So begins a brief letter, sent in June 1922 by Virginia Woolf to TS Eliot, that featured in a July 6 auction held in Paris.
The letter continues: “I don’t think there will be any doubt about it. Only as the doctors may insist upon my not writing this summer (there is now a vague suspicion about my lungs), I must not be positive. And you didn’t commit yourself to take it.”
Woolf also adds a final apologetic note to her letter: “I don’t think we had time the other night to say how much we admired your poem” – a reference to Eliot’s The Wasteland.
In the event Eliot declined the opportunity to publish her book, which was instead issued in 1925 by the Hogarth Press that Woolf and her husband, Leonard, had founded in 1917.
The letter was offered on July 6 as part of an ongoing series of sales held to disperse works from the collections of the industrialist, arts patron, collector and founder of a Paris auction house that still bears his name, the late Pierre Bergé (1930-2017).
The book and the letter bore an estimate of €10,000-15,000, but sold instead at a premium-inclusive and record-breaking €287,709 (£241,770).