Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Hubert Foss (OUP)

Letter No.: 
VWL804
October 12 [1935]

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

Dear Foss

I have just received a present of an old print in the shape of a portrait of Elinor Rumming with a mug of ale in each hand.1
She is described as the famous ale wife of England and there is a verse underneath connecting her with Skelton’s poem. This would be just the thing for a frontispiece of my Choral Suite - But (1) I do not want to delay publication and (2) I do not want to add to the expense of the copy - It is evidently a rare print so I do not want to trust it to the post - but I presume it is in the B.M2 so if you think it a good plan would it be possible for it to be photographed from the copy there?3
Yours sincerely

R. Vaughan Williams3


1.  The vocal score was required by the performers in Norwich by 1st November - however it was not yet ready by early December. Writing an internal note to the Publisher, Humphrey Milford, on 3rd July Foss reported that he had committed OUP to publishing it and, on the question of the title, observed that VW wished to call the work Elinor Rumming after its first movement (perhaps because, according to VW’s recollection at this time, the initial suggestion which had come from Elgar had been “You should make an oratorio out of Elinor Rumming”- (see VWL3505), although in 1937 he had told Philip Henderson, whose edition of Skelton he had used that Elgar had mentioned the possibility of setting the poem himself - see Kennedy, Works of Vaughan Williams, p.253-4 ) even though he realised that it would not fit with the other four. Foss seems to have suggested ‘A Skelton Suite’ but VW rejected this. The eventual title does not seem to have been finally decided by the date of this letter though it certainly had been by December - see VWL827.
2.  British Museum
3. This print was indeed used on the cover of the vocal score of Five Tudor Portraits, Catalogue of Works 1935/5, published by Oxford University Press in 1935.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
File 966
General notes: 

In the hand of AVW, signed by VW.

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 268
Original database number: 
351012