This letter, dated November 29, 1915, was sent to H. L. Mencken from Lawton, Oklahoma, where Muna Lee was teaching at the time. (H. L. Mencken Papers 190556, New York Public Library, New York, N.Y.) With characteristic self-deprecating humor, modesty, and gratitude to Mencken, she describes her earliest efforts to publish as well as her beginnings as a poet. This was the start of their correspondence in which, for nearly two decades, he encouraged her to write:

                    1002 B Avenue,
                     Lawton, Oklahoma,
                     November 29, 1915

My dear Mr. Mencken:
                    It was very kind of you to ask about my work. Your questions are easily answered, for there is really nothing interesting to tell you. I have never even considered printing a book. During the year, I have submitted work to five magazines The Smart Set, Poetry, Others, The Woman's Home Companion, Judge (an ill-assorted list, but I don't know where verse should be sent). Miss Monroe accepted some of my work; Mr. Kreymborg and Mr. Carruth returned the verses submitted, but have requested to see others; Judge sent me a printed rejection slip. The little three-line stanza you printed in September was my first accepted composition, and was also the first work I had ever sent to a magazine, excepting several specimens which I sent you last spring, at Mr. McClure's suggestion, and which you promptly returned, as I had expected.
        As for how long I've been writing always, it seems to me. Since very early childhood, at any rate. I shall be twenty-one in January.
        It seems wonderful to me that my verses have given you pleasure that they could give pleasure to anyone. Thank you for telling me.
                    Yours sincerely,
                           Muna Lee

My dear Mr. Mencken:        It was very kind of you to ask about my work. Your questions are easily answered, for there is really nothing interesting to tell you. I have never even considered printing a book. During the year, I have submitted work to five magazines The Smart Set, Poetry, Others, The Woman's Home Companion, Judge (an ill-assorted list, but I don't know where verse should be sent). Miss Monroe accepted some of my work; Mr. Kreymborg and Mr. Carruth returned the verses submitted, but have requested to see others; Judge sent me a printed rejection slip. The little three-line stanza you printed in September [October issue] was my first accepted composition, and was also the first work I had ever sent to a magazine, excepting several specimens which I sent you last spring, at Mr. McClure's suggestion, and which you promptly returned, as I had expected.
        As for how long I've been writing always, it seems to me. Since very early childhood, at any rate. I shall be twenty-one in January.
        It seems wonderful to me that my verses have given you pleasure that they could give pleasure to anyone. Thank you for telling me.        Yours sincerely, Muna Lee

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[Back to Biography]