20 June 1920

St Hilda’s Hall



                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter and the cheque.  I am now endeavouring to clear up my belongings and my bills.

I arrive at Paddington at 3.50 p.m. on Monday, and should be charmed if Daddie can meet me.

My Viva is not until 9.30 a.m. on July 14th, so I am arranging to come up the day before.

Your loving daughter,


The next letter to be posted on 23 July 2017.

13 June 1920

                                St Hilda’s Hall



My dearest Mother,

Very many thanks for your letters and parcel.  The frock travelled beautifully and looks thoroughly nice.  It has been invaluable this term.  I forget whether I told you that the hat was a great success.

I missed the parcel post on Saturday because it was raining so hard after I got home from the Schools at 5.0. p.m. that I decided not to get drenched, but I will send you a parcel of washing sometime during the week in order to relieve my luggage.

Evelyn and I had a topping time at Ascott, thoroughly quiet and lazy.  The weather was glorious.  Mrs Ashby and her daughter were most kind.  They fed us scrumptiously – real butter all the time – asparagus two days running for dinner, and potatoes mashed with butter.  We did a little walking.  The Cotswolds make glorious walking country, and although we were above the wooded region, the lanes and meadows were very pretty.  We also borrowed a boat from the Mill, which was our nearest neighbour, and paddled about on the Evenlode, in which we bathed one afternoon.

So far our papers have been boring in the extreme, though quite fair and possible1.  I do not feel as though I have done a single a question!  Of course I felt very fuddle-headed on the morning of the Pol. Sci. Paper –  Saturday and a Thunder Storm in the afternoon did not improve matters.  However, I have spent most of today in bed, and am glad to be alright for the foreign and special papers this week.

We have been very carefully looked after.  Doris took us to tea on the river on Thursday, Joyce gave us tea with strawberries and cream, the former from Evelyn’s own garden, on Friday, and on Saturday Evelyn gave me tea as she had no afternoon paper.

My Viva does not begin until July 7, so I shall come down on Monday, June 21st, as usual, probably by an afternoon train, if that will suit you.  I shall have to come up again for a night for my Viva.

We have settled up with the lady in William Street for the room opposite Doris – 25/- per week for the rooms.  I have to find a bedroom out, as we decided we would rather sleep separately.  Doris has done all the negotiation for us.

My dearest love to Daddie and Max.

Your loving daughter,


1An enviable sang-froid about the exams!

The next letter will be posted on 20 June 2017.

5 June 1920

C/o Mrs Ashby,

Coldstones Farm,

Ascott under Wychwood,



                My dear Mother,

Very many thanks for the parcel.  The shortbread is delicious, and I was very grateful for the washing, likewise for the money.  By the way, I don’t know whether I ought to have the latter, as Daddie left me £1.  I will hold it over for the following week if you like.

I sent you off a parcel of washing just before we left Oxford, including my yellow and white frock which has got very dirty, as I have worn it a lot this term.  Could you let me have it back as soon as possible, as I may want it next week-end. May I also have back the silk pyjamas, as I don’t think the nightgown which I am wearing at present will last more than one week.

I enjoyed having Daddie in Oxford immensely, and I think he liked the sunset from my window, which he saw every evening.

5.6.20The crew and cox, Margot far left.5.6.20The crew and cox, Margot far left.

5.6.20The crew and cox, Margot far left.

We had a very nice eight this morning – the real eight.  Even Best was pleased with us!  We met the Kingston steamer on our way up, and it rather spoilt our time, but we came up from Iffley in 12 min. 45 sec.  Evelyn and I also had a very nice swim this morning.

I think we have got rooms for next year, just opposite Doris.  In fact it was Doris who got them for us.  We shall have either to share a bedroom or have one out.  There is quite a nice little sitting room.  We come to a final decision on Tuesday.

We had quite a jolly tennis party yesterday with our two friends from Worcester.  We were not outshone this time, in fact we played distinctly better than our partners, for Mr Ady is having to learn to play left handed, owing to a wound in his right elbow, while Mr Brand is really a rowing man.

This is a very quiet little village.  The farm house is old and rambling, with quaint old fire places.  Our bedroom has oak beams and latched doors, and the room where we have our meals has a round open hearth and two  chimney seats, all of which was accidently [sic] unearthed from behind a comparatively modern grate.

Mrs Ashby is well known to Miss Levett and Miss Coate.  She seems to have educated her children well, for one is an authority on agriculture at the school of rural Economy in Oxford, one daughter is teaching, and another was at Milham Ford School.

Gwen came to tea with us on Thursday.  She is only in Oxford for a week.  She looked very  well.

Much love to Daddie and Max.  I am glad we are fixed up all right for Buxton, but hope it will not prove a tiring holiday for you.

Your loving daughter,


The next letter to be posted on 13 June 2017.

2 June 1920

St. Hilda’s Hall



                My dear Mother,

I am so sorry not to have written to you before this week.  I sent off a parcel of washing.  Very many thanks for your letters and the note.

Our address this weekend will be1

C/o Mrs Ashby

Coldstones Farm

Ascot under Wychwood


Last week was not very thrilling, but very hot and stuffy.  Eights occupied the first three days.  On the Thursday we had a very nice tea party, a friend of Evelyn’s from the House, do. of Joyce’s from Keble, and Gilbert.

On Saturday Evelyn and I went to tea with the B.  They have a wee little furnished house in a street behind the Wilberforce.  She and Mrs B. were most kind, and told us all about their travels.  They both looked much better than when we saw them first.

On Monday Joyce and I had a first-rate game of tennis with May Kingsley’s two brothers.  They were awfully hot stuff and we played very badly, but I do like playing with men!  You simply have got to play well!

We have been doing lots of swimming lately – as Joyce is entering for the Varsity race against Cambridge.  We have four of our people in and as one is in two races we fill five out of nine places for Oxon.  Not bad for the smallest College!

Much love to Max

Your loving daughter


1The tradition was that you took a break just before your final exams, a ‘Schools Weekend’.

The next letter to be posted on 5 June 2017.

27 May 1920

St. Hilda’s Hall



My dearest Daddie,

Ever so many thanks for your letter and the cheque, which have just arrived.

I can tell you about the payment of the grant, as I asked Miss Talbot about it, but forgot to mention it in my letter.  I get 1/3 of the £28 at the beginning of each term – the increase comes by cheque at the end of the term.

I will see what we can do about rooms at once.  We shall have to take them provisionally anyway, as they may have to be subjected to the university delegation, so I could always withdraw if anything unforeseen occurred.

The course up here has not the reputation of Cambridge or London, because it has only just been organised.  It does not lay so much stress on the practical side, but it does the theoretical part better.  The latter is rather neglected both at Cambridge and London, but here we have McDougall1, the great psychology man.  The main point is that it is training, and counts the same for the pension, which if you remember is the main reason why I am training at all!  Other people are getting most attractive jobs offered them straight from here.

Schools2 begin on Thurs. June 10th and last till the following Wed.  The previous weekend I shall be at Ascot under Wychwood until Tuesday, June 8th.  Could you come up either on that Tuesday – I shall not do any work in between that and Schools – or this very week-end, May 29th which is the only free one I have?  Any time next week before Sat. would do as well, if you don’t particularly want the week-end.  What about Max?

Your loving daughter


1McDougall – William McDougall, 1871 – 1938, who worked first in UK and then in USA.  He wrote a number of well known textbooks, and developed the theory of instinct and social psychology.

2Final degree exams.

The next letter to be posted on 2 June 2017.

22 May 1920

St. Hilda’s Hall



My dear Daddie,

Ever so many thanks for your letter and the cheque.  I duly paid up all my debts.  Here is the statement of accounts you wanted.

Amount of Your cheque £20. 0.0
B’s cheque     5. 0.0
Reserved against this term     2.10.0
Private Money     4. 6.0.






So that all you need to refund is £4.”6.”0.

I went to Miss Talbot and had my information duly confirmed, but yesterday she wrote to say that she had misread the regulations, and that people applying only for one year were eligible only for the maintenance grant.

This of course is a great blow, and means that I could not save you any money by this method.  If only myself were concerned, I would let the matter rest here.  But Joyce is even more concerned than myself, as she will have a rotten time here next year without either of us.  Therefore I want to put this question to you – would the expense be greater here than at home?  If I don’t get the scholarship at Clapham and I don’t think I shall, as your income doesn’t look so small on paper as it is in fact, you will have to pay £24 for my fees, keep me and give me an allowance for dress as well as pocket money.  The fees here are £21, and I should want 10/- a week, i.e. £4 a term extra to the government grant to live on.  I can get from the government £98 guaranteed, plus 1/3 – i.e. £9 – for extra cost of living, which is not likely to go down next year.  We think we could between us live on £2.”0.”0 per week each – i.e. £16 per term.

Now don’t I cost quite 10/- per week to keep at home?  You would have to pay my fees anyway.  Of course I should want the same allowance as I have now – without the extras, for my social expenses would not be nearly so heavy outside Hall.  In London I should want an allowance for fares – travelling to lectures and schools, for it would not be all at Clapham.  Miss Talbot says that I could do any extra teaching necessary out of term easily at home in one of the adjacent High schools.

I don’t want to press this matter too urgently, and I know you will tell me quite frankly if you can’t  Personally I shan’t mind much.  Of course, Oxford is worth living in digs for, but it wouldn’t be so nice as in Hall.

I got a really good target last Tuesday – 92 out of a possible 100 – a smaller target than usual – 6 bulls, five in the lower half of the bull, four of them nicely grouped in the right hand bottom corner.

Your loving daughter


The next letter to be posted on 27 May2017.

18 May 1920

St. Hilda’s Hall



My dear Mother,

I am so sorry not to have written to you for so long.  Last week was exactly like a whirlwind – one ­– thing after another!  Very nice and exciting, but rather tiring.

I think we gave Phyllis a good time.  I tried to make it as restful for her as possible, because I knew she would be tired.  So we kept to the river as much as we could.  She took the fine weather away with her.


Auntie and Uncle1 did not have such luck.  They had a break-down on the way and arrived here an hour late – just in time to give me supper and take me home.  Next morning I took Auntie shopping and round Oxford while Uncle Cyril sold his car.  I had lunch with them at “the Roebuck”, and they came to tea with me before they departed for Leamington.  Maisie Nicoll refused to believe that Uncle Cyril was my uncle, as he looked too young from behind!

On the following Friday I got let in for a nice surprise – namely a twenty-first birthday party – Maisie Nicoll asked me to dinner with her people at “the George”.  We had a topping time – eight of us.

This week has been equally trying.  The Fête occupied all our energies up to Wednesday.  The Folk-dancing, Wax-works and Ferry quarrelled over my body – which to improve matters was not very fit at the time!  However, we survived, and made, I think, almost enough to pay up our quota to the New Women’s Hospital.

On Thursday the Eights began.  We were on Balliol barge on Thursday and Saturday, and on the river in a punt on Friday.  Tomorrow we go again on Balliol barge – to tea with Gilbert.

Yesterday we had a great time.  Evelyn’s friends at Worcester asked her and me to their Eights’ Week performance of “Pompey the Great” by Masefield2, with Doris as chaperone.  The show was given in their playing field at 9.0. p.m. the pavilion being used as the stage.  It was a perfect evening, and after it was over we came back in the dark along the lake, the path being outlined in fairy lights.  We had to skirt two sides of the lake, and in the distance the people on the farther side looked like ghosts crossing a bridge, as all you could see was feet and a faint blur of colour if their dresses were light – reflected in the lake.  Mr Brand and Mr Ady strolled home with us, and we arrived in Hall about 11.45 p.m., having forgotten to ask for late leave!

Today Evelyn and I had a picnic lunch on the river, and then with Joyce and Gilbert, who had been joy-riding on Gilbert’s motor byke, we had tea with Doris in Milham Ford School tennis-court.  Doris’ mother is here, and two Merton men and one Balliol man made up the party.

The weather is now glorious.  Many thanks for the washing – the jumper has not run so much as Joyce’s – and also for your letter this morning.  My best love to Max.

Your loving daughter,


1Auntie and Uncle are Ethel and Cyril, Margot’s mother’s sister and brother-in-law, the tea planter from Sri Lanka/Ceylon. No mention is made in the letters to the youngest of her mother’s family, Freddy.  He was very deaf and had no special help at school.  He worked in the gas works, had a thumb blown off, went nearly blind, but was a delightful old man, much loved by Margot and her brother.  He was very happily married to Emily.

2Masefield, the future poet laureate.

The next letter will be posted on 22 May 2017.