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Alec Guinness


“I . . . have promised . . . to give this serious thought as soon as I can catch my breath

from running up and down stairs in the Hotel Paridiso."

Sir Alec Guinness, CH, CBE, 1914-2000.  Academy Award-winning English actor.  Typed Letter Signed, Alec Guinness, one page, 6¼" x 8", on engraved personal stationery, London, [England], May 12, 1956.

This is an excellent association letter in which Guinness mentions his role as Benedict Boniface in the comedy play Hotel Paradiso, which he later reprised in the film by the same name.  He responds to a letter from Edward Weeks, editor of The Atlantic Monthly, suggesting that he write an autobiography.  In part: “I feel a little guarded about writing an autobiography, but have promised Mr. Hamish Hamilton to give this serious thought as soon as I can catch my breath from running up and down stairs in the Hotel Paridiso." 

Guinness wrote this letter ten days after the comedy play Hotel Paradiso opened at the Winter Garden Theatre, now the New London Theatre, in London.  The English-language play was producer and director Peter Glenville's adaptation of the French play L'Hôtel du Libre Échange by Georges Feydeau and Maurice Desvaillierès.  Guinness later again portrayed Benedict Boniface, alongside Gina Lollobrigida's Marcelle Cotte, in the 1966 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film Hotel Paridiso, which Glenville also directed.

Guinness refers here to British publisher Jamie Hamilton, often known as “Hamish Hamilton,” who founded the British publishing house Hamish Hamilton Limited.

As it turned out, Guinness waited some 30 years before beginning a series of three autobiographical books:   Blessings In Disguise (1985), My Name Escapes Me (1996), and A Positively Final Appearance (1999).  By that time, he had amassed a long array of credits.  Among other things, he received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Colonel Nicholson in the 1957 film Bridge on the River Kwai and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the 1977 film Star Wars, the first of the three films in which he played that character in the original trilogy.

Guinness has signed this letter with a beautiful blue fountain pen signature.  The letter has three horizontal folds, not touching the signature, and staple holes at the upper left.  It is fine condition.




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