In a 13 December letter to King, Rodell expressed concern that no recent work had been forthcoming on the manuscript for his book.1 She emphasized the “importance that the book come out by next September, while the memory of the Montgomery protest is still fresh in every one's mind, and when, with the opening of school, the whole integration problem will be front-page news.”
Mrs. Marie Rodell
Marie Rodell and Joan Daves, Inc.
15 East 48th Street
New York 17, New York
Dear Mrs. Rodell:
Thank you for your very kind letter of December 13. Contents have been noted with care. Since I will be talking with you on the thirtieth of December I will not bother to give any detailed answer to the letter at this time.
Many unexpected and unforseeable circumstances have prevented me from doing any real work on the book in the past month. I have just managed to get in a little work here and there. I do hope, however, to get back on the job in the next few days.
Concerning the question of professional help, I would like to discuss that in much more detail before making any commitment.2 I would suggest that you hold off these conferences until I have a chance to talk with you. If, after our conversation, I consent to the idea it will be possible for me to talk with them the following week since I will have to be in New York for one or two days that week.
Wishing you a very joyous Christmas and a blessed new year, I am
M. L. King, Jr.,
(Dictated by Rev. King, but signed in his absence.)
1. In October King sent drafts of five chapters to Rodell and to Harper & Brothers (King to Rodell and King to Melvin Arnold, both dated 28 October 1957).
2. In her letter Rodell suggested that King would benefit from the assistance of a professional writer: “It’s not surprising that it should be so-after all, your profession is that of a minister, not that of a writer, and it is given to very few of us to he professionally capable in many fields at once.” She hoped that the professional would help remind King of “incidents and human interest stories which could make the story warmer and more alive” (for further discussion of this issue see Levison to King, 24 January 1958, pp. 352-353 in this volume).
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.