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BR TO CONSTANCE MALLESON, 13 AUG. 1918
BRACERS 19343. AL. McMaster
Previous Brixton letter, BRACERS 55846; next letter, BRACERS 19344
Edited by Kenneth Blackwell, Andrew G. Bone, Nicholas Griffin and Sheila Turcon
Your letter last time3 was such a joy — it is so lovely that you are happy with the work of the Expal. Theatre, and that with any success it will be a continuing work. I was much more made happy by that than unhappy by Cave’s letter.4 I have not worried at all about anything this last week, which is lovely, and not easy in prison. — Your work for the Expal. Theatre is bound to be full of difficulties and temporary disappointments and worries, but it is worth any amount of such things. Have you asked Sassoon for money?5 You might, if not. I heard him speak of you with great praise, from having seen you act at the Haymarket.6 (By the way I have sent him repeated messages,7 through O.) You could say I told you to write if you liked.
The big photo of you is a great joy — I had looked so much at the other that it had lost its efficacy, and now this one is all fresh. Dear Heart, never mind if when I come out you are too busy to come away. I shall be happy anyhow. I shan’t be in an exacting mood.
This place is making me tired and tame. One has to guard all the time against blind murderous rage, and it makes one tame after a time. It is only a temporary effect, but for the moment I am very dead. — Of course you will stay in my flat till you can get another in R.C. And I shall presumably stay in the Studio.10
This time last year we were just about leaving Ashford. Doesn’t it seem long ago? Almost in a different existence. I felt so oddly confident of happiness then — a foolish feeling, because it rouses the anger of the gods. When I come out, it will be just over 2 years since Canuto’s.13 It seems to me incredibly strange that it was so long before I knew how seriously I cared for you. It was not till the spring, about 6 months after the beginning; about when we first went to Goring.14
Dear Love, I am tired, tired, and my spirit is weary. I want to lie in your arms and cry myself to sleep. This world is so full of struggle and effort and pain. I want the warmth of your love. I want your kindness.
[document] The letter was edited from a half-sheet, rotated 90 degrees and covered on both sides in BR’s handwriting and unsigned. The bottom half of the verso was left blank so that, when folded twice, the exterior quarters were blank. The original is in the Malleson papers in the Russell Archives.
1st sheet The second and other sheets, if extant, cannot be identified.
Your letter last time The letter cannot be identified.
Cave’s letter When Frank Russell met Sir George Cave on 26 July 1918 he received some encouraging verbal signals about an early release date for BR. But in his letter to Frank Russell of 5 August 1918 (BRACERS 57178), the Home Secretary turned down Frank’s request of 29 July (BRACERS 57181) for an early August release date, although he did indicate that BR, because of his “good conduct and industry”, would be eligible for release at the end of five months, one month short of the six-month sentence.
Have you asked Sassoon for money? Although Siegfried Sassoon’s Jewish grandmother was well off, she had disinherited his father for marrying a Gentile. Still, Sassoon had wealthy friends and later inherited a fortune. See Jean Moorcroft Wilson, Siegfried Sassoon: Soldier, Poet, Lover, Friend (New York: Overlook Duckworth, 2014). Sassoon does appear to have pledged £50 to the fellowship plan (see BRACERS 114758) and, a half-century later, he donated a manuscript in support of BR’s International War Crimes Tribunal (BRACERS 79906).
act at the Haymarket Colette appeared as Prima Donna in Gertrude E. Jennings’ The Bathroom Door: a Farce in One Act at the Haymarket Theatre, London, from April to June 1916. The play concerns five guests waiting to use a single bathroom in the Hotel Majestic.
sent him repeated messages There is a message for Sassoon in Letter 48 to Ottoline, in which BR said to tell him “I admire his poems very much.” Perhaps other comments on Sassoon were meant to be passed on to him. There could have been verbal messages passed on during visiting times, or separate sheets passed to her and no longer extant.
Caprice. Who is the Author? Caprice is a novel by Arthur Annesley Ronald Firbank (1886–1926), published in 1917, in which a stage-struck daughter of a clergyman arrives in to London determined to become an actress. In her letter of 16 August 1918 (BRACERS 113150), Colette explained that Firbank “is really a very odd fish and a relative of mine”. She related a story about having tea with his family.
further on BR meant further in the book or journal used to conceal letters.
Read O’s if you can. An allusion to the difficulty of reading Ottoline’s handwriting, particularly when she wrote small in smuggled letters.
Canuto’s After BR’s speech at an NCF meeting in the Portman Rooms, London, he and Colette dined together at nearby Canuto’s restaurant on Baker Street and then went to her flat in Bernard Street, where their love affair began in the early morning hours of 24 September 1916.
spring … when we first went to Goring Actually they took their first country walk together at Goring on 1 October 1916, shortly after they met. Six months after they began their relationship would be late March, springtime in England. BR was most likely recalling their two-day sojourn at the Swan Inn in Streatley, across the river from Goring, in late March 1917.
Record last modified 2020/04/08
Created/last modified by rstaple