On 13th december 1993 Sotheby's in London sold at auction a Greta Garbo exceptionally important and revealing series of over forty letters and cards signed "Greta", "G" or "Gurra" to her close friend Mimi Pollak ("Mimmi", "Mimosa", "Mimosasan" or "Misse") including three or four to her father Julius Pollak.
The majority of these letters were written in Swedish, up to eight pages in length, in pencil and ink with variations of handwriting which Garbo herself thought was as bad as ever and give a vivid insight into her feelings ("You have no idea how it hurts to be as confused and unhappy as I am" she wrote).
The series included ten telegrams and an autograph poem in English sent by Garbo to Mimi Pollak in 1975 and paying tribute to their friendship.
The swedish actress Mimi Pollak was one of Garbo's oldest friends. Their friendship dated from the days when they were both at drama school in Stockholm in 1922-1924. Garbo wrote to her about her experiences both before and after her discovery by Mauritz Stiller, and until long time after she had settled in America. She sent news of her filming in Hollywood and confided her very confused feelings about life and marriage, as well as expressing warmly and frequently her love for Mimi herself.
In the earliest letter, in 1923, writing in her dressing room ("This time I will not just put some black around my eyes so I look like an owl...") before a performance at the Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern in Stockholm and signing herself "Gurra" (a pet name derived form her real name Gustafson), she complaines about how dead and boring life is in the capital and declares how much she hates being alone, reflecting on their life at drama school ("I keep thinking of you Mimi and thinking that I will meet you any second in the corridor...") and referes to Mimi's engagement to Nils Lundeel ("I love you and if you love Nisse then I love him too...").
She comments in the next year on having a jolly time with a dinner date; she sends a drunken letter declining an invitation; she asks about an actor named Kiel-Moller and tells Mimi's father how much she would love to live in the country and longs for piece and calm, as well as how she adores Mimi.
In June 1925 she writes of her preparations for travelling in America ("I leave as a rather unhappy young lady, as you can imagine... I am so pleased that Nisse loves you so. You deserve to be happy. You are the only one whom I confide in and I want to keep you as my friend... Don't forget me...").From America a few weeks later she writes to console the sorrowful Mimi on the illness of her fiancè and gives a remarkably vivid and uncompromising account of her reactions to Hollywood:
"If you only knew how homesick I am. I suppose I will just fade away here. I wrote to you that I was going to marry. I still can't quite describe my feelings in letters, but I don't think that I will ever marry. You have no idea how it hurts to be as confused and unhappy as I am. I don't want to see anyone. This is the way I spend my day: I have just started on a new film with an american director. Up at 6.00 am and home again at 6.00 or 7.00 in the evening and straight to bed and unable to sleep.
And always so alone, so alone. Oh God, it is so awful. This ugly, ugly America, all just machinery, it is soul destroying. I never go out, only home to my boring little hotel... The only thing that gives me pleasure is to go to the bank and send some money to my family... I don't want to meet people from the films and drink and talk about things I don't wish to talk about... People are very curious about me in the studio. Everyone stares at me and asks questions... I am sure they think I am a bit strange... the glamour with which we surround the american film world hardly exists here. There is nothin elegant or beautiful here... "
On the subject of her own acting she claims to feel quite "uninspired" ("I probably can't act that well") and she adds: "Isn't it strange, Mimi, I never look at any man or woman for that matter. I would never be interested in them ever. For me there is only old Moje (Mauritz Stiller), sad isn't it? I suppose I will end up an old spinster. What do you say to that?"
Subsequent letters repeat the constant refrain of how she misses Mimi, longs for old times and feels lost ("I have been so low but I suppose it is my nature which makes it so difficult for me. I am sure I will never be happy again..."). She refers to her trip to Berlin with Stiller for the première of Gosta Berling's Saga; she mentions learning German; comments on the filming of Die Freudlose Gasse ("I am sure I will be so terrible") and discloses something of her relationship with Stiller ("It is so complicated and difficult to delve into. But I am sure most of it is my fault. I do not want to adjust myselt to life as it is... I kill everything with my awful temper... ").
She sends accounts of the filming of her seconf film, which she finds so "tiring", and of her problems with MGM ("Americans are really wonderful, they never wish to understand anyone else, they never sympathise... directors... know nothing about soul and feelings...") and sends news of Stiller's departure from MGM and of his subsequent activities and companionship ("Thank God I have him to talk to...").
She writes of her forthcoming film with John Gilbert ("... there has been a lot in the papers about us but I cannot do what they expect me to. It does not suit me to be married...whoever did marry me would soon find out how brainless I am. He is very sweet though... He has everything, swimming pool, servants, a lovely house and I still go home to my ugly hotel room. Why??... ").
She talks of Saxons's wish to merry her, of her indifference to her work ("only factory work"), of her sister's death, of filming Anna Karenina ( "but the director is no good and so I will be no good either..."), and, as always, of her devotion to Mimi ("no one will ever take your place" ) as well as of her perpetual unhappiness:
... I don't think any woman can feel as inferior and sad as I have felt... I have umiliated myself, been bitter, mean, mad but I can never get away from what fate has decided for me. I seem empty of everything... I have no wish, no particolar longing... But I am so ungrateful. My film has just been shown and the critics were wonderfully kind but I wasn't impressed with myself at all... It is suddenly as if life has ended and something has died within me... I have sold myself and have to remain here. If only things were not so cheap and vulgar... They call us Swedes stupid because we are so honest and don't want to talk about money. Which is really stupid... least of all I feel like a film star... I have stopped feeling... But I do have a dream: a small bachelor flat... Finally I will be so alone, because I can do nothing else...
After a gap of nearly two decades, she writes briefly and somewhat distractedly in the 1960s and 1970s (generally in English) of living on carrots and of not daring to come home to Sweden (since she would be recognized). In 1975 she sends a poem about not being able to touch the hand of her beloved friend with whom she might have been walking through life. In her very last letter to Mimi, written in 1984 over sixty years after the earliest letter, she writes, in childish capital letters, "I am sad-and not very well-and afraid... How is this for a letter".