Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Ralph Wedgwood

Letter No.: 
VWL133
[?Early 1902]

10 Barton St
Westminster

Telegraphic address:
Williams ‘Gaolways’ London1

My dear Randolph

You are really magnificent! We were glad to get your letter and are very grateful to the pay-bills for not coming in till 9.15.
I’ve not very much to chronicle except that I’ve sold my soul to a publisher2 - that is to say I’ve agreed not to sell songs to any publisher but him for 5 years. And he is going to publish several pot boiling songs of mine - that is to say not real pot boilers - that is to say they are quite good - I’m not ashamed of them - as they are more or less simple and popular in character. They are to come out in a magazine called ‘The Vocalist’ and then to be published at 1/0 - which is a new departure - and I’m to get a penny halfpenny on each copy - so you see I’m on the high road to a fortune.3
I’m going to lecture on Wagner at Cheltenham next week! and perhaps go on to Merthyr Tydvil (where is it?) to lecture also - on what subject I don’t know yet!
I should like to penetrate to Middlesbrough and see the factory chimneys - I’m not sure that I like them so much as I used to  - my idaeal4  of scenery at present is a long low valley this sort of shape [curved line] - all arable and ploughed fields - and just one or two trees. Nevertheless we must come some time, though A is so tied at present as her sister is staying with us for a long period which makes it rather difficult to get away.
I will leave Adeline to tell you about Crompton’s pony and how Theodore5 was run away with - He often comes in here now - I don’t know why he is so depressed - he says its rheumatism or the political situation.
Fancy Dakyns6 having succumbed - I have been meaning to write to him - in fact I’ll do so tonight.
Yrs affectionately

Ralph Vaughan Williams


1.  Having set up house at Barton Street in April 1899, the VWs were clearly feeling short of money; the address implies he is on his way to debtors' prison!
2.  The Vocalist Co., publishers of The Vocalist.
3.  The following songs appeared in the first volume (1902) of The Vocalist: 'Linden Lea' (Catalogue of Works 1901/1); 'Blackmore by the Stour' (Catalogue of Works, 1902/4); 'Whither must I wander' (Catalogue of Works, 1902/6); 'If I were a Queen' (Catalogue of Works, 1902/8).  On the first issue see Works of Vaughan Williams, p.50.  The five-year agreement would appear not to have been as rigorous as VW implies, since a number of songs written in the immediately following years were published by other publishers, notably Prowse and Boosey, see Catalogue of Works pp.19 ff. Publications by VW in The Vocalist petered out after January 1903.  This passage is printed in Kennedy's Works of Vaughan Williams, p.397.
4.  sic.
5.  Crompton and Theodore Llewellyn Davies.
6.  Henry Graham Dakyns (See Paul Levy, Moore: G.E.Moore and the Cambridge Apostles (London 1979), pp.53, 57) This possibly is a reference to his becoming engaged.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/2, ff.51-53
Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 28; Kennedy, Works of Vaughan Williams, pp.50 , 397
Original database number: 
0204xa