Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Sir Paul Sinker

Letter No.: 
December 22nd 1957.

Dear Sir1,

Mr Douglas Kennedy, Director of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, of which I have the honour to be President, has passed on to me your extraordinary reply to his invitation to Sir David Kelly to serve on a Committee for our Library Endowment Fund Appeal.  The flippancy of your letter addressed to such a Society as ours seems to me little short of an insult.
You appear to take for granted that it is necessarily a misuse of public money to send English Folk dancers overseas.  I should like you to know that our Society, which has many distinguished members, considers that Folk music and dance are an essential part of our national culture of which it is our duty to inform other nations.  It astonishes me that the British Council should pay any attention to the ignorant attacks of what you yourself describe as an irresponsible section of the press.
The library, for which our appeal is made is often used by folklore and other ethnological experts of all nations and its complete educational value is only hindered by lack of funds.
You say in your letter that your Chairman cannot accept this invitation to serve on a special Committee: if this is an expression of his views as well as your own I should like him to know that I can only be glad of his refusal.
Yours faithfully


1.  Director General of the British Council.
2.  Douglas Kennedy, Director of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, had written to Sir David Kelly, Chairman of the British Council, inviting him to join a special committee for celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Folk Song Society in 1897 and launching an appeal to raise an endowment for the Library at Cecil Sharp House. The Director General, Sir Paul Sinker, replied that he felt unable to join the committee because of an impression that had got abroad that the Council spent ‘considerable sums of public money on sending English Folk Dancers overseas’.

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/23, f.67
Cobbe 729
Original database number: