29 November 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,

Oxford.

29.11.20

                My dearest Mother,

Thank you very much indeed for the cake and the washing on Friday, and for the stockings which arrived this morning.  I am so sorry to have missed writing to you yesterday, but the Bach Choir concert and the state of my inside kept me pretty well occupied, not to mention the fact that Arthur came to tea and did not depart until about 8.15 p.m.  The Concert was not quite as good as it might have been, for something happened to the Tenors, and they missed one lead altogether, and were rather faltering all through. The Basses started well by putting one of their elbows through a window with a loud crash just as we stood up to begin.  Moreover most of the soloists had colds, while the Tenor had a bad habit of jumping half bars when he felt inclined.  It must have been the weather, I think.  It was a horribly muggy day.

We have had rather an interesting week.  On Tuesday the Second Year gave a jolly good show in Hall – a One act Irish play by Yeats and a ballet.  The play was a first-rate piece of acting – really dramatic.  The ballet was screamingly funny.  Oxford life à la Russian ballet.  First the heroine rose from bed to slow music, danced round the room in pyjamas – admired herself in the mirror, and so forth.  Next a perfectly beautiful Matriculation scene, with chorus in caps and gowns, with short white ballet skirts, white blouses with short sleeves and little black bows.  They looked perfectly sweet.  The Principal did a sort of minuet with each candidate up to the Vice chancellor.  Enter the heroine – dance – the V. Ch. is struck – they dance, embrace and part for ever.  The next scene was a hockey match, the next the Cadena, the next dinner, the last a Cocoa, at which the heroine stabs all her friends and then commits suicide.  The surprise of the evening was the leading lady, who is normally a very young, rather awkward gamesy young woman, but who proved actually graceful and alluring, in true ballet fashion, with real abandon, without ever being either vulgar or futile.

On Thursday Mr Weir came to tea, and proved most extraordinary interesting, as he is a psycho-analyst among his other accomplishments, besides being an extraordinarily sound man.  The upshot of this was that Joyce and Doris received invitations to his dance on Friday.

By the way, could I have my party undies for Friday? – i.e. one pair of knickers with lace, one petticoat, and a clean pair of combs.

Saturday is rather awkward.  I have a class at 10.0 which is never over till 11.30, and am rowing in the Eight at 9.0.  I want to get a bath sometime that morning.  The earliest train I could catch would be the 1.5, arriving Paddington 3.30, but there is a better one at 2.25 arriving 3.50.  Now if I sent my box off from here on Friday, and booked my byke at Paddington, could I go straight to Leytonstone with a suitcase, my own attaché case and violin, if somebody met me?  My evening clothes being in the suit-case.  I could take the Tube from Paddington to Liverpool Street.

I have at last got some money out of the Govt – only £7 so far, but enough to pay my way with, and come home on.  I enquire about the rest later.

Goodbye till Saturday – I am much entangled with Heredity at the moment – Mendel’s Laws2, and so forth – most fascinating.  Much love to Daddie and Max.  I will bring his socks with me.  I am to put in a fortnight’s teaching from Monday next, but Miss Talbot has not fixed on the school yet.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

In pencil added after her signing off:  ? Notes for a telegram? –

Collinson

                18 William St

                                Cowley Road

                                                Oxford

Will meet three fifty

Daddy

1The Cadena, in the Cornmarket – one of a chain of coffee houses.

2Mendel’s Laws – the theories of a Nineteenth Century monk, largely ignored at the time but taken up later and forming the early basis of an understanding of heredity.

Next letter to be posted on 20 January 2018.

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21 November 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,

Oxford.

21.11.20

                My dearest Mother,

Very many thanks for the shortbread, and for your letter with the enclosed note.  Please thank Max for his letter.  I will certainly change the socks.  I hope Daddie is home with you by now.  Is Auntie Lucy coming to us for Christmas?  I hope she will have a good rest before she goes back to work.  I am sure that she needs it.  I am glad the inquest1 passed off so quietly – it must have worried Auntie Lucy terribly.

This has been on the whole a quiet week.  I like the Central School much better than Milham Ford.  There is an air of absolute peace about the place which is delightful.  I took two lessons there last week – one on the Dutch Wars with Miss Frost, one of the Cherwell Hall staff, in the room, while the head mistress of the school was present at the other.  They both gave me the benefit of their opinion afterwards.  Miss Chadwick2, whom I saw first, said my manner was too calm for small children, and that I mustn’t be afraid of being funny.  Miss Frost said my manner was too excited and that I did not always show becoming gravity!  Which only shews how much such criticism is worth.  Of the two, I have more respect for Miss Chadwick’s opinion.  She is a very interesting woman, and talked to me a long time about education in general, and her own views and plans in particular.  She is going to Birmingham after Christmas to organise one of the new Continuation Schools there, and is looking forward to a lively time.

On Thursday we had the one really interesting seminar of the term.  Miss Talbot read us a very clear paper on sex education.  There was a certain amount of discussion afterwards, within definitely prescribed limits!  Still even within those limits we had some interesting points of view put forward, especially by Mr Weir and Mr Otway.  Mr Weir is an Irishman of fairly mature years who in his time has played many parts, including that of curate to your Mr Wright, of All Saints, New Park Road.  He has now taken up education with great vigour.  He also does psycho-analysis in his spare time.  Mr Otway, is an Australian clergyman, who put the question from its ecclesiastical side.

The said Mr Weir has invited me to a dance he is giving on the last Friday of term at Manchester College, with Principal and Mrs Jack as host and hostess.  It never rains but it pours!  The C.U. gives a special subscription dance for the Glasgow fund next Saturday – fancy dress.

Doris has a friend staying with her at present, Joyce Addyman.  She was at Reading during Doris’ last year, has just taken her finals in science, and is now substituting at the Oxford High School.  She was also at Manchester High, and knew Nancy Harker, Jean Batcham, and Doleen.  Her people used to live at Bramhall, and she knows Miss Hooley, and Auntie Nellie by repute – i.e. has heard of her from a friend.  She is an awfully nice child, and likes walking.  This morning we had a topping walk across  Shotover to Wheatley, round by the road, and then up through the avenue of Shotover Hall to the top again.  It was a frosty morning, but brilliantly sunny, the only drawback being that it was too misty for views.

We had a lovely Eight on Saturday.  Violet stroked and I rowed seven.  Gilbert came down to watch us, and afterwards he criticised us thoroughly and most constructively to Joyce.  We were also photographed by the Oxford Times, and filmed by the Cowley Road Cinema3, which last was great fun.  We were filmed crossing to the barge, entering it, getting into the boat, coming forward, actually rowing, getting out again, etc. etc.  We are all going in a body to the cinema next Thursday to see it.  We had what Best called the best gig four of the term on Thursday (N.B. no pun intended!).  Hughie was stroking.  However bow dug so deep that she found the bottom in one place, and stuck her oar so firmly that she nearly overset the boat.  However that was but a momentary aberration.

Much love to Daddie and Max, and also to Betty and Alison Mary next time you see them.  Take care of yourself.

Your loving daughter

Margot.

1Now there has been an inquest.  Does this refer to the death of Grannie Collinson and was the wheelchair accident implicated?

2Miss Chadwick, Head Mistress of  the Central School, Oxford.

3Such a film of the 1920 St Hilda’s Eight would be a wonderful archive record.

Next letter to be posted on 29 November 2017.

14 November 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,

Oxford.

14.11.20

                My dearest Mother,

Very many thanks for your two parcels, and the note and letters enclosed.  I am grieved to hear about Grannie, and am awfully anxious about Auntie Lucy.  I am also sorry that you are without Daddie this week – it is more anxiety for him.

Please thank Max for his letter.  I will see Castell’s1 about the socks.  I am much relieved to see the stockings.  I am so sorry to have missed the wash this week, but have enough clothes to last for next week – but should like the grey stockings back as soon as possible.  I am wearing out my party clothes this week, so that I can send them home to be washed before Emmie’s dance.

We had a great time last night.  We used the dining room and J.C.R., and had an orchestra.  Refreshments in the S.C.R. and Drawing Room. The dance was splendidly well run – the flowers nice and the lights prettily shaded.  Both Gilbert and Kenneth Rhodes enjoyed it immensely – K.R., by the way, is not our estimable cousin, but an old prep. School friend of Gilbert’s, and a very nice boy – about six feet in length – topping for me to dance with.  I have discovered that I can dance – in many styles.  Gilbert and I get along very well.  Mary Mac. brought two interesting Canadians, who danced toppingly – both Joyce and I danced with them.  I also had introduced to me one of Barbara’s men, rather a young man about town, who had only just recovered from celebrating the Armistice at Claridge’s!  Anyway, he danced adorably – in quite a different style from the rest.  The point was that he wanted to dance with me again, and so I had three with him at his request, and enjoyed them immensely!

Today Doris and I have been to tea with Dr Keatinge.  He lives at boar’s Hill – in a really nice house – and has a charming wife.  There were several people there, including an Irish poet who recited some charming little ballads of his own with an adorable accent, and a boy from Exeter Coll. who played the fiddle decidedly well.  He had a Strad. and played a Brahms sonata and some little modern pieces.  A thrilling ride home, in the pitch dark and driving rain!

Much love to Max.  I am glad about Phyllis and will try to write to her.  Joyce sends her love.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

 

Margaret is behaving so nicely!  I am sure your mind will be at rest.  I hope you are quite well.  With my love

Doris. 2

1Castells is a men’s outfitters, supplying college ties, blazers, sports gear, etc.

2What prompted Doris’s little note at the foot of the letter?

Next letter to be posted on 21 November 2017.

7 November 1920

18 William Street  ,

Streatham Hill, [sic] 1

London, S.W 2.

7.11.20

                My dear Daddie,

Very many thanks for your cheque.  The two Hall fees are not the same.  The one Moberly notified me about in the vac. for keeping my name on the books, also for use of library, etc – baths are the most important part of the etc. – The other is always paid by a graduate to his college on receiving his degree, an excellent ancient custom amongst men’s colleges eagerly adopted by the women’s.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

 

1Margot has slipped between her Oxford and home addresses!

 

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,

Oxford.

7.11.20

                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter and parcel, and also for the note.  The shortbread is delicious.  I am sending you off a parcel next week, as I have enough clean clothes for the moment.

I am glad you have better news of Grannie.  Is Auntie Bell any better?  I had an awfully nice chatty letter from Auntie Hilda this morning besides Daddie’s.

I am awfully glad to have finished at Milham Ford for the present, for it made me very tired, although I liked it.  Henceforth I teach one day a week only, so shall have a little time for my theoretical work.

Everybody at M. Ford was awfully nice, especially the history mistress, Miss Wyllie, who was, as it were , my O.C.  She is great fun out of school and very demure and efficient in her official capacity.  She is coming to tea with us on Wednesday.

The D’Oyley Carte have been here this last week.  On Thursday we went to see “Patience” – Joyce, Gilbert, Arthur Marsden, and I – such a jolly party.  Gilbert is a most entertaining youth – he kept not only us but the whole queue in fits of laughter.  It was rather cold, so we bought some roasted chestnuts off a passing barrow and ate them, also supplying a whole crowd of Madgalen School boys, who were behind us.  The show was very good, particularly the Dragoons.  It was surprising how many of the people in the stalls we knew.  Among them towards the front was Mr Asquith.

Last night the freshers gave their play – an Oxonian burlesque of “Alice in Wonderland”.  The mad tea party became a mixed coffee party with the door mouse as chaperone – “if I sleep while I chap. can I not be said to chap. while I sleep?”  Finally the progs appear, and in the subsequent enquiry it was decided that the tea party was illicit because the chaperone was only partially on the premises, having been put into the tea-pot!

I hope you are not working too hard, or worrying too much about Mrs Katsch or the business.  I am sorry to hear about Ted.  I will try and write to Emmie.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

Next letter to be posted on 14 November 2017.

5 November 1920

P1 missing.  Envelope dated 5 Nov 20  and addressed to W.H. Collinson, Esq

P2

…..gown, for the modest fee of 2/6 to the dresser at the Degree-giving.  I need not have a hood – I find I can borrow for my exam.  It would cost £3.3.0, and I shall soon be eligible for an M.A, so can have one of my own then.

The applications for the government grant have been sent in all together by Mr Hendy.  About a week ago he was still making enquiries about birth certificates, etc, so I presume we shall hear about it some day.  The government is always slow about these things.  However, I have £1 for next week, and have not yet touched my bank-book money, so can get along all right for the present, without your sending me any more besides the degree money.  By the way, the £4 I have already paid for Matric. is to come out of Uncle’s money, so if you send me £18.5.6. from him I shall have £4 to the good.  I ought to get the Govt. money soon, but can hear no definite news about it.  Quite a large proportion of the Edn. Course people are applying for it.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

Next letters to be posted on 7 November 2017.

31 October 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,

Oxford.

31.10.20

                My dearest Mother,

Many thanks for your two parcels.  I am sorry to have sent for the books in such a hurry, but I needed the note book for my work at Milham Ford, and the Greek books for my essay last week.  I sent off another parcel to you yesterday.

I am grieved to hear about Grannie – but felt no surprise that evil should come out of that bath chair.  I suppose Daddie will have to go North sooner or later.  Poor Auntie Lucy – this is straining the load to breaking point.

I am afraid you have committed a “faux pas” about the stockings.  The holes were the result of a byke accident I had – not a very bad one.  I only chose to alight on the one part of the curb that had a byke against it, and got mixed up between the two vehicles.  The stocking was the only casualty.  I am afraid you have falsely accused the manufacturer

I have had such a busy week – teaching all morning, and sometimes part of the afternoon, Lectures at 5.30 every day, and evening engagements most of the week.  Preparing lessons – which always takes me a long time – in between whiles.  No time for essays at all.  I like the teaching immensely.  I teach and observe history and geography, the last owing to a chance word of yours.  I even take the Sixth Form – it’s wonderful what a lot they take in, too.

I matriculated last Saturday.  Yesterday’s degree giving1 was rather fun.  Isabel and Marjorie came up to graduate too.  We didn’t get as much fun out of it as the M.A.s, being merely presented by our principals and addressed in Latin by the Vice-Chancellor.  In the evening Joyce and Doris and I went to a dance in N. Oxford, given by a friend of Doris’, which was great sport.  We took our own men, Gilbert coming as my partner, and Kenneth Rhodes, an old friend of his, as Joyce’s.  We really had a good time.  Gilbert is awfully nice to dance with.  He is coming as my guest to our Hall dance on Nov. 132.

I saw Gwen today for a few moments – she has had quite decent papers, but is very tired.  Irene Fowles is finally engaged!

Much love to Daddie and Max.  You are all much in my thoughts.  Many thanks for the 10/-.  I do hope that you could spare it – also please thank Daddie for his cheque.  Tell Max to keep his head over the Maths.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

 1The women are now accepted for Oxford degrees officially.

2A dance at St Hilda’s – with men.  With Miss Moberly as Principal and greater integration into University life, college life changes more and more.

Next letter to be posted on 5 November 2017.

25 October 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,

Oxon.

25.10.20

                Dear Mother,

Will you please send me at once a pale blue loose-leaved note book containing notes on European History on the book shelves in my room, also my Aristotle’s Politics and Plato’s Republic on the same shelves.  The note book is the most important.

Your loving daughter

Margot.

Next letter to be posted on31 October 2017.