Letters from Leslie Poles Hartley
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- System Reference: X112/22/10/1/6/6
- Document Reference: 112/22/10/1/6/6/1-123
- Date: 1928-1949
- Level: Item
- Description: /3 17 September 1928 He returns book he borrowed during stay at Attingham.
/4 8 February 1929 He saw her mother and sister just before he left Venice. Asks if Teresa can think of a subject for a child's story as he is supposed to be writing one. He has thought of a boy who wants to be brave and of a princess who he rescues but cannot decide what the circumstances should be.
/5 14 February 1929 Accepts Teresa's invitation to Attingham. He mentions books he has read and what he thought of them. He will bear in mind her advice about the Dog. "Perhaps he will have the children turned into Dachshunds by a benevolent fairy."
/6 1 March 1929 Enjoyed his stay and hopes he didn't disturb Lord Berwick too much by invading his room in that possessive manner. He thinks his story has taken a wrong turning. "I am trying to introduce a Dachshund but have not quite found a place for him. It would not be very nice of the hero to take him to join combat with the Dragon - of whom I am decidedly tired!"
/7 3 July 1929 Wondered whether Teresa's house in Bath was still available. His father and mother may need to leave Peterborough for three or four months in the winter and they could perhaps go over and see the house.
"Bouquets of sycophantic flowers did not soften the hard heart of Mrs Johnstone. No doubt she still believes I am a dangerous character."
/10 29 January 1930 "I believe my fairy story is coming out in the spring, very much edited and cut down. It can't be any worse for that - I haven't the revised version, but I trust it won't have been given a happy ending to add to yet another illusion to the children's tender minds."
/13 27 June 1930 "My reviews oppress me"
/23 15 August 1932 His labours have been irksome, especially Walpole's new book, 811 pages with a vast genealogical tree.
/27 8 Jan 1933 Writing from The Wharf, Sutton Courtney. Rather a sad occasion - the last weekend at the Wharf - which has been sold.
/28 9 Feb 1933 "The books have definitely got the upper hand of me - there are about 50, and I can't bring myself to divide the sheep from the goats." That is why he didn't send one to Tom but will dispatch a volume tomorrow.
/31 18 July 1933 "London is most exhausting. I spend the evenings in frantic revel and the mornings when I ought to be working, in bouts of nervous apprehension."
/39 7 August 1934 "I felt rather apprehensive about mother and Gio, in the midst of those savages. Though I'm sure Mrs Hulton is as brave as a lion. I am very glad they haven't been inconvenienced."
/42 6 Sept 1934 He has been trying to think of another magazine and mentions a few. "I expect a paper with a radical tinge would be best." An agent might give one advice.
/43 3 November 1934 I have a delicious picture of the lagoon, painted by your father, which Mrs Hulton most kindly gave me.
/44 22 Jan 1935 How glad Gio must be to be with you after that long sad trying time in Venice.
/47 22 June 1935 Writing from Venice. He is pleased and proud because he has acquired the lovely old chest of drawers that used to stand in Teresa's salon.
/49 July 1935 Written from 8 Sussex Place, Regents Park. Abyssinia plays a large part in my conversation. The latest report is that the Turks are arriving to attack the Italians. I shall feel very bitter if your chest of drawers is shattered.
/51 26 November 1935 Your mother and Gioconda told me about the burglary and you lost jewels. L. H. remembers when it happened to him and like Teresa he didn't wake up when the thief came in. What a blessing the necklace was insured. I sometimes forget altogether about the political situation. Your mother and Gioconda have many more friends and are much more aware of the change in the atmosphere.
/54 3 Feb 1936 It must have been a disappointment to miss the king's funeral. Victor Cunard is very gloomy about the international situation and declares that by April we shall be at war with Italy.
/55 3 March 1936 L.H. says he is suffering from overwork, having taken on a temporary job on the Observer, reviewing their novels.
/60 1 November 1936 From Venice. He went out just after the Earthquake and records reactions to it.. "As you predicted, your mother and Gio have made no reference to the earthquake at all!
/61 1 January 1937 He hadn't written since in Rome. He saw Lady D'Abernon who was moving into a new house and also Princess Orsini. Lunched with Teresa's uncle Villari, whose vast knowledge impressed him as it always does. L.H.'s 'secret service' informed him that Teresa was in Venice just before Christmas without letting the fact be generally known.
/65 5 June 1937 He is sorry about the contretemps with Teresa's mother. He feels he is guiltless of causing it to happen.
/66 14 July 1937 "I look forward so much to seeing you both and Mrs Hutton and celebrating the funeral of the contretemps!"
/70 19 October 1937 "Venice faces me with the certainty of one guest - Eddy Sackville-West - and the possibility of others. I shall not keep them up late! - But I may drown them on the lagoon. Edith Sitwell would look very Ophelia-esque."
/71 12 December 1937 From British Embassy Rome. L.H. wonders if Teresa has arranged for an exhibition of her father's pictures - they must be lovely if they are like the one he saw in a corridor at Attingham.
/72 01 February 1938 He is having his portrait painted by Henry Lamb. "At this stage I wear a soulful look, but I expect that will disappear before the end."
/76 18 October 1938 He wished he could have seen Teresa's father's pictures before leaving for Venice.
/77 29 October 1938 Kind of you to take trouble with his mother and father, showing them Attingham and arranging for them to see Powis Castle.
/81 23 August 1939 Enjoyed his visit to Attingham. About the mysterious disappearance of the key to the garden door, it hasn't appeared yet.
/82 26 December 1939 L.H. is sorry Teresa can't get any war work. He submitted his qualifications to the Ministry of Information but they seem not to want his services.
/83 19 January 1941 Good news that you are going back to Attingham. He wonders if Teresa has seen Hermione. What a dreadful situation for her. "I should think Churchill's speech did more harm than good, wouldn't you?" He is looking at a house near Market Harborough as his parents want him somewhere near, mother has not been well for some months.
/84 28 June 1941 He is still writing reviews but owing to the paper shortage, in a much less intensive manner. "At the moment I enjoy the sense of leisure more than I mind the loss if income: but I daresay that won't last long."
/85 2 August 1941 Sir Harold Huntley is writing a monograph on Berkeley and has asked him to contribute something about their life in Rome with special reference to Molly.
/86 13 May 1943 He is trying to finish a novel e started 21 years ago. Making slow progress and he is always forgetting the Christian names of the minor characters. "Also I seem only to have one season to write about - summer - and sentences continually begin 'It was a warm evening in July'.
/88 29 August 1944 He is trying to write a sequel to the one that is to come out in October. Oswald Sitwell told him that the Primarna and other pictures from Florence were stored in his father's house at Montefino. The curator seems to have walked right through the battlefield to ask the Germans not to shell it - and apparently they didn't. "I heard a rumour from David Cecil that Italy was to become a kind of annexe of the British Empire!" It would make it much easier to go there from a currency point of view but how strange the English Sunday in Venice would seem!
/90 2 October 1944 "Never since the war have I felt the grace of life persisting more uncomfortably than in the princely hospitality that you gave me - the wine and the food of course, but more the absence of all the strain and effort, the feeling of everything happening just at the right moment and in such a way as to give the maximum of pleasure, all the details so perfect."
/93 21 September 1945 He loves his Venetian glass ornament and shall always treasure it as a ricordo of Teresa and of the house.
/95 19 November 1945 L.H. asks if Teresa could correct the Italian and French in the continuation of his story which he has just finished.
/96 01 December 1945 Has sent the manuscript to Teresa. Synopsis given of story with Eustace having gone back to Oxford, etc.
/97 11 December 1945 He has received the manuscript back. He says Teresa's corrections and suggestions are invaluable.
/100 5 February 1946 He has received Huntington's list of minor inconsistencies but this is not so formidable and he asks Teresa to look at the proofs.
/101 27 August 1946 Thank you for reading the proofs and setting his mind at rest on a score of points. Thanks for gifts of glass that he came away with.
/103 20 December 1946 Teresa had said she would like to have another look at the French and Italian in his book. He has asked for the proofs to be sent to her.
/104 5 January 1947 Grateful to Teresa for 'cleaning up' Eustace and Hilda for him.
/108 3 October 1947 "I am most touched and flattered that you should have asked me to write something for Tom's memorial." L.H. wrote a little appreciation of him and sent it to the Times but they did not print it. If L.H. can be of any help to your Hungarian friend to let him know or if you are writing to Harold Nicholson (Sissinghurst Castle) then mention him as he has known him for a long time. Wonders if Teresa would glance at 'Lorenzo', the translation seems rather good to him.
/109 9 December 1947 Your moving and beautiful letter helped. It told me a lot I did not know e.g. the strain of recklessness in Tom's nature. "I wrote of him for the Times, I made the point of his sense of humour, because it was an outstanding characteristic, the way he gave himself up to mirth when something suddenly amused him." In view of what Teresa has told him he feels he will be able to lighten the general effect of the epitaph.
/112 29 March 1948 'Our' book (Eustace and Hilda) won the James Tait Black Memorial Book Prize. "I feel I owe a lot of it to you, for the book would never have 'got by' with my Italian in it!"
/115 22 July 1948 Postcard from France to say that if he goes to Venice he shall look into the matter of the rings.
/116 2 August 1948 L.H. says seeing Teresa's rings is an inducement to go to Venice - there are 4 rings.
/118 18 August 1948 He has taken 4 pairs of Tom's shoes. He will keep them all, he asks how much they would be.
/119 25 August 1948 The slippers he took are to be a gift and he will pay £7 for the other shoes and the trousers.
/120 12 October 1948 His mother died suddenly, it is a great grief and he got in the habit, even more than he knew, of sharing things with her.
/122 23 August 1949 L.H. much prefers Teresa's modification of what he wrote for the original inscription on Tom's monument.
- Held At: Shropshire Archives
- Access Status: Open
- Admin History Leslie Poles Hartley CBE (1895-1972) is perhaps best known as the author of "The Go-Between".
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