Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Katharine Thomson

Letter No.: 
[1943 or 1944]

The White Gates

Dear Mrs Thomson

Your letter follows hard on the heels of such a nice one from your father1 - written from hospital - I am so sorry to hear he is ill.
My impression is that the average Englishman never wants to sing about Freedom or Heroes or deeds of our ancestors - they prefer Romance, Humour & Adventure. There are practically no patriotic folksongs (except perhaps the "Bonny bunch of roses"2 & I doubt if that is a folksong as regards the words) - any references to soldiers & sailors are about the Press Gang or young women who dressed up as boys to follow their lovers to the war.
I think our soldiers in the last war were at least as brave as the Germans & the French - but they did not sing about it.
What they sang was
"Take me back over the sea
where the allyman3 can't get at me
Oh my!
I don't want to die
I want to get home"

Yours sincerely

R. Vaughan Williams

1. Dr H.F. Stewart, French scholar and Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge. See 190226.
2. Listed in Catalogue of Works p.284.
3. = Allemand, i.e. German


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Add. MS 71536, f. 2

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/18, ff. 89-90
General notes: 

Date according to a note by the recipient.

Original database number: