Item 175 - Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

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MONT II/A/1/175


Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu


  • 20 Oct.-9 Nov. 1917 (Creation)

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In the train from Folkestone.—(20 Oct.) Has learnt of his safe arrival at Boulogne. Hopes that Alan and Kisch will prove more competent than expected.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]—Is depressed at having to spend the winter without him, despite the prospect of arranging Breccles. Reflects on their relationship and plans. After he left she and Viola went shopping, and she saw a sideboard she liked. Has dealt with some correspondence.—(Later.) Diana has visited. Is going to the opera.—(21 Oct.) Discusses her visit to the opera last night. This morning she went to Arlington Street [the Rutland Hospital], lunched with Diana and the Duchess, drove to Bushey in a vain attempt to meet Duff, and dined at Arlington Street for a ‘working reading aloud evening’. She intends to go to the hospital every morning, but will go away if the air-raids are bad.—[Later.] They read again in the evening.—(22 Oct.) Has received two notes from him. She went to Arlington Street and lunched at the Bath [Club]. Goonie is bored by having Jack home. Has ordered some things for the house.—(23 Oct.) She lunched with friends, including Masterton, who reported the rumour of a new coalition including ‘the old bird’ [Asquith], then went to South Kensington to show Diana David Garrick’s bed, which she is thinking of copying for Montagu. She dined and went to the opera with Bluey, and they discussed sapphism. Has had no news about letting the house.—(24 Oct.) After the hospital she went to the Bath, and to the House of Lords. Gives an account of the debate [on the situation in India]. In the evening she went to a play with Viola. Has let the house and bought the sideboard.—(25 Oct.) She dined with Cardie for Rawle’s farewell party, then went to a party at Lady Howard’s, which included Hugo Rumbold, who she is ‘crazy’ about, and Teddie Gerard, who enchanted Winston.—[26 Oct.] Has learnt of Montagu’s arrival at Port Said and has received his letter from Modane. She went to the Bath, where Clemmie was ‘very typical’ about Winston and Teddie. Some friends are dining with her, and they may go to the opera afterwards.—(27 Oct.) Only some of her guests went to the opera last night; she stayed in talking till late with the others. After Arlington Street she went shopping and to lunch with Katherine and Diana. Later she may go to Arlington Street for a ‘working reading evening’. Has received his letter from Rome and eagerly awaits his diary. The house has not, after all, been let.—(28 Oct.) She went to Bushey with Diana and Michael Herbert to see Duff, and dined with Diana and Edward, who has just come home on ‘Mells fire leave’ [Mells Park had been destroyed by fire on the 11th].—(29 Oct.) After the hospital and the Bath they lunched with Edward, after which Venetia took him to Lucile’s, where they found Viola choosing dresses for her new part. She got home to find Phyllis there, having turned out by her father for throwing a hair-brush at him. Rib writes to her daily, but they are trying to persuade her that he must marry her or stop seeing her. There was an abortive air-raid warning.—(30 Oct.) Edward has fallen in love with Phyllis. She lunched with friends, and Hugo Rumbold, who is probably another of Phyllis’s lovers, came to tea. Has received a telegram from Cairo and has heard that Montagu’s party has already broken up into groups. Some friends are dining with her tonight. Is appalled by the household expenses.—(31 Oct.) Her dinner went well, but she and Diana got into an argument with Edward. She had lunch with friends at home. Phyllis has told Ribblesdale that she will have to stop seeing him if he does not mean to marry her, but it is unlikely that her good intentions will last. Diana said to Phyllis that her mind had been corrupted by Scatters, and later Ribblesdale asked Phyllis whether she had ever slept with him, ‘which she had the sense to deny’. Lutyens brought her Blow’s plans [of Breccles], but as they are not of the house as it is now she will have to go down there to correct them. Is going to the opera.

Train to Breccles.—(1 Nov.) Was kept awake by an air-raid. Is on the way to meet Horner.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]—(2 Nov.) She did a lot of business with Horner at Breccles and planted some bulbs. Lutyens will probably come next time.—(3 Nov.) Has had no letter from him for a week, but has replied to his telegram. She played bridge this evening, and yesterday dined with friends and went to a play. Phyllis has gone to Arkers; her relationship with Lord Ribblesdale is still unsettled. Today she lunched with Maud and they went to the opera. Eric says Lloyd George is worried about the effect of the air-raids on public opinion.—(4 Nov.) She spent the day at Taplow. Ettie was on good form.—(5 Nov.) She went to Charing Cross [Hospital] again this morning and found it squalid, but she will only be going there two mornings a week. She had tea with friends and dined and went to a play with Duff, who starts his career at Chelsea Barracks on Monday. Phyllis is dining with Edward, Rib, and Arkers, and as the Viceroy is in London she will probably not come back tonight. Edward is still in love with her, but Venetia doesn’t know whether he has seduced her yet.—(6 Nov.) She lunched with Diana, Duffy, and Edward. Edward and Diana are reconciled. She is giving a dinner tonight. Hugo Wemyss has gone to Paris as Flavia Forbes has been bitten by a mad dog. He is corresponding acrimoniously with Lord Derby about Lady Angela [Forbes], who has been asked to leave France on account of alleged drunkenness.—(8 Nov.) Margot and the ‘old Boy’ [Asquith] were at Hazel’s party last night and asked after Montagu, but Vizee gave her (Venetia) a sour look; she and Bongie are the only ones who have said nothing about Montagu having gone [to India]. Has received his letter from Port Said [B1/144a]. She lunched with Winston and Clemmie, went to see Gladys, then played bridge at Lady Essex’s. Tonight she and Phyllis are dining with the McKennas and then going to a party at the Baroness’s.—(9 Nov.) Has seen his mother and shown her his typed notes [his ‘Diary’]. Phyllis leaves tomorrow.

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      Train from Folkestone
      Saturday Oct 20th 1917

      My beloved Ted It seems ages since we left you, tho’ its only 2 hours, but now we know that you’ve got safely as far as Boulogne. I do hope that Alan & Kisch will prove more competent than we think, but I fear they are neither of them of the stuff that Walter Raleighs are made. “Petits soins” {1} are not at all in Alan’s line. Diana & I have often complained of this—he pretended that it was merely a matter of money, but one could see with half an eye this morning that its a question of temperament. I feel deeply depressed (the train shook too much) {2} at the coming winter, and now that I’m back in this lonely house (even Huck has gone out) I long to take a narcotic for the next 4 months. It will be vile here without you, and even arranging Breccles will lose half its point if I cant tell you each day what I’m doing. I shall write to you very fully but what a rotten substitute.

      I shall number all my letters so that you may know if any miss. Will you do the same. I meant to ask you to before you left. What fun we’ve had but compared to the fun we are going to have its nothing. Delicious and perfect as our life has been here it will be ever so much better after, so we’ve just got to get through these months, you making a terrific success of your tour and me making an equally large success of Breccles. I feel far more certainty that you will make many fewer mistakes than I shall. Now that you are gone I begin bitterly to regret that I havent had more of you, we’ve been too little alone, and then when we have I’ve often bitched it by being cross to you and snappy and irritating. Think of the fun we’ve had tho’ and not of that.

      After you left Viola (who was very tearful poor sweet) and I went into the town and I saw 3 things I rather liked.

      One a side board, a kind of Adam design, about 2 ft wide and perhaps 5 long. Pale blue and white. This kind of thing. [There follows a sketch of the sideboard.] No its not in the least suggestive. I’ve made it far too high. It wd make a very pretty wash stand. The top is plate glass also the middle shelf. All the details are pretty. Unfortunately the owner was out so I left my address and told him to let me know the price. Then we saw a set of 8 walnut chairs 2 arms and 6 plain. Very nice for dining room. They were rather well carved on the legs and back with a scollop shell pattern. He wanted £75 for the lot. Of course they may be fakes and on Monday I shall go and see at Heals {3} or Gill & R {4} how much avowedly modern chairs with that much carving wd cost. I think they wd be more but of course its a very debateable point whether we want to spend as much on chairs as that in any case. Oh darling, if only you were here to consult. You see how I miss you. Then my final thing and this a purchase for £5. a large china octagonal covered dish [There follows a sketch of the dish] on an octagonal plate & 2 smaller plates. White background with flowers and a coat of arms. Lowestoft sort of design but actually chinese china; very nice with pot pourri in the drawing room! There was in the same shop a des[s]ert service 18 pieces, Copeland. Apple green border with various flowers painted in the middle. I mean each plate a different flower. £9. I thought they wd look pretty in the China alcove in the drawing room, but I’ve not clinched them y[e]t. Beloved does all this small beer bore you?

      My train left at 12.30 very comfortable. I had lunch on the train, in spite of my vast breakfasts, and talked to a naval reserve man who was much intrigued by my presence on that train and wondered how the devil I’d got there. I got home about a quarter to 3 and since then, now 4.30 have done some letters, written to Freeth for you & to Surtees who had sent you Constances borrowing security to sign. I dont know if I can sign or whether she wd mind me seeing it! I shant go out again, I think I shall do a bit of my work and then go to bed till the Opera. I’m rather sleepy. I shall write every day so that by the end of a fortnight I dont believe you’ll ever be able to get through it. Oh my darling I do miss you so truly. Take great care of yourself and come back very quickly. I adore you. {5}

      A little later. Diana came round about 5.30 very miserable too and we sat sadly over the fire till about 6 when I walked her home now I’m just back and in bed till I go to the Opera. I shant write any more tonight so this is my goodnight to you my most darling one. I shall look for a Paris letter about Tuesday.

      Sunday 21st. I went to the Opera last night with Maud and found a monstrous collection in her box. Josh Wedgewood, Sir R & Lady Rodd, Mrs Dudley (Lady Curzon’s sister who is too awful) Sir Alan & Lady Johnston and all that kind. It wasnt much fun but I’d started out in the deepest gloom and feeling I couldnt face my life here without you and some how it raised my spirits rather. I didnt wait till the end as I was very sleepy, got back here and to bed about 11·15 and slept the clock round, except for being woken about 9·30 by the resident I.O. clerk telephoning to say you’d reached Boulogne safely. Its been a lovely day. I only went out about 1·30 when Huck and I walked across to Arlington St {6} and Diana the Duchess and I lunched together at the Ritz. Not very exciting, afterward Diana & I drove to Bushey on the chance of finding Duff {7}, but failed, still it was so lovely out There is a rumour that Duff may fail in his examination. Isnt it frightful, and what a blow to the coteries prestige.

      I’m dining tonight at Arlington St., alone with Diana & her Grace for a working reading aloud evening. I’m going to start tomorrow going to their Hospital every morning, I think it will suit me rather well as it will give me a little to do and yet leave time for work at Breccles. If the raids tho’ are bad I promise to go away so please darling dont worry about that. I’ll add a few lines tonight. Quite a pleasant evening. We read C. J. Fox again which you and I had enjoyed so much. She reads rather badly, losing her place and stumbling over the long words, but I got on a bit with my work, which, by the way, is going to take the devil of a time. and was quite happy. You must be in Rome by now I suppose, I do hope you are happy. Bless you my darling Ted.

      Monday 22nd. I got 2 beloved little notes from you, one from Boulogne another from Paris. {8} Too short tho’! Please be most minute in your descriptions of everything. I went this morning to Arlington St. Very easy work from 8·30 to 11·30, no very bad cases, then on to the Bath with Diana where we found Goonie. She had tried to send you a loving telegram but she says the Treasury (perhaps she means the I.O.) refused to send it saying they had no use for loving telegrams. Jack is home for 10 days, she is frankly bored by having him. Afterwards I went and ordered towels, large bath and face and to Heals where I ordered 5 beds. That makes 7 in all. I saw at a shop in Dover St some rather pretty oak gates and railings. Thus: [There follows a sketch of the gates.] The large things are colums† made up of several of the posts. Blue with faint gilt heads. Do you think they wd look nice across the hall where the partition is now. They wd shut off the dining room a little without taking away the fun of a very large room. They are asking £30 but wd take less and then we should have to add about 7 feet extra. I saw some modern walnut chairs at Maples not half as nice as the Folkestone ones £10 the plain and £13 the arm, so those others arent very dear.

      I got in about 5 and read and worked had dinner alone and then worked and wrote and read. I might have gone to the Opera but was too lazy. I’m now in bed 11·15. The weather most stormy so I think no raids! I shall expect a telegram about Friday or Saturday. How is Alan. Goodnight beloved.

      Tuesday 23rd. Viola, Diana and Masterton lunched, all in rather good form. Masterton had no special news except that he said there were persistant† rumours of a new Coalition which wd include the old bird. He personally didnt believe them, nor really do I, not at anyrate for some time. After lunch Diana and I went to S. Kensington where I showed her David Garricks bed which I told you I thought of for you. Its really lovely and I’m going to start painting it as soon as the pattern is drawn out, you shall have window curtains of the same stuff, but if you find it too stuffy then we can put it in any other room. Just back from the Opera with Bluey, we had a very pleasant dinner together, discussing many questions amongst others sapphism. He was amazed when I told him I’d never had any advances made to me and professed to be unable to believe it. The Opera was rather dull. No news of letting the house its too irritating. {9}

      Wednesday 24th. To the Bath with Diana, Mary & Goonie after the hospital, all very sweet. In the afternoon I went out with Ettie and later we went to the H of Lords. Are you satisfied with the debate. I thought on the whole it went pretty well as the only thing that you really feared was that the term Self Government should be wittled† away to mean nothing, which I didnt think Curzon said. St John was absolutely livid with rage, he could hardly speak & was trembling all over. Old Haldane nearly made me cry as just after Crewe had spoken he came padding up to the Ladies Gallery and wheezed out “I think its going fairly well” (as Diana said as tho’ you were Crippen or Lieut Malcomb† being tried for yr life) “I wd have spoken but Crewe has done so for me”. I thought it so sweet of him to think of it. Lady Curzon was there also Anne Islington. Jack was quite good, but the whole thing seemed very pointless as what the devil cd the old buggers do, not re-intern Mrs Besant. In the evening Viola & I went to a most thrilling play called the 13th Chair {10}. You wd have loathed it. Spooks and spirits and murders. I was terrified. I think I’ve let the house to a Mrs Russell Rea from Dec 1st for 3 months 25 guineas a week. Isnt it luck. I’ve also bought the Adam sideboard for £4.10. Very cheap. I seem to be so busy that I have no time to write, here it is 12.15, so I must stop or I shall never be up at 8.30! Darling are you happy? I long for news of you.

      Thursday 25th. Nothing much during the day, I dined with Cardie and Rawle for his farewell party, worse than usual except not Mrs Hall but otherwise a collection of horrors such as you’ve never seen. Where do they find them I wonder. I sat between a Canadian and an old bounder called Ker Seymour {11}. They are exactly the type of people who one hears about when a Malcolm case or some rather scabrous divorce suits† comes on. I fell rather in love with William which is unfortunate now that he’s gone. Afterwards I went to a wonderful party at Lady Howards. Teddie Gerrard, Baby Banns, Lily Elsie, as well as all your real favorite† women. You wd have loved it and I longed for you to be there. My joy was unbounded at seeing my beloved Hugo again. I’m crazy about the man, Rumbold not Wemyss. Winston fell deeply into Teddie’s toils, thought her quite wonderful, very pure, sad, brave, hardworking, and when I ventured to say that she was really very happy, and the top of her profession he only said that the world was harsh and cruel. He woke up Clemmie at 3 a m to tell her how wonderful she was and to get her to ask her to lunch. I got home at 3, the result is that today, Friday I’m rather drowsy. A message has come that you have arrived at P.S safely so I think your worst is over. Did you see Scatters or Niel? I also got last night yr Modane letter {12}. How comical seeing Ghika and Perigny but what did they say, you arent sufficiently explicit.

      To the Bath again this morning with Diana only Clemmie there, very typical about Winston and Teddie. Now I’m home and not going to stir again. Its icy cold, but perfect anti air craft weather. Bluey, Cardie, Diana and Hugo dine and we may go to the Opera. Lots more tomorrow.

      Saturday {13} 27th. No opera for me, tho’ Diana Olga & Willie de Grünn all went leaving me & Cardie & Bluey and Hugo, we didnt do anything but talk and I regret to say they stayed far longer than I wanted, till nearly 1. as I was very sleepy I wished them all miles and miles away. K. turned up today at Arlington St, and Diana & she & I went out, I’ve bought some lovely parchment coloured satin to make a quilted bed with curtains and hangings. I think you’ll like it. We lunched at the Ritz, not very exciting and since then I’ve been home doing nothing, I shall go to bed very early, but perhaps I shall go round to Arlington St for a working reading evening. Your Roman letter {14} came today. I shall eagerly await your diary for I must enter a protest about yr letters unless heavily supplemented by very gossippy diary! Darling I’m going to be most exacting to you. After all I’ve not let the house which is a disappointment.

      Sunday. Went to Arlington St but had very little reading as that silly old woman cant keep to the book and goes off into rambling reminiscences about what she remembers hearing about Charles Fox, only she never quite remembers so the stories lose all the point they may have had. Glorious day today Diana Michael Herbert & I motored to Bushey to see Duff, he is more cheerful about passing so Thursday he should be with us again for good. I was going to dine again alone with Diana & the Duchess but when I got round there was greeted by the news that Edward has just arrived (Mells fire leave) {15} so D & I deserted the Duchess and dined at the Ritz. We found E in rampant spirits and had a very agreable† dinner in a private room but all remained (tho’ you may not believe it) remarkably sober as E had to be produced to the Duchess after. I’m just home having left them fairly early.

      Monday 27th†. E’s arrival seems for the moment to have entirely put an end to the peaceful uneventful life which I’ve been leading. Our morning was much as {16} usual, hospital and Bath, but then we went to lunch with E at the Berkeley and as Diana was engaged with her Grace I had him on my hands all the afternoon. I took him to Luciles where we met Viola who was choosing dresses for her new part. Then when I got home I found Phillis who is staying here. I hadnt realised that the poor girl has been turned out of her fathers home, entirely because she threw a hair brush at him because he called her friends harlots and bitches. So she stays here till Sat when she goes back to Arkers. No more news of Rib. He still writes to her daily but I hope Diana (who, with Michael Herbert, dined here) & I have persuaded her to tell him that he’s bitching his reputation and that either she will marry him or stop seeing him. We had an air raid warning but nothing came of it. Goodnight darling. {17}

      Tuesday 30th. Edward last night fell very much in love with Phillis and I foresee that I shall have difficulty in keeping him out of the house, not that I think she at all returns his affection. We lunched at the Ritz with him & K & Diana and after Phillis & I came home and Hugo Rumbold came to tea, I dont know if he’s another of her lovers, I expect he must be as he is lunching again tomorrow to show her his drawings. I’m becoming an accomplished pimp for her. A telegram from Cairo has come, what fun for you all. I hear from Viola that your party has already broken up into groups is that so? I’m so thankful you’ve got Alan. Viola, Diana K, Birrell, Eddie Marsh, Mc Evoy and possibly Lord Ribblesdale dine tonight, my first party since you left, I dont want to get into the habit of them, not only for economy’s sake (tho’ that is a factor). I must tell you I’ve been appalled by the expense of life, the fact of paying the rates has brought it home to me. {18}

      Wednesday 31st. Our party last night I’m sorry to say ended with a floater. We had a very perfect dinner, everyone admirable, Viola particularly brilliant, and at about 10 the women left the dining room. 10.30 came, 11, and at 11.30 Diana Viola & K went away. About a quarter of an hour after Edward came up into my room just as I was getting into bed, and instead of saying at once “Oh {19} darling I’m so sorry we have been vilely rude” which wd probably have pacified me, he tried to make out it was our fault and that we should have sent for them, on this I saw red and cursed him for his manners habits, customs and everything I could lay hands on. However my anger evaporated quickly and he left quite happy. Diana however has been giving him hell all today and the poor creature is really pathetic. He is such an ass and really since he came home his manners to her have been deplorable. Of course I recognise its largely our fault, we never have a floater about these sort of things (no recoil as Margot wd say) and therefore E thinks nothing matters. We had rather an amusing lunch here today, Phillis, Claire, Diana, Hugo R. & Ld Ribblesdale. After lunch we left the young people together and P told him she couldnt go on seeing him unless he meant to marry her, the old boy was rather taken aback but even {20} then did not commit himself and left saying he must think it over. However they are dining together tomorrow night and going to a play so I’m afraid her good resolutions may colapse† rather. He was in marvellous form, the life & soul, but P was rather cramped by Dianas presence particularly when D. said to her that her mind had been corrupted by Scatters. Afterwards Ld R. asked her, fixing her with a searching eye if she had ever slept with Wilson which she had the sense to deny.

      Lutyens came at tea time with Blow’s plans, but we could come to no decision till I’d been down and got them corrected as they are not of the house as it stands now. I’m going to the Opera tonight with Anne Islington.

      Thursday 1st Nov. Train to Breccles. I feel very sleepy this morning, the result of a raid last night. Soon after I got in from the Opera, about 11.15 I heard the well known tramp, but as nothing else was going on went to sleep and was woken about 1 by the guns. We went down to the servants hall and sat there for about half an hour hearing the shells flying over the house, there was a moving gun on a trolley quite close, but I heard no bombs. Then as everything was quite quiet Phillis & I went up to bed again. After that there was another little bombardment, nothing much and at about 2.15 I went to sleep. I dont know what time the all clear was given.

      Today, its raining so we should be all right anyway its getting rather late in the moon. I’m meeting F. Horner here and going to plant some bulbs, I rather hope to catch the 2.45 back, and if its very beastly I shall . . . . . I had to stay till 5.45 as old Horner was so slow and, I thought, muddle headed, still we did a lot of business and I think things can be started very soon. It was all dull things like cisterns and pumps, next time I expect Lutyens will come too, that will be in 2 or 3 weeks. I planted about 800 bulbs under 3 little trees, I do hope they’ll come up scillas & daffodils I did today, next time I shall take someone with me as I’ve another 2500 to put in! {21}

      Saturday. You preserve a very marked silence my darling, no letter since that miserable scrap from Rome which arrived a week ago! Your telegram {22} came on Friday & I sent you an answer which I hope you’ll get. I’ve had an attack of dreariness since Thursday which became very pronounced this evening when I settled down to Saturday to Monday alone in London; but then I suddenly realised how much I was enjoying it when just as I was working Nancy rang up to ask if she & Sidney could come round to play bridge! I had to say yes and round they came and have only this instant left me. He is too awful. Nothing much happened yesterday. We, Phillis, Cynthia, Eddie, Hugo R. Michael Tennant and Hugh Godley (unexpected) dined and went to the Hawtrey play which I thought desperately boring, and the whole party rather a frost.

      Phillis has left me and gone to Arkers for Sunday. Did I tell you that Lord R said to her “You may find in me a husband, or a friend, or a lover I cant tell” So I’m afraid things are far from being settled and that the last of those 3 categories is the most likely. She comes back Monday. I lunched with Maud today and went afterwards to the Opera with her (Figaro). Very lovely. Two lots of people came today to see the house, but they both looked very dingy. Diana is away at Belvoir till Monday Eric who I saw at the Opera tells me Ll G. is truly scared by the raids, I dont mean so much the actual bombs as their effect on public opinion I’ve heard no sound of news, Hankey was to have lunched today but had to go away, he’ll come next week he says, so I may collect something from him. Tell me when you write if I tell you the kind of things you like to hear. I try & miss nothing as I know you suspect me of concealments! No more tonight my darling Ted. I do so long for news of you. Sunday. Just come back from a day at Taplow, Ettie in marvellous form, there were also there Willie de Grün & Malcolm Bullock, but I saw very little of them. She said she was going to write to you. I hope she does.

      Monday evening. I went to Charing X again this morning and found it most squalid, but thank God its only 2 mornings a week, the others I shall spend in the comparative luxury of the Rutland. No one to lunch but Diana, Duff, & Hugo came to tea. Duff has passed and on Monday reports at Chelsea Barracks and starts his career there. He and I dined at the Criterion together where to my great joy I saw darling Jimmy (alas only in London for the day) I was so exageratedly† pleased to see him that he was somewhat taken aback and I think went off with the impression that I was very much in love with him! I must really curb my manner a little. Hugo & his Baroness were also dining, looking both unutterably corrupt. Afterwards we went to Dear Brutus a bad Barrie play, but which we both enjoyed rather as we were in a mellow mood. Phillis is dining with Edward, Rib and Arkers and as the Vice Roy is in London I dont expect she’ll even return to me tonight. Edward is still rather in love with her, but I dont know whether her seduction has yet been accomplished. Goodnight my darling.

      Tuesday. Lunched today with Diana, Duffy & Edward. E. again on excellent terms with Diana and, apparently completely restored to favour. They all dine here tonight. Duff, E. Diana, Diana Wyndham, Phillis Francis Horner, Arkers, de Tuyll(?) Mc Evoy, Lord Wimborne and possibly Hugo. I went and definitely ordered the drawing room curtains. Real chinese yellow (most vivid) taffetas, I do hope you wont think them too bright, but I think they should look lovely in that bright white, sunny room. I’ve no ideas as to furniture yet and have got none! I mean no furniture. I suppose I ought to tackle it. Hugo (Wemyss this time) has gone off to Paris as Flavia Forbes has been bitten by a mad dog! He is at this minute engaged in a very acrimonious correspondence with Ld Derby about Lady Angela who has been asked to leave France owing to alleged drunken-ness! What a terrible hotch potch of paper I seem to write on. All very squalid!


      Hazel had a party last night, supposed to be stunts & music but none of the “artists” even turned up so it was merely conversation. I enjoyed it Margot & the old Boy were there, he asked very cordially after you so did she. Vizee however gave me a very sour look. She and Bongie are the only ones who have never said a word about your having gone. They are strange. Margot was loathing the party and kept on saying to everyone I really think the kindest thing we can do to Hazel is to leave the house. Ruby was there looking awful! Today I got your letter from Port Said {23} which I loved They cant be long enough for me, so please go on writing very copiously. I lunched with Winston & Clemmie today, no one but Ivor & Duke of Marlboro’ who was particularly dreary and after I went to try & see your mother, found her out and went and saw Gladys instead who really is so awful that I cant bear to be in the same room as her. I believe she must be off her head, her shrieks and enthusiasm about nothing are too trying. Then I went and played bridge with Lady Essex. Else, I, Lady de T. Duff, Norah Lindsay, rather fun & I won about £5. Phillis and I dine tonight with the McKennas and go, possibly, to a party at the Barones {24} after; but as its pouring and no taxis are to be found this must be nearly the end of this epic as I hear the mail leaves Saturday. I dont dare re-read it in case it should be too dismal to send. I’ll add a final line tomorrow. {25}


      I dont think there is anything much to add. I went and saw your mother who was very much pleased at having heard from you. I showed her your typewritten notes.

      Phyllis leaves me tomorrow.

      I shall start another letter to you tomorrow, so this is only the end of the first installment†.

      My love to Alan.

      Bless you my darling, be very happy.

      Much love


      Mainly written in pencil (see below).

      {1} Small services or gestures of attentiveness (OED).

      {2} The writing changes from pencil to ink after ‘deeply’, Venetia having evidently put the letter aside until her return to 24 Queen Anne’s Gate.

      {3} Heal’s, a furniture shop in Tottenham Court Road.

      {4} Gill and Reigate, a furniture shop in Oxford Street (also mentioned in A1/182).

      {5} The writing changes from ink to pencil here.

      {6} i.e. the Rutland Hospital.

      {7} Duff Cooper was in the Household Brigade Officers’ Battalion, who were stationed at Bushey.

      {8} These have not survived.

      {9} The writing changes from pencil to ink here.

      {10} The Thirteenth Chair, an American mystery play by Bayard Veiller, was first produced in England at the Duke of York’s Theatre on 16 October. The production marked the return of the celebrated actress Mrs Patrick Campbell to the London stage after an absence.

      {11} Probably H. V. C. Ker-Seymer.

      {12} This has not survived. Modane is in France, near the border with Italy. There is an important railway station there.

      {13} The writing changes from ink to pencil here.
      {14} This has not survived.
      {15} Mells Park had been destroyed by fire on the 11th.
      {16} The pencil was changed here.
      {17} The pencil was changed here.
      {18} The pencil was changed here.
      {19} Inverted commas supplied.
      {20} The pencil was changed here.
      {21} The pencil was changed here.
      {22} This has not survived.
      {23} B1/144a, dated 24–25 October.
      {24} i.e. ‘Baroness’s. The word runs to the edge of the page.
      {25} The writing changes from pencil to ink here.

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