BRACERS Record Detail for 19345

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Source if not BR
Malleson, Constance
Malleson, Constance
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BR's address code (if sender)
Notes, topics or text

"Thurs." "My Dearest—It was a great relief to get your letter today—" [Dated by BR "Thurs. 16.8.16"; however the 16th was a Friday in 1918.]

There are two transcriptions of this letter: document 201132, record 116387; document .007052-f6, pp. 577-8, record 93480; the reference to the "Rinders" has been changed to "Winchelsea".

Only an extract from the transcription appears in the Auto.


Letter 71

BRACERS 19345. AL. McMaster. Auto. 2: 88; SLBR 2: #320
Previous Brixton letter, BRACERS 18686; next letter, BRACERS 19346
Edited by K. Blackwell, A. Bone, N. Griffin and S. Turcon

<Brixton Prison>1

My Dearest

It was a great relief to get your letter today — the one yesterday was such a wretched scrap3 that it made me very unhappy, and I expected to remain so at least a week.

Dear one, will you be very patient and kind with me the 7 weeks that remain,4 and bear with me if I grow horrid? It has been difficult after the hopes of release. I am very tired, very weary. I am of course tortured by jealousy;5 I knew I should be. I know so little of your doings that I probably imagine more than the truth. I have grown so nervy from confinement and dwelling on the future that I feel a sort of vertigo, an impulse to destroy the happiness in prospect. Will you please quite calmly ignore anything I do these next weeks in obedience to this impulse. As yet, I am just able to see that it is mad, but soon it will seem the only sanity. I shall set to work to hurt you, to make you break with me; I shall say I won’t see you when I first come out; I shall pretend to have lost all affection for you. All this is madness — the effect of jealousy and impatience combined. The pain of wanting a thing very much at last grows so great that one has to try not to want it any longer. Now here it is: I want everything as we planned it — Ashford, then Rinders’6 if you can. If later I say I don’t want this, please pay no attention.

If you possibly can, write me longer letters, with more definite news, and answer my letters enough for me to know if they have reached you. Don’t leave answering till the last minute. Remember what it is like being shut away here, thinking, imagining, seeing how much you don’t tell, noticing the faintest sign of coldness, fearing that by the time I come out all your passion will be going elsewhere, as it did after Blackpool.7 If I were not in prison I could get rid of profitless thoughts of this kind, but in prison it is fearfully difficult. And the result is a mood in which one sees nothing happy in the future either.

It is a blow that Miles is coming 2 nights a week to R.C.8 — but no doubt it is right, at least for the present.a I have never at any time had the very faintest jealousy of Miles.b I shall be glad when you have a flat of your own.c The transition period will not be satisfactory.

There is a letter to Helen Dudley9 elsewhere, which you are welcome to read. (I would rather you read it.)d I dare say it will astonish you, as it did me. Till I heard she was going I did not realize how much affection I have for her. Please thank Miss Rinder for letters.10

Tell Miss Rinder I want to see Miss Silcox Sep.e 15. Also ask her to tell Ly. O. that it was pure imagination on her part thinking I didn’t enjoy seeing her.11 Only warders etc. are embarrassing, and letters can say more, and I felt bound to be polite to Littlewood. But I loved seeing her and much looking forward to her on 28th. I was tired when she came last, and forgot for a moment where I was and what was happening — it took me a little time to recover from bewilderment.f

Various lettersg in other places.12 Read all that interest you.

I suppose it is due to the heat, but I am collapsed and very unhappy. I want you. And I am worried about you. I wish my brother had succeeded with Cave.13 These last weeks will be very difficult. — Thanks for “Madge”14 , h etc. Be kind Darling — I need you so dreadfully.

Please send Paterne Berrichon on Rimbaud15 to Ottoline — it is hers and she wants it.

Miss Dudley sails Tuesday. Please do your utmost to get my letter to her before then.

Miss Rinder says C.A. is “not in Cumberland” and adds “Oh these secrets”. Where is he? Gretna Green?16 Tell her I shall assume that is the answer unless I hear to the contrary.

2 guineas a week17 , i for my flat? If you give me a meal there when convenient, I will pay for it, i.e. you can take it out of the rent. Will you pay my brother till I come out, weekly. After that we can keep an account and you can pay when you are rich. Delighted about spare room18 — just what I should wish.


  • 1

    [document] The letter was edited from the unsigned, thrice-folded sheet in BR’s hand in the Malleson papers in the Russell Archives. The folding was done so that the resulting exterior surfaces were blank. The letter was extracted in BR’s Autobiography, 2: 88, and published as #320 in Vol. 2 of his Selected Letters.

  • 2

    [date] 16 August was a Friday; thus, on the basis that one is more likely to remember the day of the week than the date, the letter is more likely to have been written on the 15th than the 16th.

  • 3

    the one yesterday was such a wretched scrap Colette identified the scrappy letter as one that began “My Beloved, another dusty and footsore day.” It is undated and follows a letter dated 13 August, which is equally scrappy and in fact begs forgiveness for “this scrap” (BRACERS 113148 and 113149).

  • 4

    7 weeks that remain That is, until 2 October, BR’s expected early date of release for good conduct and industry.

  • 5

    tortured by jealousy “While I was in prison, I was tormented by jealousy the whole time, and driven wild by the sense of impotence” (Auto. 2: 37). From this letter until about 28 August (Letter 86), BR suffered greatly from jealousy. This could be the period to which he referred in writing “When I first had occasion to feel it <jealousy>, it kept me awake almost the whole of every night for a fortnight, and at the end I only got sleep by getting a doctor to prescribe sleeping-draughts” (Auto. 2: 37).

  • 6

    then 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

    after Blackpool The film Hindle Wakes was shot in and near Blackpool in September 1917. BR became very jealous of Colette’s relationship with her director, Maurice Elvey, and this jealousy caused a serious rift with her.

  • 8

    It is a blow that Miles is coming 2 nights a week to R.C. Miles Malleson was at the rather grim Studio. Colette may have told BR about this during a visit; there is nothing about it in her extant letters. Colette had just found a new flat for her sister Clare who had been living at Russell Chambers. Colette was still living in the Attic, which she shared with Miles, although Elizabeth Russell had recently agreed to take on the Attic (“Letters to Bertrand Russell from Constance Malleson, 1916–1969”, p. 264; in RA). Why “it is a blow” to BR is not at all clear.

  • 9

    letter to Helen Dudley An American from Chicago with whom BR became involved during his 1914 trip to the United States. She followed him back to London, was rebuffed by him, and ended up renting his Bury Street flat in late 1916 or early 1917. In May 1918 she sublet the flat to Clare Annesley. Colette delivered the letter (unread, she said at BRACERS 113151) to Dudley at her club on 19 August. Dudley replied devastatingly to BR the same day before she sailed for America (BRACERS 76545).

  • 10

    thank Miss Rinder for letters She wrote BR on 6 August 1918 (BRACERS 79628), 8 August (BRACERS 79624), again probably on the 8th (BRACERS 79622), and then 9 August (BRACERS 79625).

  • 11

    tell Ly. O. … seeing her As BR himself explained to Ottoline in Letter 75. See note 3 in that letter for Ottoline’s account of perhaps the same event in her memoirs.

  • 12

    Various letters in other places That is, concealed in other uncut pages of the camouflage book or journal.

  • 13

    my brother had succeeded with Cave Frank was trying to shorten the time that BR had to serve by appealing to Sir George Cave, who had been Home Secretary since 1916 (see, e.g. Letters 52, 61 and 62). Frank’s most recent ploy had been to send Cave one of BR’s own letters (Letter 67). But what BR described to Colette as “a very dignified solemn letter”, which asserted the importance of his new philosophical research, was not favourably received by the Home Office (see Letter 69, note 5).

  • 14

    “Madge” The character of Madge was one of three parts Colette began to prepare for the Experimental Theatre (BRACERS 113156). She asked BR to return the “script of ‘Madge’” (which was by Miles Malleson) in her letter of 2 September (BRACERS 113155).

  • 15

    Paterne Berrichon on Rimbaud Probably Jean-Arthur Rimbaud, le poète (1854–1873) (Paris: Mercure de France, 1912). A letter from Gladys Rinder (15 June 1918, BRACERS 79614) contained a message from Ottoline that BR should keep the Rimbaud. If this was the book that was under discussion in June, then Ottoline had changed her mind — doubtless because BR had told her he had no liking for Rimbaud (Letters 27 and 31). See also Letter 70.

  • 16

    C.A.  Gretna Green Clifford Allen, often referred to as “C.A.”, was supposed to be in Cumberland with Catherine Marshall. Since he was not, BR impishly suggested Gretna Green, the border-village in Scotland where English couples went to marry quickly.

  • 17

    2 guineas a week Colette had asked what the rent would be at BR’s Bury Street flat, where she was going to move.

  • 18

    about spare room Whatever Colette suggested to him at this time about the spare room at the Bury Street flat is not extant in her “Letters to Bertrand Russell from Constance Malleson, 1916–1969” (typescript in RA). However, on 24 August 1918 he wrote her that making the little room into a sitting-room with books would be a great improvement (Letter 81).

Textual Notes
  • a

    for the present. Before an obliterated sentence.

  • b

    I have never … jealousy of Miles. Inserted above the above obliterated sentence.

  • c

    flat of your own. Before an obliterated sentence.

  • d

    (I would rather you read it.) Inserted.

  • e

    Sep Inserted above deleted “Oct”.

  • f

    I was tired … bewilderment. Inserted.

  • g

    Various letters Before deleted “from various people”.

  • h

    “Madge” Quotation marks editorially supplied.

  • i

    2 guineas a week … I should wish. The paragraph was written in the top margin.

Transcription Public Access
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Record created
May 26, 2014
Record last modified
Oct 03, 2022
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