Spock, Benjamin. (1903–1998) [Mead, Margaret. (1901–1978)

Collection of Letters Related to a 1973 Speaking Tour in Italy

Collection of nine letters related to Dr. Benjamin Spock, including four typed letters signed and an autograph letter signed from the famed pediatrician himself to Professor Irma Antonetto of the Associazione Culturale Italiana in Turin, concerning speaking engagements at the Associazione.  Dr. Spock gave a talk entitled "Young People in America" at the ACI in April of 1973.  All in fine condition.

Six TLS (March 1972–March 1973;  1 pp. each, all on Benjamin Spock M.D. stationary), three signed by Spock himself and three from his secretary, Lois Woodyatt, regard arrangements for a speaking tour of Italy the doctor would complete in April of 1973.  Amongst the confirmations of dates and travel arrangements, Spock writes, in part, "My wife, Jane, will accompany me...We would be glad also to have dinner with anyone you choose, or anyone who particularly wants to meet us...My wife and I are not formal people.  We enjoy most those who are fun-loving, young in spirit or age.  So don't select professors of medicine just to honor me, unless they happen to be delightful companions, free spirits."  An autograph letter signed from Spock to "Irma and Gina" (Undated;  4 pp. on Hotel Forum Roma stationary) reads in part, "We have had a wonderful visit in Italy, thanks to your initiative and thoughtfulness and tender care...The audiences were large and responsive.  The translators did an expert job (except in Bari, where nice Paualo [presumably "Paolo"] was well-intentioned but inadequate).  I really enjoyed the speaking, and this was the first time I had to speak through interpreters...It was a delightful experience to find you so witty, so sympatico, such fun.  Those were extras that I never thought of expecting."

Indeed, Dr. Spock was so impressed with his experience that he attempted to recruit other potential speakers.  A TLS to Spock from Barbara Sperling, assistant to anthropologist Margaret Mead (July 5, 1973;  1 pp. on Margaret Mead stationary) reads in part, "I wanted you to know that we have received the letter from Irma Antonetto...Dr. Mead will not be able to accept the gracious invitation."  An autograph note in Dr. Spock's handwriting to lower margin of the letter is addressed to Antonetto herself: "Dear Irma / You might try her for the winter of 1974–75! / Ben."  Finally, a TLS from February of the next year (February 28, 1974;  1 pp. on Benjamin Spock M.D. stationary) reads, in full, "Dear Irma: / I was interested to see that both Dan Berrigan and Germaine Greer were on your list.  How did they 'pan out', as the California gold miners used to say when they looked into their pans after they had washed out the sand and gravel? / I suggest that you keep after Mead, Mailer (he has just received an advance of $1,000,000 on his unfinished next novel) and Nader. / Sincerely, / [Signature]."  All in fine condition.

Dr. Benjamin Spock was a pediatrician and author of Baby and Child Care (1946), one of the best-selling books of all time.  The first pediatrician to incorporate psychoanalysis into his approach to children, he encouraged parents to treat children as individuals.  In the 1960s and 70s, he was an anti-war activist.

Irma Antonetto (1920-1993), was founder and director of the Associazione Culturale Italiana [Association of Italian Culture] for 46 years, during which time she brought some 400 philosophers, writers, scientists, artists, and Nobel winners to lecture in Italy. She was recipient of the 1964 Cavaliere al merito della Repubblica italiana. (19214)

Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Autograph Letter