This article is an appendix to the article “Dear John” – Letters to and from Photographers, published in issue 6 of The Classic, available as a free downloadable pdf on our website. In the letters presented here, British Vogue editor Audrey Withers has problems with Cecil Beaton, Hans Bellmer has problems with a publisher, and Francis Bruguière has problems with American politics.

Audrey Withers to Cecil Beaton February 10th 1955. Page 1. Archives of British Vogue, Unseen Vogue (c) The Condé Nast Publications Ltd.

Cecil Beaton was the most important photographer at British Vogue during the interwar years, shooting fashion as well as portraits. Less well known today, is that he was also one of the hardest working war photographers during WWII, employed by the British Ministry of Information, photographing the home front as well as theatres of war in the Middle East and the Far East. Perhaps fashion photography just didn’t quite appeal to him after the war but as early as 1947, he remarked, “suddenly to me it has become lowering to the spirit.” It became more and more noticeable in the fashion stories he shot for the magazine, and after a series of poorly received stories, editor Audrey Withers wrote this letter, informing Beaton that she had had to kill every picture he had taken for the story What to wear with what. As can be seen in Beaton’s reply, he put up a spirited defence but his contract with the magazine, which had been signed by both parties annually since the late 1920s, was not renewed.

Hans Bellmer to his friend, editor Henri Paraisot, 12 September 1945.

“Disturbing” is the word most often used to describe Hans Bellmer’s images of life-sized pubescent female dolls. As this letter (available at Traces Ecrites in Paris) reveals, at the time of writing he had not heard back from Simone Lamblin and Alain Gheerbrant, founders of Éditions K, who had planned to publish Bellmer’s work. Maybe they got cold feet. Les Jeux de la Poupée , designed by Bellmer, with 15 remarkable hand-coloured photographs, was finally published in 1949 by Éditions Premières. Bellmer writes “After the initial enthusiasm, no one even got back to me. I have stated my intentions. These are not conditions. If the expenses, these considerable expenses scare them, let them tell me. I want to publish the “Doll Games” with “Anatomy” then around Christmas. If the editors of Mme Lamblin do not want to do it: let them say it. Because, in that case, I would urgently start reproducing the photos, of which I have now received the coloured originals, and I will publish everything on my own. ” Bellmer then evokes a text which he judges bad and adds “but I am stubbornly finishing the Anatomy it is more important!”.He ends his letter by returning to his words at the beginning of the letter “But what is it with Mrs. Lamblin and Mr. Gheerbrant?” Courtesy of Traces Ecrites.

Francis Bruguière to Werner 23 March 1928

Bruguière was evidently not a great believer in punctuation and capitalisation.  The surname of the recipient is not known. Margaret is possibly Margaret Petit, a dancer, who went on to marry Claude Caron, a wealthy French chemist, pharmacist and perfumier. The couple had one daughter, Leslie Caron, a dancer whose long career in films began in 1951 with An American in Paris. Rosalinde is Bruguière’s partner, the actress Rosalinde Fuller. In 1928, the couple moved from New York to London, where Bruguière continued his experiments with light abstractions, photograms and solarisation, and with Oswell Blakeston, made Light Rhythms, the first British abstract film. Collection of the author.

Dear Werner,

It seems impossible your letter came so long ago. You are now doubtless sitting opposite curtains in the 42 St library. May God help you no one else can unless he by chance fell off the boat I wonder if they traveled on it with you. Margaret called him the convert of Gods creatures – I guess that’s about enough. How awful it would be if one knew a lot of people like that. The whole time spent in latany (litany?).

I suppose N.Y. looked wonderful that first sight is a thrill just like the movies, when you come up the harbor. I was wading in Wells history that Wilson ought to have gotten Roosevelt & Taft to work with him when he came over after the war. Where would the democratic party have been then? They are all so seriously jawing (?) these great people who can ever believe in these popular messiahs? Every one with a mission is mad. I wonder what Roosevelt will emerge as when you put the proper glass on him. Hearst would be enormous if you could get at the real facts – he in a way is American success. He must be an absolutely complete hypocrite.

I hear from Margaret shes full o marriage prospects also wants children but shes such a darling she ought to have all she deserves. I wonder what her French boy is like. He seems determined to marry her. He’ll be lucky if he succeeds. Rosalind had an offer from N.Y today but as yet we do not know much about it. Life is uncertain but amusing! Do write & lets hear how the world ways in N.Y.