Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Cecil Sharp

Letter No.: 
[July 1911]

13 Cheyne Walk

Dear Sharp

I can’t tell you how much your letter has delighted me - indeed I feel so excited I can do no work this morning.  I had been in fearful dumps ever since the list came out in the paper and your name not there!
But don’t give me the credit!  The real prime movers are (1)  Mrs Hanway - who started the whole idea & got together the necessary facts about your public work.  (2)  Sir L. & Lady Gomme who actually approached the authorities.1  I wish you cd have seen the document we sent in to the prime minister - it was the most remarkable collection of distinguished names I have ever seen - about 30 in all - and I am certain many more wd have signed if they had been asked only we were advised that with such a list we need go no further.  I cannot remember them all but here are a few of them: Lord Alverstone, Baring-Gould, Thomas Hardy, Frazer, E.V. Lucas, Gilbert Murray, C.V. Stanford, Edward Elgar, Plunket Greene, Henry J. Wood, J. Masefield etc. (By the way this is private because they do not know that you know they have signed). You see you have admirers in all sorts of unexpected quarters!2
I shd like to come awfully - but I am in the middle of a great work3 & unless I get stuck in it I don’t want to leave it - especially as I have to go away for the week-end.  I want to hear your criticisms on Wenlock4 awfully.


1. Sir Lawrence and Lady (Alice) Gomme. Lawrence was a leading British folklorist, and Alice had co-operated with Sharp and VW in 1910 and 1911 on the 'May Day Revels' scene in the Coronation 'Pageant of London' organised at the Crystal Palace by Sir Lawrence Gomme in 1911.
2. VW had been instrumental in obtaining a Civil List pension of £100 p.a. for Sharp in recognition of his work on folk song and dance. See A H Fox Strangways, Cecil Sharp, London 1933, p.85, where this letter is printed unattributed to VW (check 2nd ed by Maud Karpeles). VW’s letter to Gilbert Murray seeking support for the proposal is VWL368.
3. Presumably A London Symphony.
4. On Wenlock Edge.


Location of original letter:

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/26, ff. 105-106
Cobbe 71
Original database number: