Dear Ursula K. Le Guin,
At several different times in her letters, James Tiptree Jr. aka Alice Sheldon said that she did not plan on outliving her husband. In the ever-so-clear hindsight, we can see that Tiptree was alluding to her suicide, possibly suicide pact, with her husband. But, did you guess that that was what she intended to do? Tiptree often makes light of her depression, describing and disguising it with humor. But, it is quite obvious that she was depressed. Knowing this, did you have any inkling that she was going to commit suicide? If you could go back in time, would you have tried to persuade Tiptree out of thinking of suicide, or do you believe her suicide was justified? And, if you had told her not to commit suicide, do you think your words, whether in person, written letter, or phone call, made any difference to Tiptree’s resolve?
I hate to sound horribly mean and accusatory, but these questions have been nagging at me for ages. It’s hard to get a sense of your reactions to Tiptree’s letters because the letters you sent to Tiptree are mostly not included in the archives. Thus, there is just silence. Suicide and depression are things that strike a chord with me personally. It is disconcerting and saddening to read someone’s letters of depression and intent of suicide. I guess, I just wanted to know whether or not Tiptree’s letters scared you as much as they did me, and if you did try to confront her. I would like to hear your side of the story.