Walter H. Page and His Christmas Letter To His Grandson

Who was Walter H. Page? Did you ever wonder who Page Avenue was named for? E.W. Grove named the street in his downtown development for the publisher, writer and ambassador to Great Britain during World War I, Walter Hines Page. Page was born at what is now Cary, NC in 1855. He was one of the founders of the publishing house of Doubleday, Page and Company and served as American ambassador to Great Britain from 1913-1918. Although ill, he stayed on, barely making the voyage back home to his native sandhills to die, December 21, 1918. Page Avenue opened on June 1, 1924.

Aerial view by John Caldwell, 1925 of Battery Park area, showing the creation of O. Henry (L), Battery Park (foreground), and Page Avenue (R) with Hotel (1924) at center.

Since the holidays are upon us, it seems appropriate to mention that we have a small book in the North Carolina Room book collection titled, Walter H. Page’s Christmas Letter To His Grandson. It was published by Doubleday, Page & Company in 1924, although he wrote it from London in 1915. It begins:

“For your first Christmas, I have the honour to send you my most affectionate greetings; and in wishing you all good health, I take the liberty humbly to indicate some of the favours of fortune that I am pleased to think I enjoy in common with you. . .You have discovered, and my experience confirms yours, that a perpetual self-consciousness brings most of the misery of this world. Men see others who are richer than they; or more famous, or more fortunate–so they think; and they become envious. You have not reached the period of such empty vanity, and I have long passed it. Let us, therefore, make our mutual vows not to be disturbed by the good luck or the good graces of others, but to continue, instead, to contemplate the contented cat on the rug and the unenvious sky that hangs over all alike.”

Click here if you’d like to read the whole letter.

View of Asheville, seen from Sunset Mountain ca. 1924. Photograph by George Masa, A231-8

The staff of the North Carolina Room and Friends of the North Carolina Room Board thank you all for your support through 2019. We wish you and your family a content and peaceful New Year.

Christmas Rose

Post written by North Carolina Room Librarian Zoe Rhine

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