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Malleson, Constance

Malleson, Constance
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"I wonder how you will like me working; you have never seen me thinking about philosophy. I become rather subdued, because my energies are turned inwards—a little vague and absent-minded, seeing nothing—often worried for lack of success, and then so excited and elated that I don't know how to contain myself—"

No typed transcription of this letter has been found.


Letter 59

BRACERS 19340. AL. McMaster
Previous Brixton letter, BRACERS 19339; next letter, BRACERS 116691
Edited by Kenneth Blackwell, Andrew G. Bone, Nicholas Griffin and Sheila Turcon

<Brixton Prison>1
4 Aug. 1918.

Now that it is settled that you move into R.C. I feel a new beginning can really be made. I want to say (however I may have spoken before) that I will not let my prejudices interfere with your freedom. We must be true to freedom. When you want to have Maurice or any one else in R.C. you will do so. I don’t think it would answer if he and I were to meet, but otherwise there must be no obstacle. — I have an intense desire that everything should be right, from the start now. — I am passionately desirous of working out the new ideas in philosophy that I have got. I think they are the beginning of something very big, but as yet they are vague. It is so glorious to feel one’s mind fertile again. It is 4½ years since I had an idea2 in philosophy, and I thought I never should again. Not getting ideas is to me what being out of work is to you. I want a month’s holiday when I come out, and then to settle down and work through the winter. I wonder how you will like me working; you have never seen me thinking about philosophy. I become rather subdued, because my energies are turned inwards — a little vague and absent-minded, seeing nothing — often worried for lack of success, and then so excited and elated that I don’t know how to contain myself. I long to be out for that as well as for you, because I am tired in here and shall not get much done till I am out. This place is very tiring. The work I hope to do ought to be as big as anything I have ever done.3 I get nervous, because there is so much at stake — I can’t believe love and work will be allowed free scope. Yet rationally I think it will probably be all right. I am so thankful you are moving. I am afraid you will be fearfully cramped in 34,4 but you must think of it as very temporary. As soon as you can get a flat of your own you will be all right, and I will return to 34. Oh I do want to be out. But it won’t be long now.a

From what Elizabeth says it is all right for us to go away together as soon as I come out — either the very day or the next, as you choose. I could manage the very day. After we have been together (say) a fortnight, I can go to T.H. for say 3 nights — and after that I ought to go to Garsington for 3 nights. Then it will be time to settle to work in London — together. I want to say, very soberly and quietly, that the happiness of it is almost more than I can bear, and quite beyond anything I had ever imagined — that in spite of all the ruin in the world it has given me back youth and hope and energy, and the capacity for new creative work. I believe I can help to make your life full and fruitful. I love you, very seriously and very tenderly.

I have now had the messages. I hate your having to refuse jobs5 — it is amazing, your resolution. If you think it a waste of money to go 1st to Boismaison, instead of straight to the Rinders’,6 I am quite open to conviction. In fact I leave it to you. Decide as you prefer. Also whether to stay in town (together) the day I come out till next morning, or go away straight that very day. Decide as you prefer. My fondest love to Yellow Peril.7

I love letters full of news, like the one a fortnight ago.



  • 1.

    [document] The letter was edited from an unsigned sheet in BR’s handwriting in the Malleson papers in the Russell Archives. The sheet was folded twice so that the bottom half of the verso, which was left blank, formed a privacy cover consisting of two quarter-sheets.

  • 2.

    4½ years since I had an idea BR was surely referring to his idea of a perspectival space of six dimensions, first published in “The Relation of Sense-Data to Physics” (Scientia 16 [July 1914]: 1–27; reprinted in Mysticism and Logic [1918]; 1 in Papers 8) and then in Our Knowledge of the External World, Lecture 3 (1914).

  • 3.

    The work I hope to do ought to be as big as anything I have ever done. BR’s plans for what he was already calling “The Analysis of Mind” were certainly ambitious, as is revealed by the only surviving outline of them, (Papers 8: App. II), which covered only the “section dealing with cognition” . But when he says the work will be “as big as anything I have ever done”, he must mean anything that he has done on his own, for it is hardly possible that he expected the work would be as big as Principia Mathematica. Even so, the work which eventually resulted, primarily a long paper “On Propositions: What They Are and How They Mean” (1919) and the book The Analysis of Mind (1921), even when taken together, fell far short in scale of The Principles of Mathematics (1903), the largest work he had done on his own by this time.

  • 4.

    34 BR’s flat, 34 Russell Chambers, Bury Street (since renamed Bury Place), London WC1. It is unclear why BR thought she would be cramped there — her current flat, The Attic, appears to have been about the same size.

  • 5.

    had the messages. I hate you having to refuse jobs This presumably concerned Colette’s refusal to act in a film about Lloyd George (see also note 6 to Letter 64). Maurice Elvey directed The Life Story of David Lloyd George, a film completed in 1918 but never exhibited — possibly because of its subject’s withdrawal of support from the project (see Sarah Barrow and John White, eds., Fifty Key British Films [London and New York: Routledge, 2008], p. 8). It was “an intelligent little man”, probably Harry or Simon Rowson, who headed the Ideal Film Company, who approached Colette about the Lloyd George film (BRACERS 113147). See also Letter 87, note 12.

  • 6.

    the Rinders’ Miss Rinder offered her family’s cottage as a place to stay once BR left prison. Windmill Cottage was in Icklesham, near Winchelsea. Although not on the coast, it was not far away.

  • 7.

    Yellow Peril Colette’s dressing gown.

Textual Notes

  • a.

    But it won’t be long now. Because of the difference in handwriting, this sentence must have been an after-thought.

Russell letter no. 
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Frame no. 
Record no. 
BR to Constance Malleson, 1918/08/04
BR to Constance Malleson, 1918/08/04, verso
Transcription Public Access 
Record created 2014/05/26
Record last modified 2021/07/23
Created/last modified by blackwk