Letters of Recommendation: C. Wright Mills to Fidel Castro

West Nyack, NY

September 20, 1960

Dear Dr. Castro:

When I was in Cuba last month, Dr. Franz Stettmeier of the University of Oriente asked me to try to get some young professors for him, to teach there and possibly to work with INRA. I have now found one such man and wish to recommend him as strongly as I am able.

1: The man’s name is Edward Thompson; he is an Englishman who now teaches, I believe at the University of Hull. Address: Holly Bank, Whitegate, Halifax. York, England. If you spent ten minutes with him you would see at once that he is a real thinker. He is, in fact, one of the most brilliant young men of Great Britain. He can teach political theory or sociology of English literature or-given a month or so-anything that needs to be taught. Until the Hungarian affair, he was, I understand, a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, but now has no political affiliation. He is an editor of the New Left Review, a magazine in Britain for which I write. If you should approve “The Cuban Seminar on Varieties of Marxism,” about which I am writing to you separately, I’d certainly be glad if Thompson were in it. For there is no nonsense in this man about Communism or anti-Communism. He is an honest observer and straight thinker.

2: I write to you about him because it occurs to me that Dr. Stettmeier may run into practical difficulties in getting him. Mr. Thompson is very poor, his wife, Dorothy—who could also teach in the university—would of course come to Cuba with him and they have two or three children. Their transportation to Cuba would have to be advanced to them in some way. I have found out that he is willing, indeed, eager to take up some work in Cuba.

What else can I say? Do try to get this man.

Sincerely yours.

C. Wright Mills

Professor of Sociology

Columbia University

[Apparently, Castro’s sources decided that E.P. Thompson was politically dubious. He was never offered a job in Cuba.]

Literary Tantalus

The Letters of Samuel Beckett 1941-1956 (Edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn, and Lois More Overbeck, Cambridge University Press)  It’s fitting that Samuel…