31 October 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,

Oxford.

31.10.20

                My dearest Mother,

Many thanks for your two parcels.  I am sorry to have sent for the books in such a hurry, but I needed the note book for my work at Milham Ford, and the Greek books for my essay last week.  I sent off another parcel to you yesterday.

I am grieved to hear about Grannie – but felt no surprise that evil should come out of that bath chair.  I suppose Daddie will have to go North sooner or later.  Poor Auntie Lucy – this is straining the load to breaking point.

I am afraid you have committed a “faux pas” about the stockings.  The holes were the result of a byke accident I had – not a very bad one.  I only chose to alight on the one part of the curb that had a byke against it, and got mixed up between the two vehicles.  The stocking was the only casualty.  I am afraid you have falsely accused the manufacturer

I have had such a busy week – teaching all morning, and sometimes part of the afternoon, Lectures at 5.30 every day, and evening engagements most of the week.  Preparing lessons – which always takes me a long time – in between whiles.  No time for essays at all.  I like the teaching immensely.  I teach and observe history and geography, the last owing to a chance word of yours.  I even take the Sixth Form – it’s wonderful what a lot they take in, too.

I matriculated last Saturday.  Yesterday’s degree giving1 was rather fun.  Isabel and Marjorie came up to graduate too.  We didn’t get as much fun out of it as the M.A.s, being merely presented by our principals and addressed in Latin by the Vice-Chancellor.  In the evening Joyce and Doris and I went to a dance in N. Oxford, given by a friend of Doris’, which was great sport.  We took our own men, Gilbert coming as my partner, and Kenneth Rhodes, an old friend of his, as Joyce’s.  We really had a good time.  Gilbert is awfully nice to dance with.  He is coming as my guest to our Hall dance on Nov. 132.

I saw Gwen today for a few moments – she has had quite decent papers, but is very tired.  Irene Fowles is finally engaged!

Much love to Daddie and Max.  You are all much in my thoughts.  Many thanks for the 10/-.  I do hope that you could spare it – also please thank Daddie for his cheque.  Tell Max to keep his head over the Maths.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

 1The women are now accepted for Oxford degrees officially.

2A dance at St Hilda’s – with men.  With Miss Moberly as Principal and greater integration into University life, college life changes more and more.

Next letter to be posted on 5 November 2017.

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25 October 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,

Oxon.

25.10.20

                Dear Mother,

Will you please send me at once a pale blue loose-leaved note book containing notes on European History on the book shelves in my room, also my Aristotle’s Politics and Plato’s Republic on the same shelves.  The note book is the most important.

Your loving daughter

Margot.

Next letter to be posted on31 October 2017.

24 October 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,

Oxford.

24.10.20

                My dearest Mother,

Please forgive this short letter, but I have been busy all day, and having just come home 8.45. p.m. must tear off to Hall for a study circle by 9.0 if possible.

I matriculated yesterday, borrowing £4 from Joyce.  I am to take my degree next Saturday at 2.0 p.m.  I wish you could come.  Can Daddie let me have Uncle’s money?  I will let him know the exact sum later, when I have found out about the £3 back fees.

I start school practice tomorrow, so expect a busy week.

Many thanks for your two parcels, Friday’s and this morning’s, and also for the note, which is very welcome.  The shortbread is delicious.  Please may I have the little notebook sometime, also another rough towel.

Much love to Daddie and Max.  Will try to write more adequately later,

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

Next letter to be posted on 25 October 2017.

17 October 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,

Oxford.

17.10.20

                My dear Mother,

Ever so many thanks for your two packages, which both arrived quite safely.  Joyce was very pleased to see the shortbread.  Thanks also for the buckle which is now sewn on my slipper, though how long it will stop there is quite another matter.

I find that I have left all the notes I made in the vac. carefully behind on the said green note book where you found the letters.  Would you mind collecting them and including them in your next parcel?

We are getting along quite comfortably with the housekeeping.  Batey proves a very efficient cook.  Her pastry is quite nice, and she can even cook a potato to a turn.  The whole family is most anxious to do us well.  Mr Bates is a florist, and supplies us well with flowers.  Also our potatoes and other vegetables come off his allotment.

The two Miss Gurneys at my house are rather dears, and are most considerate.  They had no latch key for me, and at first it was rather awkward, as I had to trouble them every time I left my handkerchief behind.  However, on Monday the younger sister solemnly presented me with a button-hook, and shewed me how to pick the lock with it!  So now we are all quite happy, and I am in training for a house-breaker!

I have done no practical work this week at all.  Demonstration lessons begin this next week, and I put in a fortnight at Milham Ford the following week.  Miss Talbot has also promised to arrange for me to put in another fortnight after the end of this term in a school near home.

Nevertheless I have been reading hard, for Dr Keatinge has presented us with a comprehensive scheme of essays for the term, which mean rather stiff reading.  The Essay class begins on Saturday and continues on Monday.  Yesterday Dr K. heard three essays read, all from the men, which was considerate of him!  The subject was Helen Keller, the deaf and blind girl in whom you know Mrs Robinson is so interested.  Men must have funny minds, judging by these essays!  Doris comes to all my lectures, which is nice, and also to the essay class and seminar., though she has no time to write essays.

It was perfect weather up till Thursday, when a thunderstorm broke up the fine spell.  I have been on the river every afternoon this week, and Joyce says I look much better, taking the credit to herself.

It is really horrid weather for Auntie Hilda, still we have done a good bit.  On Friday evening I took her all over the Hall and we had a little walk round the town.  Yesterday Joyce in cap and gown took her round the Bodleian and the Divinity Schools while I was at my essay class.  We met at 11.30 at the Cookery School, after which J. went to a lecture and I took Auntie Hilda into Blackwell’s, through All Souls, and round Adders.  In the afternoon it was fine enough for us to go on the river so I punted Auntie Hilda down to the New Cut and thence up above Magdalen Bridge.  Doris came to tea and afterwards Auntie Hilda and I went to Evensong at Magdalen, which was very beautiful and soothing.  After supper we told Auntie Hilda something about the S.C.M. and discussed the scheme for today’s Study Circle.  Auntie Hilda and J. get on very well together.  J. has been quite herself and not a bit shy, a habit I think she is growing out of.

Please give my love to Daddie and tell him I will send him a statement of accounts next week.  Also much love to Max – I hope Thucy. and Eurip2. and Cicero and co are getting along all right, also Ronnie’s French.  I am sorry to hear about Auntie Bell.  I hope she will be all right.

We are going to have a Social with dancing in the last half of term, so must hurry up and finish my vest.  Will you send me a bone crotchet hook to do the top with?  Also I would like a little lace to put on the cammy I want to make out of that crêpe de chine blouse.  Could you send me some of that in Grandma’s cap box?

Auntie Hilda sends her love and says she is having a very good time.  At the moment she is immersed in an S.C.M. book.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1Adders:  Oxford slang for Addison’s Walk in Magdalen College Gardens.

2Thucydides and Euripedes.

 

Next letter to be posted on 24 October 2-17.

10 October 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,

Oxford.

10.10.20

                My dear Mother,

I arrived down quite safely – quite comfortably too, for the people got out at the first stops.  We had room to breathe at Taplow, and there were only three of us from Reading.  I found Joyce

with one of her men paying a call, so we had a tea-party on our very first day.

My little room is very clean and dainty and comfy and convenient, and there is plenty of room for my things.  This afternoon we have moved all the furniture in our sitting room and have made a great difference in its appearance.  We are getting rid of the superfluities by degrees.  All the table cloths and antimacassars1 went today – other things to follow in due course!

They have mapped out quite a nice programme for us;  Dr Keating2 takes a class for which we do essays, and a seminar, weekly.  Miss Talbot has arranged some practising for me – she has already made a great change in Cherwell Hall3.  Words fail her to express what she thought of the place when she came.

Will you please send along my birth certificate?  It has to go in to the government with the application for the grant.  Could you also please send me a letter from Ethel behind the left hand jar on the dining-room mantelpiece, and another from Mr Bower among those on top of my large green loosed leaved note book on the bottom shelf of the book case in the dining room.

Joyce’s cap and gown are most effective – she has already matriculated4.  It seems to be a killing proceeding.

We had a lovely ride up to the Cumnor hills this morning.  We got off our bikes, climbed Hurst Hill, and gathered blackberries – large ones!

Much love to Daddie and Max.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1Antimacassars are cloths draped over the backs of  high-backed chairs to protect the upholstery from the oil used in keeping men’s hair smoothed down.

2Dr Keating – Dr Maurice Keatinge, Reader in Education and a pioneer in the use of  source material in the teaching of history.

3Cherwell Hall was offered to St Hilda’s in November 1920 and became South Building of the college.  It was built by Augustus Vernon Harcourt in 1887-8 for his growing family.  He and his wife were actively involved in the promotion of women’s education at Oxford.  On the Harcourts’ removal to an inherited property on the Isle of Wight, the lease went in 1902 to Lord and Lady Wimbourne who founded Cherwell Hall as a women’s teacher training college which it remained until 1920.  Miss Talbot had very recently become Principal of Cherwell Hall.

4Matriculation is the business of being enrolled as a member of the university, by means of meeting the required standard., which women students had achieved before coming up to Oxford, but only now could have this recognised.

Next letter to be posted on 17 October 1917.