Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Ernest Newman

Letter No.: 
VWL4223
August 21 [1940]

From R. Vaughan Williams,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,
Dorking.

Dear Mr Newman

I feel that it is time that British musicians got together and looked for the release of their fellow musicians who are interned.
Musicians do not appear to come under any category in the ‘White Paper'1 and this makes it difficult for us, but perhaps by a joint letter we could persuade the authorities to broaden their interpretation of ‘work of national importance’ (see ‘White Paper’ Section 8) and to point out that to fructify the life of the country is of national importance and the fact that artistic and intelligent people who will spread the gospel of anti-Nazism are an asset to the country.
Perhaps you have read Professor Rosenberg’s report on the appalling conditions in his internment camp.  This does not, of course, affect the injustice or otherwise of internment, but it does make it imperative - unless conditions have enormously improved - to release those, who ought to be released, immediately. Could we have a meeting to discuss the question?
I am sending a copy of this letter to: Bantock - Dyson - Marchant - Eric Cundell - Allen - Whittaker - Walford Davies - Boult - Walton - Berners - Lambert - Colles - Dunhill    
Yours sincerely
R Vaughan Williams   


1. The White Paper (Command Paper No. 6217) listed 18 categories of internees who could apply for release in order to contribute to work 'of national importance'. Two revisions to the Paper appeared later in the year. Civilian internees of enemy nationality: categories of persons eligible for release from internment and procedure to be followed in applying for release, Cmnd 6233, July 1940.             

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus 161, ff.10-11
General notes: 

In the hand of AVW, signed by VW. Year from postmark.

Format: 
Letter