16 June 1918

St. Hilda’s Hall

Oxford

16.6.18

                My dear Mother,

I am most awfully sorry not to have written last week – I do hope you did not worry.  You see it was like this – my letter home got, as it were, squeezed out between Doris and a time paper.  On the Saturday morning I had a three hours history time paper to do, and your parcel arrived in the middle.  It was an awful strain, that paper.  When it was finished I felt too limp for words – I crawled down to lunch, crawled up again to change, and then wandered down to the station to meet Doris colliding on the way with a fancy dress “life-boat” procession.  Grace Darling, Neptune, mermaids, etc.  Doris occupied my attention all the week end, and when she had gone I plunged into a very strenuous week of revising for a paper on XVIIth century, and didn’t remember until Friday that I hadn’t written home.  Then I thought I would wait until I had got your week-end letter, in case you wanted any particular information.

 

Thank you so much for your two letters and the accompanying parcels.  The butter has been a real treat and the ham travelled beautifully.  You will laugh if I tell you what I did with this week’s supply of ham.  When May brought in my water at 8.0 a.m. this morning (Sunday) I just turned over, and went to sleep again, and woke at 9.45 a.m.  Breakfast being cleared away at 9.30, I had to supply my own, so the ham came in very useful.  The Daddie’s cake1 is lovely this time. – it will be extremely useful this week, as I have a friend coming to tea, and also Isabel and I am going to take Miss Coate on the river for a supper picnic.  If you wouldn’t mind, may I have a parcel next week, because Miss Coleman and I are going to have a day on the river next Sunday, so I shall want some food.  Also I expect we shall sup on the river while H.P. is on.  The B. has given me leave to go on the river on the last Sunday in term, as it is the day before H.P.  I don’t know whether I told you about Miss Coleman – I met her at Bach Choir.  She was at Reading College, took London B.A. last October, and is now teaching at Milham Ford2, the high school you can see from any window.  She is great fun, and we have made friends this term.  I have been to tea with her, and she has come to tea with me, so you see we are on quite intimate terms.  I think it will be a very good thing to get right away from Hall and Hall people for a whole day just before my exam.

Thanks so much for the money you sent me by Doris – it was very welcome, as I had had to borrow about 10/- to cover my current expenses.  I spent £1 on birthday presents.  I got a really nice Oxford edition of Keats for Doris’ bookcase, 15/-.  She has such heaps of ordinary illustrated gift books that I finally decided against them, though I had a lovely time looking round all the booksellers in Oxford one wet afternoon.  It’s time Doris had some really good literature given her, and she doesn’t possess a Keats.  It’s as nicely bound as our prizes, so is quite suitable even for a millionairess’ twentyfirst!  I also got Ethel a perfectly charming little volume of Rabinadrath [sic] Tagore3, illustrated by an Indian artist, she having  expressed a desire to read Tagore.  It really is sweet.  The poetry is nearly all nursery and cradle songs.  That practically cleared me out of £1.  The other 10/- went last week, mainly on a “schools tea” (we have to entertain the schools people to tea after their papers, poor dears!) new stationery, and washing.  The result is I am again reduced to sixpence, so if you could conveniently advance me this 10/- you promised me towards Doris’ present I would be greatly obliged.  Doris was making inquiries about the Oxford sketch book for a friend, but finally decided she could get it in London, so shall I find you another for her?  There are several – some sketches and some coloured.  Or shall I get a single large view?  You can get awfully nice ones, like those wee ones I have, only bigger, for about 1/-.  There is no great hurry, as her birthday isn’t until Friday, June 28th, on which day I come home, so shall bring them with me.  Please tell me in your next letter which you would like me to do.

 

I am working like fury at present for H.P4.  Not that I have really so much to do – the papers give you a ripping choice – but I have a passion for getting my notes into a really beautiful state – and set books are rather bothering me.  Meanwhile have been settling next term’s work – I am to coach with Miss Levett for early English history- I particularly asked for this, and I rather think the Levett was flattered!  I am also to go to Grant Bob’s class on European History (1789 – 1885), and finish off the 19th century in the vac.  By the way, 18th century means 1660 -1901!

I shall probably come home on Friday 28th, and am due to start at the Pensions on the following Thursday or Friday.  I have promised Doris to keep Saturday 29th free, and if she has the afternoon off, she may have just a quiet celebration.  We are to go to Chelsea Hospital – hours 9-5 – screw 35/-.  So any gadding about you feel like doing must be between those two dates.  Wouldn’t you like to see the new Renaissance fantasy at the New Theatre?  Or is there anything else exciting on?

I don’t quite know how I shall get home, but suppose I shall manage somehow.  Here follow sending entirely disconnected scraps of information – Muriel has been elected S.S. for next year.  I have got my boat half, and am to be tested for my canoe captaincy tomorrow.  Gibbie is going to the London School of Economics when she goes down, so must ask her to meet Ethel.  The Pensions people are probably going to be planted in Furzedown training college, Mitcham Common.

I am sorry to hear that Teddie and Captain Faulkner are ill.  Is Teddie now at Dulwich?  I hope Mrs Faulkner has had better news of the Captain by now.  Please give my best love to Daddie and Maxted.  I am simply longing to be home.  We had a concert this afternoon.  I enclose programme.  The second song had only been presented once before and the other was the first time of singing!  We only had one practice, too.  The orchestra, reinforced from the London Symphony, was a dream in Egmont and the Cesar Franck.  Stanford5 is a most amusing benevolent shambling elderly man, rather unsteady on his feet, thought still very tall and broad.  He looks much more like an ancient university don than a musician.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

P.S. Bill of Extras just up.  Mine 16/6.  Not bad including your meals, Ethel’s visit, and a few of Doris’ meals.

 

1It would be wonderful to have the recipe for a ‘Daddie’s cake’.

2Milham Ford was a girl’s school in Margot’s day and became a further St Hilda’s building later.

3Rabinadrath Tagore = Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet and philosopher

4H.P – History Previous, the first University exam for Modern History.

5Stanford, Professor of Music at Cambridge.  Margot gives lovely evocation of the man who is now known mainly for his church music which is very familiar to anyone who sings in church choirs.

Next letter to be posted on 27 June 2015

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One thought on “16 June 1918

  1. Although the phrase does basically describe itself, I had not come across “illustrated gift books” before, so I looked them up. There is actually a very nice Wikipedia article about them (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_book). Gift books were a trend in the 19th century, and were lavishly decorated collections of essays, short fiction, and poetry that were intended to be purchased as gifts. The contents were usually of a sentimental or religious nature, and were often written by well-known authors of the day, such as Dickens, Poe, and Emerson. The decorative aspect included fancy bindings and borders, with engravings or colored plates for illustrations.

    While I imagine a “time paper” is just a timed exam that consists of one essay, I can’t actually find anything to prove or disprove this. Would love a link if anyone else finds anything!

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