24 May 1919

St. Hilda’s Hall,



                My dear Mother,

Thank you ever so much for the cake with enclosed letter and note.  The cake will be invaluable for the Eights Week tea-party I have decided to have on the river on Tuesday – if it is fine.  I am sending you home some washing – stockings and the new mauve blouse, as arranged.  By the way, if you could find and send me that very old little silk blouse that matches my little white silk skirt, it would come in very useful for playing tennis, which is impossible this weather in anything but whites.  It would just make me an extra cool dress, and I think the blouse would just about hang together.

This week has been hectic as usual – the weather being perfect.  Today it is trying to rain which is a bad sign for Eights Week, beginning tomorrow.  I do hope it is fine for at least part of it.  There is not a room to be got in the whole of Oxford from this week-end to next, inclusive.  However, I feel that if the weather breaks I shall get a little work done – perhaps!

I have simply lived out of doors since the second week of term, and am consequently as brown as a berry.  I forget whether I told you that I have qualified myself to pole a canoe, which is great fun!  I have also had one test for my boat whole, and shall have the other next Wednesday afternoon.  In rowing I am at present trying to get used to the gig, which really is rather a trying arrangement, as it rolls so abominably.  I seem to be rowing at an angle of 45º the whole time, so how can I help it if I feather on the water!

24.5.19 On the river with Mr Best coxing

24.5.19 On the river with Mr Best coxing

We have had a very worrying week.  In the first place – there was the election of the S.S. for next year.  Bronwen was almost unanimously elected, much to everyone’s satisfaction.  The next trouble was the play – we were going to act “Quality Street” 1  last Friday, but on Wednesday Betty Graham, our leading lady, was recalled home to her brother at Edinburgh by an urgent telegram.  We have since seen in the Times that her mother has died in India.  There was a great debate as to whether we should have the play with a substitute, but we finally decided to wait for Betty.  When we had got over that, a fresh agitation arose over the out-house problem.  I don’t know whether Daddie has told you that we are going to have three out houses next year.  The B. made a particular appeal to our year to volunteer to go out, as she wants us to create a Hall atmosphere in each hostel.  Of course none of us want to go in the very least, and at first none of us had any intention of volunteering, but we ended by all doing so.  Thus the B. will get what she has been playing for all along, her own choice as to who goes out and who stays in.  The only one of us who really wants to go out is Isabel.   It will be a wicked shame to break up our year – the best year that there has been for some time.  Our present first years are such rotters that the B. does not think them responsible enough to go out in large numbers, so it will fall on us.  It will be miserable for us anyway, for we shall be separated whether we stay in or go out!

Tommy is coming up to Oxford for a week on June 4th.  She and Miss Coate are coming to tea with me on the river on the following Friday.  I think I shall ask Isabel to support me.  We ought to have some fun.  Lots of people have birthdays this term, and celebrate by picnics on the river.  I was at one yesterday.  May Spurway’s 20th.  We had a most enormous cake and chocolates galore, and were very hilarious.  Bronwen and Babe have their birthdays on the 29th and 31st of this month respectively, so they are giving a joint tea picnic on the 30th to the whole of our year.

On Friday the university and city branches of the W.E.A. had a joint debate – the motion being “that this house approves of a general strike unless troops and munitions are withdrawn from Russia immediately.”  Five men of the N.C.C. were there and lots of other cranks, so you can guess what fun we had.  The proposer was a rabid trade unionist, the opposer an ordinary middle class sort of man, the third speaker one of our young enthusiasts with rather ill digested ideas, the fourth a plain working man who was the only one that talked sense.  Then all the cranks in Oxford spoke in the debate that followed .  One little man would have delighted you.  He called himself a trade-unionist agitator, and he spoke with a dramatic viciousness that was very funny.  He kept on alluding the “this hypocritical government of ours that is bamboozled by that little wizard from Wales!” 2

I am taking this week end very quietly, for various reasons.  I am just off to tea with Doris Coleman plus Matthias, so I hope to do a little playing.  The weather is repenting of its tears, so perhaps tomorrow will be fine after all.

Please give my love to Daddie and Max.

Your loving daughter,


1’Quality Street’ is a play by James Barrie, written before he became famous for ‘Peter Pan’.

2The little wizard from Wales is Lloyd George, the Prime Minister.

The next letter will be posted on 1 June 2016.