8 November 1917

St. Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford.

8.11.17

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter and also for the parcel, which arrived quite safe and sound.  The gingerbread was very welcome, and also the jam and spoons.  I may say that Dulwich Prep. 1 is not the only place where your cookery is greatly appreciated.  It is the same story here – the shortbread in particular was a great success.  Thank you also for the sateen and cloths.  I am not sure that there is enough muslin left for the curtain – I really haven’t had time to measure yet.  This is the first spare moment I have yet had to write a letter.  The fact of the matter is I have now begun to know people, and the spare moments tend to get filled in with “social intercourse”.

We are going to do a play at the end of this term – a Japanese fairy play called “Reflections”.  I am to play the heroe [sic] – a hen-pecked husband, I believe.  Anyway we want heaps and heaps of kimonos, for a pedlar comes along with some to sell.  Could you send me Maxted’s and Daddie’s in your next parcel? – (not yours).  I believe Ella has enough really striking ones for us to wear.  Could you also send a pair of those sandal affairs – they might come in very useful.  I regret to say that I have smashed the handle off one of my cups.  I did it myself.  Do you think it would be possible to send my Goss2 china here?  If you don’t, never mind, for I can always borrow.  If you do, please send the other three spoons as well.  Thanks very much for the spoon and fork – they will be extremely useful.

I was very pleased to get your letter after the raid.  I was most awfully anxious when I saw in Thursday’s papers that they had been S.W.  But it only lasted for half an hour, for your letter came by that morning’s post, much to my relief.  But Stockfield Road is quite near enough.  I am glad Rita no longer lives there.

We had a lively debate in Hall last Friday – the motion before the house was that “emotion is a surer guide to conduct than reason”.  There was an old student up that week-end who was a real gem.  She always had some delightfully ingenuous remark to make.  The debate was for the most part distinctly off the point.  For some reason or other they kept dragging in Aristotle by the roots of his hair.

The Old Students’ meeting was held in London this year, and I heard about it from two different sources.  First Miss Burrows was kind enough to mention the fact that she had seen Miss Macrae, who had enquired after me.  Then the Bursar told me that Miss Macrae had been making tender enquiries after her “grand-daughter”.  The Bursar is awfully jolly, and has promised to go walking with me on Friday.  All the dons are most kind.  Miss Levett was perfectly sweet at my last coaching – she asked me about my work with Mr Stampa, and suggested to me how to divide my reading.  She also gave me suggestions for lighter reading, to fill in the gaps, as it were.  She really is jolly, although very shy.  Miss Burrows very kindly asked if I had heard from you after the raid.

Last Tuesday Mrs Fawcett came to L.M.H. to the Oxford Students’ branch of the Women’s Suffrage Society on the future work of the  union.  She is awfully nice, and doesn’t look nearly as old as she must be.  She said that the future work of the union must be to secure votes for the women still left unenfranchised by the Franchise Bill, and also to work for reform of the laws which bore more hardly upon women than on men.  She was quite amusing, but oh, the L.M.H. dining hall is stuffy!

Mrs Harris continues to do my washing for me very nicely.  I sent her a blouse last week, and she did it and the pyjamas beautifully.  She charges one 1/2d each for handkerchiefs and if there is an odd number, she gives me the benefit of the doubt, as it were, and charges me 4d for 9, so now I am careful to send an even number.

Is there any money due to me soon?  I’m not really in want, but this week’s expenses are rather heavy, what with the D’Oyly Carte3, and my shoes being worn out by my peregrinations on the Oxford cobbles, and having to be mended – and my washing bill increases every week.  Accordingly I can see the end coming.

Last night we went to see “Iolanthe”4.  Such a nice party – it couldn’t have been better if we had selected it – in fact it included all the people I am specially keen on.  Miss Winslow5 chaperoned the party – there were also Ella and her four 3rd year friends – Miss Tutin, the hockey captain, who dresses simply perfectly, and sails off the hockey field after a breathless game as if she had just come out of a band box – (but her hair did come down last time , much to everybody’s secret delight) –  Miss Faulkner, the beauty of the Hall – and awfully nice as well, and a topping actress – Miss Cowan, an extremely jolly Scottish girl – Miss Rathbone, very quiet and scarcely speaks a word, but fags for the rest and is generally the most unselfish member of the party.  There were also the two Cheltenham kiddies, my two particular friends Joan Fisher and Joyce Woodward, and myself.  We got into the second row of the pit, just behind Ella and Co, and saw beautifully.  The play was just beautiful.  I really think it is the prettiest thing I have ever seen.  Lytton was superb and most dignified as the Lord Chancellor.  The chorus of peers was exquisitely “got up”.  Each one was meant to be someone real, I think – Disraeli was unmistakable.  The Parliament yard scene  made me feel quite homesick.

Please thank Daddie for his letter and tell him I will write to him tomorrow.  I have quite a lot to tell him, but want to get to sleep early tonight, so will not write any more now,

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

P.S. I remembered Emmie’s birthday all on my own.

8.11.17

1Dulwich Prep, the junior departmentl of Dulwich College, was where Margot’s brother went to school.

2Goss china is mainly known for small commemorative ornaments but this would seem to refer to a teaset.

3The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company performed the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan, based at the Savoy Theatre when in London.

4Iolanthe is one of these operas.

5Miss Wilmslow is the Bursar. It was necessary for the women students to go out to the theatre accompanied by a chaperone.  What is not clear is whether there were chaperones at tutorials, called ‘coachings’ by Margot, when the tutor was a man.

Next Letter will be posted on 12 November 2014.

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