27 May 1920

St. Hilda’s Hall



My dearest Daddie,

Ever so many thanks for your letter and the cheque, which have just arrived.

I can tell you about the payment of the grant, as I asked Miss Talbot about it, but forgot to mention it in my letter.  I get 1/3 of the £28 at the beginning of each term – the increase comes by cheque at the end of the term.

I will see what we can do about rooms at once.  We shall have to take them provisionally anyway, as they may have to be subjected to the university delegation, so I could always withdraw if anything unforeseen occurred.

The course up here has not the reputation of Cambridge or London, because it has only just been organised.  It does not lay so much stress on the practical side, but it does the theoretical part better.  The latter is rather neglected both at Cambridge and London, but here we have McDougall1, the great psychology man.  The main point is that it is training, and counts the same for the pension, which if you remember is the main reason why I am training at all!  Other people are getting most attractive jobs offered them straight from here.

Schools2 begin on Thurs. June 10th and last till the following Wed.  The previous weekend I shall be at Ascot under Wychwood until Tuesday, June 8th.  Could you come up either on that Tuesday – I shall not do any work in between that and Schools – or this very week-end, May 29th which is the only free one I have?  Any time next week before Sat. would do as well, if you don’t particularly want the week-end.  What about Max?

Your loving daughter


1McDougall – William McDougall, 1871 – 1938, who worked first in UK and then in USA.  He wrote a number of well known textbooks, and developed the theory of instinct and social psychology.

2Final degree exams.

The next letter to be posted on 2 June 2017.


22 May 1920

St. Hilda’s Hall



My dear Daddie,

Ever so many thanks for your letter and the cheque.  I duly paid up all my debts.  Here is the statement of accounts you wanted.

Amount of Your cheque £20. 0.0
B’s cheque     5. 0.0
Reserved against this term     2.10.0
Private Money     4. 6.0.






So that all you need to refund is £4.”6.”0.

I went to Miss Talbot and had my information duly confirmed, but yesterday she wrote to say that she had misread the regulations, and that people applying only for one year were eligible only for the maintenance grant.

This of course is a great blow, and means that I could not save you any money by this method.  If only myself were concerned, I would let the matter rest here.  But Joyce is even more concerned than myself, as she will have a rotten time here next year without either of us.  Therefore I want to put this question to you – would the expense be greater here than at home?  If I don’t get the scholarship at Clapham and I don’t think I shall, as your income doesn’t look so small on paper as it is in fact, you will have to pay £24 for my fees, keep me and give me an allowance for dress as well as pocket money.  The fees here are £21, and I should want 10/- a week, i.e. £4 a term extra to the government grant to live on.  I can get from the government £98 guaranteed, plus 1/3 – i.e. £9 – for extra cost of living, which is not likely to go down next year.  We think we could between us live on £2.”0.”0 per week each – i.e. £16 per term.

Now don’t I cost quite 10/- per week to keep at home?  You would have to pay my fees anyway.  Of course I should want the same allowance as I have now – without the extras, for my social expenses would not be nearly so heavy outside Hall.  In London I should want an allowance for fares – travelling to lectures and schools, for it would not be all at Clapham.  Miss Talbot says that I could do any extra teaching necessary out of term easily at home in one of the adjacent High schools.

I don’t want to press this matter too urgently, and I know you will tell me quite frankly if you can’t  Personally I shan’t mind much.  Of course, Oxford is worth living in digs for, but it wouldn’t be so nice as in Hall.

I got a really good target last Tuesday – 92 out of a possible 100 – a smaller target than usual – 6 bulls, five in the lower half of the bull, four of them nicely grouped in the right hand bottom corner.

Your loving daughter


The next letter to be posted on 27 May2017.

18 May 1920

St. Hilda’s Hall



My dear Mother,

I am so sorry not to have written to you for so long.  Last week was exactly like a whirlwind – one ­– thing after another!  Very nice and exciting, but rather tiring.

I think we gave Phyllis a good time.  I tried to make it as restful for her as possible, because I knew she would be tired.  So we kept to the river as much as we could.  She took the fine weather away with her.


Auntie and Uncle1 did not have such luck.  They had a break-down on the way and arrived here an hour late – just in time to give me supper and take me home.  Next morning I took Auntie shopping and round Oxford while Uncle Cyril sold his car.  I had lunch with them at “the Roebuck”, and they came to tea with me before they departed for Leamington.  Maisie Nicoll refused to believe that Uncle Cyril was my uncle, as he looked too young from behind!

On the following Friday I got let in for a nice surprise – namely a twenty-first birthday party – Maisie Nicoll asked me to dinner with her people at “the George”.  We had a topping time – eight of us.

This week has been equally trying.  The Fête occupied all our energies up to Wednesday.  The Folk-dancing, Wax-works and Ferry quarrelled over my body – which to improve matters was not very fit at the time!  However, we survived, and made, I think, almost enough to pay up our quota to the New Women’s Hospital.

On Thursday the Eights began.  We were on Balliol barge on Thursday and Saturday, and on the river in a punt on Friday.  Tomorrow we go again on Balliol barge – to tea with Gilbert.

Yesterday we had a great time.  Evelyn’s friends at Worcester asked her and me to their Eights’ Week performance of “Pompey the Great” by Masefield2, with Doris as chaperone.  The show was given in their playing field at 9.0. p.m. the pavilion being used as the stage.  It was a perfect evening, and after it was over we came back in the dark along the lake, the path being outlined in fairy lights.  We had to skirt two sides of the lake, and in the distance the people on the farther side looked like ghosts crossing a bridge, as all you could see was feet and a faint blur of colour if their dresses were light – reflected in the lake.  Mr Brand and Mr Ady strolled home with us, and we arrived in Hall about 11.45 p.m., having forgotten to ask for late leave!

Today Evelyn and I had a picnic lunch on the river, and then with Joyce and Gilbert, who had been joy-riding on Gilbert’s motor byke, we had tea with Doris in Milham Ford School tennis-court.  Doris’ mother is here, and two Merton men and one Balliol man made up the party.

The weather is now glorious.  Many thanks for the washing – the jumper has not run so much as Joyce’s – and also for your letter this morning.  My best love to Max.

Your loving daughter,


1Auntie and Uncle are Ethel and Cyril, Margot’s mother’s sister and brother-in-law, the tea planter from Sri Lanka/Ceylon. No mention is made in the letters to the youngest of her mother’s family, Freddy.  He was very deaf and had no special help at school.  He worked in the gas works, had a thumb blown off, went nearly blind, but was a delightful old man, much loved by Margot and her brother.  He was very happily married to Emily.

2Masefield, the future poet laureate.

The next letter will be posted on 22 May 2017.

16 May 1920

St. Hilda’s Hall



                My dear Daddie,

This is going to be a very fiscal letter!1  To begin with, I am very sorry not to have acknowledged your cheque.  Under the stress of my visitors, I am afraid I forgot all about it.  I have withdrawn everything from my bank- book except the money for my schools week-end and a few odd shillings, to make up my fees.  I also owe Joyce £1 for my Hall and library sub , which I could not pay out of the £2 you gave to come up with, and £1 of that went on the Schools punt, 6/8 for my share of it and 12/6 tax which I have not yet recovered, and cannot till the end of term, because I get it back through the Co-op.

So much for that.  The next thing is, may I have £3 as soon as possible for Schools fee?  Also we are having a fête on Wednesday – stalls, side-shows, etc.  Is there anything suitable you could send me along – jam, chocolate, fruit!

Thirdly, I have discovered that people can live up here on the Government grant.  You get your fees for the training course paid outright, and about £35 for maintenance.  That works out at about 30/- per week for 3 terms of 8 weeks each.  Now Doris Coleman pays exactly that for board and lodging.  I should think that Joyce and I ought to be able to do on that if we digged together and shared a room, as we should if I trained here next year.  You can still be attached to your own college for all social purposes.

I have only just discovered this, through Bronwen, who is going to do it.  I have written to Miss Talbot, the Oxford Education secretary, for an appointment, to obtain exact information about the grants, which I will immediately pass on to you,

Now if I can get my fees paid and a maintenance grant which works out at 30/- per week, can I come back here next year?  Levett quite approves of the scheme.  It would relieve you of nearly all expense except pocket money and dress allowance, which I should want even in London.  Of course, I should love it above all things.  The training here is not so good as at London, but it is training, and it is very interesting, and less tiring, because you don’t have to travel so far afield as in London.

I have till June 15 before I need apply for the G.P.D.S.T. scholarship.  I cannot be sure of it – in fact I don’t think it likely that I shall get it.

Will you give me authority to act on my own in this matter?  If I can wangle it so that my expenses are practically covered?  Please let me know at once.

Your loving daughter,


P.S. Very many thanks for the extra 10/- which was very grateful

1Over and over again the question of affordability comes up, but Margot seems to have had extremely sympathetic treatment from her parents, getting her way with their good grace – and trying her best to live within her/their means.

The next letter will be posted on 18 May 1920.

2 May1920

St. Hilda’s Hall



My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter this morning and the note enclosed, and also for your parcel on Saturday.  No need to apologise for the shortbread to this community.  They just love it.  I am sorry that Max did not get his move, but did not expect it after his place for the term.

I have not really got my bank book.  It is not in my jewel case.  Will you look for last term’s receipt in the envelope and give it to Daddie?  This term’s fees will be the same.  I have received my cheque from the B. who will be back in Oxford by May 15th.

Will you please put my bathing dress and cap in your next parcel?  They are in my bottom drawer.

I have booked a room for Auntie at the Roebuck, and have written to her about it.  I have also arranged for Phyllis next week end.  It is all right about the hostel, for the guest room is in the Iffley Road, and she will only have to sleep there.  She will have her meals in Hall with us, and need never notice the existence of anyone else.

May morning was quite satisfactory.  The river only went down just in time, and we had some difficulty in collecting all the boats, but everything went quite smoothly in the end.  We chose three very nice freshers to fill up our punt, and had a hilarious breakfast picnic.  By the way we have acquired a flask between us – a pint one 6/6.  It appears the Thermos patent is running out and everyone else is now making them cheaply.  So don’t give too much for yours.

The Moberly is a perfect gem.  In answer to certain requests of ours last term, she informed us last Wednesday that we might smoke in the garden.  Also that it was against the University regulations to walk home after an evening show with an undergrad.  If alone, a cab was usual.  If this failed, one undergrad was better than solitude, if less legal!  If you meet a Proctor, don’t run away!!

Your loving daughter,


The next letter will be posted on 16 May2017.