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This article is taken from PN Review 226, Volume 42 Number 2, November - December 2015.

Proofs of Love: The Last Letters of Lota de Macedo Soares David Hoak
In late June, 2015, scholars from around the world met in Sheffield to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 publication of Questions of Travel, Elizabeth Bishop’s celebrated third book. Bishop started and finished nearly all the writing for this book while living in Brazil with her partner and lover, Lota de Macedo Soares. Sadly, in the years leading up to and after its publication, Bishop’s relationship with Soares began to fray and the two separated temporarily. While Bishop stayed in New York City during the summer of 1967, Lota wrote to her almost every day of July and August. These letters, which were known to have been received by Bishop, were long thought lost. Twenty-five of them surfaced only a few years ago following the death of Bishop’s literary executor Alice Methfessel. The Sheffield conference, with its mid-century focus, offered an excellent opportunity to expose the letters and their content to a wide variety of Bishop scholars. A round table was scheduled and the paper printed above was delivered to introduce the discussion.

On a bright October afternoon in 2010, I visited Angela Leap in the modernist Carmel, California house she had long shared with Alice Methfessel, Elizabeth Bishop’s last partner and her literary executor for almost thirty years. Alice had died in 2009 and this would be Angela’s last day in the house. We sat and talked surrounded by Bishop treasures destined to be sold and boxes of financial and tax ephemera destined for the shredder. Unknown to us both ...

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