BRACERS Record Detail for 19359

To access the original letter, email the Ready Division.

Collection code
Recent acquisition no.
Document no.
Box no.
Source if not BR
Malleson, Constance
Malleson, Constance
Form of letter
BR's address code (if sender)
Notes and topics

"Sat. mg. My Dearest Darling—Your last letter seemed somehow more filled with love than almost any you have ever written me—at least it brought your love wonderfully near me, and has made me very happy."

There are two condensed transcriptions of this letter: document .052449, record 99926; document .201151, record 116380.

There are two holes in this page. On the top side of the sheet the missing text cannot be obtained from the transcriptions as the text has been reworked. On the reverse side of the sheet, the missing text can be obtained from the transcriptions. Some sentences were omitted from the transcriptions.


Letter 99

BRACERS 19359. AL. McMaster
Previous Brixton letter, BRACERS 48712; next letter, BRACERS 19360
Edited by K. Blackwell, A. Bone, N. Griffin and S. Turcon

<Brixton Prison>1
Sat. evg. 7 Sp. ’18.

My dearest Darling

Your last letter seemed somehow more filled with love2 than almost any you have ever written me — at least it brought your love wonderfully near me, and has made me very happy. It is such a little time now until we are together. Reckoning as best I can, your short letter that upset me nearly 4 weeks ago3 must have been written just whena you were anxious about not being <hole in paper>b well: it seemed pre-occupied about something not spoken of, that was why it worried me. I do hope really your health4 is fairly all right. I won’t worry about it but I shall be glad when I know more. Have you thought what present I could give Gladys?5 I can’t imagine what she would like. I must give her something she would like as she has been so very kind and obliging.

I won’t send a book by my brother but will send one to reach you Friday. I want both numbers of Journal of Philosophy back.6 (Gladys has the other.)c They go quicker and easier than a proper book.7 — Our excitement here has been the arrival of Litvinov. I smile to him8 from a distance, and he to me, but have had no chance to speak with him. I fear that when I emerge all decent society will be here. Did you see John Bull this week9 regretting that “the Man Russell is not treated like the common criminal he is.” I can heartily reciprocate the sentiment towards Mr Bottomley.10 — I wonder what happened yesterday with Carr:11 I am sure he must have been very discouraging. But no doubt somehow I shall get off. — The Govt’s concession to Absolutists12 seems the absolute minimum of a concession. Brutes they are.

What a distinguished Comee.13 you have for the uncommercial travellers.14 , d I love to think of your having good parts to learn and do15 — the glamour of bad work in swell theatres is not really worth anything in comparison. I am afraid you will dislike my having criticized “Madge”16 , e — I do really like it very much, it is only that I wish it were better still.

Business.f I think you and Elizabeth might bring my despatch-case containing watch-chain etc. and leave it at prison gates next time you come — it will be quite safe. If you could insert 2 of my pipes (not new ones), 2 ounces tobacco, and 1 box of matches, I could leave the prison in style! My pipes are at G. Sq. Tobacco: 3 nuns, or anything similar; or what my brother smokes.17 I will return your suit-case18 by my brother. I hope he will be told he must be prepared to take it away. Please bring it again next time and I will again return it full by you and E.19

I have had plenty of philosophy to read lately, so I have not felt the time wasted. One wants to spend the time profitably since one can’t spend it pleasurably. Really it is not at all bad when I can get on with work and am not having any worries. I do feel this time has been extraordinarily profitable to me intellectually, through all the reading I have done. I had not read as much in the five previous years as I shall have in the five months here. And it has been good to have leisure to think what I want to do. It has given me strength and will and independence of the judgment of others, and a wide outlook over the world and one’s place in it. One can’t get all that when one is busy.

I plan to do my work in the Studio, and have meals at G. Sq. when not with you (if my brother will let me). The Studio seems to me ideal for work. I will have regular hours — say 11 to 6 with an interval for lunch. But when the war is over I shan’t keep that up. Then I should try for our old scheme of somewhere in the country, for the summer, and for solid work: in the winter I would do lecturing, teaching, odds and ends of writing, especially on social questions.

Yes, early next summer a long holiday! The longest you can manage — somewhere heavenly — Cornishg or Devon coast — June. But I have done too much looking forward — the joys of being with you when I come out are as far as I really want to look now, and it will be enough joy to content me for a long time. I don’t wonder you are very tired Darling. Oh I will be so gentle and kind — you have really had a much worse time than I have20 — we will both rest in each other’s arms and all the weariness and pain will melt away — and the beauty of the world will be singing and joyful, no longer a stab of added pain.


  • 1

    [document] The letter was edited from the unsigned, twice-folded, single-sheet original in BR’s hand in the Malleson papers in the Russell Archives.

  • 2

    filled with love Her edited letter of 2 September includes: “This is all rather dull: telling not one scrap of how I long for you, the whole loving miracle of you, my Heart. I don’t think you can really know how much I care. What’s worse is that I really can’t blame you for it, inarticulate creature that I am. Only my arms can tell you —” (BRACERS 113155).

  • 3

    your short letter that upset me nearly 4 weeks ago In Letter 71, BR wrote: “It was a great relief to get your letter today — the one yesterday was such a wretched scrap that it made me very unhappy, and I expected to remain so at least a week.” 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, however, is equally scrappy and indeed begs forgiveness for “this scrap” (BRACERS 113148 and 113149).

  • 4

    your health Colette had written: “My doctor, by the way, thinks my inside needs attention (same old trouble)” (BRACERS 113155).

  • 5

    Gladys BR had said (Letter 87) that he wanted to give her a present and asked Colette’s help in choosing one.

  • 6

    I want both numbers of Journal of Philosophy back. It is not known which issues of this journal he had. His list of philosophical works read in prison doesn’t include any papers from The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods. Maybe it was used only to hide letters in.

  • 7

    quick and easier than a proper book Presumably because journal issues are lighter. They, too, could be used to carry correspondence.

  • 8

    arrival of Litvinov. I smile to him Early in 1918 Maxim Litvinov (1876–1951), a future Soviet foreign minister, obtained de facto recognition as Bolshevik Russia’s diplomatic representative to Britain. He and his staff were interned in Brixton for several weeks in retaliation for the arrest of Robert Bruce Lockhart, Litvinov’s London counterpart in Moscow, who stood accused with other British agents of conspiring to sabotage the revolution. (Britain had that summer launched a military intervention against the fledgling Bolshevik regime.) But a prisoner exchange was hastily negotiated, and both men were soon released and repatriated. BR and Litvinov would have acknowledged each other because they had met on at least three separate occasions (see Papers 14: lxxix–lxxx). Yet in May 1920, when BR had reached Stockholm on his intended trip to Russia, Litvinov forced him to cool his heels for several days awaiting a visa, while the Labour delegation (which BR was accompanying) went ahead (Papers 15: xxxix).

  • 9

    John Bull this week The article BR referred to was “In Prison for Debt; Scandalous Contrast in Treatment of Incarcerated”, John Bull, 7 Sept. 1918, p. 4. The exact quotation is: “This creature, Russell, who should be treated as the common criminal he is, rejoices in all the comforts of a home from home.” A small tradesman had been put in Brixton for the “non-payment of rates”. Feeling unfairly treated, he wrote to John Bull upon his release. The article describes BR’s cell as being “furnished like a gentleman’s room”. BR was waited on by a debtor, but not this complaining tradesman.

  • 10

    Mr. Bottomley Horatio Bottomley (1860–1933), journalist and owner of John Bull, a sensationalist weekly which was pro-war, anti-German, and also dealt in gossip. In 1922 Bottomley was found guilty of a war bonds swindle and sent to prison.

  • 11

    happened yesterday with Carr On 6 September Ottoline and Gladys Rinder travelled to the West Sussex home of Herbert Wildon Carr to discuss the fellowship plan.

  • 12

    Govt’s concession to Absolutists BR had been informed by Gladys Rinder (who was involved in the planning: see BRACERS 79631 and 79632) about a deputation to the Home Office led by Conservative peer Lord Parmoor and concerning recently introduced changes to the treatment of imprisoned “absolutist” C.O.s. All those incarcerated for more than two years already (about 700 in all) were transported in September 1918 from ordinary civil prisons to the Home Office camp in Wakefield, which had been occupied until recently by C.O.s willing to perform alternative service in lieu of actual imprisonment. The men moved into lockless cells, were able to fraternize freely, and enjoyed superior reading and writing privileges. But when the governor tried to compel his new charges to undertake prison work, they mounted an organized protest and were soon dispersed back to the regular prison system (see John W. Graham, Conscription and Conscience: a History, 1916–1919 [London: Allen & Unwin, 1922], pp. 300–3). The “concession”, such as it was, clearly fell short of what BR had urged after prison discipline was begrudgingly relaxed for C.O.s nine months previously. The real requirement was “the absolute exemption of all whose consciences can accept nothing less, and permission to do work of real national importance under conditions of freedom, instead of useless penal work under conditions which are still almost those of prison” (“The Government’s ‘Concessions’”, The Tribunal, no. 87 [13 Dec. 1917]: 2; 88 in Papers 14).

  • 13

    distinguished Comee. In Colette’s letter of 2 September 1918, she listed the members of the Experimental Theatre Committee as “Desmond <MacCarthy>, Massingham, Galsworthy, and Dennis (Bradley)” (BRACERS 113155). See the passage on the Theatre in Letter 62.

  • 14

    uncommercial travellers BR was making humorous use of the title of Charles Dickens’ collection of essays The Uncommercial Traveller (1861), in which Dickens took on the role of a traveller for the “great house of Human Interest Brothers”. Colette and her husband, Miles, were attempting to found a non-commercial theatre to put on experimental plays; they were still searching for how to accomplish the goal. Although their full vision was never revealed, they would have had to rent a cheap facility in London to put on the plays — away from commercial theatre. The plan may have come to fruition as the Everyman Theatre under the direction of Norman MacDermott. In his book Everymania (London: Society for Theatre Research, 1975), he noted that he met Miles in the summer of 1918: they rented a store in Bloomsbury, had a cabinetmaker build sets, and put on plays with actors “bored with West-End theatres” (p. 10) at a later, unknown time.

  • 15

    good parts to learn and do In Colette’s letter of 3 September 1918 (BRACERS 113156), she wrote that she was learning three roles: “Madge; a Schnitzler play; and an American one.” Arthur Schnitzler (1862–1931), was a Jewish Austrian playwright; his plays concern sexuality and anti-Semitism; he had experienced anti-Semitism first-hand. “Madge” was by Miles Malleson.

  • 16

    criticized “Madge” “Madge” was a play by Miles Malleson. Colette was to play Madge. In Letter 91 BR had written: “I have now read ‘Madge’.... It moved me, like everything Miles <Malleson> does. But it is not really good. It is dated, it depends wholly on its moral; as soon as people take that for granted, it has no point. And Madge’s sufferings are conventional.”

  • 17

    3 nuns … anything similar … brother smokes BR “smokes but one brand of tobacco, namely ‘Golden Mixture’ manufactured by Fribourg and Treyer, of which establishment he has been a customer since 1895”, reported his secretary in 1965 (BRACERS 37751). For his smoking a pipe, see Letter 2, note 13. In not specifying Golden Mixture, it appears that BR was making it easy for Colette to obtain almost any brand for him. He soon returned to Golden Mixture, as evidenced by his Fribourg and Treyer invoice of 1922 (BRACERS 130857).

  • 18

    your suit-case Presumably it was for emptying his cell of books, manuscripts and letters.

  • 19

    E. See Elizabeth above.

  • 20

    much worse time than I have In comparison with his imprisonment, BR was probably referring to Colette’s health problems (see Letter 95 and note 4).

Textual Notes
  • a

    when There is a hole in the sheet, but enough of a word survives to see it must have been “when”.

  • b

    <hole in paper> Missing is what must have been a short word, perhaps “all”.

  • c

    (Gladys has the other.) Inserted.

  • d

    travellers The middle four letters of this word are missing in a hole in the sheet, but “travellers” fits both the space and the context.

  • e

    “Madge” Quotation marks editorially supplied.

  • f

    Business. BR added a separate heading, “Mostly business”, in pencil at the top of page 2, which begins with the words “I will return your suit-case”.

  • g

    Cornish There is a hole in the sheet, but enough of the word exists to see it must have been “Cornish”.

Transcription Public Access
Record no.
Record created
May 26, 2014
Record last modified
Oct 13, 2022
Created/last modified by