Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Michael and Eslyn Kennedy

Letter No.: 
VWL3305
April 8th [1958]

From R. Vaughan Williams,
10, Hanover Terrace,
Regents Park,
London, N.W.1.

Dearest Michael & Eslyn,

Lovely to hear from you – Genia also told us how good the record is, and I long to hear it – the Hadleys also have it on tape, but Ralph won’t hear it at any price – till we come home!1
We had another excitement today.  Roy Douglas was here for a corrections session & played scene I, Act I of Thomas the Rhymer to us. – i.e. sketches for our new opera – RVW2  I am very pleased & the music is exactly what I hoped for.  Its great fun trying to think dramatically in terms of duet, trio, & chorus, & generally of ensemble.  Im enjoying it enormously, Ralph is not over tyranical – all things considered.  Roy feels it a pity that there will be no correspondance to publish between the ex[a]cerbated composer & outraged librettist.
I have a great friend Clare Howden, whose son Brian is deputy governor of the local prison.  He is a charming (or was, its a few years since I’ve seen him) creature, & lost a leg in Burma, where, oddly enough he was a great friend of my brother’s.  I didn’t discover this for ages, & then found that he & John had shared a hut & a gramophone for a long time.  This Brian married a widow, & they have six children between them, & Clare is very fond of her.  The children are oldish now, & Brian & Joan are around 40 they are rather lonely, as being prison keepers is not thought socially acceptable it seems.  I wonder if sometime, you could meet them, & perhaps introduce them to a world with more reasonable standards?
Our address will be Villa DRINA, FORIO D’ISCHIA ITALY
Brian Howden, 119 Waterloo Road, Manchester 8
All love

U.



1.  A recording of the performance of the St Matthew Passion at Dorking on 5 March made by Christopher Finzi and Noel Taylor.  On the recording see RVW p.389.
2.  The opera which remained unfinished at the time of VW’s death.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 159, ff.222-223
General notes: 

Date year taken from postmark.

Format: 
Letter
Original database number: 
580408d