31 October 1919


My dear Mother,

This letter is strictly private and confidential.  I want a little friendly advice.  You remember my adventure at Chinley?  Well Mr Bower1 sent me at the beginning of this term a snap of the Cam. which I admired at Chinley.  I wrote back and thanked him for it quite “definitively” and politely.  This morning I have again a very nice letter from him all about the S.C.M. and other activities in Cambridge.  The point is he proposes to continue the correspondence, unless I shew by not answering his letter that I do not care to do so.  What ought I to do?  I think it would be great fun to get news from Cambridge – I should enjoy it immensely.  But I don’t want any awkward developments.  Do you think it would be possible in a strictly friendly way?

I wish I had more experience in these affairs, but I am really frightfully young and innocent in this sort of thing.  I know that you had plenty of experience!

Isn’t there one of my photos still remaining?  I mean the large size?  This has nothing to do with the first part of the letter!  Joyce has asked me for one.  I would like the big one.  She found the extra proof which I had of that photo, with the supercilious expression, and refuses to give it up until I give her a really nice one.

Your loving daughter,


1Mr Bower is the Cambridge undergraduate Margot met at Swanwick and travelled with to Stockport in the summer.

The next letter to be posted on 2 November 2016


26 October 1919

St. Hilda’s Hall



                My dear Mother,

Very many thanks for the parcel, and your letter and the money enclosed.  The blouse travelled beautifully.  I forget whether I said last week that the pink and white striped blouse fitted quite as well as the blue and white, which is to say it’s a wee bit on the small side, but quite possible.

26.10.19  The Eight with MrBest as cox.

26.10.19 The Eight with MrBest as cox.

I don’t think I ever had such a hectic time as we have had this week.  On Monday Dr A. kept us till 10.30 p.m. because he was pleased to say we sang badly, which he always does.  Anyway the Mass is a brute!  On Tuesday we went to an S.C.M. meeting which should have been at Somerville, and turned out to be at St. Hugh’s, half as far again!  On Wednesday I had two coachings, a hockey practice, and the historical society.  Miss Levett was quite angelic in the special coaching.  She talked philosophy with us all the time.  On Thursday, a man came to photograph us for the Ladies’ Pictorial or some such rag.  Anyway all we gig people had to trot down to the Isis at 1.10 to be photographed in the Eight.  The joke is that it was a fixed seater, owing to Salters’ mistake, and we should have had some difficulty in rowing it if we had tried, being all gig people.  Of course we always have a sliding clinker!  You should have seen Best and the photographer!  He wanted to take us across stream at first!  Then when Best stood up in the stern holding the lines in his best style, the young man told him “you can sit down now”!  Best was finally provoked into remarking that he had been on the river 60 years!1  After all this I had a practice match with the 1st XI against L.M.H. and Mrs Selbie to tea!

On Friday I took intercession at 7.50 a.m. and also opposed the motion in debate – “That it is better to build beautifully than quickly.”  It was not at all a bad debate – no pauses, and the freshers spoke up quite decently.  Yesterday Gwen came to tea, and in the evening we had a W.E.A. meeting,  Today my activities have been confined to writing an essay and hearing Dr Selbie preach a very good sermon at Mansfield this morning.

Gwen goes home on Tuesday, rather apprehensively, fearing to find a house full of Aist furniture and relations!  I have promised to go and stay with her after Easter.  Yesterday when we were walking round the meadows we met Llewelyn and Dolly.  It was the first time that I had seen Gwen’s brother.  I rather liked the look of him.

Doris writes me to say that her engagement is now public property.  Una tells me that Kitty Anderson is also engaged, and Gwen heard from Myra Atkinson that Enid Podmore had done likewise.  I’m glad you lectured Phyllis on the subject.  Did John Cuthbert behave himself?

I had a letter from Auntie Lucy this week.  She and Grannie sounded pretty well, but the Whites are in trouble again as usual.  Only the maid, this time, however.

My dearest love to Daddie and Max.  I hope the toe is better.

Your loving daughter,


1There is certainly a photo of the rowing eight in which Best is standing.  The story behind it makes it all the more interesting.

The next letter will be posted on 31 October 2016.

19 October 1919

St. Hilda’s Hall,



My dear Mother,

Thank – you very much indeed for the two parcels, and for the note and letter enclosed in the second one.  I was very pleased to receive the money, as we are being asked for our contributions to the B.’s portrait this week-end.  The levy per head is very reasonable, only 6/8d.  The portrait is very like, and hangs over one of the fire-places in the dining room.  The next expense will be the Women’s Union, sub. £1.1.0.  It is commonly known as the Women’s Workhouse!

We have had an extremely busy week.  I only spent one evening after dinner in my own room during the whole of this week.  We are singing the Bb Mass by Bach this term, thus really justifying our name.  It is frightfully difficult, but very beautiful.  Dr Allen thinks we are going to do it in one term, and promises us more modern music next term.  We are to have the orchestra to practise with us all the term.  On Tuesday we had a W.E.A. committee meeting, and the Sec. Mr Bell of Balliol, resigned.  Mr. Jones, also of Bal., offered to take on the job, provided that he could have an assistant.  As Miss Smith did not seem able to offer, I had to.  More work!

The freshers seem quite a possible lot.  I have not quite got hold of all of them yet, but have entertained Miss Thompson, and two of the three post-graduate students the B. wrote to me about.  The Cardiff one is very nice indeed, also the Manchester one.  The Calcutta one really comes from Burma, and is I think an Eurasian, but is very nice.  They seem on the whole a much nicer lot than last years’ bunch.

Gwen Woodward is still up here reading.  I have seen a lot of her.  She is in rooms near Worcester, waiting for Mr and Mrs Woodward, senior, to move into their new house at Chatham.  I have been hearing a good deal about the marriage.  Gwen is really very cut up about it, and is not a bit keen on going home.  She doesn’t really feel that she has a home now.  Kathleen Burton, the L.M.H. girl I met at the Pensions who came to supper one night with us, called on me on Thursday.  She was up for a commemoration service at L.M.H.  We had lunch together at the George on Friday, just before she went home.

In addition to all these little sociabilities, I have had two essays and a paper to prepare this week!  W. Hutchinson and I are coaching together for the Special – Grant Robertson is lecturing on it, and the Levett says he will in due course develop a discussion group, and finally a class.  I hope he will1!

Kenneth Rhodes is up at Corpus this term, for I have seen his name in the Gazette.  Llewelyn Woodward was at Corpus.

I hope to go to Mrs Moore’s next Sunday.  To-day I have a fire, and virtuously entertained freshers to tea.  I have written to Auntie Hilda, and will write to Auntie Lucy.

Please give my love to all the family.  I am sorry Arthur nearly made strawberry jam of himself, but was not surprised.  What did the Major say?  Please give my best love to Daddie and Max,

Your loving daughter,


The next letter will be posted on 26 October 2016.

12 October 1919




My dear Mother,

We arrived quite safely yesterday.  No St.H.H. person was on my train, so I had a cab to myself.  I secured a cab and a porter in less time than I have ever taken at that station, and manage to get myself and all my luggage, including my byke, into a hansome in about 5 minutes.  There were not very many on the train.  It is very nice to be back again.

My room is quite nice.  I have just finished putting my pictures up.  This room is much higher than my last, so I had to stand on top of my Moab1 before I could reach the picture rail.  I wish you could see the view from my windows.  From one of them there is apparently nothing between me and Magdalen but trees and bushes just on the turn.  The river is quite hidden but you see the little white bridge, apparently crossing from bush to bush.

I have of course left a few things at home – my bed socks, tea and sugar.  Never mind about the sugar if you can’t spare any, but I would like a little of Aunt Ethel’s2 tea as soon as you can send it, if you don’t mind – about ½lb.

So far I have not been able to make head or tail of the freshers.  I have found Mrs Katsch’s friend, and two of those the B. mentioned in her letter.  The history one from Cardiff seems very nice.  I have asked her and Thompson to tea on Tuesday.

I saw Doris for a few minutes yesterday.  She looked pretty well, and had had a very good time during the holidays.  She is enjoying the novel sensation of being a Senior Mistress – three new-comers having taken a lot of odd jobs off her shoulders.

Ruth —, I can’t remember her surname, anyway she is an Old Student of ours at present coaching in Oxford, has just been in to say the Gwen Woodward is staying in the same house as herself.  I sent back a message saying that I would come and see her tomorrow.

My dearest love to Daddie and Max.  I hope the house is still standing.

Your loving daughter,


1Moab – the washstand, as in ‘Moab is my washpot’.

2Aunt Ethel is Margot’s mother’s younger sister, married to Cyril Evans, a tea planter in Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon.

The next letter will be posted on 19 October 2016