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Malleson, Constance

Malleson, Constance
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Notes, topics or text 

"My Darling—I have recovered my sanity and no longer feel the impulse to quarrel with you." "I want to be an intellectual power in Europe and I can be if I can put forth enough vitality."

There are two condensed transcriptions of this letter: document .052434, record 99899; document .201134, record 116370.

Both transcriptions lack the sentence about the Ropers and its following sentence, as well as the closing phrase.


Letter 77

BRACERS 19347. ALS. McMaster
Previous Brixton letter, BRACERS 80396; next letter, BRACERS 19348
Edited by K. Blackwell, A. Bone, N. Griffin and S. Turcon

<Brixton Prison>1
21 Aug. ’18.

My Darling

I have recovered my sanity and no longer feel the impulse to quarrela with you. This is chiefly due to hearing that my brother has a satisfactory letter from Murray.2 You won’t see the connexion, which can only be made via Freudian psycho-analysis. The truth is that what Freud calls the “censor”3 in me won’t allow me to perceive how much I fear being in prison till the end of the war; so I keep on inventing other worries as an excuse to myself for feeling worried. But the fact that the other worry took the form it did4 was owing to your letter being so short last Wednesday. It was mere madness — don’t pay any attention to it.b

I find I have such a longing to smell the sea (as well as to see and hear it) that I think I would rather go straight to Winchelsea5 when I come out. I gather the Ropers6 will no longer be in the neighbourhood — and if they are, does it really matter? They won’t tell Priscilla,7 and Clare8 knows already.

Another thing that has helped to make me sane again is having some philosophy to read at last.9 I am glad of it. I can read very well here, though it is not a good place to write. My ambition has grown enormously while I have been here. I must and will do important work: technical philosophy till the war ends, but after that, I think, more the sort of thing Voltaire10 did for his age. I find I must appeal to a larger public than one can reach by technical philosophy. I want to urge freedom in every direction, and creative energy. I want to be an intellectual power in Europe, and I can be if I can put forth enough vitality. My life is only just beginning. I do want you to share what is to come, and to help me by your love. But I will do great things in any case, tho’ not so great if they have to be without you. My whole future has turned on avoiding a long ordinary imprisonment,11 which would destroy my energy. That is why I have been so worried. — Much love, my dear one. I shall be up and down, uncertain and troublesome, until I come out, but the moment I am out I shall be all right. I will write a longer letter tomorrow.


Sheet for Elizabeth elsewhere.12 , c



  • 1.

    [document] The letter was edited from the initialled, thrice-folded, single sheet in BR’s hand in the Malleson papers in the Russell Archives. The verso of the sheet is blank.

  • 2.

    my brother has a satisfactory letter from Murray This letter from Gilbert Murray to Frank Russell is neither in Frank’s papers in the Russell Archives nor in Murray’s papers in the Bodleian.

  • 3.

    what Freud calls the “censor” The concept of the censor features prominently in The Interpretation of Dreams (1913; Russell’s library).

  • 4.

    form it did I.e., Letter 71.

  • 5.

    Winchelsea 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.

  • 6.

    the Ropers They were a couple who had plans to stay in a neighbouring cottage in Winchelsea at the time of BR’s release and who Colette feared might be a bore. (Message in Frank’s letter of 1–2 Aug.; BRACERS 46931.)

  • 7.

    They won’t tell Priscilla “They” wouldn’t tell Priscilla about BR and Colette’s affair.

  • 8.

    Clare Clare Annesley (1893­–1980), Colette’s sister and an artist.

  • 9.

    some philosophy to read at last Possibly the “bound volumes of Psych. Review and Am. J. of Psych., 1912ff”, about whose delayed arrival BR first complained to Frank (Letter 51) and then again to Ottoline (Letter 70).

  • 10.

    Voltaire Pen name of François-Marie Arouet (1694–1778), French writer, satirist, playwright, poet, and historian, one of the leading figures of the French Enlightenment. Voltaire was known for his clear prose, biting wit, and relentless needling of authority: three respects in which, in later years, BR was often compared to him. BR was reading Gustave Lanson’s biography, Voltaire (1906). See Letter 73.

  • 11.

    avoiding a long ordinary imprisonment BR served his time in the first division with its many privileges. He described an ordinary imprisonment in Roads to Freedom (London: Allen & Unwin, 1918), p. 135 (quoted in note 2 of Letter 83). He feared reimprisonment for conscientious objection in response to being called up for military service after his release, which could have lasted a long time.

  • 12.

    Sheet … elsewhere. The sheet was Letter 76, quoting two Chinese poems in translation.

Textual Notes

  • a.

    quarrel Misspelt as “quarrell”.

  • b.

    It was mere madness … it. Inserted.

  • c.

    Sheet … elsewhere. Written in the top margin.

Russell letter no. 
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Record no. 
BR to Constance Malleson, 1918/08/21
Transcription Public Access 
Record created 2014/05/26
Record last modified 2022/10/03
Created/last modified by duncana