The Clarence Darrow Digital Collection
Written letter from Clarence Darrow collection
Collage of Clarence Darrow at different ages Postcard from Clarence Darrow Collection

Clarence Darrow Signature

The Clarence Darrow Letters

Sinclair Lewis to Clarence Darrow, April 7, 1926

Burris Jenkins was a Kansas City minister at the Linwood Boulevard Methodist Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri. Sinclair Lewis interviewed Jenkins and numerous other preachers in Kansas City and observed them during services in preparation for writing his novel "Elmer Gantry.

The reference to the assassination attempt on Mussolini is about the attempted assassination of Benito Mussolini, the prime minister of Italy, by an Anglo-Irish aristocrat named Violet Gibson in the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome on the morning of April 7, 1926. Gibson shot at Mussolini three times with a pistol but only slightly wounded Mussolini in the nose. Violet Gibson (1876 - 1956) was the daughter of Edward Gibson, 1st Baron Ashbourne and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. The fifty year old Gibson was nearly lynched on the spot but was arrested and taken away. Eventually Mussolini had the charges dropped and she was deported to Britain. She spent the rest of her life in a mental asylum at St Andrew's Hospital in Northampton.

The reference to the Detroit trial is to the Sweet murder trial. Walter White was the Assistant Secretary of the NAACP at this time.

Click on the image to view as a PDF. A transcription of the letter is on the right.

The Ambassador
On Broadway at Knickerbocker Place
Kansas City, Missouri
April 7, 1926.

Clarence Darrow, Esq.,
Chicago Temple Building
77 W.Washington Street,
Chicago, Illinois.

Dear Clarence:

I am not sure whether I shall be able to go to the Ozarks with you or not. I would like to tremendously but I have been traveling too much and I want so far as possible to stay right here in Kansas City for two or three months and do nothing but work on the preacher book, which, by the way, starts out beautifully but I must have at least a few hours with you here if it will be possible for you.

And, damn you, you will probably seduce me into going off with your infidel and criminal friends to the Ozarks, at that! This noon I talked it all over with Burris Jenkins and we agreed that the lady who tried to assinate Mussolini had a good idea but she would have contributed much more to human progress if she had taken a shot at you instead.


Sinclair Lewis

P.S. When the Detroit trial is in shape and you know what your dates are please let me know when you are coming an if Walter White is there be sure to him my love - and my address.

© 2008 JP Morgan Chase, Administrator de Bonis Non, Estate of Sinclair Lewis