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Letter from Joseph Lindon Smith to Corinna Putnam Smith, Pages 1 & 2
Letter from Joseph Lindon Smith to Corinna Putnam Smith, Page 3
S.S. "Serapis"
Wadi Halfa
March 4th 1908

Dear Mother, Corinna, Daddy and Babies
This morning we left Abou Simbel at 11.30 and reached Halfa about five o'clock and have just come on board ship again after a long promenade through the pleasant shaded streets of the little town.
Tomorrow we all start off for Semneh - leaving before dawn - with cooks and servants guides, attendants, rugs, tents, beds, bedding, chairs, lamps, food, drink, washing water, guards and the 1001 things the Dragoman insists on taking for the six days and nights we are to be gone. Thirty camels are engaged? Just think of the grievous noises as all these pretty beasts are loaded with our outfit.
Page 403 in Baedeker's "Egypt" will give you a description of our journey. We did think a little, as I wrote you, of going in to the desert back of Abou Simbel - to the West, but the temple, said to be there, somewhere two days from the Nile, cannot be found and it seemed unwise to make that trip with little or no chance of finding our goal
My party fell in love with Abou Simbel and think it the finest thing the have ever seen on the Nile. They intend stopping a couple of days more on the return journey.
I painted 4! pictures - three are done, and one large one - of the two right hand figures is almost done, needing just two more sittings which I shall get.
Newman was horrified at my speed, and she was very 'sniffy' in fact they behaved exactly as they did here before and our party think them the 'worst old man and woman ever seen'. 'Regular rotters' - Gordon Gardner calls both of them. He is screamingly funny about them, and he and Lady Sybil came every morning and shouted out their enthusiastic approval of my work - so that Henry and Mary, sweltering in their tent, should hear the praise and we could almost see the tent writhe with their emotions.
Gardner is a most charming and entertaining fellow - Daddy wouldn't understand a word he says nor Lady Sybil for that matter, as both speak very pronounced English English.
Lady Sybil in particular has an affected manner of expression - reminding me strangely enough of dear Mrs Whitman - she is bright, witty and very good company - and she seems much entertained and amused with me - as I am with her. Bronson is a quiet reserved chap, but very nice and tremendously interested in all that happens - from a morning in an Egyptian temple to my Japanese in Constantinople stories in the evening. This morning the Prince Abbas brought me Corinna's second letter and mother's first. I was mighty glad to get both - the cute pictures of Totty and Tiney touched me in a very soft place. They seemed such eloquent little affairs. I could see them drawing them on Grandma's desk up in the studio.
Bronson Cutting hardly dares attempt the trip to Jerusalem and ... as he thinks there is not time enough now, before hot weather comes in and this is so - it would probably be pretty hot there in May - I don't know what he means to do - but I think he will most likely go to Italy with his brother.
I shall be with them all for about two weeks more, and then part company at Luxor and stay a couple of weeks perhaps with Arthur and Hortense, and then about April 1st I go to the Quibell's.
As I write this, I can hear the shouts of the caravan preparations and looking out of the cabin window can see - illuminated by electric light on the bank - the vast quantity of boxes and other things being made ready for the trip to be begun - it seems a curious outlay of time, effort and much more money - I can hardly image how much it all will cost - it will be camping out in the most luxurious manner possible - it will be an intensely interesting experience and I only hope we shall not find camel riding too fatiguing.
I shall not be able to get off a letter to you - will a week from to-day when we return - so you mustn't be alarmed at a long wait and gap in the regularity of my letters.
I am sure you will be delighted with my pictures at Abou Simbel, the big one particularly. It is about a yard high by two feet six inches wide - and shows the two splendid figures bathed in hot bright sunshine - with sharp purple shadows - and a great drift of that wonderful yellow sand.
Well! No more now dear ones
until I get back from this desert trip
Always lovingly


3 page letter from SS Serapis at Halfa, preparing for trip into the desert by camel.


Joseph Lindon Smith


American Archives of Art, reel 5116




open source

Original Format




Joseph Lindon Smith, “1908-3-4 Letter by Joseph Lindon Smith to Corinna Smith,” The Emma B. Andrews Diary Project, accessed May 22, 2024,


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