The Tar Baby and the Tomahawk: Race and Ethnic Images in American Children's Literature, 1880-1939

Dear Sir:

In the New York Journal of Sunday, I find the enclosed mysterious paragraph. I am not sure whether the matter will seem worthy of your attention, but I should like very much to know in what way I have unfortunately won your dislike. Perhaps I am wrong in interpreting the statement as personal dislike. Perhaps your dislike applies only to the stuff that has been put in books bearing my name. Such a feeling would be natural enough in a man possessing, as you do both literary art and culture, as well as the gift of style (if it is a gift), and I should be the last to feel or express surprise; but it worries me to have your dislike of my stuff extended to me. The excuse for what I have written lies in the fact that, poor as it is, it the best I could do. Some of us, you know, are compelled to stay very close to the ground so that when we fall few bones shall be broken.

I am simply a comfield ​ "journalist," and have never held any higher position, even in that field, than that of writer of political editorials. For twenty years this has been my trade, and it has left me small pooprtunity​ —none, in fact—to even attempt literary work. Even the Remus business is not my own, but is composed of stories originally told to me by negroes.

But I have enjoyed your short stories and still read them occasionally when I have opportunity. Some one sent me a copy of the volume published by a San Francisco merchant. In return I sent it to Osgood, and enclosed him a little editorial article I had written in The Constitution criticizing the gentlemanly publishers for not taking hold of "the most original short stories written since Poe died, and not a whit inferior to his." I remember that sentence.

Dislike my comfield trash as much as you please, but don't worry me with the suspicion that you dislike me personally. If you knew me, I rather think you'd like me. I'm a geat deal less harmless that the stuff I put in books.

Joel Chandler Harris
Ambrose Bierce, Esq.