In 1960 Leonard Cohen lived on the small Greek island of Hydra for a time. In the September of that year, with a small inheritance, he bought a small house on the island. It was here that he met Marianne Ihlen his lover and muse with whom he would conduct a nearly 20 year relationship.
Christie’s are selling more than 50 of these letters from Cohen to Marianne. Marianne was a huge influence in Cohen’s life being the lover that inspired the songs Hey, That’s no way to say Goodbye, Anthem, and So Long, Marianne. This is rare glimpse into Cohen early on in his career and the beautiful penmanship that kept these two so close whilst being mostly physically so apart from one another.
The letters show both the personal side of his deep and tender relationship with Marianne and also chart his career and his change from writer through to poet and then to singer-songwriter.
These letters are postmarked from all over the world as Cohen moved from Cuba to the Chelsea Hotel to Nashville and a stint in Scientology and on to Zen Buddhism. Included are also a few personal shots sent to Marianne including the passport photographs above behind which he wrote “Will you be there?” as he is travelling to Hydra, her home.
During the mid 1960s Cohen decided to pursue a career in songwriting. During this period he sends Marianne reading “I sang in New York for the first time last night, at a huge benefit concert…Judy Collins introduced me to the audience, over 3000 people, and they seemed to know who I was…”