Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Diana Awdry

Letter No.: 
VWL1153
[?summer 1931]

The White Gates,
Westcott Road,
Dorking.

O my dearest child to think that you should ever be frightened that I should laugh at you - or that I don't like poetry - or that I shouldn't like to hear it well read. If I really am all that you did quite right to hide any amount of truth from me - & I should not be worthy to be your ‘particular friend’.
I know I did once laugh a little bit about verse speaking - but it was only to tease you - you can’t seriously believe that I don’t think that poetry together with music & one or two other things make up what is worth having in life (friendship is another) and of course I believe really that for people to speak good poetry aloud is often the only way to get at its beauty - & even if sometimes they sound rather absurd to jaded prigs like me - what do we matter (its just like the folk dancing or choral singing - very often the result is nothing much to hear or see but it makes the soul of those who do it - & that is what matters). So my darling Diana do forgive me if I have ever seriously laughed at such a sacred thing as artistic self expression.
So please let me share your mind - because your mind is as beautiful as your face and unless you can let me do that you must feel there is something wrong with me - & I don’t want you to do that - we must have no "inhibitions" (as the jargon goes).
It was lovely seeing you even for a little bit - & more lovely to think that we shall be together during fest: week - only ought you really to go to all that expense? It worries me to think that perhaps I have let you in for it.
I had a letter from Saliva1 apologizing for the Magnif!2 - I have ½ a mind to suggest a small chorus for it - but in that case could I make a special proviso that you were to be in it?
By the way you never told me anything about your visit to Aldershot - I was frightfully interested & want to hear more about it.
Well, goodbye dear Diana, & try to forgive me for ever having laughed at anything you held precious - which is an unforgivable thing to do - & try to believe that I do believe in beautiful things & that therefore I believe in you.
Love from

Uncle Ralph


1. Sir Ivor Atkins was often referred to  in VW's circles as 'Saliva'.
2. Magnificat, Catalogue of Works 1932/2, which was to be performed at the Worcester Three Choirs Festival on 8 September 1932. See also VWL999.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 1752/2/1/1, ff. 50-57
General notes: 

Letter undated and postmark obscure. However the apology possibly arises from the reference in VWL904  - "Good luck to your festival - what  a lot of verse speaking!"

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 195
Original database number: 
3103xa