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Malleson, Constance

Malleson, Constance
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"Thursday All the letters I have ever had were less wonderful than this one, my heart's comrade, my beloved—"

One word "songs" is missing because of a cigarette burn to the paper, but can be found in the two condensed typed transcriptions of this letter: document .052414, record 99875; document .201156, record 116327. Facsimile of this letter appears in Sheila Turcon, "Like a Shattered Vase: Russell's 1918 Prison Letters", Russell n.s. 30 (winter 2010–11): 101–25 at 114.

Unfortunately the other missing words do not appear in the transcriptions.


Letter 29
BRACERS 19317. AL. McMaster. Russell 30 (2010): 114–16
Previous Brixton letter, BRACERS 19334; next letter, BRACERS 46922
Edited by K. Blackwell, A. Bone, N. Griffin and S. Turcon

<Brixton Prison>1

All the letters I have ever had were less wonderful than this one, my Heart’s Comrade, my Beloved, I could not have imagined any letter3 that would so light up my prison cell, and so fill my heart with <burn hole in sheet>pa of joy. I bless you every hour. I do love you to think of me as you <burn hole in sheet>.b I feel so much that way — such a longing to creep into your arms and be at peace. Your arms are so strong and loving and bring such warmth into the depths of my being — I have the most vivid imagining of them and of the touch of your lips. O my dear dear Love, the joy that is before us — I dare not think of it. If you are not in work when I come out we must go to Boismaison. I was afraid you were nervous of letters, from something you said a fortnight ago, so I wrote in a very subdued style4 — and your letter was all the greater joy. As soon as I am safe from being called up, we will give up all attempts at concealment, don’t you think so? — I am sorry for Marie5 — it must have been dreadful for her. Gladys’s letter came this morning, with lovely things from you.6 I always thought Chatsauvage had some likeness to Prince André.7 Did you like Natacha?8Miss R. gives news that Miss Wrinch is unhappy9 — I wonder if you could make friends with her, through Miss R? I think she is at No. 10, your square.10 I feel she might like it. — I spend endless time here in day-dreams — not impossible ones — of wonderful things we will do together. We have never been by the sea together. After the war there will be abroad. Some day there will be a country cottage. Quite soon, I hope, there will be Bury Street. — “A heavy burning iron”11 you say — mostly my doing — it is quite wonderful that your love survived that time. It is that that makes me so very very happy now — it makes me feel peace with you. My soul’s joy, I think of you with love and tenderness every moment, and I see the future as a shining joy. I love you with my mind and sober judgment just as much as with my passion — in yourself, as much as in what you are for me. For me you are just the whole difference between life and despair — you give me happiness and gentleness — and through them, the strength one needs for the world at this time. Our future shall be full of greatness as well as joy — what you give me shall be given to the world. Goodbye Beloved. I kiss your eyes and stroke your hair. I want to lay my face against your cheek and feel your arms enfolding me. Goodbye Goodbye my lovely Dear, my Darling.




  • 1.

    [document] The letter was edited from the unsigned, single-sheet original in BR’s hand in the Malleson papers in the Russell Archives. An image of the letter illustrated an annotated edition of the text in S. Turcon, “Like a Shattered Vase: Russell’s 1918 Prison Letters”, Russell 30 (2010): 101–25.

  • 2.

    [date] “<I>n ans<wer> to Colette’s of 24 June 1918” (BRACERS 113135); added by Colette.

  • 3.

    imagined any letter This is probably the first of Colette’s smuggled letters, since she wrote on 24 June: “it is absolutely wonderful that the abomination of those official letters is over and done with” (BRACERS 113135).

  • 4.

    I wrote in a very subdued style His letters following Letter 17, namely 24, 25 and 26, were indeed subdued in comparison with those immediately before and after.

  • 5.

    sorry for Marie In her letter of 24 June, Colette wrote: “Marie got ill and was quite without £sd … Marie is now well again.” This is a veiled version of Marie’s troubles. In Letter 22, editorially dated 18 June 1918, BR asked if the child Marie was going to have was Miles’s.

  • 6.

    Gladys’s letter … things from you A letter from Gladys Rinder, 21 June 1918 (BRACERS 79616), contained messages from Colette in her personas of “C.O.’N.” and “G.J.” The first message noted that Lady Constance (i.e., Colette) would visit BR on the following Wednesday (i.e., 26 June).

  • 7.

    Chatsauvage ... Prince André BR was referring to himself, one of Colette’s nicknames for him being “Chatsauvage” (“wildcat”). Prince André (Andrei Bolkonsky) is a character in Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Colette had written as G.J. in Gladys Rinder’s letter of 21 June 1918 that she had “been thinking a good deal about our friend Monsieur Chatsauvage and his new book. He reminds me continually of Tolstoy’s Prince Andrei, and also of Count Bezukov.” Pierre Bezukhov is another character in the novel.

  • 8.

    Natacha Natasha Rostova, the young heroine of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

  • 9.

    Miss R … Miss Wrinch is unhappy Referring to the affair she had started with another of BR’s students, Raphael Demos, Wrinch reported to BR via Rinder that she had “taken your advice and embarked on an adventure but it isn’t turning out at all successfully” (21 June 1918, BRACERS 79616). By mid-July, however, Rinder assured BR that, however unhappy Wrinch may have been previously, “Dorothy is having a gay time”. Yet her personal life was becoming, if anything, even more complicated, for Demos, according to Rinder, “is not the only string” (BRACERS 79623).

  • 10.

    your square Mecklenburgh Square, London WC1.

  • 11.

    “A heavy burning iron” In her letter of 24 June Colette had written: “Some kind of heavy burning iron has passed over me this year” (BRACERS 113135).

Textual Notes

  • a.

    with <...>p The letter has a hole in the paper (from a cigarette burn) where a word or words had been written; “songs” appears in both typed versions by Colette, but that cannot be what is missing before the visible “p” after the burn. Perhaps it is “a leap”.

  • b.

    me as you<…> Words are missing from the letter because of a hole made by a cigarette burn. Already gone, they were not transcribed in the typed versions.

Russell letter no. 
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Record no. 
BR to Constance Malleson, 1918/06/27*
Transcription Public Access 
Record created 2014/05/26
Record last modified 2023/12/13
Created/last modified by duncana