Lot of 54, including 15 letters; one 6 pp poetic love letter written by General Douglas MacArthur, while Superintendent of West Point, to Louise Cromwell Brooks MacArthur during their courtship; 5 letters written by Louise's mother, Mrs. Edward Stotesbury, while Louise lived in Manila in 1923 and 1924; and 9 love letters written to Louise by the dashing English stage and movie actor, Lionel Atwill before she and MacArthur separated, dated 1927 and 1929. Also included are 17 photographs and real photo postcards as well 10 negatives of Louise and MacArthur during their time in Manila and 12 newspaper clippings concerning Louise and MacArthur after their divorce.
Louise Cromwell Brooks (1890-1965) was considered one of Washington's most beautiful young women during the early 20th century. She made her social debut on the Washington scene in 1910. A year later, she married Walter Booth Brooks, Jr. and had two children with him. They divorced in 1919, leaving Louise free to have passionate affairs with many powerful men including General of the Armies John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing (1860-1948) and Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), who was serving as Superintendent of West Point at that time. Many suspected that Pershing denied MacArthur the Medal of Honor because of a vicious love-triangle between him, Louise, and MacArthur. Pershing denied the claims, saying that he and Louise's relationship dissolved before MacArthur began pursuing her.
Undoubtedly love-struck by the fabulously wealthy divorcée, Louise Cromwell Brooks, MacArthur wrote to her:
Wonder girl of the world… I am back with my whole being pulsing and vibrating with molten glory that you have poured into my veins. Each time I see you I think that no man could love a woman as I love you. Each time on leaving I seem to love you more. You have been with me each moment of the trip back; the echo of that golden voice lulled in my ears, the warmth of those soft fingers soothed my brow, the fragrant breath from those tender lips found my parched mouth… (New York, December 7, 1921).
Louise was no doubt charmed by the war hero, who, at the time, had been nominated for the Medal of Honor and received two Distinguished Service Crosses. Shortly after MacArthur penned the letter offered here, the two married and continued their tempestuous relationship. Within two years of marriage, their love turned cold, and they began experiencing serious marital problems. Louise's mother, Mrs. Edward Stotesbury, wrote to her daughter in Manila, [Your] letters have made me sick with distress and sympathy...that you should be so unhappy and Douglas is such a cruel disappointment to you. Your quarrels and his striking you are dreadful to me. I don't know what to advise you to do. I do not advise you to divorce him...I do not think you were made to marry (Philadelphia, November 7, 1923). Despite their ugly quarrels, Louise wanted her husband to succeed. She asked her mother to use her political influence to further her husband's standing. Her mother felt that Louise's behavior and reckless speech hurt her husband's chance for promotion, especially when it came to General Pershing. Chiding Louise she wrote:
Pershing is frightfully vain and I am sure hates you for the ridicule brought upon him at the time of your marriage [to MacArthur]. He holds you responsible of course, and you cannot blame him for hating it. Just think what wild talk there must have been when the Hearst papers sent a reporter all the way to Palm Beach to [interview] me if it were true that Pershing had banished you and Douglas to Manila on account of your marriage! And telegraphed me that you were disappointed because I had not said "Yes!" (April 2, 1924).
Louise did not watch her tongue and repeatedly ridiculed her husband at parties and other gatherings. She began to seek love outside their union. As early as 1927, she began a relationship with Lionel Atwill, who was a famous English stage and movie actor, most famous for his role in early horror films. He was a debonair character with a smart pencil mustache, popular in early Hollywood. By the time of his affair with Louise, he had already been married twice. He and Louise exchanged letters and referred to each other as old man and old lady. In one letter to her he wrote, I wish one day that I may possess you fully…your welfare must and will be my one desire because I love you—completely---and I want you for my wife (June 11, 1928).
People whispered about her affair with Atwill, saying it caused Louise to separate from MacArthur. She denied it, saying "mother-in-law issues" were to blame. She insisted that she and MacArthur departed as dear friends, but he never mentioned her by name in any of his memoirs. She married Atwill within a year of her divorce in 1929. However, her marriage to Atwill also failed. The couple divorced in 1943, two years after a heated sex scandal nearly ruined Atwill's career. The next year, Louise married Captain Alf Heiberg, the leader of the US Air Force Band. Again, the marriage failed. MacArthur found love again with a woman 19 years his senior named Jean Marie Faircloth. The two had one son together and remained married from 1937 until his death in 1965.
Provenance: Property of N. Flayderman & Co.
All letters have typical folds and some toning. A majority of them do not have their original envelopes. There is one envelope from Stotesbury, but no letter. There is also additional research material included in the lot.
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