She's a legend in Hollywood, but Greta Garbo apparently didn't feel like one. Some 36 letters written by Garbo to a Swedish countess whom she met in the 1930s and enjoyed a lifelong friendship with reveal the movie star to be "heartbreakingly different from the sociable, jolly figure in the photos," reports the Guardian. She comes across as insecure, lonely, and longing for her Swedish homeland in the letters, which hit the Sotheby's auction block on Dec. 12 along with a photo album showing Garbo cuddling puppies and sunbathing topless. Describing "summers there when it rains and that marvelous melancholy enfolds us," a 1939 letter shows a much different experience for Garbo in Beverly Hills. "I am almost always alone and talk to myself," it notes.
Garbo, who lashed out at gossip stories and fretted about World War II, per the Telegraph, appears hard on herself in another letter, written in 1933 as she filmed Queen Christina. "It's been a difficult time, it all went wrong," she wrote, suggesting the film would be "half-done" even when finished. More than a decade later, four years after the release of what would be her last film, Garbo doubted a comeback, noting "time leaves its traces on our small faces and bodies." Taken as a whole, the letters convey "an almost unbearable depth of sadness and loneliness," says a Sotheby's specialist, adding Garbo's failure to sign the letters suggests a "desire to remain in the shadows." The BBC notes Garbo never married or had children and was a recluse until her 1990 death in New York at age 84. The letters and photo album are expected to fetch up to $27,000. (Read more auction stories.)