Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Eric Walter White

Letter No.: 
VWL2956
Feb 28 [1949]

The White Gates,
Dorking.

Very confidential

Dear Mr. White,

Thank you for your letter. I cannot make up my mind about Mr. Guthrie1 - All I know about him or his work firsthand is that he once sent me a libretto which seemed to me to be very bad and I was horrified by the newspaper accounts of the new production of Carmen at Sadlers Wells - and other people tell me that he thinks too much about Guthrie and too little about the work he is producing -
On the other hand I know him to have great experience and skill and he might be able to point out a great many weak places in my opera2 which I had not noticed - But from what people tell me I should feel so frightened that he would use my opera just as a peg on which to hang his own fantastic notions and if I tried to pin him down he would probably lose interest -
This is my first reaction to your suggestion - but of course I may be all wrong - Other possibilities which I have in my mind are Clive Carey or Jooss3 - I happen to know that Jooss saw the production of my “Shepherds”4 in Brunswick and was impressed by it.
In my present state of mind I do not think it would be a good plan to interview Guthrie before March 8th - 5
Yrs sincerely

R. Vaughan Williams


1. Tyrone Guthrie, theatre director.
2. The Pilgrim’s Progress (Catalogue of Works 1951/1).
3. Kurt Jooss, German choreographer who had fled Germany in 1933 and returned there in 1949.
4. The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains (Catalogue of Works 1922/6).
5. In the end Nevill Coghill was engaged to produce The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Arts Council archive file EL 6/55
General notes: 

Date year taken from context.

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 513
Original database number: 
490228