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October 29th, 1936. Taormina, Sicity (from Vivien to Leigh Holman)
Darling, I wish you were here - it is a heavenly day and we are sitting out on the balcony overlooking everything - and we think Etna is choking and are hoping for an eruption any minute. But apparently he often smokes for want of something better to do, and it never comes to anything really big.
Yesterday we had a very funny time - we hired a
car and were going to drive up Etna in the beautiful
sun. As it happened, half an hour after we
started it all clouded over and got freezinger and
freezinger and foggier and foggier. We saw nothing
and felt frightful but occasnally (no - can't spell
it) thought it quite funny that this was what we
had left England for! The lava fields were very
interesting at first, but began to pall as we got more
miserable. The hotel at the top was nice tho and
we drank a lot of red wine and felt rather tight and
fortified for our downward trip. The silly ass of a
hotel-keeper never told us we would be going up
Tomorrow we drive to Syracuse and catch the plane to Naples and on to Capri where we'll be Thursday and Friday. Then one night in Naples or Rome and back to you my darling. I would hate coming back if I didn't think you were lonely and I want to see you so much. It would be lovely to come back to a warm sunny place like this together some time.
From Vivien to Jill Esmond:
I feel your offer of friendship was genuine, and I accept it in spite of the embarrassing circumstances we find ourselves in. You know Larry far better than I do. I am only discovering him. But now I have a secret to share with you. I am very much like Larry. We are both artists on the grand scale. Our ambition to expand our range as actors knows no boundaries. Our appetites for new experiences are insatiable. Deep in my heart, I know that Larry will never settle for just one woman... or one man as the case may be. But we can still have wonderful, passionate moments together, and so few people in life are granted even that. I feel in bondage to Leigh. I want to escape, to experience life. I feel that Larry has the key to unlock my prison cell. I will give him freedom to discover himself as a man and an artist. You can offer freedom, Jill, but as you yourself confessed you cannot arouse passion. Larry needs passion in his life. Please do not deny him the very thing his soul desperately needs. Otherwise, without his freedom, without the passion, his artistic soul will die and there will go Britain's greatest actor.
December 21st, 1938 (from Vivien to Leigh Holman)
Darling Leigh, I do hope that the sweaters arrived all right and that they fit. It's a bit silly that they were made in Scotland, but I hope that that means you won't have to pay duty on them.
You will never guess what has happened - and
no one is more surprised than me - you know how
I only came out here for a week - well, just two
days before I was supposed to leave, the people
who are making Gone with the Wind saw me and
said would I make the test - so what could I do? -
and so now I am working frantically hard rehearsing,
and studying a southern accent which I don't
find difficult anyway. There are the final tests they
are making and there are just four of us - they
seem to be very pleased with me - and I don't
know what I think or what I hope - I am so afraid
it will mean my staying here (if I get it) for a long
time and that I know I don't want to do.
The part has now become the biggest responsibility one can imagine - and yet it would be absurd not to do it, given the chance. I will not know definitely till the end of the week.
I do hope you will have a nice time at Hyes, and that Suzanne is well. I hope all the right books arrive for her Xmas present... Darling Leigh I do hope you are well. I will write and let you know what is happening. With dearest love. Vivien.
January 1939, after signing a seven-year contract with Selznick (from Vivien to Leigh Holman)
My agent [Myron Selznick] assures me that if the picture is a success I can make demands to get my contract alerted..... I will never make a fuss about the financial side but am determined to ask for more time for the theatre, etc. I know perfectly well, I could not stay here half the year.