before answering your as usual fascinating letter of 31 October. Partly travels, partly illness, and as you call it the domestic vicissitudes. Now first and foremost a wonderful year to you. Good health, free of the vicissitudes as much as possible, and full of exciting discoveries, and great success with all the work, both in literature and music. And please do send me photocopies of all your controversy with Oxford, and details of anything you publish for me to get hold of.
Now about the practical help you so kindly offered me over Bacon, the moment has perhaps come, though I leave it entirely to your judgement. I don't know if publishers always behave this way. Haycroft, invariably friendly over the past years, and, despite the book's size, having volunteered to read it the same week-end I had brought it, has put me off month by month, and after finally passing it on to a reader, has been putting me off week by week since - with a laugh. Early in December he said 'I'm seeing the lady to-morrow, phone next week'. I finally found him on 23 December: 'I'm seeing her this afternoon, phone after Xmas'. I phoned him yesterday: 'Oh, I'll write and ask her to get on with it, phone in a fortnight'.
Meantime I had told him of the interest expressed to me by a very good Italian publisher, and of the praise bestowed on the book by a highly critical Prof. of Eng. Lit. at Rome University (Elemire Zolla, author of some very interesting books), but for all I know he may not have read my letters. I have today written him that I will phone again in two weeks, but could he then give me an answer, since, if he has lost interest, I would like to try someone who is interested. I told him also that I have quite a bit of my second book ready (the Bacon and Shakespeare links) which will be short, easy to read, and no problem to publish, but would like to publish the Bacon book first.
I don't of course know what you feel you could do to help at this stage, but whatever it may be (including if you think it advisable a call to Haycroft to ask, as my friend, on my behalf, if he has lost interest in the book) I shall be happy about it. What I feel however is that you should not give me any support or recommendations, until you have seen a small portion of it – specially as you did not entirely approve of the Baconian pages. The last thing I want is to impose a reading of MS pages on someone as deeply involved as you are with your own. Yet I would feel more at ease if you had read a chapter or two. If you felt like it – and you must be absolutely honest, I rely on that – I could send you the last 100 pp, ie the Conclusions (five chapters), which are the real nub of the book, to dip into. But Eric if you feel you are too busy at the moment to do anything about this, don't hesitate to let me know, and I will try other ways.
I'll leave ciphers to a later letter, they are so very problematic. Except to say that I think much of Bacon's reputation in other fields is as little a part of his real image, as the Bacon Shakespeare myth, which is why that has its place in my book. I wonder if you think any direct appeal from me to your friend Hamilton, for further elucidations, would be feasible, when the time comes? [...] It was very sad about Jacqueline du Pré, how fortunate you were to have heard her.
I look forward immensely to Edward III.
With every good wish