How J.D. Salinger Flirted With Girls

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2010 file photo, a photo of J.D. Salinger appears next to copies of his classic novel "The Catcher in the Rye" as well as his volume of short stories called "Nine Stories" at the Orange Public Library in Orange Village, Ohio. Salinger, died Jan. 27, 2010, in Cornish, N.H., at the age of 91. Letters written by Salinger to a spiritual mentor have been donated to the Morgan Library & Museum. The Morgan, based in Manhattan, announced Tuesday, April 9, 2013, that it will receive 28 letters by the author of “The Catcher of the Rye.” The letters were written to Swami Vivekananda, founder of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, which donated the correspondence. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File) Photo: Amy Sancetta/AP/Corbis

In 1941, a 22-year-old J.D. Salinger corresponded with a 17-year-old Marjorie Sheard, a fan who lived in Toronto. New York's Morgan Library & Museum recently acquired their nine-letter correspondence, which includes Salinger discussing his editors, opining about failed romances, and describing the genesis of Holden Caulfield. He also flirts. The New York Times describes one exchange:

“What do you look like?” he wrote to her on Oct. 9, 1941, asking that she send him a large photograph. One month later he apologized for his brazen request: “I wrote from a mood — and not a nice one.”

Sheard, the Times reports, "complied nonetheless." Salinger's next letter begins: 

Dear Marjorie,

Sneaky girl. You're pretty.

I sent off my last photo to a little magazine, but I'm having some more made. Rest assured, though, I'm a doll.

Sheard is now 95. She kept the letters in a shoe box until six years ago, when she moved to a nursing home and left the letters with a family member. Sheard and her family sold the letters to the Morgan, which has an extensive Salinger collection, to offset her late-life medical costs.

Related: J.D. Salinger's Women