22 February 1921

19 Boulter Street,

St. Clement’s

Oxford.

20. 2. 21.

                My dearest Mother,

Very many thanks for your letter and note, and the cake, which is delicious.  I am sure Mac will enjoy it.  Fancy him being 21.  I have sent you off a parcel of washing – lots of it.  I have heard from Phyllis, and written to say that next week-end will be all right.

The S.C.M. gives a Bazaar on March 2nd.  Could you possibly let me have some ginger biscuits for it?  Also if you could send me some net, I would try to run up a camisole for it.  Would you please give Phyllis my watch to bring with her?  It is in my little drawer in my chest of drawers.  Arthur can get it mended for me both quickly and cheaply, as he knows a watchmaker here who was an R.F.C. man.

What shall I do about the expenses of Phyllis’visit?  Miss Betnay ought to have at least 10/-, and I shall need a little extra for housekeeping.  Will you settle it up with Phyllis before she comes?

We have had quite an amusing week.  Toggers has been on the last three days.  Magdalen is coming down, at which every one rejoices.  I hope Worcester get them tomorrow.  Worcs. are doing very well, much to our delight, as Kenneth is rowing 6 in their first eight, which by making a bump every day has arrived at the 4th place in the 1st division, and ought to get Magdalen I tomorrow.  Merton and Corpus have each distinguished themselves by making two bumps on the same day, while rowing sandwich boat.  You remember little Marsden?  He is coxing Wadham I and has already two bumps to his credit.

Today I have been to hear Jo and Doris sing in the Eglesfield choir at Queen’s in the St. John Passion.  I don’t like it so well as the St Matthew, and Besly1 took it too loudly.

Please give my best love to Daddie and Max.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1Besly – Maurice Besly, at this time organist and director of Music at Queen’s College, and conductor of the Oxford Choral Society.  He was a composer and conductor and later a solicitor.

Next letter to be posted on 27 February 2018.

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13 February 1921

19 Boulter Street,

St. Clement’s

Oxford.

13. 2. 21.

                My dearest Mother,

Very many thanks for your letter, the note, and the parcel.  I was so pleased to see some clean hankies again.  By the way, I did not have time to post you any dirty ones yesterday, so could you send me some from your reserve, as I have got just a slight cold?  The newspaper cutting of Grant Bobs was awfully good, exactly like him!

I saw him on Tuesday at the Prince’s degree giving.  It was quite by accident that I got  there.  Tickets were awfully scarce, and I was at school, so didn’t bother.  However, at 10.30 that morning Miss Thornton, the Hall Secretary, comes into Milham Ford and offers me a graduate’s ticket.  So after hasty interviews with the head mistress, the History mistress, and Miss Talbot, I extricate myself from Milham Ford, dash off to get into academic dress1, and tear up the High to borrow a hood from Adamsons.  At length I find myself one of about six women among a swarm of graduates, including all the celebrities – e.g. Grant Bobs, Dr Carlyle, Urquhart, Llewelyn Woodward, etc – in the area of the Shel.  Proceedings enlivened by running commentary from tall handsome B.A. doing education whom Doris and I call Leander, ‘cause he wears a pink tie – not addressed to me, but to a friend.  Dr Harris and two trumpeters in organ loft cause great amusement by rehearsing their “starts”.

At 12.0. the Prince arrived3, with two Regius Profs. and the Heads of Houses.  Poor boy, he was nervous.  He was as pink as his gown, looked nowhere, shifted his feet, didn’t know whether to sit or stand, bit his nails, and fidgeted with his hat and notes.  He didn’t cheer up until the first funny moment, which occurred when the Public Orator said to the Vice-Chancellor “Licet-ne Anglie loqui?” – V.C. “Si placet” (get Max to interpret – joke loses its point if translated) 2.  Cheers from audience.  The Prince’s own speech was excellent, he said all the right things, but he has a weird accent – almost a Cockney tinge to it.  He was quite at his ease on his own feet.

On Thursday night Evelyn came up for her degree.  On Friday night we three and Arthur and Gilbert went to see O.U.D.S. in “Anthony and Cleopatra”.  It was really very good, only Cleopatra insisted on wearing white half the time, which rather spoilt her allure.

Yesterday Mr Ellis came up for the day to see the degree-giving.  I took charge of him for part of the morning, while Evelyn was busy and we all had lunch with him at the George.  In the afternoon, we all went to the ceremony.  There were men as well as women.  Gwen Jones took hers with Evelyn, and there was one woman who took Mus. Bac. – gorgeous white satin damask gown, with pink sleeves, just like Dr Allen’s, who presented her.  There was one materfamilias among the M.A.’s, and it was sweet to see her boys and girls jumping round her after the ceremony4.

I enclose some snaps that Doris took of me while I had my hood on Tuesday.  Please keep them safe for me.  I am getting some more copies to send to Aunt Ethel and Edie.

Please give Daddie and Max my dearest love.  I am glad there is a chance of our getting help for him.  He could probably get a University one too.  The more you take from the L.C.C. the more you get!

Your own daughter,

Margot.

1Black and white, worn for all official university occasions including exams.

2V-C ‘May I speak in English?’;  ‘Yes, you may’.

3Presumably Edward, Prince of Wales, who abdicated to marry the US divorcée, Wallace Simpson?

4A lovely picture of the women at last able to attend a degree ceremony, though they may have completed their studies some time ago.

Next letter to be posted on 22 February 2018.

6 February 1921

19 Boulter Street,

St. Clement’s

Oxford.

6. 2. 21.

                My dearest Mother,

Many thanks for your letter and parcel, and the note.  I was very pleased to receive some clean hankies, as up to then I had been living on what I brought up. I have sent you a big parcel of washing including the underclothes I took off on Saturday, after my weekly bath!

We have had quite an exciting week.  On Tuesday we had an awfully jolly theatre party.  Doris was the chaperone, and besides Joyce and I there was Arthur and two clerical friends of his, one already a padre, the other on the way to that goal.  Really I never saw two men behave so badly!  We went in the Balcony, where undergrads are technically not allowed, so Arthur and Mr Gay had to dress up as ordinary civilians, homburg hats, etc.  We came home down the High singing and dancing, the pukka padre leading the chorus.  He, by the way, was rather pleased with us and has asked us all to tea.  His name is Denter, Arthur calls him Father Denter, and teased him throughout the performance by addressing him as Holy Father in a loud voice.

Yesterday was our dance.  Gilbert and Kenneth have much improved during the vac., especially the latter.  Kenneth is now a delightful partner.  Mr Weir was there, having come up to Oxford specially for this week-end.  He and I had the first dance, and sat out one later on.  Joyce and I are invited to tea with him tomorrow at Manchester College.

Last Sunday night while we were coming home from the Religion and Life meeting in the Schools1, Doris, Joyce, Arthur and I were all walking across Magdalen Bridge in full academic regalia – that is, except Doris – and ran full tilt into the Prog and Bullers2.  The only proggable point about us was that Arthur was smoking a cigarette, but he just got it squashed under his heel in time.

Please give my love to Daddie and Max;  how is the footer going on this term?  Please give my love to Phyllis, and tell her that I am considering how to approach my landlady on the subject of visitors, and will make definite arrangements as soon as this next week is over, as then I shall be free of school practice, and have time to turn round.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

P.S.  Is Lily still impossible?

1The examination and lecture halls in the High Street.

2Prog and Bullers: Proctors oversee university (as distinct from college) student discipline, complaints about University matters, and the running of University examinations; they also carry out certain ceremonial duties. Bulldogs  are the familiar name for their assistants in disciplinary matters.

Next letter to be posted on 13 February 2018.

30 January 1921

19 Boulter Street,

St. Clement’s

Oxford.

30. 1. 21.

                My dearest Mother,

Many thanks for your letter and parcel and the money, which arrived quite safely on Friday, and was waiting for me when I came in from school.

My days are still very strenuous.  Miss Pocock is most awfully nice to work under, and has made Milham Ford quite a different place for me.  She is most efficient – interesting to observe teaching, insists on my preparing my lessons properly, and criticises most helpfully after each one.  So I really feel I am finding my way about the gentle art of teaching.  Still I shall be quite glad when the month is over, and I can get a little time to myself.  I have been frightfully tired until the end of this week, when I began to get out a bit, and so feel and look better.

Yesterday I rowed for the first time this term.  Quite a nice gig, in spite of the wind and an irregular stroke.

The D’Oyley Carte have been here this week.  On Wednesday we went to “Patience” – awfully nice party, including Arthur and little Dr Cooke, your friend, with Doris as chaperone.

Last night we had another jolly party for the “Gondoliers” – queue this time – we three, Arthur and Dr Cooke, the latter’s cousin, and another Queen’s man named Bradbrooke, whom Arthur knew in the R.F.C1.   This morning Joyce, Arthur and I and the said Mr Bradbrooke had a topping byke ride in the rain, and found some primroses.

Last Sunday I went to tea with the Moores, after writing to you.  Miss Moore was at home.  She is an awfully nice woman, and we had a very interesting talk.  She is at present in command of a school for convalescent cripple children in Worcs., run by the Birmingham authorities.  They live in the open air, as they are mainly tuberculosis cases, but the staff have a lovely house, well fitted up and well furnished.  Altogether an interesting evening!  Hugh, by the way, has got married!

My dearest love to Daddie and Max – tell him to buck up with Thucydides and all his works.  We have lately been considering the merits and demerits of a Classical education.  Take care of your dear self,

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1RFC: Rugby Football Club.

Next letter to be posted on 6 February 2018.

23 January 1921

19 Boulter Street,

St. Clement’s

Oxford.

23. 1. 21.

                My dearest Mother,

Thank you very much indeed for your letter, and the note, and the parcel.  I am so delighted to hear that Max got a move.  It is distinctly cheering news.  Daddie really ought to go and see Mr Smith about him – just to discuss his chances.  Please give Max my love and congratulations, and tell him I expect great things from him.  I am glad Heather remains behind.

This week has been decidedly hectic.  I feel rather more as if I know what I want now at Milham Ford.  I am not teaching more than one lesson a day, and am observing some Latin and English, just for general method.  One of our old students, Grace Pocock, always referred to in Hall as the perfect S.S., is History specialist at Milham Ford this term.  She is very nice to me, and is an extraordinarily interesting teacher.  Miss Biggs, about whom I think I told you – she is the Cambridge girl who lives in Oxford, is also practising at Milham Ford, so we find it quite interesting to compare notes.

I shall send you off a parcel tomorrow.  I am sorry it didn’t go off yesterday, but I forgot it.  However, I don’t need any of the things in a hurry, so they can wait until next washing-day.

So Aunt Ethel’s parcel has arrived at last!  I like the blouse very much.  It both fits and suits me.  I bought a pair of stockings yesterday at Elliston and Cavell’s sale – grey, 2/11, marked down from 5/11.  They are the same kind as the grey and tan ones I bought at the stores, but are not quite such soft wool.  Could you please put the hot water bottle in your next parcel?

Thursday afternoon was the first breathing space I had, so I went to hear Vaughan Williams’ London Symphony2 at the Town Hall.  It is a wonderful thing.  I must take you to hear it next time it comes on in London.  The British Symphony Orchestra under Adrian Boult opened the concert by playing a Funeral March by Elgar in memory of Gervase Elwes3, who was an Oxford man.

My best love to Daddie and Max, and to Phyllis when you see her,

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1A move meant going to a more advanced class.

2Vaughan Williams’ London Symphony was only written in 1914 and revised in 1920 – very new music.

3Gervase Elwes – a fine English tenor, 1866 – 1921.

Next letter to be posted on 30 January 2018.

20 January 1921

19 Boulter Street,

St. Clement’s1

Oxford.

20. 1. 21.

                My dearest Mother,

I am so sorry not to have written before, but it got crowded out on Sunday, and I have not had time since, as I am teaching at Milham Ford every morning, have lectures every evening, and no time at all to prepare lessons or read for the essay class.  Odd internal complications, and you can see how busy I have been.

I like my rooms very much.  I have a very comfortable sitting room and a big front bedroom.  The wall paper in both rooms is white, and altogether it is very nice – three towels and tall candlesticks each side of the dressing glass so that one can see to do one’s hair at night.

I hope you and Phyllis, and the boys liked “the Shepherdess without a Heart” 2.  Joyce and Arthur saw it, and Doris saw “the Romantic Age”, so we have all been comparing notes.  Catherine Nesbit, the new Mélisande in Milne’s play is to be Cleopatra for O.U.D.S.

No time for more now.  My best love to Daddie and Max.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

 

1A change of address, but no comment the reason for the change.

2The Shepherdess without a Heart: so playwright not identified, possibly Milne who is the author of The Romantic Age.  He wrote a great number of plays.

Next letter to be posted on 23 January 2018.

29 November 1920

18 William Street  ,

Cowley Road,

Oxford.

29.11.20

                My dearest Mother,

Thank you very much indeed for the cake and the washing on Friday, and for the stockings which arrived this morning.  I am so sorry to have missed writing to you yesterday, but the Bach Choir concert and the state of my inside kept me pretty well occupied, not to mention the fact that Arthur came to tea and did not depart until about 8.15 p.m.  The Concert was not quite as good as it might have been, for something happened to the Tenors, and they missed one lead altogether, and were rather faltering all through. The Basses started well by putting one of their elbows through a window with a loud crash just as we stood up to begin.  Moreover most of the soloists had colds, while the Tenor had a bad habit of jumping half bars when he felt inclined.  It must have been the weather, I think.  It was a horribly muggy day.

We have had rather an interesting week.  On Tuesday the Second Year gave a jolly good show in Hall – a One act Irish play by Yeats and a ballet.  The play was a first-rate piece of acting – really dramatic.  The ballet was screamingly funny.  Oxford life à la Russian ballet.  First the heroine rose from bed to slow music, danced round the room in pyjamas – admired herself in the mirror, and so forth.  Next a perfectly beautiful Matriculation scene, with chorus in caps and gowns, with short white ballet skirts, white blouses with short sleeves and little black bows.  They looked perfectly sweet.  The Principal did a sort of minuet with each candidate up to the Vice chancellor.  Enter the heroine – dance – the V. Ch. is struck – they dance, embrace and part for ever.  The next scene was a hockey match, the next the Cadena, the next dinner, the last a Cocoa, at which the heroine stabs all her friends and then commits suicide.  The surprise of the evening was the leading lady, who is normally a very young, rather awkward gamesy young woman, but who proved actually graceful and alluring, in true ballet fashion, with real abandon, without ever being either vulgar or futile.

On Thursday Mr Weir came to tea, and proved most extraordinary interesting, as he is a psycho-analyst among his other accomplishments, besides being an extraordinarily sound man.  The upshot of this was that Joyce and Doris received invitations to his dance on Friday.

By the way, could I have my party undies for Friday? – i.e. one pair of knickers with lace, one petticoat, and a clean pair of combs.

Saturday is rather awkward.  I have a class at 10.0 which is never over till 11.30, and am rowing in the Eight at 9.0.  I want to get a bath sometime that morning.  The earliest train I could catch would be the 1.5, arriving Paddington 3.30, but there is a better one at 2.25 arriving 3.50.  Now if I sent my box off from here on Friday, and booked my byke at Paddington, could I go straight to Leytonstone with a suitcase, my own attaché case and violin, if somebody met me?  My evening clothes being in the suit-case.  I could take the Tube from Paddington to Liverpool Street.

I have at last got some money out of the Govt – only £7 so far, but enough to pay my way with, and come home on.  I enquire about the rest later.

Goodbye till Saturday – I am much entangled with Heredity at the moment – Mendel’s Laws2, and so forth – most fascinating.  Much love to Daddie and Max.  I will bring his socks with me.  I am to put in a fortnight’s teaching from Monday next, but Miss Talbot has not fixed on the school yet.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

In pencil added after her signing off:  ? Notes for a telegram? –

Collinson

                18 William St

                                Cowley Road

                                                Oxford

Will meet three fifty

Daddy

1The Cadena, in the Cornmarket – one of a chain of coffee houses.

2Mendel’s Laws – the theories of a Nineteenth Century monk, largely ignored at the time but taken up later and forming the early basis of an understanding of heredity.

Next letter to be posted on 20 January 2018.