Magazine | March 28, 2016, Issue


My Friend Florence

I’d like to express my thanks to John O’Sullivan for his honest and insightful tribute to my dear old friend Florence King, who died recently after a long and glorious career as a writer in varied genres (“More than a ‘Misanthrope,’” February 15). Hard as it is to believe, Florence and I first met 60 years ago at the University of Mississippi, where she was studying history and I was working on a Ph.D. in English. Among a large percentage of graduate students who were radicals of one kind or another, Florence and I soon found each other and recognized a fellow conservative. That kinship of spirit served as the bond for our six-decade-long friendship.

I delighted all those years in her books — hilarious, but also perceptive and truthful — and her National Review columns. Best of all, I cherish the many letters she wrote to me, all of which I have saved, reread often, and shared with like-minded conservative friends. In the last couple of years, we commiserated with each other on the pains and losses inherent in old age. Both of us were only children in our families who had chosen to spend our lives alone — without regret — depending upon ourselves for spiritual and emotional support.

These letters were atypical, concerned as they were with morose topics, but even in the midst of discussing such problems, Florence’s incomparable sense of humor never failed, and in the very last of those brilliant letters, she told me that she was ready to leave this life but hoped to remain long enough to “find out what is going to happen on Downton Abbey.” I received notification of her death minutes before the first episode of the last season of that series began. Alas, Florence missed it. Rest in peace, my dear old friend. “When comes such another?”

Kenneth Holditch

New Orleans, La.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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