Love Letters of a Japanese begins: ‘These letters are real.
Love Letters of a Japanese begins: ‘These letters are real. And like all real things they have a quality which no artificial counterpart can attain.’ They were pseudonymously published by Marie Stopes, the birth control reformer, under the editorship of ‘G. N. Mortlake’, and document a love affair between ‘Mertyl Meredith’ and ‘Kenrio Watanabe’. ‘G. N. Mortlake’ was an invention; Marie herself was ‘Mertyl’; and a married Japanese botanist, Kenjiro Fujii, was the model for ‘Kenrio’. Marie had had a disastrous love affair with him, and Love Letters of a Japanese, in edited form, are their billets-doux. Both Marie and Fujii were at the time professional botanists (this was before Marie’s career in birth control), and while Fujii busied himself with papers such as ‘Has the Spermatazoid of a Gingko a Tail or None?’ Marie replied with loving echoes in ‘The Flora of the Inferior Oolite of Brora’. Finally Fujii saw that the affair was going nowhere, and, in a bizarre twist on the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ formula, feigned leprosy to get away from her (Marie had a horror of leprosy). Marie’s biographer, Ruth Hall, wrote of the affair: ‘She never recovered from it, and all her subsequent endeavours can be seen as furious compensation claims for emotional injury.’