Item #7209 [Autograph letter regarding her availability to give a lecture, her fee, etc.]. Mabel Loomis Todd.
[Autograph letter regarding her availability to give a lecture, her fee, etc.]
[Autograph letter regarding her availability to give a lecture, her fee, etc.]

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[Autograph letter regarding her availability to give a lecture, her fee, etc.]

[Amherst, Mass.?], 19 February 1902. ALS. 6.75” x 4.25”. 3 pp. on Observatory House Amherst, Mass. letterhead. Letter affixed to white card (8.5” x 6”). CONDITION: Old folds, page 1 trimmed, with partial losses to a few words only on page 1.

A letter by lecturer-writer Mabel L. Todd to a Massachusetts woman (and member of the American Home Missionary Society) concerning her lectures which featured photo-slides.

Mabel L. Todd (1856–1932) attended Georgetown Female Seminary and the New England Conservatory of Music. In 1876 she married astronomer David Todd, and in 1881 the two moved to Amherst, Mass., where David taught astronomy at Amherst College. Mabel and David traveled the world photographing eclipses. Mabel enjoyed a fifteen-year career lecturing throughout the northeast, speaking on some three dozen topics. Todd writes here to Ms. Hattie A. Manley of Melrose, Mass., who was a member of the American Home Missionary Society (a Protestant missionary society founded in 1826), and worked at Melrose High School. The letter reads in full:

Your letter was delayed in reaching me by the blizzard, and I have just received it. I enclose a list of subjects. The second of April [is] a free date on my calendar I will come for thirty-five dollars, or fifty if I supply a lantern and operator for slides. lt pleases me as well to speak without them, but many audiences are greatly interested in the illustrations. Especially in connection with the Philippine talk, the slides are appreciated most of them being made from our own photographs, taken last summer when we were guests of General Corbin in his official tour of inspection.

Todd and her husband traveled to the Philippines in 1901.

While living in Amherst, Mabel Todd befriended poet Emily Dickinson’s sister-in-law, Susan Dickinson, and was invited by the poet’s siblings (Austin and Lavinia Dickinson) to play music for Emily and Emily’s mother. For over four years, Todd performed music for the family, becoming indirectly acquainted with Emily who listened from another room (the two exchanging notes but never seeing each other face-to-face). After Emily’s death, Lavinia and Mabel edited and published three volumes of Emily’s poems. With Lavinia’s help, Todd also published the Letters of Emily Dickinson. Todd gave lectures about the poet—doing much to shape the public’s early image of Dickinson. After Austin’s death in 1895, tensions between the Todds and Dickinsons led to a 1898 lawsuit over a piece of land. When Mabel lost the suit, she locked away a group of unpublished poems and Dickinson family papers. She was instrumental in founding the Amherst Historical Society, the Amherst Woman’s Club, and the Amherst chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. A stroke in 1913 ended her writing and lecturing career.

REFERENCES: Mabel Loomis Todd (1856-1932), correspondent at

Item #7209

Price: $950.00

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