Item 64 - Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

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MONT II/A/1/64


Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu


  • 23 Oct. 1912 (Creation)

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3 sheets, 2 of them folded

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Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Responds to his letter from Port Said (B1/54). Is helping with a children’s play. Refers to their current guests, and to her visit to the United Kingdom Alliance bazaar at Manchester. Sends news of the Prime Minister and other friends.



Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire

October 23rd 1912 (Oliver’s birthday)

Thank you for a letter from Port Said {1}. I am sorry you were being so much bored by your journey, and not even able to muster up sufficient energy to embark on the glorious, tho’ stodgy list we gave you. Isnt Marriage {2} good, I think it is much the best he has written, I am glad you read Lycidas again. I was afraid that by insisting on reading it to you I should have for ever have put you against it. Mikky thinks it is the best poem in the whole of the English language, and knows it by heart. Have you come across some rather nice, coloured, fruity ones in the Oxford Bk by Andrew Marvell {3}.

My life has continued in the same peaceful, uneventful way, since I last wrote to you, I have hunted once, but otherwise I havent seen a soul except father and mother, and not much of them as most of the time I was quite alone. I do love it, and really resented their return and the necessity of spending more than 5 minutes on lunch or 5 on dinner. I have got so used to myself, and when I am alone like myself so very much and have such fun and am so amusing to myself!

I have been very busy and for almost the first time in my life have had too much to do and not enough time to do it in. This is, I suppose, too often the case with you, for you to realize what a glorious sensation it is, it is my idea of one kind of happiness. My character has completely changed and you will hardly know me when you come back, I have developped† a sense of parochial responsibility and am becoming a thorough busy-body. The only thing that saves me from drifting into a life of Girls Clubs and sewing classes is firstly that I do it extremely badly and secondly that I am not here long enough on end. But I am doing my best and have 8 school children once a week to rehearse a children’s play and the rest of the time I am engaged on stitching vast Persian trowsers for them to wear. It absorbs all my interest and thought and I forget that no one else can possibly care a damn about it, and inflict it on people as I have done on you. Our solitude has been broken into by the arrival of an Admiral and his wife, 2 neighbours, your friend Mr Milne and an energetic woman called Mrs Grosvenor who is going to deliver a lecture on the advantages that an educated woman would have if she were to emigrate to Canada. That really means I suppose the chance of marrying some dreary fruit farmer, who is just rather less beastly than the other people out there. I should hate to be an educated woman in Canada.

Violet did chuck the United K. A. {4} she wrote and explained to Dorothy what her temperance principles were and after hearing them Dorothy said she would rather not have her. We went and bought things from her and found her in the most dismal surroundings with Aurea as her only human comfort. I had never seen A. before, she is hideous, and Dorothy treats her as tho’ she were a half-wit. I did feel sorry for her, she can have not a particle of fun in her life.

Dorothy was brisk and business-like and quite unselfpitying (if I had been in her shoes I should have groused to everyone about the horror of it) realising how damnable a Manchester bazaar was, but just doing it because it had to be done.

The P.M. has been quite ill with a boil on his shoulder, but is better again now, I havent seen him but I am thinking of going up to London next week, if I can get out of my groove, and I shall then perhaps see him. Mikky and Bongie come here the Sunday after {5}. Doesnt it seem odd to you to think of us all doing the same old things and seeing the same people over and over again, when you are in much a different atmosphere. You must now rather sympathise with Margot’s boredom at the regularity and unchangingness of our lives.

I meant at the beginning of this letter to tell you that I had a very bad cold, not so as to try and get a little sympathy 3 weeks hence, but so as to warn you that it would be dull, foggy reading, and to advise you not to embark on it unless you were feeling very charitable, but by the time you read this warning you will be near the end.

I must stop now, as considering the material at my disposal I have written far too much already.

Perhaps if I write again I shall have something more interesting to tell you about than what I have been doing here.



{1} MONT II B1/54.

{2} A novel by H. G. Wells, first published in 1912.

{3} The Oxford Book of English Verse (1900) contains seven poems by Marvell, as well as Milton’s ‘Lycidas’.

{4} Dorothy Howard had asked Violet Asquith to open a bazaar at Manchester in aid of the United Kingdom Alliance, a temperance organization. See Lantern Slides, pp. 337-8.

{5} 3 November.

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