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Details & Cataloguing

English Literature, History, Children’s Books & Illustrations

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Garbo, Greta
COLLECTION OF 36 LETTERS, CHIEFLY IF NOT ALL AUTOGRAPH, MOSTLY UNSIGNED, TO COUNTESS MÄRTA (HÖRKE) WACHTMEISTER
one letter signed "The Clown" and two signed with sketches of female figures, in Swedish (one letter partly in German), a lengthy and personal series of letters to a close friend in Sweden, writing repeatedly of her loneliness, depression, and ill-health, her constant homesickness and love of the Swedish countryside ("...The last few days here have been grey and I have been thinking a lot about Tistad. About summers there when it rains and that marvellous melancholy enfolds us...", 1940-45), her desire to escape from the film industry and her own stardom, exposing her lack of self-confidence in her film work, including her frustration at the making of Queen Christina ("...It's been a difficult time, it all went wrong. I'm half-done with Christina now and half-done is what she's going to be when she's finished...") and worry about how it would be received in Sweden, her pleasure at working with George Cukor on Camille ("...He looks so funny with his huge hips and his woman's breasts..."), her boredom with Conquest ("...Adrian says who cares about Napoleon ... and I tend to agree..."), her regret that Ninotchka "doesn't amount to much", and disappointment at changes made to the plot of The Two-Faced Woman ("...But since I would rather go walking in the country than fight for stories, it will have turned out like it has...", 20 August 1941), expressing her loathing of celebrity gossip ("...On top of all the other absurdities, they're marrying me for the 759th time...", January 1934) and the Hollywood studio system, her isolation in Beverley Hills ("...I am almost always alone and talk to myself. I drive to the beach and take walks and that's always marvellous. But that's it...", 14 November 1939), planning visits and asking for advice on the purchase of property in Sweden, also discussing public events such as wry comments on the British Abdication crisis ("...Dear Mrs Simpson, now her quiet days are over. She'll be pursued wherever she goes. Hope the camera-hunters will scare her so much that she'll leave my king in peace...") and despair at the Second World War, three letters written in block capitals and possibly in a secretarial hand, c.150 pages, various sizes, in pencil, with 22 envelopes, California, New York, and elsewhere, 1931-46 (where dated or postmarked); [with:] typed letter signed ("G.G.") to Gunnila Bussler sending condolences on the death of her mother, Hörke Wachmeister, 1 page, 8vo, 13 December 1976, with envelope; [with:] three letters, addressed to Garbo c/o the Wachtmeisters, offering her unsolicited advice on her film career, together with typescript copies of reviews, 1930s; all housed together in a box-file

[with:] An album containing 111 amateur photographs of Garbo at Tistad Castle and estate with Nils and Hörke Wachtmeister, 1930s, mostly enjoying outdoor activities such as skiing, skating, walking, sunbathing, cutting logs, and playing with animals, including some duplicates, 2 115 x 100 mm, 20 115 x 85mm, and the remainder chiefly 85 x 60mm, with a group of 15 later copy prints loose at the front of the album

"...Jag har tänkt på en film jag möjligen skulle försöka göra men jag vet inte. Tiden sätter spår i våra små ansigten och bodys..." [...I have been considering a film I might try making, but I don't know. Time leaves its traces on our small faces and bodies...] (16 December 1945)


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Literature

Sven Broman, Conversations with Greta Garbo (Viking, 1992)

Catalogue Note

AN EXCEPTIONAL GROUP OF LETTERS AND PHOTOGRAPHS REVEALING ASPECTS OF THE PERSONAL LIFE OF THE MOST RECLUSIVE AND MYSTERIOUS STAR OF HOLLYWOOD'S SILENT AND CLASSIC PERIODS. Garbo first visited Count Nils Wachtmeister and his wife Hörke at their home, Tistad Castle, south of Stockholm, for New Year 1929. A friendship quickly developed between Garbo and the Countess, and Tistad Castle became a favourite place for her to visit on her return trips to Sweden throughout the 1930s. These letters repeatedly contrast the idyllic healthy rural life in Tistad with her isolation and unhappiness trapped as a Hollywood icon: "I live in the memories of Tistad". The vast majority of the letters were left deliberately unsigned (as for, example, were most of her letters to Salka Viertel, another close friend of the same period), perhaps reflecting her desire to evade her cinematic identity.

English Literature, History, Children’s Books & Illustrations

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London