30 November 1919

St. Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford.

30.11.19.

                My dear Mother,

Thank you very much indeed for your letter, the money, and the parcel, which was a miracle of packing.  The buns arrived in a perfect condition, and so did the blouse.  The buns are now no more, I regret to say.  I hope Daddie is really better.  I wish he would not get these colds.  I should think it would be better for you if Auntie did not come again before Christmas, particularly as she still wants so much nursing.  I shall be sorry to miss her, but would rather have my Mother to myself in the first part of the vac.  There is a lot to be decided, and want to talk it all over with you and Daddie in peace.

We have had some good fours this week.  The Eight rows on Friday.  I am to row 7, and feel rather bucked about it, as it is the most important place on bow side.  I think I got there by weight as much as by merit!  Next term we hope to be allowed to row Eights in term.

On Wednesday the Bursar’s brother came to talk to us about nationalism in India, and told us a lot of very interesting things about the country, and particularly about missionary efforts there.  He is going on an entirely new line.  We talked a lot about latest Bill on India.  The same evening after dinner, the Historical Society heard a very literary paper on “Ben Johnson”, which it felt quite incompetent to discuss.

On Friday Evelyn, Joyce and I went to hear Dr Collison1 and Mr Herbert Trench2, two absolutely first-rate drawing-room entertainers, at Balliol.  Joyce’s brother Gilbert got us the tickets and was of course there to escort us, and the Moberly let us go without a chaperone!

Doris Coleman has been to tea with me today.  She is quite flourishing.  She shewed me an interesting letter she had had from little Marsden from Paris.

I have promised Gwen to see her on Tuesday, and have offered Mr Bower Wednesday.  That is as far as my engagements extend at present.

My dearest love to Daddie and Max, and Auntie.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1Dr Collison still to be traced.

2Herbert Trench, 1865–1923, poet and playwright.

The next letter to be posted on 18 January 2017.

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23 November 1919

P.S.  I went to tea with Mrs Moore yesterday.  They are both well.  Hugh is growing bananas!

St Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford.

23.11.19

My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter, the note, and the parcel.  The cake is a beauty, and much appreciated, except  by Evelyn, who never eats chocolate cake.  We tell her that the logical extension of that principle is that she should not eat chocolate.  She doesn’t see that!

I am so sorry not to have sent my washing.  As a matter of fact it was already packed up about a fortnight ago, but I put it into my cupboard and forgot to post it.  That is the worst of such a convenient cup-board.  Could you let me have the combs back as soon as possible.  I am so sorry about it.

Last Sunday we had a jolly hymn singing at the Shel.  Dr Allen was in his best form, bullying the public.  We had some fine new airs, including one of his own composition to “Christian, dost thou see them on the holy ground”.  It is really quite thrilling.  You can hear the troops of Midian prowl and prowl around.  After that was over I went to tea at Dr Selbie’s.  A funny little man from Queen’s was there, and we pulled each other’s legs for about an hour concerning the life led by Women Students and undergrads respectively.

On Wednesday we all went to see “Abraham Lincoln”, it being the only thing worth seeing this term.  It was an entirely different caste.  On the whole I liked the Lincoln better than the London one, but none of the rest were so good, while the Chorus man was rotten.  The acting tended to become melodramatic in places, which were not so at the Lyric.  Still, the play’s the thing!

I am glad Auntie is coming to stay with you, but hope she will not want so much nursing as last time.  Will she stay till I come home?  Both Ethel1 and Doris want me to come home on Sat. 6th for the Bazaar, but I am not going to miss a moment of this place for any of them.  Let them take their men!  So I shall come home on the following Monday as usual.

Mr Bower is coming to town this vac and wants me to meet him in town.  Shall I do so, or ask him home?  I knew that would be the next thing!  By the way, if I can coax Isabel home for the week-end before Christmas, may I do so?  She will be up in Oxford till then.  We have certain ideas together, besides the mere pleasure of having her.

Please thank Max for his jolly letter.  Did I tell you I was acting as secretary for a W.E.A. Study Circle on the Fisher Act?  We had our first meeting on Thursday, sans chaperone, only a post-grad. as camouflage!  That’s the Moberly, who by the way is a great success!  It is such a relief to have a woman of sense in Hall at last.  Mr Jones, the W.E.A. Sec., is a mine of information.  He has taught, and is married, which I think accounts for my liking him from the very first.  The other male present is one Francis Terry, who I am sure was in my first form at School – Miss Salt’s.  I have since had three other applications.  Best love to Daddie and Max

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1Ethel, as opposed to Aunt Ethel, and Doris are both old girls of Streatham Hill High School.

The next letter will be posted on 30 November 2016.

16 November 1919

16.11.19

 

My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter, parcel, and the note enclosed.  The blouses came beautifully.  I am delighted about “Parsifal”.  I hope the singers will be good.  The shortbread has been greatly appreciated – chiefly by Joyce, Evelyn, and myself, up to date.

I went to quite an interesting meeting last night.  Mr Asquith1 spoke to the Oxford Liberal Club at the Town Hall.  He spoke very well, but gave one the impression that he was played out physically and spiritually, though not mentally.  Mrs Asquith looked about 16 in figure and in the distance, and tried hard to flirt with our friend Earp, who drooped on the chair next to her.  Gilbert Murray2 took the chair, and gave it as his opinion that the last election was “profiteering in war passions”.

Sir John Simon3, Mr Spender4 and John Masefield5 also spoke.  I liked Sir J. Simon best.  Mr Spender said that the relations between statesmen and journalists were usually unholy alliances or unseemly recriminations.  I think I shall join the O.U Lib. Club.  How did you spend Armistice Day?

I must stop now, as our Study Circle must have begun without me.  I am sorry that this is such a scrappy note.  Please give my dearest love to Daddie and Max,

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1Mr Asquith, former Prime Minister.

2Gilbert Murray – (1866-1957) was Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford.

3Sir John Simon, 1873-1954, politician and statesman, an ‘Asquithean’, a lawyer currently having lost his Spen Valley seat which he later regained.

4Mr Spender – Edward Harold Spender (1864-1926) was a British author, journalist and novelist. His works include The Story of the Home Rule Session (1893).

5John Masefield:  the successor as poet laureate to Robert Bridges who held the post in Margot’s time at Oxford.

The next letter to be posted on 23 November 2016

9 November 1919

9.11.19

                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for the parcel.  The cake arrived just in the nick of time for a freshers’ cocoa-party.  Daddie did leave me some money, but most of it went quite soon.  A big bill for books at Parker’s, a few washing bills, and several cocoa and tea parties, all necessary ones, soon eat up the rest.  But I can manage until next week.  That’s the worst of so many freshers, the entertaining business becomes so long-drawn out.  I have only had about half the 30 so far.

I am sending home another parcel.  I shall not want the pyjamas back, but I shall need the blouses and stockings.

Daddie and I had a very jolly time on Monday and Tuesday.  I went to dinner with him at the Roebuck on Monday evening, and brought him back to Hall with me for cocoa.  On Tuesday we had lunch together at the George.

On the whole this week has been rather less hectic than usual, and I have had time to cultivate my friends, chiefly Joyce and Gerry.  The Levett has been perfectly angelic this term.  On my last international relations paper she put – “Your work often shews a clearness of perception which is first class, but – etc. etc”.  I felt very distinctly bucked, I can tell you!  It is all Grant Bobs’ fault, anyway!

Would you please send me

a) Some red wool to mend my coat

b) Some large linen buttons

c) Some thread for re-threading my brown beads.

Dorothea is up this week-end – as original and amusing as ever.  She is now teaching at St Ethelburga’s School, Harrogate.

Last night the freshers gave a dramatic performance – a very good effort.  It was mostly burlesque – a take-off of Sheridan’s “School for Scandal” was the best.  There was a priceless remark in the burlesque of Tennyson’s “Princess”.  The Lady Psyche paraphrased the motto over the gate as “Let no man enter here unchaperoned”, which was vigorously applauded by the audience.

I hope that you and Max have not been too lonely this week-end without Daddie.  He seems to have regularly got going again on his travels.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

The next letter will be posted on 16 November 2016.

8 November 1919

8.11.19

My dear Max,

Many happy returns of your birthday today.  I am sending you 7/6, 5/- of which is your own, to buy a lamp with, as I have decided to keep mine, and buy a back lamp up here.  So will you cancel my order at the shop in Acre Lane, and get them to sell you the lamp instead of sending it here.

How is the toe?  I hope it is on the mend.  It was a pity that you have had to miss so much footer, but as some of it was only soccer, I don’t suppose you minded that.

I hear you had a “blow-out” at half-term.  Was the Deutschland like the other German U-boat you saw?

What are you and Mother going to do with yourselves this week-end?  You will be a little lonely without Daddie.

Barnabas1 is still quite safe and sound, for a wonder.  This is an awful city to cycle in. The mud lies about in layers, and a cyclist should have nine lives a day, like the Cheshire cat!  I am sure that I have ten narrow escapes per diem.

Please thank Mother for her parcel, and say I will write to her to-morrow.  Must stop now, as I want to catch the 9.30 post.

Yours with love,

Margot.

1Barnabas is the bicycle.  My father was 9 years younger than his sister.  He was born in 1905 so this was his 14th birthday and he is becoming quite useful in the matter of looking after bikes!

The next letter will be posted on 9 November 2016.

2 November 1919

St. Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford.

2.11.19.

My dear Mother

Many thanks for your parcel, and the letter and note enclosed, and also for the stockings and letter this morning.  I am glad that you think it would be all right to correspond with Mr Bower.  He wrote me a very interesting letter.  He is quite well bred, and interesting, if a little earnest!

I have had a letter from Phyllis also this evening.  I am glad that you have been taking her and John Cuthbert out.  I hope that you and Mrs Dixon will enjoy “the Mikado”.  I feel very envious of you – when I have time to consider the matter at all.

I have had a busy week as usual.  On Tuesday Gerry and I went to No 211 Iffley Road to dinner.  The lady there is perfectly charming.  She is quite young, comparatively speaking, a clergyman’s widow, who boards two of our freshers.  On Wednesday at the Historical Society, Mr J.J. Rousseau, an Afrikander, read a paper on the Great Trek, otherwise the first expansion of the Dutch colony into the Orange River region.  I didn’t somehow expect S. Africa to have had a history before the Boer War!

On Friday we had a Hallowe’en cocoa party in Isabel’s room.  We ate nuts and told ghost stories in the dark.

Yesterday we had a ripping gig – four.  Best was pleased to say I rowed well!  So I felt bucked.  I think I shall be in the Eight when it comes along.  Yesterday afternoon I had a very jolly punt load and tea-party – all second years – in honour of Mary Locker who is up here for the week-end.

I hope you will soon get rid of the children.  I do think Betty unconscionable!

I hope to dine with Daddie tomorrow night.  Please give my love to Max, and best wishes for the toe!  I am glad he did well in Greek.  Tell him to be first next time.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

The next letter will be posted on 8 November 2016.