He writes to Leon Edel, Henry James biographer. "May I intrude upon your scholarship if it extends to Henry James senior. I want to use a quotation which F. O. Matthiessen gives partially on p. 13 of 'The James Family' and I have no idea where to find it. Matthiessen writes, 'probably James best-known remark is that "to a right-minded man" a crowded horse-car is "the nearest approach to heaven upon earth"...." Evans explains he seeks the exact quotation noting that, "F. O. M. does not give a hint of his source...knowing your erudition I do hope you may have in mind...do not take down any books yourself for my quest. I'll do that..." He signs in full, "Walker Evans." Evans found the actual quote and used it in his photographic portraits of New York City riders titled, "Many Are Called." The correct quote reads: "To a right-minded man, a crowded Cambridge horse car is the nearest approach to heaven upon earth." [Walker Evans, "A Penitent Spy," Rathbone, 2000].
Evans had left his post as editor of Fortune Magazine in 1965 and joined the faculty of Yale University. In 1966, the year of this letter, his photographic study of New York City subway riders was published. "Many Are Called," (1938-41) was photographed with hidden camera, first published almost 30 a after the images were captured, and reissued in 2004.