Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Stanford Robinson (BBC)

Letter No.: 
Jan. 4th [1942]

The White Gates,

Dear Stanford Robinson,

Many thanks for your letter.1
I wish you could find me a first class librettist.  The really good playwriters won’t write libretti.  I recoil with horror from the hack librettist however much he may know about stage business. (Have you ever read in cold blood, the libretto of “Merrie England”?) 2
Three of my operas have at all events good libretti3
 (1) Sir John in Love
 (2) Riders to the Sea
 (3) The Shepherds


R Vaughan Williams

1. The letter may have been connected with broadcast performances of Hugh the Drover (Catalogue of Works 1924/2) which took place the following May.
2. The comic opera by Edward German.
3. The libretto of Sir John in Love, Catalogue of Works 1928/3, was drawn from Shakespeare; Riders to the Sea, Catalogue of Works 1936/6, was a setting of the play by J. M. Synge; The text of The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains (Catalogue of Works 1922/6), was taken from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. It is significant that VW did not include Hugh the Drover (librettist: Harold Child) or The Poisoned Kiss (librettist: Evelyn Sharp) in this list.


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
File 910, VW composer
General notes: 

Year taken from stamp of receipt.

Cobbe 378
Original database number: