40. The house at Number 26.

The finances of Jack Metcalfe’s property at 26 Belsize Crescent were the main reason for the poverty experienced by Evelyn and Jack in not only their day-to-day spending but in financing their return to the United States. This brief summary of the relevant aspects of British housing tenure will make these more intelligible to an American audience.

Broadly speaking, there are two categories of property ownership in England: “freehold”, where ownership is of the building and the land upon which it stands; and “leasehold”, where the owner has title to the building, but not the land:  the land is leased from a landowner and on which an annual rent (ground rent) is paid. Leasehold has its origins in feudal land ownership: the 17th century saw reforms to this system, and the wealthy institutions of the time, the Crown, the Church of England and the colleges of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge acquired much of the land. The Church and the University Colleges in particular owned large tracts in London and as this land was developed into housing, the ground rents payable by the eventual owners (“leaseholders”) of these dwellings provided the landowners with significant income.

26 Belsize Crescent was a leasehold property, and the ground rent was payable to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England (the “Church Commissioners”). However, Jack not only owned the building but, as a landlord, had certain statutory responsibilities to his tenants, mainly keeping their flats in good repair. Further, because of the severe housing shortage during and after the war, the Rent Restrictions Act was brought in to protect the rights of tenants, including restrictions on the circumstances under which rents could be increased. Broadly, it was not possible under the Rent Restrictions Act for Jack to increase his tenants’ rents, even with rising costs and the need to pay for repairs to bomb damage.

When Jack bought the property with the intention of converting it into four flats and using the rental income from the flats on the three upper floors to subsidise their living expenses, he made a major error in installing gas central heating and hot water throughout the property. It was normal at that time for there to be individual coin-operated meters (“shilling meters”) in flats, calibrated to not only recover the cost of the gas used but also an element of profit for the landlord. Jack did not install these separate meters. At that time, central heating was an expensive novelty, and inclusive central heating and hot water in a rented flat almost unheard of: the tenants must have enjoyed this luxury at Jack;s expense. Because of the Rent Restrictions Act, he could not recoup the rising cost of this luxury by raising the rents.

Evelyn refers on a number of occasions to the threat of eviction from their home. Jack’s debts could have resulted in his being taken to court. If a court had found that he was liable to pay, and his creditors were not willing make any arrangement for payment over time, it is possible that the court could order the house be sold and the debts paid from the proceeds of the sale. This is not the same as being evicted, and although the Metcalfes could have stayed in their home until such time as a sale went through, the end result, of losing their home, would have been the same.

This story begins as the Evelyn Scott Fund has been opened, and Jack has secured a 6-month residency at the Huntington Hartford Foundation in Pacific Palisades, California.

26 belsize cres
Jack standing in front of 26 Belsize Crescent, London NW3

To Margaret DeSilver

26 Belsize Crescent
June 8, 1952

My Dear Maggie,

Further to my last, I still see no exit from an indefinite impasse (I hope not too prolonged) until we can get just straight enough here, on this side, to flit.  This has always, unfortunately, been an integral and unavoidable part of my attempted return to the States, and the necessitarian order (read backwardly as it were from effect to cause) is as follows:-

(i) To return I must get a fresh visa.

(ii) To get a fresh visa I must satisfy the consul more fully, he says, about “means”.

(iii) To satisfy him I must have the flat in what I should call (to you, not to him) a “minimum lettable” condition; and, also, pay off income tax and all non-postponable debts.1

Some debts I could, by guile, run away from temporarily and settle later, out of rent from the flat etc.  Others I could not.  For instance our move could not be carried out so nocturnally and stealthily that it would not be observed, for instance, by the builder who repaired the wall, and by another who has recently repaired part of the roof; and literal fisticuffs on the doorstep might ensue.  The gas bill of £170, if I had not to wait for, possibly, a further six weeks or so for the crediting to my account of the Carnegie money could just be met by that; but by the time it is credited a further quarter’s gas bill will have come in.  Tenants’ rents are absorbed by Rates (over £200 a year) and mortgage (also over £200) and by water rate, electricity, insurance, etc.

I plan to evade (temporarily) as much as I possibly can (while still presenting some sort of show to the consul) and make a get-away as soon as my visa is granted; and as soon as I can be in a position to give reasonable notice at the school (I can’t just run out on them because I must have a good testimonial; otherwise the chance of teaching jobs in US is killed).  The consul, as preliminary to the further consideration of my application for a fresh visa, will no doubt want to know the amount which Evelyn has in the Fund;—but even if it were a million I should still have to make some sort of minimum and, as I say, guileful settlement here in order to make the first physical steps towards a move.

The minimum boat fare, I have found out, is £57 each for just the passage; but what the fare from New York to Pacific Palisades is I have yet to ascertain.  One stipulation of the Huntingdon Hartford’s granting of the Fellowships was that we should each be medically examined; and this would be done in New York.

At the moment (and thanks entirely to the Rent Restrictions Act) we are completely hamstrung financially.  I have tried for three years to sell the house and had no offer

I hope these difficulties may be surmounted.  I feel that, so to speak, we are, thanks to your really noble help dear Maggie, three quarters of the way there;—but the remaining quarter of the way (actually the first quarter) has these problems, which, indeed, I am not exaggerating.

Very much love, from
Jack

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

June 9, 1952

Please, oh, please read this with Jack’s letter of today, carefully as soon as you have it—there really are reasons!

Maggie darling: 1952 Now November 7 months since sent

Will you please believe that the factual letters like this in which explicitness is requested are not “nagger’s” letters and are implicitly as filled with the signs of gratitude as the letters we went before this which were just the registering of our emotional out-going!

We are not made of dough, putty, or india rubber; and we can’t at one and the same moment be kicked in the arse as author: and congratulated on our distinguished “pasts”.  I couldn’t go west to Pacific Palisades with everything of greatest importance up in the air and accomplish anything whatever.  To suggest it seems to be defeating every generosity to us.

The other thing about California is that I would rather—again—drop dead in my tracks where I am, than put six thousand miles between myself and every human I love most bar Jack himself, except temporarily. 1952 November—return East must be guaranteed or aim lost

Jig and Paula have moved to otilostrasse 22, Graefelfing bei Munich  Jig and Pavla have no money to come here from Munich.  I had hoped on their arrival some means would be found for allowing us to meet again here.  But the few hundred miles between us here, will already—as far as boat fares go—be three thousand when we land in New York.  And in California, unless one is fully guaranteed—job in the East, lectures for Jack, or any comparable method—the return fare to the East, one is likely—very likely my dear Mag and this really is a most serious problem—to repeat, in California, a marooning such as we have endured here, and with Jack’s house and his tenure on it such as it is, six thousand miles further off.

Any lacks in this letter please blame on the fact that the day the good news came I had to go to bed with an attack of combined “grippe” and bladder irritation.  I had the last similar experience soon after I arrived in London in 1932.  The aches and pains were so persistent that Jack’s medical uncle called in a consultant who specialized in such things.  But he was a good doctor in my view as he just said go to bed and stay on a light diet for a while—and that was all.  But that cost five pounds so I am now preferring to utilize the same advice, as that was twenty years ago and I never had any serious recurrence of any such complaint since.

We hope to arrive very well again and present NO problems in health or—with books—no serious problems in money.

Love Evelyn

Marion is trying to help again with second-hand clothes.  Still have not had money to alter coat—sent 3 years ago—so just hope. What to do to make flat habitable is some problem. We also have to buy trunks—mine collapsed completely, and I also have not even a change-purse and need bag for Passports.  And again shoes as these cannot be mended.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

[June 29, 1952]

[First two pages missing] I am bothered to know what to do know what can be done by way of finding us a roof should we arrive in the autumn when people are just returning to town.   I would prefer to be anywhere we were most likely to see Jig and Pavla. But we will have to ask Pacific Palisades for a postponement it now seems, anyhow, and we don’t yet know when Jig and Pavla are likely to return home.  Everything is still up in the air, so that decision at our end is slow, as we know it must be at yours.

Some of the details might be worked out on our arrival in New York were we sure of a roof for some weeks, and—first of all, of course—sure of enough money to cover the situation as it is by then.  We can’t move from here, however, until the most essential things are done and the renting of the flat arranged-for.  We would like American tenants if there are any.  Because we hope to rent the flat vultures all trying to peck, as Jack says

But if you don’t lose interest in us Maggie darling we will keep our dander or pecker of what-you-will up and won’t succumb to discouragements that CAN be overcome.   This business of not allowing us to earn anything by normal methods has to be stopped somehow or we can’t win.  I do think we deserve to win out and with Jig and Pavla, and that the winning will be the victory of Margaret De Silver and her generous real heart and imagination is the truth.

Your really loving and grateful
Evelyn for Jack

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

July 4, 1952

Maggie darling:

I hope you don’t blench at the sight of a letter from me!  But everything has been left so vague and “in the air” as to the fund that we would appreciate any specific clarification. And though Jack calls you “Mrs Atlas” and we both know you can do just so much, I think it is necessary that you and fund contributors have the full complete truth, so that no one need be under any misapprehensions as to why we dont sail as soon as asked.

I mentioned a rotten despoilation of carpets by mould and fungi.  These were good carpets intact, of better quality than can be bought now and in any case would cost a fortune to replace.  But we thought that our troubles were ended when we removed these, and I sandpapered the unpainted boards, covered them with dryer and stained them.  And has it not been that wainscot required mending we would have remained in ignorance of the catastrophic fact that was revealed when the boards—one or two at first, then others—were taken up.  The two rooms attacked were devasted [sic] underneath.  Although the flooring superficially appeared okay, this horrible white paddy stuff—it grew fungi here and there on top—had destroyed the undersides of half the boards in one room and all in the other; half the wainscot in one room and all in the other, and half a window-frame.2

It now eventuates that this same thing has attacked about ninety percent of all the houses in Hamstead, and is most commonly encountered in those with gardens.  Apparently it was unknown before the war: and though I twice before heard the word “dry-rot” mentioned by workmen, no one elucidated it as a serious danger or said that this single type of mould produced it in this serious degree.  The joints under the rotted boards, also, have rotten in part, and two articles of furniture and two pieces of baggage—all saved we hope and think by creosote treatments and dryer—also had slight touches of it.  It really is shameful that the house-owners have not had public information and warnings on this subject.  As there has been so much of it there should be brochures circulating telling people, and informing them of safeguards.  As it spreads rapidly when neglected, had we known the danger-signals a few months ago we might possibly have saved most of the lumber, instead of a smallish part. The floor was wrongly constructed in the small room, as concrete was laid on most of it and the boards over that, and the circulation of air is death to this fungi and mould.  And this has figures, also, in the room in which the lodger was, and where there should have been ventilation bricks underneath on the side where the mould started

This may make dull reading, Maggie my dear, but you will realize its practical import to us.  Four pounds went on dryer and stain wasted by me, in my ignorance, on those rotten boards.   As we had no money to do everything at once we had hoped to have a tenant in or arranged for before we were put to heavy expense.  The common sense of the very excellent builder who is working here and is the most decent one we have met here in Hamstead has suggested the [air raid] shelter brick can be used to concrete the rotten portions of the other floor and so save money by combining the jobs.  He is really scrupulous in this respect and we are grateful to him for actually concerning himself with this aspect of our situation.  But when we will be able to get everything straight enough to leave the house we haven’t so far any idea.  There are the debts Jack has mentioned to clear up and they will be more slowly paid off because of this.

Of course I suppose—considering the retrospects of hardships—we might have known it.  A crisis was due as soon as we had any hope of renting at last and getting out and possibly home.  I still say possibly—!  Jack was almost in despair about it a few nights ago, but feels a little better now there is a very moderate estimate and the small pieces of luggage attacked seem likely to be saved.  But it has been a hard blow.

He also has to go to the dentist’s to “celebrate” the Fourth of July, and this is like an ultra bit of cruelty in view of the number of problems pending.  Of course we wish some of the fund money could be applied to this—but of course there must be enough to cover going home if it is to help us in our objective.  But in any event, I feel you and Waldo and Lewis and Hal Smith or anyone who is helping should know we are stuck and why and won’t be able to leave until Jack has more money from some source.

All we can ever say is that our gratitude is genuine and profound.

Everyone who knows of the fund is full of praise for you.  We will never be able to offer any return except as authors, and so to me the fund itself makes it the more essential that we find publishers and some method of continuing to write here.  This is the sort of happier life we would like to have Jig and Pavla with Cyril and his present wife share—our being there helping them too.

Our love Evelyn for Jack too

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:
July 17, 1952: Letter from Maggie to say $500 being sent.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver


July 18, 1952

Maggie my dear:

I hope you have had some restorative rest from all worries already, because I cannot possibly avoid pressing you for help and even positive information as to the fund for me, and what we are to expect in regard to money and going home.

Tooth-pulling coincided!—Jack’s!—Do you wonder I say life for us is still hell! Waldo should be ashamed not to have acknowledged Jack’s letter about “Island in the Atlantic”!

Perhaps, because you have done so much already, you feel, at moments, the one way you can safeguard your peace of mind is to temporarily ignore everyone’s distress.  But we are—also temporarily I hope—in worse chaos than ever before; income tax arrears are pressing Jack again rather frighteningly; the house down in the flat is still torn to bits by the removal of the floors and shelter and work left half-finished; we have, within a week or two at most, to write to the Huntington Hartford Foundation something definite as to when or whether we are to utilize their invitation and what to say about the request for postponing it; we can’t make any Consular moves about Jack’s re-entry permit and his re-application for it, until we know how much money will be available for me and so of possible use for both when we arrive until you and the contributors to the fund are willing to be candid.  I suppose it isn’t much, but I really meant that we must know positively or it remains like waste as far as I go.

I hope you read my letter before this describing bloody fungi which attacked the floor boards in rooms that had insufficient ventilation in the under bricks, and been made worse by my dread of trespassers which has become such that I often keep windows shut when they would be better open, because I could almost scream at the recurrent sight of any Hamstead’s rotten, ratty, nuisance-making riff-raff.

This fungi causes dry-rot in wood and carpets.  When the two good carpets and underfelts were attacked and thrown away, some wainscot attacked was torn out and the truth discovered.  The removal of two floors necessitated rubble and to save money the builder tore down the shelter.  This has left the reception hall open at last—seventeen by ten added to the house.

This 17 by 10 space, when you saw the place last year, was blocked.  Now the entrance to the flat is airy and spacious and there is room for a dining table—we have an old second-hand bought for a guinea before the war, but no chairs—and one also has perspectives of the rooms and can see their arrangement on entering.

This would greatly assist rentals.  But of course mid-way in work that showers the whole flat with cement dust—it began two weeks ago—something happened about arrangements to get it done rapidly, and it drags on yet.  And we cannot yet pay for re-doing the walls which are damaged by the shelter’s removal, and were already damaged in the smaller room re-floored with cement and have been damaged decidedly by the work in the larger room cemented.

Our idea is to do what we can and see whether any renter would pay some in advance to complete the job and deduct it from the rent—but it would have to be slow as the rent must pay the gas heat.

WE WOULD NOT HAVE BEGUN THE RE-FLOORING BUT THAT fungii spreads quickly—we saw that on the carpets—and it was endangering the house.  It has—as I wrote you—attacked ninety percent of Hamstead’s flats with gardens where ventilation was imperfect.  Trespassers have compelled me to do precisely the opposite of what is normal to me; work with closed windows and artificial light.  Jack likes artificial light but I never in a closed room in my life before.

If we had ever been able to buy sash curtains and replace at least some of the iron bars that were removed from the windows by Hamstead borough when the front gate went, on the basis of “free exits during bomb hits”, many of the dilapidations, including the fungii, might not have occurred: nuisances contributed more to this even than worry.  I have written clearly before in my life when worried, but I cannot write where nuisances persist.

We will clear out the house somehow if we can just pay the most pressing bills and KNOW where we stand in respect to going home. Then—as Jack has said—send small sums here as we can to keep up maintenance until it can be sold and not just taken away at a total loss, as has heretofore been the case.

Poor darling Maggie I don’t want to ask more but WHAT are we to do?

Love and gratitude prevail—Cyril will agree yes, darling Maggie, I don’t want to ask more—but what in hell’s name are we to do?  Our lives and the lives of Jig Pavla Denise Fredrick Mathew Julia are actually economically at stake.  Evelyn

* * * * *
To Margaret DeSilver

July 18, 1952

Darling Maggie-Margretta-Margaret-Maggie:

I have just written the letter that I send with this, and the fund money is now announced.  Your letter respecting it was in the afternoon mail.  But on reflecting on the value of full, clear information on every situation and circumstances whenever it is possible to provide it, I have decided to send on the account of the work on the house which can now be concluded no doubt, and have re-emphasized the matter of the guarantees as to the job for Jack and some guarantees as to publishing us both which will make our livings certain before we sail.  It must be both—it requires both more than ever in these days to make authorship a go practically when people are as serious as we are.

Yes we have to land as authors, even with the teaching job secured in advance.  We can’t go on miscast in limbo.

You are superlatively fine about everything Maggie darling.  If I can find any way to make very public our specific great indebtedness to our courageous, loyal, generous, perspicacious and most, most genuine friend, Margaret De Silver, I will certainly do so.  Jack with me will enjoy doing so when we can.

Yes, positively some small hotel—private hotel—is, as you say, the best we could do for a temporary sojourn in NY to clear up some of the incomprehension as to the publishing situation, the mangling of that 1948 mss, and so on.  The sooner we are able to go the better once the repair work goes far enough to guarantee decent rent, as when we get out the gas bill will be helped by rental and while we are here we are, so to speak, a liability to ourselves.

Marion Sheffield’s box of second-hands arrived today, too, and she, just as you and Anne did, has gone to considerable trouble.  Everything is nicely cleaned and was beautifully packed and very sensibly chosen with a limited selection.  The clothes are not very warm, but one or two may be with a coat the further money will I hope NOW allow me to have the coat suit sent nearly three years—or about three years ago altered.  I think every one of our old friends who know anything whatever of our plight have been good and generous according to the extent of their resources; and we are really much moved by these things.  I begin to wonder again how we can ever make it plain that we are touched and yet not embarrass everybody and ourselves.  As I say, we have our books to offer if we are allowed to.  It is cruel to deny us the one reason for being that we feel justifies us in accepting help—so for publishers we do “pray”.

Jack is feeling some better tonight after his day mostly in bed.  But of course there are many uncertainties yet, and his books have got to be re-stressed somehow to same him and give him heart again to struggle there after his eight years of struggle and hardship and self-immolation here.

Your very loving and positively weepy with sentiment Evelyn for all of us
Evelyn

When the time comes to arrange for our passage we do so hope to avoid what I call dickerings and dockerings and just go—pronto in good spirits and ready to make any return we can to those who are being so good—you first.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

July 27, 1952

Darling Maggie,

You will have got Evelyn’s last letter, – and this is to add my thanks to hers.  I cannot tell you how grateful we are.  I do tell you, – but feel the best way of showing gratitude for your year’s self-denying labour, and for your own personal generosity, is for us to make it all worth while, – to you and to us.  I do intend to do this.

The money ($550, – not $500 as you had said in your letter) is here, and is now in my bank.  Bless you a million times.

It may be difficult, from your end, to realise the causes of delay on ours, – but such delay as there may be is quite unavoidable.  It results from the necessity of paying off a minimum of debts here (which I can now do) and from the necessity of getting the flat in a minimum lettable condition (which I can now also do), – and using the flat as an additional lever with the consul in applying for a fresh visa.

I take it, from your previous letter, that enough money (earmarked for transport) remains in the Fund to cover our boat and rail fares, – and also that it will be possible, once our sailing-date is fixed, for the boat-fares to be paid on our behalf as it were, to the shipping-company, by you at your end? – I suggest this, tentatively, because otherwise it would mean your sending another cheque to me here for the boat-fares.  This would be all right, and of course you would have our promise to spend it on nothing but boat-fares, – but it struck me it would be more agreeable for you vis-à-vis the subscribers to the Fund, to be able to prove to them without question that the earmarked portion had been spent only upon transport.

Once again, dearest Maggie, – I just can’t tell you how we feel about your kindness.  As I say, it’s now up to us to make it worth while.

Blessings be upon you!
Jack

* * * * *

That August, David Lawson, husband of Evelyn’s close friend Lola Ridge, wrote to Evelyn and observed that

I don’t know whether you appreciate the housing shortage that New York (and elsewhere) has been up against but it has been terrific and I have no suggestion at this time. As a land owner living off London tenants, I suppose you have lost the common touch and may have gotten away from the American way of democratic life.  I wish you both success. Regards to both, Davy

The following is Evelyn’s response to these comments.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

August 26, 1952

Please read this—I think you cant have read all my letter even if all were received.  That is why misunderstanding.

Dear Davy:

Who incited the libelling of me contained in your letter just arrived:  I call it libel to say I “own” and “apartment house” in London—what you actually wrote—NOT because it would be anything wrong or wicket if I did, but because it is completely false; and whoever put such an idea into your head must have wished to obstruct Margaret De Silver’s fine generosity in attempting to interest people who remember our books—my own and Jack’s—in contributing to an Evelyn Scott fund to finance our travel back to the USA.

I don’t own a stick or stone in London.  I WISH I did.  London is full of European and some Oriental refugees who do own homes here; and why should not I, who am British by marriage only and an American citizen yet, but as a dual national have a British-born husband.

My dear old Davy, your comment on what you seem to take for granted as affluence, was the last thing I would ever have thought would be said to me by an old friend and to a friend who is still as loyal to Lola’s memory as you are, and who, as well, in not becoming immediately indignant, now, should prove she is personally still loyal to you, pending comprehension on your part when we meet again.

It is JACK’S house nominally.  It is an old residence which he had made into flats with the last of his British Aunt Mary’s smallish bequest.  There are three flats above and this flat in the basement which was very unsatisfactory to us because we both could not repair it, and because the large brick war-shelter shelter just torn down with a presentable flat resulting!

Would you call an old house such as Cyril Jig and myself lived in on Barrow Street in 1920 an “apartment house”?  It is just the same size as to flats, though the ceilings are higher and some of the rooms are larger.  It was converted or remodelled, as we say at home, just as that Barrow Street house and the one next it were after 1914-18.  It is more conspicuous looking because it has a small garden front and back: the land on which it was built before 1914 being Church of England owned, and leased.  It is potentially pleasanter both for this reason and because the land is on a hill near Hamstead Heath and in the top floors, which have always been let as I say, there are views over London in fine days.

When Jack invested the small sum he did in this house, he had to convert it into flats to make it pay; and when the refugee tenants were accepted there was no intimation to anyone that rent would be forced to remain as when rented while costs soared.  It is an unjust ruling.  As I say, I own nothing here or anywhere as yet but I naturally am with Jack whom I love as we both love Jig, in everything that concerns him; and the results of this concern us both.  And the fact is that frozen occupancy in combination with the frozen rents, made it impossible to do the one thing we might have done to help to keep pace with costs:  furnish the fats ourselves on time-payments and then Jack re-rent them for considerably more.

As Jack and myself computed between us an “average” of our earnings on published books at the time this house was being remodelled just before the war, we felt safe in respect to it, as the rentals were to have paid a far larger part of upkeep than was ever possible, after the war began.  We thought if there were any drains on us at intervals these would not be large; and that we would be guaranteed living quarters suitable for writing on periodic visits to London, such as we had already made together.  We expected to rent this flat for several years at a time; and that Jack, after having lost our Walberswick cottage—it was sold at a loss—reinvested here again was due to two factors:  the small sum he first invested was British money and went further here, even before the war, than at home; The sum was too small to yield an income when invested.  We were already thinking prudently of the future and we had been having a terrible time in New York and its environs trying to find any place we could live in and have quiet for our books.  The original investment here was a few thousand and for that amount in New York or near New York we would have had to pay three or four times as much for a house this size.  Jack wished to have a cottage without tenants, but that we had three times hunted for in Santa Fe, and in New York and Connecticut; and we never found anything worth buying that was not exorbitant.

He stumbled on 26 Belsize Crescent by chance.  It was going cheap because largish old-fashioned single houses were then a drug on the market here.  And he was truthfully assured that if he made four flats of the three stories and basement, he could count on tenants the moment the decorator stepped out.  He borrowed to complete the conversion, paid the loan almost at once and took a mortgage out; and this twenty-year mortgage is now paid up for all but six years.  Naturally we don’t want to be left with nothing to show for the worst years of our lives economically.  There have been many occasions when London has been as cruel to myself and Jack and Cercadinho was to myself Cyril and Jig.  We have barely kept afloat.  We have been too poor to see anyone—or rather as soon as rumours of our acute poverty reached the outer world those cads who in large part comprise aforesaid world, began to leave us strictly alone.  We have been almost without clothes, for long periods without teeth, and have had no smallest diversion of any sort—not even walks because clothes were lacking, the war Government confiscated the metal bars on our basement window and thieves entered here more than once.

It is labour extremism that makes the most mischief here.  We believe in private ownership and especially in private property.  And if you will please reflect my dear Davy, you will realize that most of your own and Lola’s friends must have shared this view as a number either owned homes then or since, and abhorred that trespassing of which we are victims, here, with an abhorrence as great as ours.

That we believed in private property should have been evident from our experiences in Brazil, where Cyril tried to acquire our fifteen-hundred acres permanently, though my illness made the hard life impossible for both us and Jig.  Again there was the Scottage in Bermuda, which Swinburne Hale gave Cyril and me outright, but which the Garlands saw fit to take back because Swinburne’s health broke down before he died and Marie appears to have taken a ruthless view of everything and everybody he ever liked.  Then there was Cyril’s house which he owned in Santa Fe and to which Phyllis contributed a little money and I also contributed thirteen-hundred as a future investment for Jig to whom I hoped it would be bequeathed.  Then came Walberswick, and crises which obliged me to return home, and decided Jack he would sell it as we could not endure separation.  And now there is 26 Belsize Crescent.  So that we struggle for a home of our own that, also, may some day mean something to Jig and Pavla and our affection for them and their children, should not surprise anyone, or provoke bitter remarks.  I have FOUR little grandchildren, Davy.  Surely you do not condemn me, as Communists undoubtedly would, for hoping to do something to SAVE THEM from penury and that abominable slaver to State into which “Socialism”, applied in a dictator world, easily develops because of a fallacious implicit assumption that those who control States must be individually “better” than Capitalists!—which they are NOT.  Socialism is absolute political power and we know it living through some isolated socialist measures are good.

You know we value your friendship, Davy, or I wouldn’t give pages to re-explaining about the house.  Don’t insult us, for both our sakes.

* * * * *

To Charles Chaplin

September 23, 1952

Mr Charles Chaplin
Savoy Hotel
London

1952—November.  Jack telegraphed an offer of our flat to the Savoy the day after they landed.  It was delivered within an hour and his secretary phoned at once to say “nuttin’ doin’” as to flats.  Shabby remembering Cyril  Evelyn Scott

Dear Mr Chaplin:

Your secretary, with a promptitude in every sense considerate, has just telephoned that the telegraphed offer of the flat myself and my husband are trying to rent speedily in order to complete arrangements to return home to the USA, was not apropos.  However, I think some explanation as to why the appeal to you and Mrs Chaplin was made, is due; as I, also, requested your secretary to be good enough to say that should you hear of anyone who is an American and in need of a flat of fair dimensions, we will appreciate the mention of this one as availableI think she was probably—your nice secretary—somewhat taken aback when I said to her that the renting of this flat is essential to financing our return; as we have been financially stranded here ever since my husband—John Metcalfe, the British novelist and short story writer—was demobilized from “RAF” service in 1946.  .  I arrived here 1944 and have never relinquished American citizenship.  But we have been doing our best to go home every year, and have encountered so much obstructionism of an “economic” sort, that our return has been cruelly postponed again and again, though I am American native of many generations and have an American son and John Metcalfe was a quota resident for 18 years.

You and Mrs Chaplin do not know me personally, but Mr Chaplin may recall his own impromptu appearance at the studio—the tiny studio on Fourteenth Street—of my first husband Mr Cyril Kay Scott, in the nineteen-twenties.  It was a delightful experience as recounted to me and our son, Creighton by Mr Scott, from whom I am divorced, but who is esteemed by both myself and Mr Metcalfe.  Waldo Frank, who is now, also generously trying to help us to re-establish ourselves again at home as authors—though we have been virtually banned since the war—had just told you of our Scott experiences in Brazil; and it was Mr Frank to whom I alluded to your secretary just now.  [Typed letter ends here]

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

 October 19, 1952

Maggie my dear Maggie:

We don’t know whether we are on the verge of the real end of this damnable exile, or are in some Gethsemane of tragedy.

Jack is writing again the plea that must seem interminable for help from somewhere—anywhere—to provide the three hundred essential to making the flat rentable enough to allow us to go home to face and solve all the vital issues that have accumulated during thirteen years—our two brief sojourns since 1941 having been such as permitted of no solutions.

The crux of our lives, like Jig’s, Pavla’s, and Cyril’s is this matter of our resumed publication.  Waldo should be able to be of genuine help in getting some action about books.  But to read the mss of more than nine-hundred pages takes time, and the one reassurance I would like now is to know he has begun—the money to make the move home possible has to come soon, for all the reasons you are now so well aware of, bless you.

These have been pretty intolerable weeks—these last.  They have added tantalization to our other miseries.  I, today, re-cleaned the woodwork in the room first renovated, when the floors were removed and the shelter; suddenly realizing it has been three months since then, and my first cleaning in preparation for new occupants, had to be repeated.

It has been a question of not even the cash to buy a tin of paint; and of course trying to keep enough for the Consular fee ready.  All the details I enumerated as yet necessary, as a preliminary to renting furnished, still are necessary.  We look to some advance rent to finish everything, even with the three hundred dollars more achieved.  But this should allow for asking what others do for furnished apartments in good condition, and will save the house until eventually it can be sold.  The essentials have to be here to rent for enough to save the house.

I will exhaust you, Maggie darling—you know it all so well.  We are trying not to despair.  We WONT despair.  But to have the solution of the problems of eight years anyhow almost ours, and then just sit waiting, is harrowing.

I feel we owe you something that not even a fortune, were it ours, could ever repay.  But poor Jack is even eager to incur an obligation—in the form of a debt and promise to pay it, rather than just collapse as we are.  I dont want him to incur any debt if there is any other way, however—more than the moral debts to you and our friends—because he works so hard and should have strains eased and not added to, if possible.

You know how we feel in loving Jig and Pavla and the four children and in being unshakable in affectionate friendship for Cyril.  And that no letter further has yet arrived from Munich is anguish, at times.  Do I feel bitter when there is prattle for the “American regard” for the “American mother”?—YES—what about this one, Evelyn Scott.

Love Maggie darling love
Evelyn

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

December 14, 1952

Darling Maggie,

I have GOT IT (visa), thank goodness!  It is a great relief, as the hold-up on the medical side was worrying in several ways.  But all’s well that. . .etc.  It arrived by registered mail yesterday morning.

I then went at once to enquire re passages and fares, to the US Lines, Cook’s, etc.  It appears that the earliest date on which there might be any accommodation within our financial compass would not be before mid-January and might be as late as early February.  This is later than we wanted, but almost everything at a reasonable price is booked up till about then;—and of course I could not make even the first gesture about it till I had got my visa. rival at the Foundation.  I shall be writing to him, of course, about this.

The tourist fare for a double cabin would be from £68 to £71 each (i.e. from $190.40 to $190.80 each, – a total of from $380.80 to $397.60 for the two of us).  There might be something slightly cheaper obtainable by waiting longer, – but hotel or lodging expenses in England meanwhile would more than negative this gain, and it will pay us to get away as soon as possible after we move out of this flat around Jan 1st.

The rail fares from London to Southampton will add a bit more, say $10 for the two of us, and there will be at least some lodging expenses in England between the time this flat is let and the time we sail.  Also some unavoidable renovation of baggage:—though I do not know how far such expenses could properly [be] regarded as “travel” or “transport” expenses to come out of the Fund.  We should also have to spend a little (as little as possible!) on small tips on the boat, and I am not sure either how far these (say a further 5 to 10 dollars) are includable.

But altogether, if possible, we should like $430 (four hundred and thirty dollars) now from the Fund.  If you could send this please the way you sent the last money so that it is immediately cashable I should be able to instruct Cook’s to clinch the earliest sailing (within the money-limit) that offers.

This $430, from the $1100, would leave $670.  I see that the return fare (valid 6 months) from New York to Los Angeles (fairly near the Foundation) is $202.43.  That is $404.86 for the two of us, apart from meals etc.  So that (subtracted from $670) would leave (again if permissible) some $260 for meals on train, for a brief stay in New York en route (for E to enquire re her novel etc) and for paper, type-ribbon etc while at the Foundation.

Darling Maggie, I cannot tell you how we both feel to you about all this.  As I said before, all we can do is to make it worth while.  I can get a job I’m quite sure, and shall then of course repay the last $250 loan for a start.  All these months the thing has persisted in appearing still too dreamlike (against reason!) but now that at last I really have my visa (my chief anxiety) I am really getting quite excited.  Bless you and bless you!  See you SOON now, I hope!

Much much love from
Jack. Evelyn adds her very much love with mine

* * * * *

Lt Commander and Mrs Saint-Pierre1

March 1, 1953

Dear Mr and Mrs Saint-Pierre:

I do not know where to put the blankets and linen until Mr Paget2 and yourselves have agreed on the inventory.  I gather he will come here when you are moved in or just before, and until we had our nice evening conversation I had not realized it unlikely that you yourselves will need to use the blankets, so I am leaving all of them—two lots, the greater portion in good condition but a few patched—on the bed in the small room.

Should you wish to use any that require dry cleaning, please ask Match and Company if it will be okay with them to deduct the expense incurred from the future rent.  Davis, the cleaner, just to the left of Belsize Circus, cleans very well and for a moderate price.

Three of the pillow tickings also look very dingy and can be cleaned by Davis for six shillings each.  And this we would have had done but that with both of us under the weather we were using all the pillows until today.

Our cash shortage—temporary we hope—obliges me to leave this to you on the same basis, in the belief that it will be alright to charge up these comparatively small sums to rental to be deducted at the appropriate time.  We are both very sorry to have to request anything that may seem a bother.

Three soiled pillowslips, one bath towel and two or three kitchen towels, as well, have not been washed, and perhaps you will be good enough to let Mr Marsh know that I have neither time to wash them nor any way of sending them to be laundered with no one in the flat yet.

These are the most troubling last-minute items.  I really don’t know how it is managed as to linen when moves are in process and one has to use a little for the most make-shift final night.

Should you come in briefly during the next few days, please don’t be unduly perturbed if all the discards of the move—empty paint tins, discarded clothing, etc—have not every one been put in the dust bins.  These are at the foot of the stairs you pass as you walk along the path to the door of this flat, but the trash collection is usually on Tuesdays and I daren’t fill the tins any more today as others as well as ourselves seem to have been throwing things away and some place has to be left until Tuesday, when I trust Mr Coleman, as a real favour, may come by and put the remainder of the debris in the bins.  As a rule the space for trash is adequate, but there is now and again an overflow when anyone is moving in or out.

I don’t know whether “hints” on the housework will sound like those of the Suffolk landlady who awed me with superfluous “directions” years ago, but give you some anyhow to be followed or not as you incline.

Unless you already have experience with painted concrete floors, you will not know that the red-painted floors in two of the rooms and the toilet cannot be washed, but are easily freshened with “Cardinal Polish”, which can be bought at almost any hardware store, some groceries, and at the tobacconists adjacent to Meade’s green grocery to the left of the first turning at the bottom of Belsize Crescent.  These shops can also be reached by going down the “snicket” behind the house and turning right at bottom.

When dust accumulates along the tops of wainscots it is better, I find, to brush it off with a small dry brush, as you then don’t have to be so careful about the tinted walls, or, for that matter, the wall paper.  I use a damp cloth on the painted wainscots just occasionally, and in the first bed-room at the front just on the painted wood.  The one drawback of “Cardinal Polish” is that when it gets on paint or walls it is hard to get off—ditto as to hands and clothes.  But though it can be smeared when fresh, once it hardens—say an hour after it is used—it will not come off further as far as I know.

There is a good brush for cleaning radiators that was not put on the inventory, ad it was bought to re-paint them and by the time Mr Paget and I got to the kitchen cupboards I was too all-in to explain or say whether it should or shouldn’t be listed.  But I now point it out because of the convenient shape and handle.  It cost something but does not need to be replaced if it wears out.  It is in the bottom left kitchen cupboard with the scouring brushes—also not new, and not itemized or mentioned.  It doesn’t matter about these things except as they may help.

If the two oldest frying-pans in front kitchen cupboard are too much in the way and you wish to discard them, you are free to do so with the proviso that Match is informed either now or when you leave.  I think the inventory is probably of mutual benefit but being still ill the day it was made I almost gave up.

There are some floor cloths—two—one unused and one used but still good and when in use these can be dried on the rod on the under-end of the kitchen table nearest the stove.

The furniture and the wooden floors have all been treated with o’cedar and this had been satisfactory to us as it keeps down dust.  This naturally is for you to decide—I just hope to be helpful, for we are much indebted to you in respect to the storing of the pictures on the top shelf of the cupboard (or wherever you like).

There are a number of small photographs framed and unframed with these, and some small hooks.  These did not go on the inventory because we had hoped to pack them and had no room when the baggage was filled.  We do feel apologetic, and I suppose whenever you leave Match should know of the extra photographs and a few books having been put with the other things, though I DON’T MEAN re-do inventory.

The Gas Company’s phone is Hamstead 1133 for most calls, but on Sundays, holidays and other times of emergency the Gas Company can also be reached at Willesden 1272, their emergency phone.

The best of good wishes to you both again.  We think we are fortunate in having found such nice tenants for the flat, and we do implore the gods to permit it to be a satisfactory habitat for yourselves and the dogs, too.  Thank you again for allowing the personal articles to be stored in the cupboard.

1 The Saint Pierres rented the flat that had been occupied by Jack and Evelyn.

2 Mr Paget worked for Match and Company, the agents handling the letting of 26 Belsize Crescent.

* * * * *

This letter documents Jack and Evelyn’s final departure from Number 26.  Not everything went according to plan. . . .

 

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39. The Evelyn Scott Fund

In 1951 Margaret DeSilver, a wealthy and well-connected Manhattan socialite and a loyal friend of both Jack and Evelyn, decided to create a fund to clear their debts (the next chapter will include more information about these)  and bring them back to the United States. Evelyn welcomed this initiative, but she insisted on it being on her own terms.  These included, but were not limited to, the publication of two novels on which she was then working but which were never published:  Escape from Living and Before Cock Crow.  She was also determined (or maybe it was because of her increasingly obvious self-obsession) that potential donors were made aware of her difficulties in becoming united with her son and his family.

Evelyn also makes constant reference to a “precis” which was briefly referred to in my previous post (No 38).  This 74-page single-spaced document, headed “a precis of events indicative of libel”, conflated incidents in Evelyn’s life during the 1930s and 40s with her inability to restore contact with Jigg and his family.  It was her wish that this be circulated to potential donors who would, she assumed, would have a better understanding of her situation and would therefore be more likely to  contribute to the Fund.

Many of Evelyn’s letters are to literary figures with whom Evelyn had had relationships:  Waldo Frank was a novelist and early member of the Communist Part with whom Evelyn had an affair during the 1920s;  Allen Tate was a poet and essayist and a professor at Princeton University;  William Carlos Williams was a poet and doctor with whom Evelyn had had an affair during the 1920s.  These letters are lengthy and sometimes verging on the incoherent, and I have heavily edited them to improve readability.  What remains, I hope, gives an insight into the chaotic thought processes which possessed her at the time.

(Sadly, Margaret DeSilver’s original letter, which prompted the replies below, has not survived.)

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Truro, Massachusetts
July 10, [1951]

Dear Margaret,

What a damn shame about Evelyn!  Of course, your idea is excellent. I’ll be glad to lend my name and help a little—how much depends on my own finances measured by my many great responsibilities. I should think the signers of the letter should include a number of our outstanding novelists who most admire E’s work—such as Dos Passos and Faulkner; and a few more critics—for instance Van Wyck Brooks and Lewis Mumford. I really don’t understand E’s utter neglect!  She is certainly one of the important American novelists of our generation!

When are you coming to the Cape? Do phone us and come and see us.

Always (hurriedly),
Waldo [Frank]

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

[Rutherford, New Jersey]
August 6, 1951

My dear Margaret DeSilver:

I shall be glad to read at any benefit you plan for Evelyn Scott, but I do not want my name used on your letter head.  Under such circumstances you may not want me to participate in the effort at all but it is all I am willing to do.

Sincerely yours,
William Carlos Williams

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Princeton, New Jersey
August 7, 1951

 Dear Mrs DeSilver

I returned only last night from the Middle East to find your disturbing letter about Evelyn Scott.  You may certainly use my name in a campaign for her relief. I will try tomorrow to see the Secretary of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.1  If anything can be done there, it will be done at once.  I am at a loss to think of any other source of immediate relief, but I am sure that, given a little time, we can rally people to the support of the campaign. I will write to you again in the next day or two.

 Yours sincerely,
Allen Tate

1 This Institute (now the American Academy of Arts and Letters) was modelled on the Academie Française and included in its membership a large number of authors and critics. The Institute awarded grants to worthy individuals on the recommendation of its members.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

26 Belsize Crescent
August 8, 1951

My Dear Maggie

I can’t tell you how much I thank you for your letter—enclosing check for $100 and how grateful we both are.  It really just about saves our lives.  And I’m the more appreciative since I do realise that you have many many calls upon your native generosity,-and many problems of your own.

I do think that, if you are so kind and unselfish in time, labour, and some incidental vexation (probably) as to undertake the organisation of an Evelyn Scott Fund, as you suggest might be possible, it would be a splendid thing.  I believe that Evelyn is of the same opinion, – providing, of course, that any funds resulting were not regarded as implying a cessation to writing, but rather as a help to further writing.  We know of course that there is no doubt about your regarding it in this manner, but a few others possibly might misconceive the object of such a Fund.  However, a suitable wording of the appeal would be adequate protection against this, I should say.  In any case we could certainly think of no one so fitted as yourself, in every way, to conduct the matter.  I myself, I may say right away, am unreservedly enthusiastic about the idea, and more than ever grateful to your for advancing it.  Even if the appear were only very moderately “successful” (and I should allow myself no higher hopes) it would be a godsend.

I won’t add more just now as I want to air-mail this off, – but I just can’t express my personal relief, and my gratitude to yourself.

Bless you, dear Maggie,
Jack

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Eastham, Massachusetts
August 14, 1951

Dear Evelyn:-

I’m pleased you and Jack are pleased with the idea of the Fund, but it is ticklish to keep it, as you so sensibly pointed out, from being just a substitute for real recognition and continued publication.  So later on I will write you in greater detail about so far rather vague outlines, and get your approval on any public letter before making a move.  I have had interested responses to the idea from Waldo Frank, Edmund Wilson, Lewis Gannett, Allen Tate.  I do not want to seem to be putting it up to others what I might be able to swing myself, at any risk to your basic welfare and to your proper pride.  But I feel you do also need more actual cash than I can manage.  But it must all be done JUST RIGHT.

Much love to you and thanks again for writing.  I’ll write you at greater length a little later.

Margaret

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

August 20, 1951

Margaret my dear

Not pressing for reply—not until there are some positive developments.  We hope Eastham Massachusetts is nice and you enjoy it–know your letters are forwarded

I don’t ask you yourself to do more than you have or anything that makes you shrink because you too have had your sensibilities hurt and can’t bear “foisting” yourself and must be re-assured.  But do please remember that I am a stickler for accuracy and that I cannot do other than conclude from the facts I myself know that, ever since the experiences of which I told you here, both Jig and Pavla and probably Margaret Hale Foster and Cyril, have been intimidated by rumour about me and—I think—about themselves and all my friends; and that, in consequence, they have been isolated over and over whenever they moved to any new address, and that Pitcher Lane1 has yet to prove different from Rutherford in this respect.

Mag my dear—the cable you sent has just arrived as I say on page one of my letter with this and Jack and myself are full of the utmost gratitude again and hope you will thank Allen as I will myself shortly as soon as you see him.  You are restoring my belief in humans and Allen is contributing to the revival of our optimism so genuinely that we will not forget this proof of his own sustained character of pure artist and will always remember his generosity as we do yours.  And this, of course, I will myself tell him when I write to him.

We are fed to the gills with guff so I cannot say I “pray” you may be rewarded for your goodness, but if I could “pray” in a world such as we have, I would insist Margaret De Silver among the first bloody old “God” should save.  My “blasphemies” have their justification, and are considerably less than those to which politicians are too readily inured.

 

1 At this time Evelyn was writing numerous letters to try to establish which of the three places named “Red Hook” her son and his family had moved to: she knew they lived on a road called Pitcher Lane. .

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

August 24, 1951

To be forwarded to Eastham Massachusetts.  Government gas1 took the whole of that other draught and I literally never saw a penny, once it was banked—but it isn’t Jack’s fault they are blood-suckers, he is supporting me and is in terrible difficulties YET we have to pay or be sunk

Maggie darling—

You cannot over-estimate the good it does Jack as well as myself to know you are being sustained in your generous and lovely effort to really get us home.  I can see Jack improving in spirits already and in health with this, and I have now written to Allen Tate and hope he will show you the letter, as William Rose Benet approached “The Institute for Arts and Letters” on our behalf in 1948, and he succeeded in obtaining five hundred dollars for me, which is the sole help anybody in the States has given us since years before the war, with exception of yourself and of the two or three checks Lenore has, also, sent.

When “The Institute’s” cheque arrived here with a “promissory note”, I refused to sign it, as I knew by then we could not re-pay as we had first hoped when Jack originally appealed to you.  And I was in a dither until, after an air-mail letter from me, Benet cabled that I would not be required to sign anything; adding subsequently, in his own letter that it was a formality which did not really apply to me as I am not a member.

However, the experience especially re-impressed me with the fact that we must save in the States in order to return home there, because the five hundred dollars—like most of your help—went bang into the house, almost to the final penny.  Nor was there any alternative for us.  And this five hundred will have to go into the house, too.  We will be jailed for debts otherwise so I am told.  We are in arrears with everything, including “income tax” on this property based on a theoretic “income” although we have been losing two hundred pounds a year on it during some years.

Would you be willing to become the official “Trustee” of my “Fund”?—I have suggested to Allen Tate that I hope you will because you grasp the situation completely now I think—you will respecting Jig Pavla and Cyril too when you have my letter mailed yesterday—and you and Jack can consult as to the minimum we can peg on with here once anything is accumulated.  It is the one way of getting out of reach of tyrannical extremists who—as I have often seen indicated—bitterly resent one’s normal determination to resume the life normal to one’s self and to see one’s family in person.

This is the Truth again.  We’ve loved you for so long it’s not “new” to say we do now, but you are certainly re-endearing yourself to us Maggie dear more than ever.

One of the causes of Jack’s indebtedness was the escalating bill for gas for heating the house. He was not permitted by law to raise the rent to cover these increased charges.

 

* * * * *

To Allen Tate

August 24, 1951

Dear Allen Tate:

I know Margaret De Silver will have passed on to you the burgeoning appreciation elicited by her cabled news that you are especially exerting yourself so generously on behalf of Jack and myself; and as her cable was preceded by an air mail letter in which she mentioned, as well, the generous interest in our predicament evinced, also, by Edmund Wilson, Waldo Frank and Lewis Gannett, we are cheered, indeed.

Margaret De Silver has proved she is the friend in a million every human being would most like to have.  And Lenore Marshall, too, has twice helped in our rescue from imminent eviction from this house and a literal threat of starvation; and Dr May Mayers of New York, though unable to do anything financially, has shown a concern for our re-establishment as authors which is indisputably genuine.

I hope Margaret will accept the trusteeship of any funds accumulated toward our return, sending on whenever available just enough for us to peg along on here.

Jack and I are so grateful to you and to all our genuine friends.  Most most sincerely

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

August 25, 1951

Maggie darling—

Would you be willing to become the “trustee” of any fund accumulated in the bank there for our return?  I hope so because your grasp of our financial plight is I think complete like Jig’s when here, and your grasp of our situation will probably be even better when you have the letter respecting Jig Cyril and Pavla which I mailed to you day before yesterday, and which had to do explicitly with badgerings endured in the South by everybody not moronic.

We are both so grateful—I don’t want to tire you with reiterating it, but it gives us a fresh sense of moving toward the end, and not just stagnating in poverty.

I am more than obliged to Waldo for offering to draw up a letter to be circulated on our behalf—on mine especially as an American but Jack should be included as artist and as the quota resident he was for so many years.  And to re-assure those whom gossip may have boggled as to my standing the cable sent Allen was signed with my Passport Signature in full—Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe—and the American Embassy clerk has seen my birth certificate with my baptismal name of Elsie on it and the names of both my parents in full and my place of birth and affidavits as to my identity, some still such as can be checked on, though the wife of the doctor who attended my mother is one and she has, since, died.

I will be very appreciative if you will yourself read Waldo’s draught of a letter and will let me see a copy.  I thought that letter circulated about Patchen1 was not good—and sometimes people with the best intentions don’t realize possible angles of the impression likely to be created by the manner of presentation.  I would like to be assured that by no possibility can anything said on my behalf reflect on Jack Jig Pavla or Cyril.  Jack has supported me here at some sacrifice to himself and Jig and Pavla have done no more because they just couldn’t, though Jig’s visit proves his real concern and we know Cyril’s character so well we have never doubted he, too, would have assisted our return had not conditions there been made as hard for him as ours for us here.

We always love you but you endear yourself again

1 Margaret DeSilver had suggested a funding letter based on that of a similar fundraising campaign for Kenneth Patchen, an American writer who became poverty-stricken due to a spinal injury.

* * * * *

To Allen Tate

August 25, 1951

Dear Allen Tate—

Margaret has proven she is the friend-in-a-million every human and especially every creative human, would like.  And as she writes Jack and myself that Waldo Frank, Lewis Gannett, and Edmund Wilson have, also, generously offered to do anything they can toward our return to the States, I think it likely she has by this recounted to you the hellish conditions which have kept us as we are yet; though we did have one bit of help—good in intention—in nineteen-forty-eight, when the late William Rose Benet, on his own initiative, obtained five hundred dollars for us from “The Institute” as a gift.

It was, however, immediately swallowed by this house, and the truth is that neither Jack nor I had the use of more than a few pounds of the draught once it was cashed:  my reason for suggesting to Margaret that it would be better if possible to accumulate something in a bank in New York which would finance our return and our sojourn there pending the full solution of our problems; which, like those of Creighton Scott, my, son, by my first marriage to Cyril Kay-Scott, can—like his father’s—only be really solved with re-establishment in the arts.

Margaret De Silver, however, has, also, at times, come to the rescue in assisting us to just peg along when eviction was staring us in the face.

Again our gratitude to you personally, our cordial good wishes to the Tate family, our genuine thanks to the “Committee” should it decide to supply any further aid.

Most most sincerely yours

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Princeton, New Jersey
August 28, 1951

1952—What about John Metcalfe’s art—he is British born

Dear Evelyn:

I am of course glad to get your letter but distressed by the news it brings.

I am sure that Mrs DeSilver will succeed in getting up a fund to bring you back to this country, but as you know such a campaign takes time; and we are of course anxious about your immediate plight.  If any other resource suddenly appears I will take advantage of it on your behalf.  Meanwhile I am joining Mrs DeSilver’s campaign.

You are quite right about the more fundamental need of getting home where you can participate again in the literary world.  It is almost impossible to do this abroad, where one’s connections, however god, are never quite adequate.  The British publishers quite naturally feel little obligation to do well by us unless they are certain of getting a lot of money out of the connection.

I can scarcely believe that this $100.00 will go very far.  I can only hope that you can old out until more effective aid can be organized.  Please give my regards to Jack.  Caroline joins me in warm regards to you both.

Sincerely yours,
Allen Tate

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Princeton, New Jersey
August 29, 1951

Dear Mrs DeSilver:

I am at a loss to know what else to do at present, but I shall be glad to join you in any concerted effort on her behalf.  A long letter from her, received yesterday, tells a very sad tale.  I can well understand her desire to come back to this country, and I think she would be better off here.  At the same time one must remember that she has been away so long, she has not published a book here in so many years, she has been virtually forgotten:  the public and the publishers have a very short memory.  It is by no means certain that a publisher would undertake the task of rehabilitating her as a writer; and even if this could be managed, there would still be, as in England, the problem of a steady livelihood  Very few writers make a living out of their books, even if they have a best-seller or two from time to time.

Sincerely yours,
Allen Tate

* * * * *

To Allen Tate

[September 1951]

Dear Allen:

We have the utmost confidence in Margaret De Silver, and once having promised to attempt to arouse greater interest in our plight here and in the accumulation of funds to admit of our return to the States to see Creighton and his wife and children and Creighton’s father and to re-establish ourselves in our normal milieu among the literate, I know she will adhere to her word as given.  And this is as true of yourself and, I am sure, others who are our friends, we are hopeful of solutions.

I do thank you especially again and again.  And because I know the value of friendships in these days, I add to the more personal content of the communication a sort of precis of the most serious aspects of our predicament, which relate to the books we have ready to publish and sell NOW, and to possibly libellous misinterpretations of an absence from the States which has been made “economically compulsory” both by the abrupt and also compulsory stoppage of our literary earnings since 1939, and by the war against private property ownership which has been remorseless here since 1945, and has largely immolated Jack.

Margaret De Silver knows these things, but she may not yet have every detail, and as the death of my parents during the war has resulted—possibly because they were divorced and my father had re-married—in a degree of senseless mystification regarding my father’s last years and the disposition of his estate, I shall include data on Cyril’s change of name from Wellman to Scott and on the conceded legality of my continued fight to claim as an American citizen aid from American Foundations should any evince an inclination to help.

A copy of my precis, which here follows, goes to “The National Institute of Art and Letters” for the Committee, as well; as I wish no one to be in doubt as to the facts which have driven us to appeal for assistance which would have been superfluous had we been allowed to publish and sell normally during these twelve years since 1939, and Jack to maintain his house here, rent this flat, and go back with me to the States, as was our original intention.

Everything good to you and Caroline,

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Personal
September 9, 1951

Maggie darling

I sent yesterday letters of thanks to Allen Tate for his appeal to “The National Institute of Art and Letters” on my behalf, and, also, a letter to Committee who granted me the gift of a hundred dollars, but I realize you are the benign instigator of Allen’s move to assist and my gratitude and Jack’s goes to you again.

I am still awaiting Jig’s and Pavla’s further letters and some idea as to their health and whether Pitcher Lane is in one of the Red Hooks in Dutchess County—or is it Duchess?—near Rhinebeck.  I am very worried about them and wonder whether you contacted Margaret Hale Foster1.

You know our history of our poverty and the clothes!  I was not out of the house more than a few times last summer, 1950, and this year had hoped for an improvement; but my teeth are still raising hell plates won’t stay in and gag and I am as penned as ever and except for the visit to Ewell just before we saw you in June, I have not left the house, again, except during my seven weeks of dentistry, so it looks as though even that “pleasure” was taken advantage of.

So please swear for me!—even though I don’t yet know at whom to swear!  In 1949 I lost a carbon of my book of children’s verse, which, this summer, I have re-typed, so that I NOW have THREE copies.  However, today, Jack went through every book in the flat, and as I did the same yesterday, he agrees with me that these three books were swiped since May; and that they could have been swiped at no time except when I was at the dentist’s, unless a nasty electrician who was very offensive when working in the study where they were, and who boasted that he had been employed by Agatha Christie, took them in spite, because I admitted to him I had no tip for him and could not afford any.

There have been Jig’s Cyril’s Merton’s and other water-colours, the original mss of my French Revolution novel, the carbon of the children’s book, and now these three valuable and necessary books—and as all these thefts have an important bearing on our careers and restoration to publication, I call it crime.  And when Jig was here he said he had nothing—not one thing to show for the fifteen years he has given to painting or the several years in which he was writing three novels of which “Scribner’s” published one.

I think the time has come to demand Governments that do not allow scoundrels of any persuasion—call them “right” or “left”—to meddle with personal property and I know you will agree, too.

So when you are discussing me I hope more than ever you will tell people there all these things and mention Jig and Pavla, who should NOT be left at the mercy of crooked “policemen” of the sort who protect crooks and allow thefts. They had begun in Tappan. I would like to see thieves who take such things as paintings and mss electrocuted—and I am not by nature fierce.

Our love and our gratitude, for any help.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

October 11, 1951

Maggie darling

Will you be good enough to hand the letter in this envelope to Waldo or mail it to him as convenient to yourself—first reading it, as it is about the precis of events which I may one day include in a memoir of New York and of the war, as I have yet to write in the first person of the literary world.

The precis is to be regarded as AUTHOR COPYRIGHTED just in case—for I do not wish and WON’T HAVE good book material spoiled by any newspaper distortion.

We just must put an end to the idea that no body should think, and that original inferential comment on contemporary happenings has to be in those political terms extorted by military dolts.

Please go on helping where you can Maggie darling for you are one of the few good fighters I know

We love you—everything lately has been hell again, but probably bloody politics has been figuring more than ever, and what we should like would be what I call PINK CONSERVATISM— by which I mean a CHANGE better minds more intellect and MORE TRUTH, and an end to hocus-pocus fears about jobs, which just keep political scoundrels in the saddle to eternity.

Everybody should know by now that bureaucracy has victims in its own ranks and that vast numbers of unemployed can’t be afforded so it is good sense to restore competition gradually and work out the means of removing a fair number of Government employees into other local occupations, little by little.  People don’t want directing they will RAISE HELL as long as control goes on.  This Government is a combination of feeble well-meaning and brute power.  And something just MUST BE DONE with America backing.

Our own fortunes reflect what goes on publically and we should love to be SAVED AS AUTHORS and go home to the States and help to restore Jig and Cyril and other artists of high type to the ARTS

We love you for everything you do and are doing.

 * * * * *

To Waldo Frank

October 11, 1951

Sent to Mrs Margaret De Silver 130 West 12th Street, Apt G, New York City with the request to pass it on to Mr Frank.  Love to Maggie.  Please see people read precis when it gets to you don’t just glance.  Grateful  Evelyn

Dear Waldo,

Margaret De Silver has certainly proven herself again the fine friend we always knew her to be.  Jack and I are both so grateful to her for trying to get somebody interested in financing our return home, either by means of publication resumed with conditions that are a guarantee against “token” handling such as killed every possibility of sales when The Shadow of the Hawk and The Muscovites—my book and Jig’s1—were published by Scribner’s during the war.

The appreciation goes to you here unreservedly, but as we have not had the letter yet, it occurs to me you—and perhaps Margaret and Allen Tate and Edmund Wilson—may have been waiting at your end for what I referred to as a precis of events since 1939, which I propose sending in original to Margaret and in carbon to Allen to be read privately by Margaret and yourself and anyone whom any of you know who can be guaranteed to read it without political bias and to neither “hush” me up about things I object to in the current scene because these are destructive of pure art value, nor let us in for the sort of libellous misconstruction on the happenings set forth which is an invariable result of journalistic intrusion on the art world. I disapprove of cuts and won’t stand them again and am adamant against editing.  I did not want it known I had tried cutting but I did once—it is hopelessly wrong!

The precis—a carbon is to go to “The National Institute of Arts and Letters” too —the precis, as I have been going over the material of the mangled preface and elaborating it, seems to be to be that of a potential further volume of memoirs to be written in the end about the art careers of the Scott-Metcalfes and their friends and acquaintances in the art world, and so I also wish to have the content accepted as already copyrighted by Evelyn Scott and NOT for the public prints until the time arrives to re-write it at leisure and incorporate it with experiences which long antedated the war, here covered and including Britain but unconnected with any damn “war secrets” as I know nothing of them, thought I was with Jack during all his 1939-46 service with the “RAF”, in Canada and here, and wasn’t in Scotland where he was the first year because I was economically trapped as a “neutral” in New York and he couldn’t send me any money.  This precis will be ready in two or three weeks but meanwhile we are pretty desperate again.  So please please pester anyone you can—I think Allen could show my precis to Mr Epstein as I have “altercated” with him about art. Anyhow we won’t despair.

1Jig’s only novel, The Muscovites, was published in 1941.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe

Eastham, Massachusetts
October 12, 1951

Dear Evelyn and Jack:

My “Evelyn Scott Fund” is turning out to be far more complicated that I realized.  First of all, to have it NOT have a PUBLIC and OFFICIAL look involves a good deal of very delicate planning.  Waldo has been most fine and generous about ideas and suggestions, and one was that each of the four persons whom I first approached and who responded warmly and eagerly, make up a list of people to whom each of them might write a personal letter.  This will take time, as these people are all busy people and also because it is very difficult for any one person, judging by my own experience, to think up a likely list of people who have not already been appealed to for this that and the other project many times over.  Secondly, I myself feel that coming to the States would be an impossibly large and expensive undertaking unless Jack FIRST had a job lined up here, and unless you sold your Hampstead house, or leased for a long term.  Living here may not involve quite as much red tape as England, but it is actually more expensive, as to rent, food and clothing (partly, of course, because we do not have any regulations).  Then, too, the publishing business here is even more cautious and wary than in England, in spite of the fact that we do not have your crippling paper shortage.  Instead, we have inflation, which makes everything very expensive.  Also I would say that the mood of America is at the moment far from adventurous, intellectually speaking.  In plain language, dear people, I think when you get here you are going to be as angry and troubled about conditions in general as you are in England, and I am afraid the struggle to heat will be about the same.  On the other hand, the market is certainly here, and also family and friends.  That I know is your crucial consideration.  But I just feel the raising of enough money to get you here and launch you, so to speak, is going to be difficult and slow.

Later  Waldo corrects this somewhat by saying he had in mind a form letter that would not look like a form letter, which each of us would sign and send off to a small list of prospects.  Or else that a list could be bought or borrowed, such as the Patchen list, but still signed individually.  Well, we will try to work out some sound and respectable method.  In the meantime, much love—

Maggie DeS

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

October 16, 1951: Letter from Maggie re ES Fund, – not altogether satisfactory

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Truro, Massachusetts
October 29, 1951

Dear Margaret

Herewith Jack’s letter, and a rough draft of the Fund letter, for which you asked me.  I have no doubt it can be improved.  I suggest that you and Lewis Gannett whip it into shape—or discard it altogether if you think proper  You see, I have stressed E’s need to get home. This necessitated focussing on her alone; one can hardly appeal to Americans to help an Englishman get away from home.  Of course, if she gets here, as Jack suggests, nothing more natural than that her husband should follow her.

As usual, I have difficulty in learning exactly what E in her letter to me is talking about.  Dimly, I descry that there is a finished novel—all typed and ready to be read.  What publisher has seen it?

I’m enclosing a small check to you, which you can turn into money to send to her—from a “friend” — please don’t mention my name.  Perhaps it will help pay a gas bill or something.  It’s not much but it’s really more than I can afford at present.  I hate to think of Evelyn worried in that dark enveloping London winter.  If we get her out of this, she may write the best book of her life.

Waldo Frank

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe

130 West 12th Street, NYC
[November 1951]

Dear Evelyn and Jack:-

I enclose a copy of an appeal letter drafted by Waldo Frank.  Will you let me know what you think of it?  If you approve of it, I shall try to get in touch with Julien Cornell,1 who engineered the Kenneth Patchen Fund, to see if he will let me use that list.  If he will, I’ll undertake to weed it out and to plan to whom the three or four people who helped me start this project will each write or rather sign this letter.

Winter is here.  I expect you folks are pleased with the Conservative victory.  Well, Winnie is a character and may get more generous cooperation from those in power in this country, which would be a blessing.

Much love to you both—
Maggie DeS

American lawyer and pacifist who refused to serve in the military during World War II

* * * * *

Evelyn Scott comments on Waldo Frank draft letter

Hotel Continental
Bogotá, Columbia
Waldo Frank
Truro, Mass

[November 1951]

See final page of this and precis sent with more details later on.  Please Waldo use the facts—they are EXACT Evelyn

The purpose of this letter is to win your interest in the plight of Evelyn Scott,—one of the small company of truly distinguished writers of our time.  During the 20s and 30s, Evelyn Scott’s novels were widely known and greatly admired, although their uncompromising character kept them (with one or two exceptions) from the best-seller lists.  Their fate was that of so many important books within a few years of publication:  they went out of print.  Most good writers circumvent this common event by publishing new books—or by dying, in which the date of the “rediscovery” of their work becomes unimportant to them.

I have visited England many times on my American Passport— British by marriage, but chose to retain citizenship as native-born in 1930.  Stop this token discretion!

Miss Scott, having married the English novelist John Metcalfe in 1930, he was a quota resident US & then moved to England during the last War.  this about “last war” and second marriage ambiguous, married twice, second 1939—“RAF” service brought us here 1943-44 I travelled British as an “RAF” wife—passport resigned on landing—families should NOT be separated by fools, is Evelyn Scott’s opinion.  The unfortunate effect of this was to put her out of touch with American publishers.  She feels strongly—we believe correctly—that if she could return to her own country with second husband, she could place her new work and resume her position as a producing American novelist. why the hell should it!  But penury keeps her in England, and both published in USA as before 1937 would end her worst penury and his he has books to publish 

We do not ask for charity for Evelyn Scott (she would probably be too proud to take it).  We wish to raise a Fund of money which will enable her to come home and to find living and working and publishing conditions at home.

Please bear in mind that Evelyn Scott’s situation is not intrinsically rare.  What would have become of Henry James, after his early successes, without a private income?  And what did become of Herman Melville, when his books stopped selling?  Evelyn Scott’s need to get home is, we are convinced, the intuition bleak eventual need for justice of a creative artist who—if again in touch with the milieu of her work—should have good years of work before her.  In a sense, both psychologically and economically, she and John Metcalfe are is “marooned” in the unsustaining world of post-War England, which has yet to be culturally restored

We in the US today, who are concerned with the cultural health of our country surely should feel that our good fortune places many responsibilities upon us.  The practical hand held out at this hour to Evelyn Scott, in order to help her return home would hearten her and would give a new hold on life and work to a significant American artist.

Please press for our resumed publication—the antidote for “charity” is to SELL US—they can sell us if politics can be made to stand aside—and give art a chance.

Thanks for letting me see the rough draft of your letter. 1942—which began the near-debacle of onslaughts—read precis—long and short when these arrive.

WBBM_20180722_0002.jpg
Scanned photocopy of first page of Evelyn’s annotations to Waldo Frank draft appeal letter.

* * * * *


From John Metcalfe’s diary:November 5, 1951: Letter from Maggie enclosing $25.
November 8, 1951: Letter from Maggie enclosing draft letter re fund by Waldo Frank

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

November 12, 1951

Maggie darling

The check or cheque for twenty-five dollars adds to the sum of gratitude both to yourself and the donor, who probably thought I might be embarrassed should I be told who he or she was—so do please, you think them for me in all sincerity.  And as we thank whoever gave it we thank you again even more.  I don’t see how anyone could have been a better friend to us both than you have, and while it is difficult to receive money at times it is very difficult to ask for it also as I KNOW—so bless you.  In the long precis of events, as I call it, which I shall soon complete and is in sum as regards legalities and war conflicts,  I have mentioned the possibility of including the material in a future autobiography which will be my own entirely in respect to literary struggles.  And whenever I do that book everybody who has given or will give anything toward this fund which we hope book publication will make superfluous in the end, will have the TRUTHFUL PICTURE of the situation of the emotions of Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe both as she sees them.  Not everybody will be fatuously “complimented” but I think most of them will be “able to take it” if they really like our books and the sort of candours that pervade my own writing.  It is the one way I can show appreciation, and I am not ignorant of what is being done so I think the public gesture will eventually be due.

I thought Waldo’s letter well expressed and full of good intentions, but NOT SPECIFIC ENOUGH—and as I write with this to thank him too, perhaps he will grasp my explanation, which has to do with the WAR.  He mentions in it that I married Jack and was stranded in England, as if I had never been there or as if Jack was to be disassociated in going to the States and it isn’t POSSIBLE NO DO EITHER OF US WISH IT.

MUST BE EMPHASIS ON BOOKS READY FOR PUBLICATION NOW EMPHASIS MUST BE ON THAT FIRST—why NOT charity  Everything public except libel stemming from “ghost” passages in Life Is Too Short—consult Jig and Pavla or Cyril and Pavla as Cyril himself delay here.

Dear Maggie—The front page and the above should be the FACTS PUBLIC NOW WHEN APPEALING FOR HELP FOR US I THINK—it is much more interesting as the Truth than generalized as Waldo had it though his belief in me is appreciated.  It must also be KNOWN that Jack and myself return together and have NO INTENTION of parting and that the fact that he was British-born and still a British subject though an American quota resident has been “used against” him and me should at least be implied I think.  You will grasp why when you read the precis.

WE STAND FOR PURE ART DETACHED FROM POLITICS AS MUCH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE, but beside all the general handicaps which now afflict pure artists, we are a SPECIFIC INSTANCE OF WAR ABUSES.  It will I consider be a more effective appeal if the FACTS IN THIS LETTER ARE PUBLICIZED FREELY.

But my problem is about the libel.  I want that combated and will go on fighting it where I can.  That is why I document as reference Common Law Marriage and Divorce, for these involve the real legality of Scott as our name Jig’s name Pavla’s name the names of Denise Fredrick Mathew and Julia, and actually, Jack and I were married as William John Metcalfe and Evelyn D Scott legally in Tierra Amarillo in 1930 when I elected to retain my citizenship.

Tell our friends we surmise his FC Wellman copyright ruse of false rumour by Pavla and Cyril too.
Love Evelyn

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Truro, Massachusetts
November 16, 1951

Dear Margaret,

The enclosed1, just received, makes it clear, I’m afraid, how hard it is going to be to help Evelyn.  I don’t know what truth there is in her charge that Cyril’s book was tampered with, but these points are clear:

1.  To put any such statement into a general letter would be libellous unless legally proved in advance, and even Cyril’s statement would not be legal proof.

2.  It is very dubious that even if the book was slanderous, this has the slightest relation with Evelyn’s present condition—the book was read by very few, and those few certainly would not on that account have “plotted” against Evelyn.

3.  To bring such matter into an appeal, in any case, would I think frighten people off, rather than make them open their  purses.

Personally, I refuse to get embroiled in this sad personal quarrel. I found Cyril’s book disgusting, but I am certainly not ready to get involved in why it was so—and it all seems irrelevant to the simple wish of friends to get E back to the USA since she wants to come.

Do what you want about this; but if the letter is to be amended to include these “personal” matters, someone besides me—who know nothing and am in no position to sift the facts—will have to do it. Moreover, such an amended letter might readily be one I simply could not sign, not knowing the facts, first hand.

What think you?  Is there a “plot” or is all this Evelyn’s obsession?

Waldo

Evelyn’s revisions to his earlier draft of the appeal letter.

* * * * *

 

To Margaret DeSilver

November 18, 1951

Dear Margaret:

Waldo’s letter was generous and very good but it was so much too generalized that it conveyed a wrong impression as to why we have been stranded here so long.  And I therefore have asked Jack to bind with the precis a sort of summary more pertinent to precisely the situation ours, which, in the main, is we both consider the result of the war—after all Jack and I have been married twenty-one years and we never got stranded in Britain when conditions were those of times less ridden by politics.

Love and gratitude and hope.  We are very desperate at this moment, gas, rates, etc again.

Evelyn

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

130 West 12th Street, NYC
November 20, 1951

Dear Evelyn:-

You certainly have every right to object to the form of appeal letter presented to you and to prefer your own approach.  But as a person on the receiving end, who am on every known list, I can tell you that most of the appeals I receive go straight into the scrapbasket unopened and the art of getting letters opened by the recipient is quite a fine one.  And Brevity and Simplicity is of the essence.  So that I have to say that I could not undertake any such letter as you propose, for purely practical reasons.  Besides this, I myself feel that Cyril and Jig are not in the least concerned with this specific problem.  Jack, of course, is, and the only reason he was not brought in was that it was thought it would be easier to appeal for just one person, the American writer, and that if enough money was forthcoming of course Jack could be included in the deal.  And of course, harsh as it sounds, you are the American Novelist in this case, and not Evelyn Scott the human being.  Of course actually the two are inseparable, but artificial divisions sometimes have to be set up in the practical world.  As to the Kenneth Patchen list, my only idea was to get ahold of it or the Authors League list, and weed out likely names for each signer to send the appeal letter to, some for Waldo, some for Lewis, some for Bunny, etc, etc.  Kenneth Patchen’s virtues or Bollingen politics has nothing to do with it.  It was just my idea of a way to get ahold of some names.

So, Evelyn dear, I guess I’ll have to go back to sending you money when I can and asking other people to do so when I see them.

Love to you both—
Margaret

1952—November 24th, London.  I think Jig is concerned with every publically circulated word about his mother. Evelyn Scott

* * * * *

To Waldo Frank

December 4, 1951

Please remember we can’t wait on dickerings of foundations, and this shouldn’t be regarded as replacing anything else anybody is willing to do—we are just hanging on from week to week.

Dear Waldo:

I don’t like burdening our friends with letters, but as we are determinedly making a stand for our survival as living authors and for our living human relations, I don’t know how to avoid a correspondence relevant to sustaining us.

Perhaps Margaret has sent you by now the letter you first wrote for me with such real generosity but without, apparently, having taken stock of some aspects that might have been misinterpreted, and which I, therefore, tentatively altered, with the proviso that you see it and pass on using any part of yours before it was sent it.  Should it be that you disapprove, then probably someone else can paraphrase its content and retain those statements of fact respecting myself and Jack, which, though not many, I insist on because of the legalities involved, which are all legal legalities, documented on file and correct, but must be recognised as existent or the entire business of trying to help me will result in a humiliation which I think you yourself would not tolerate and I cannot.

Best regards

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

130 West 12th Street
[December 6, 1951]

Dear Evelyn

I have received the “precis” which I have forwarded to Jig at Red Hook, NY as you requested.  I also got your amendments to Waldo’s letter, which I will communicate with Waldo about as soon as possible. Maybe eventually we’ll get this business straightened out!

Maggie

This note on December 6th 1951—I have precise facts, irrefutable facts in respect to criminal interference received here December 8 1951

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Truro, Massachusetts
December 28, 1951

Dear Evelyn,

I have just yesterday received your letter of Dec 4.  I enclose a copy of my word to the Foundation:  good luck to it!  I should have loved to say something for Jack, but how could I conscientiously, since I have never read any of his books?

Last week M deS sent me your revised version of the letter.  I returned it, saying I had no objection but that I thought Allen T and Gannett should compare the two versions and possibly make up a third.  I entirely disagree with your notion that personal details should go into this letter.  To begin with, these matters which loom so large in your mind and heart are not known and even less cared about by practically anyone.  These controversies and data are irrelevant, and to throw them into the consciousness of persons appealed to can in my judgement only confuse and deter.  The appeal for you should be made upon clear simple cultural facts; your marriages, your relation with Cyril, the state of your teeth and even of your mss is of no importance, from the standpoint of presenting a persuasive objective picture.  Even your “insistence” that it MUST be stated that you both have books ready for publication is in my judgement an error of objective view.  If such an item had any effect at all on readers it would be to deter them from helping, for they would say—“Well then, if she has a book ready why not send it to a publisher and get an advance?”  I think dear Evelyn, you would be wiser if you simply let Margaret and her friends handle this matter as they (we) judge best.

May 1952 be good—a better one for you both.

God be with you,
ever affectionately your friend,
Waldo

* * * * *

From Margaret DeSilver

THE EVELYN SCOTT FUND
Margaret DeSilver, Treas
130 West 12th Street
New York 11, NY

[February 1952]

The purpose of this letter is to win your interest in the plight of Evelyn Scott—one of the small company of genuinely distinguished American writers of our time.  During the 1920s and 1930s, Evelyn Scott’s novels were widely known and greatly admired, although their uncompromising character kept them, with a few exceptions, off the “best seller” lists.  Their fate was that of a number of important books; within a few years of publications they were allowed to lapse from print.  This is a common calamity.  Most writers circumvent its effects by publishing new books, some, gain, die, thus rendering the date of their “rediscovery” unimportant to them.

Evelyn Scott is the wife of the English author John Metcalfe, and as a result of his “RAF” service which took them to Britain during the war, they have been stranded there ever since, and Evelyn Scott is under such economic duress that she feels strongly it is essential she return home and recover her American contacts.  She was victimized during the war, and requires practical help in a re-beginning that financially is from rock bottom.  We wish to raise a fund of money for her which will tide her over to a fresh start in her own country.  This is not proposed as a “charity” but as restitution for a form of neglect Americans cannot afford.  If offered as “charity” our aid will be spurned and rightly.  She has many books in her yet to be written.  What would have become of Henry James, after his early successes, without a private income?  What became of Melville when his books stopped selling?  That the creative suffer most in the aftermaths of wars is in the nature of things, but to save wherever we can those whose cultural outlook is unique and can never be duplicated is to the advantage of al who realize intrinsic values in art must be revived and preserved for the cultural health of the country.

Waldo Frank
Dawn Powell
Allen Tate
Lewis Gannett
John Dos Passos
Edmund Wilson

[Duplicated typed letter with signatures duplicated. The typed slip below was included with these letters:]

Recently both Miss Scott and Mr Metcalfe have been granted Six Months Fellowships at the Huntington-Hartford Foundation in Pacific Palisades, California to take effect October 1st.  Their immediate need, therefore, is for clothing, transportation and enough money to tide them over the intervening months.  Please help us.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

The Saturday Review of Literature
45 West 45th Street
New York 19, NY

February 4, 1952

Miss Margaret DeSilver
130 West 12th Street Apt 12-G
New York 11, New York

Dear Miss DeSilver:

I am heartily in sympathy with the idea of aiding Evelyn Scott in her time of trouble.  Last year I received several letters from her which distressed me.  They were not incoherent, but they betrayed what I thought was a mild, or perhaps a serious case of persecution complex.

I would be willing to sign the letter you suggest and am sending you a small check to start with.

Sincerely yours,
Harrison Smith

* * * * *

To John McGovern, Carnegie Fund

[130 West 12th Street, NYC]
[Late April 1952]

Dear Mr McGovern

I forwarded your questionnaire to Evelyn Scott in London, and she has filled it out, as you will observe, in elaborate detail.  Under the circumstances, her own troubles have naturally become something of an obsession with her, and she added to the explanation on the back of the questionnaire several pages of further notes which I am inclined to spare you but will gladly forward if you care to see them.

Of course you will in any case disregard Miss Scott’s request that you forward any possible sums through me.  Doubtless she hoped thus to facilitate the transfer, and did not understand, as I did from your letter to me, that your grant, if made, should be sent direct to her in London.

* * * * * 

To Evelyn Scott

Carnegie Fund of the Authors’ Club

May 6, 1952

Mrs Evelyn Scott
26 Belsize Crescent
London WW2 [sic]

Dear Mrs Scott:

Inclosed is cheque to your order for $500.00.

The trustees wish you to be informed that this Fund is not part of any group.  It is an independent Fund set up to relieve temporarily competent and experienced authors who are in emergency distress.

This cheque to you is greater than I had thought the trustees would approve since it is about 10% of the entire annual income of the Fund.

The grants usually run from $100 to $250.00.

Please sign and return the inclosed receipt.

Yours cordially,
John T McGovern
Chairman

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

June 3, 1952: Letter from Maggie to say Fund established and most of the money in.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

215 East 18th Street
January 26, 1953

Dear Mrs DeSilver

In the process of distributing to some of my friends the letters you sent me re Evelyn Scott’s fund, I somehow slipped up on making my own contribution—small as it is.  You will find ck for $25.00 which I hope will help a wee bit, added to what you now have.  I wish I could make it larger.

Unfortunately, the letters I sent out met with no response.  It is too bad.

You sure are a good Samaritan to have made it possible for Evelyn and Jack to return to their family here.  I shall see, them, of course, and if there is anything I can do to help, I shall do my best.

Sincerely yours,
[Dr] May R Mayers

* * * * *

List of Contributors to the Evelyn Scott Fund
(compiled by Margaret DeSilver)

May R Mayers, MD
John K Kutchens, Book Reviewer, New York Herald Tribune
Katherine Dunlap
Lewis Gannett
Witter Bynner
Allen Tate
William Carlos Williams (did not want name used)
Jean K Nevius
Sophie Kerr Underwood
David Davidson
A R Wylie
Henry Steele Commager
Van Wyck Brooks
Jerome Weidman
Elmer Rice
John Robert Coughlan
Max & Gladys Eastman
David & Jean Lerner
T S Matthews
Alice Port Tabor
Julian Gumperz, (Pres., Hillaire Foundation)
Irving Stone
Mrs W Murray Crane
Berry Fleming
Rita & Werner Cohn
Frances E Blum
Jane Hudson Davis
Rita Halle Kleeman
Dr Sol Wiener Ginsburg
Laura Wood Roper
Marjorie Griesser
Alfred E Cohn, MD
Vincent McHugh
Robert K Hass (Vice-President, Random House)
C Kempton (sent snide letter!!)
Inez Haynes Irwin
Harrison Smith (Saturday Review of Lit)
Louise Bogan
Luise M Sillcox (Author’s League of America)
Mrs James H Scheuer
Lewis Mumford
Lewis Galantiere
John Dos Passos
Dawn Powell
Waldo Frank
Edmund Wilson

* * * * *

Next week I will share details of the problems (and debts) associated with Jack’s ownership of his house at 26 Belsize Crescent in Hampstead, in London.

 

 

 

 

38. Paranoia?

In October 1951, while Evelyn was still wrestling with letters to Red Hook, Jigg found employment with the Free Europe Committee to establish a newsroom and be editor-in-chief of news at their new station in Munich, Radio Free Europe. In the immediate post-war climate, anti-communist propaganda was seen as extremely important and much of Radio Free Europe’s output was supported by the CIA and was aimed at countries behind the Iron Curtain. The family followed him to Munich, staying in the Hotel Regina Palast in Munich for some weeks before accommodation was found for them in late November in the little town of Grünwald in southern Bavaria, about 10 miles from Munich.

* * * * *

Charles Day1 to Evelyn Scott

Hickman, Williams & Company
Pig Iron, Ferro-Alloys, Coal, Coke
Arcade Building
St Louis 1

September 18, 1951

My dear Evelyn:

I was extremely sorry to get the news of the various troubles that you have been running into, particularly where you have not been able to satisfactorily contact Jig.  I get to New York about once a year, generally at the time of the Iron & Steel Institute Meeting which is as a rule the latter part of May in each year.  I have, therefore, taken the liberty of writing to the head of our New York Office, Norman Craig, and have asked him to look in the telephone book and see if Creighton Scott is listed in any of the several Red Hooks and particularly the one which seems to have connection with Rhinebeck, and to, if possible to find, give me the complete address.  This was done last week and I should be hearing something from him, providing he was in town at the time I wrote, before the end of this week. [remainder of letter missing]

1Charles Day was a childhood friend of Evelyn’s from Clarksville and had met Jigg some years earlier in New York City.

* * * * *


To Creighton Scott

Hickman, Williams & Company
Pig Iron, Ferro-Alloys, Coal, Coke

September 18, 1951

Mr Creighton Scott
Pitcher Lane
Red Hook, Duchess County, New York

My dear Creighton:

I suppose I should say “Jig”, as that is the only name by which I have ever known you.  You probably do not remember me, but I met you one evening, I believe in 1938, when you were living on Commerce Street in New York City with your mother.  I am an old friend of your mother’s, having known her many years ago when she spent considerable time in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her Gracey relatives..  I had completely lost track of her whereabouts, but did know that she was writing.  Finally in 1938 I was able to secure her address, and [on a trip to New York] we had dinner together.  It was after dinner that you came in and that is the first and only time that I have ever met you.

I wish to apologize for this letter, as you might think that it is presumptuous, but I do not know how else to handle it.  The facts are as follows:  A few days ago I received a letter from your mother, which was the first time that I had had any communication with her since the above mentioned trip to New York.  In this letter she stated that she had not been able to contact you or get any real word from you for quite a long period of time.  She felt that the reason for her not receiving answers to her numerous letters was a combination of your not receiving the letters or she not receiving your answers.  Knowing that I occasionally went to New York, the main purpose in writing me was that I try to get in touch with you when next in New York and to please give her some word as to how you, your wife and children are getting along.  As I do not anticipate being in New York for almost another year, I am writing you this so that you will know that your mother is desperately anxious to hear from you.

In case you see fit to acknowledge receipt of this letter, I would appreciate it very much.  At the time your mother wrote me her address was 26 Belsize Crescent, Hampstead, London NW3, England.

I have many times recalled the very pleasant evening that we had in New York, and have regretted that conditions have been such that I was unable to get to know you better.

With very best regards to you and your family, which I understand now is quite sizable, I am,

Sincerely

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Hickman, Williams & Company
Pig Iron, Ferro-Alloys, Coal, Coke

[September 19, 1951]

Dear Evelyn:

I wrote you yesterday, telling you that I had asked our New York Manager, Norman Craig, to endeavor to get Creighton’s address. I, this morning received a letter from Norman, advising me that he had located a Creighton Scott at Pitcher Lane, Red Hook, Duchess County, New York, and that the ‘phone number was 5391.  Norman put in a call to that number, but the line was busy.  He then later on got a report that the number did not answer.  He did not go beyond this, as he understood from me that what I wanted was the positive address.

I have, this morning, written Creighton a letter, copy of which I am enclosing.  Should I hear anything from him direct, I will certainly pass on the word immediately, but the main thing is that I sincerely trust that this letter will enable him to get in touch with you.  I sincerely hope the way I have handled this meets with your approval.  I can fully understand the strain this inability to get word has put on you.

My sincere regards.
Charles

* * * * *
To Charles Day

[Red Hook, New York]
September 25, 1951

Dear Mr Day–

Creighton is in Europe now, so I’ve taken the liberty of opening your letter to him.  It is too bad that you should have been troubled by Evelyn’s insatiable lust for news of us, in spite of our more or less regular letters to her.

You certainly needn’t apologise, however, for your letter, which is a much appreciated effort to be helpful.

If you wish, you may tell her that we are all about to go abroad to join Creighton, and that we are all well.

Sincerely,
Paula Scott

PS.  Not to England!  But she will soon know all about it from us direct.  And thanks again for your nice letter.

* * * * *
To Paula and Creighton Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
October 1, 1951

Darlings

Pavla’s letter, postmarked September 17th, was a joy to receive and the more so that she SIGNED IT PAVLA

Well, perhaps that was a “repeat”; and in a different category, as eager to help with the dismissal of confusion as to our precise identities on specific occasions, is Charles Day whose letter I hope Jig has received for I consider Charles really the “good egg” Jig first designated him in 1938.  Charles too has been doing his best to assure me that the Red Hook containing the Creighton Scotts and Pitcher Lane is where it is, and has written me that his personal friend Mr Norman Craig telephoned to Red Hook recently—the right Red Hook as you were in the phone book—and was sure it must be the Red Hook I was writing to, although the phone, busy a minute before, did not reply!—but we sometimes have such experiences because for one reason or another, we can’t answer when the phone begins.

I myself despise Rutherford after the way William Carlos Williams1 behaved—or appears to have—in not acknowledging letters as far as I know, and the reason I make a distinction between Pavla and him so marked as I do in not giving him the benefit of the doubt to the same extent is that we know the affections of Pavla and Jig are pure and they are loyal, and I would have supposed that Williams would try to see Jig whether or not I seemed to have received letters, since he knew us all when Jig was a child of six.

The asters are very much like the michaelmas daisies in our front yard, which are on a rampage of profusion this year, and almost conceal the flag-stones on the front terrace; but golden-rod I think has never been tried here, and though I think I have seen Queen Anne’s lace here by some other name, we have none.  A few white roses—little ones—bloomed, but not another rose—first time since I arrived that none here.  Is little Fredrick still among the family’s botanists  It will be further cause for rejoicing when any of them write to us of their own interests

I myself continue to be the world’s indefatigable correspondent, but this is partly circumstances and that awful handicap of distance.  I am now compiling for Margaret De Silver Alan Tate and “The National Institute of Arts and Letters” a precis of happenings since 19392, which have made it impossible, as yet for Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe to return to the States, to which the had proposed to return with the end of the war.  And I think I do not require Jig’s permission to say of him and his wife that both are talented and I am proud of them and that they are artists and I hope they will be enabled to retrieve their appropriate milieu as we ours.  I mention Jig’s paintings and The Muscovites very especially and as my precis includes the precise documentation of my citizen status and covers Brazil in brief summary as relevant,

Duchess County is said to have lovely landscape.  How I hope we will soon all see yourselves and the surroundings and see you both and the four children surrounded again by real friends.

Give Dad your love  We love the six of you very much  We do not change toward him

Evelyn=Mother

Williams was a resident of Rutherford, a former lover of Evelyn’s and the paediatrician who cared for Jigg as a young child.  Evelyn had written to ask him to visit the Scotts and report on their welfare:  he did not even acknowledge her request.

This 74-page single-spaced typescript, is a detailed account of events as Evelyn saw them from 1939 until the date of its writing in late 1951. It was prompted by a suggestion from Margaret DeSilver that she might start a fund to enable Evelyn and Jack to return to the United States.

* * * * *


From John Metcalfe’s diary:

October 2, 1951: E got letters from Charles Day enclosing one to her from Paula saying Jig was in Europe.

* * * * *

 

In the autumn of 1951, Evelyn began the writing of what became a 74-page single-spaced typed document, setting out iin some detail the forces she felt were preventing her and Jack from seeing their family and from getting their books published.  Each page was headed by a short paragraph:  the first reads

“To those with Pride in the Preservation of the Ingegrity of American and British Artists and Art”

with each succeeding heading longer than the preceeding one until the heading on the final page reads

“Precis indicative of libel, to be read AS SOON AS POSSIBLE BY CREIGHTON AND PAVLA SCOTT BY THE PERSONAL FRIENDS OF JOHN METCALFE AND EVELYN SCOTT AND, if possible, BY CYRIL KAY SCOTT whom Evelyn Scott is convinced has been victimized with Life Is Too Short, either in mss or when rushed to the printers during Mr Kay Scott’s illness which was preceeded by illness among the Wellmans, this tampering or tinkering probably illegal because unauthorized and done without consulting Mr Kay Scott himself respecting certain facts involving Evelyn Scott with him and their son, these facts so controverted by interpolations in the text of Mr Kay Scott recognizably not his, that the result has been as damaging to him as to any concerned, though most of all to Mr Creighton Scott and his wife, who, inference, in a list of “acknowledgements”, might easily have been misconstrued as having somehow sanctioned a villification of Evelyn Scott which also cannot be Mr Kay Scott’s and is a controversion of the truth as to the life-long affection of son for Mother and of Mother for son–all these things intollerable and compelling and necessitation protest here.  This precis is the condensation of a longer precist to be completed in consistence with this one, and its aim is the restoration of the integrity of American and British Artists——“

Inserted in the front of this document is a short note in Paula’s handwriting:  “This MS contains an enormous amount of inaccuracy and I can only caution any reader to check almost any statement in it.  [signed] Paula Scott”

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

October 7, 1951

Darling Jigeroo

Please you yourself acknowledge this letter as received so there will again be more than ever an occasion here as well for celebrating on that intangible basis which is all we can yet afford though we hope and hope you and Pavla Denise Fredrick Mathew Julia and perhaps your Dad can be with you then.

We love you both–Jig and Pavla–and we love the children all four and Cyril as our friend.  And we do so wish there would be a public end made of “war spites” and hypocrisies connected therewith, which probably have in some way interfered with normal communication or acted on it dissuasively there, very unjustly

Charles Day sent me the letter Pavla wrote for you about your being “in Europe”.  If it was so, it could have been no more than very temporary, and of course I realize that, ever since 1943-44, Jig has dodged our friends–love you just same Jig darling and in some measure grasp why, I think.

Pavla, in writing to Charles, said I would soon “hear all about it”–so here’s hoping we both do soon, whatever the explanation is.  Jiggie you are good sensitive and brilliant and Pavla is as fine and rare a human as even her mother thinks her–which is rating her high as she deserves.  I know you must be just as you were intrinsically.

And as Pavla has written twice since July 6th to us both and has written to Charles, it is now time we think for Jig himself to write to us of himself and permit us to love him more expressively and adequately

We love Pavla the more because we love Jiggeroo, and is the truth as to the children and Jig’s Dad.

Very very very very AFFECTIONATELY in every good sense of the word
Mother
Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe nee Elsie Dunn
to complete Jig’s own record

 * * * * *

To Frederick Scott1

November 4, 1951

Dear Freddy Scott

You’ll soon be nine.  Your mind already is so fine Denise should rightly say–“Like mine!”  Your Grandmother as poor as ever, still insisting now or never, again sends word from London town that ought to turn this paper brown, she’s so disgusted every year that she and Jack continue here when, by this time, they should be near enough to bring you birthday cake!.  Publish our books for good sense sake, is our demand each night and day!  Publish our books and see they sell, and we’ll help keep four children well, and lovingly observe them grow in cozy warmth without much snow.  We’ll call sometimes in Pitcher Lane, to make sure Daddy writes again and Mother writes like him and Mathew learns to really spell and little Julia doesn’t yell.  We’re glad that Mathew, too, ‘s at school to prove no Kay-Scott is a fool.

On days when Daddy has a rest we hope he’ll really paint with zest, draw you, Denise and Mathew’s hair, just as he did when you weren’t there.  When Mother wrote the queen anne’s lace, asters and golden-rod were all over the place.  Now leaves I guess are underfoot, the chimney’s cleaned and there’s not soot, and fires are lit in a few grates.  This winter you will NOT need skates, they say.  It won’t be cold before next may.  I hope this isn’t just a joke–if so, the jokers ought to choke!

The leaves are lying on the ground. You walk on them, they make a paper sound.  But the hydrangeas are green yet, so where you have them don’t forget we have them too, and think of you.  The rose-tree, oddly, didn’t bloom till now!  The shell-pink roses were a year ago, and this year there’s just one, bloomed in October and completely white!  How do plants alter in a night?

Last summer, I lost twenty teeth!  The dentist’s still a cause for grief!  False teeth don’t fit, so I feel bit!  I can’t buy any more just yet, so indoors I’m a prisoner yet!  It isn’t fair!  I look bizarre!  So don’t forget to brush your teeth.  They’re yours, at least–that’s some relief!

Of course you’re still collecting things, though Mother writes of healthy baseball flings.  Have you as yet tried to find shells of snails, near springs or even by old water pails?

When I think very much of someone now and then I see them anyway, and I saw Julia just as plain as plain, the other day.  At least, I thought so because Pavla too was there, combing a nice baby’s just-new hair.  Do you think it was she?  I wish you’d ever write to me!

Well, anyhow, Jack and myself both hope you have the birthday cake, and you yourself won’t have to wait on us to celebrate.  You’re nine, Denise will soon be eleven and Mathew six, and the years since I was with you all are seven and Jack has not so much as seen you yet–remember we don’t change, we love you all and don’t forget.

November could be dark as night and bright for us because you’re bright–and so are Mathew and Denise

So here’s a gift no one save you can see–it’s love the love of Jack and me

Your Grandmother Evelyn

This letter is best appreciated read aloud.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

 

November 25, 1951

Dear Darling Good Children

You will realize I am anxiously awaiting your opinion of my intention to protest on behalf of myself yourselves and with myself and yourselves and Jack’s on behalf of Cyril Kay Scott as the author, the unauthorized tinkering that must have gone on with Life Is Too Short1 when he was ill, Paul had just been ill, and the book was scheduled to go to press.

I think Jig’s Dad had written most of it in rough draft, but had omitted the Cercadinho section because of Escapade2 and that whoever got hold of it and went through it inserted some sleazy “pulp” writing which consisted in misinterpreting Cyril and myself by just reversing the truthful account of his own and my relations then and thereafter, and that this same interloper on the fine arts, being imperfectly informed as to the reason why Ambassador Morgan at the American Embassy in Rio first issued to Cyril for him and me and Jig the Emergency Passport accepting Cyril’s change of name, just concocted a stupid pulp thriller pseudo-“explanation”, which was an occasion for rumour, has steadily raised more and more unnecessary hell for all concerned every year.

The reason, as I said in the letter sent recently, for the issuance of this Passport was humane, as I had been seriously ill most of the time since Jig’s birth and had been operated on twice within a few weeks at the Presbyterian Mission Hospital in the interior of Pernambuco, where the operator was Dr Butler, a Mayo-trained surgeon who was associated with Clare Sifton’s Father, Mr Ginsburg, as I recall it—anyhow a Jewish name that is of that type, as Claire Sifton is the daughter of a converted Jew and a gentile mother.

Please also try to find some means of reading the precis of happenings since 1939 which has been sent to Margaret De Silver, who has generously tried to bestir someone to attempting the financing of our return to the States and the end of this impossible, ambiguous living in limbo, which has resulted from our penuriousness here, and which CANNOT be any further endured.

When you have read the precis please return it to Margaret who will not offer it for general circulate [sic], but will allow it to be read by a few friends who may be helpful in deciding what is to be done to counteract on our behalf an effect of the libel which has continued during eight damn bloody years.

I think the time has come to call a halt on desecrating art.  Jig’s Dad is certainly not the man who would inscribe “antic hay” on a tomb, and still more impossible would it have been to him to despoil the lives of the living he loves as he does all his children.  He could NOT have written the cheap passages in that book, and he could NOT have knowingly allowed them because of the degrading inferences that might be drawn and harm us all.  Please speak out  Mother

This is a recurring theme. Evelyn was convinced that the manuscript of Cyril’s autobiography had been tampered with at the publishers’.

Escapade also described the time in Cercadinho: her description was much different to Cyril’s.

* * * * *


To Creighton and Paula Scott

December 9, 1951

Darlings—

Margaret De Silver writes me she has sent you the precis I compiled as my own reference for use whenever I write my own realistic and completely authentic account of the life of an author.  I hope soon to have JIG’S OWN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT that both of you have received it.  As soon as Jig can write to my letters respecting important matters and run no risk of any interference or “economic” discouragement—due sometimes probably to communicating with a mother in England—ONE of our anxieties will considerably diminish.

Can Jig’s Dad be persuaded to give us his address and his wife’s.  I should so appreciate their advice on the matter of counteracting libel, and Cyril with his accustomed insight could probably advise me wisely on some procedure to take to stop this damn mystification about my Father’s estate, also.

Please give me both of you as soon as you can your opinion on the libel which has apparently resulted from the sort of interpolated writing in Life Is Too Short.  I KNOW CYRIL COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT HIMSELF—he is too intellectual and fastidious a man.

I hope Fredrick had a nice little birthday.  He is eight now and I like to think of the nice things one can do when eight years old—the age I was in Evansville.  Mathew is going to school earlier than I did.  We hope all our behaving and as bright as good as always, including Julia who is still competing with me on teeth.

Can Pavla write sometimes a little when just she and Julia are at home and can Jig paint or write seriously at any time whatever?

We hope the house is warm and that warm clothes are enough to more than “just get by on”.  I hope soon to go to the dentist again—thanks to Margaret and Charles Day, both having helped to eeke out.  I always wish for ten times as much for your six.  How wonderful to be again able to earn money with books.

Denise Fredrick Mathew and Julia I know love you both as we love you we love you we love you we love you PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE and see whether we can overcome impasses about mail.

Evelyn
to Jig Mother

 * * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

November 5, 1951: Letter from Maggie enclosing $25.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

December 11, 1951

Maggie darling—

I would not have supposed when Jack mailed you my letter of recent date, thanking you for the check and making for me some assurance that the precis is in the hands of both Jig and Pavla themselves, that I would be compelled, as I think I already am, to add this note.

I should think it would have become completely obvious to the veriest moron by now that Jig and Pavla do not of themselves invent situations which embarrass and distress them just as much as us, and yet this is what has happened, and is to me—my opinion—continued proof that their lives are being “directed” in some fashion or manner which just makes them serve as crook cover for whoever began libelling the Scott-Metcalfes when tampering was imposed on Cyril’s autobiography during the war, and misstatements were made so damningly disadvantageous to the author himself that it is NOT possible that he was consulted as to detail.

Something like a month ago Charles Day,whom I knew as a child and whom Jig and myself met in New York in 1938, Charles Day wrote to Jig at my request, recalling this meeting and asking for news of him and Pavla and the children to pass on to me.  I had actually asked Charles to go to Red Hook, Duchess County, to Pitcher Lane to see them both in person, because I had hoped then Charles might be going to New York and could do so without inconvenience.  But he was not able to go there as he has not been East, and as a makeshift he thought better than neglect, he asked some man who is his own friends, and an employee of the same firm, and who lives in New York, to telephone them—Jig and Pavla—at Red Hook and ask how they all were.

This friend—I have his name somewhere in letter files—ascertained they have a telephone—Creighton Scott Pitcher Lane, Red Hook, and he tried to phone and found the line busy, this, of course, suggesting someone was at home.  He repeated his phone call, but the line did not answer, and he finally gave it up, and reported this to Charles; who, also, had already written to Jig as I say.  And Charles, at about the same time he received news of his friend’s failure to connect satisfactorily with Red Hook, had a letter from Pavla in which she apologized for replying in Jig’s stead and said “Jig is abroad”.

This letter sent by Pavla to Charles Day in Saint Louis, was forwarded by Charles to me, and I had it, air mail, within a week of having already received a note from Pavla for me myself, which was the second note I have had from her since little Julia’s birth.  In fact there is every indication that she was writing to me of Red Hook and the health of the children and Jig’s commuting just when she was writing to Charles that Jig was elsewhere.

What are we to do?  It is as bad as dictator countries, to be cut of repeatedly this way from those human ties most essential to our normal lives even as are our books.

The object of the precis is to clear up every serious misunderstanding.  It is personal but its success in achieving the end we ourselves have in view would be a sign of peace here and with our own.  I don’t want to depend on Gladys, however good she has been comparatively in this respect, for an occasional very meager comment on my family even to know they still exist!

My own common sense and reason tells me they could NOT have chosen to be continually embroiled and involved in utter nonsense.  But I naturally am not cheered or assisted by allusions to Germany—the country I have never liked much—as if we were all a damn pack of “refugees” and had to go into “hiding” whenever an acquaintance phoned for an old friend.

I don’t Margaret darling know any more than you do how to be really certain Jig and Pavla themselves and not some bloody damn fake “censor” or “detective” “intelligence” holds mail up—but there we are!  Not a hand lifted yet to put a stop to pseudo “war” poppycock in the form of civil lives wrecked, and it began in 1939.

The Cyril Kay Scotts including Evelyn and John Metcalfe are NOT bloody damn criminals who must go skulking about the States, but the utter rottenness of these provocations to confusion and distress would make you think so if you did not know them.  I do NOT believe Jig is in Germany, or ever was,  And I do believe both are truthful—and that seeming inconsistencies is merely apparent.

Love—I hope you read this.  I don’t apologise, because I don’t think apologizing means a bloody thing.  But I know you must long for sense somewhere just as Jack and I do.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

December 12,1951

Dear Evelyn

The précis which I sent by registered mail by Jig in Red Hook, NY, at your request, was returned to me with a forwarding address “Hotel Regina-Palast, Maximilian Platz, Munich, Germany, and a typewritten sticker from the PO saying “return to Postmaster—domestic registered mail cannot be forwarded to a foreign country”.  So I have re-registered and mailed it to the address given.  OK?

Love
Margaret

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

December 27, 1951

Dear Maggie:

Thank you for sending on the temporary address.  I suppose Jig must have been “economically” compelled to go to Munich in connection with jobs.  It has been so invariable as yet that, whenever I have had anything important to tell Jig and Pavla there has been some sort of fool mix-up or shenanigan about mail that I cannot say I am surprised.  It was in what has become positive anticipation of such occurrences that I asked you whether you could find anyone to hand the precis to Jig in person, and as you mailed it instead, I suppose you could not.  I would not have troubled you with it at all, however, except that I hoped to forestall precisely what has happened.

I think it is probable that Pavla is still at Red Hook with the four children, and the whole situation is sickening, as Jig should be saved NOW from being just a damn stud-horse, and Pavla is NOT a brood-mare.  To hell with the way our lives have been made to fall out—it is senseless wreckage.

I will be for Jig FIRST as long as I live, but I am naturally affectionate in my feeling for our original Pavla and I don’t know what sort of tosh and bosh has been fed her that makes her do the sort of thing she did this time, write me mentioning Jig for the first time in literal years as “commuting” when he was writing Charles Day he was in Germany, as probably he either was already or was about to be.  I think she has been senselessly alarmed by some idea that mother is an obstacle of some sort, and this is NOT so.  I just think the shibboleths that go with too much progeny must be put an end to and something allowed both that is normal to their character and innate capacities as individuals—Jig first because of his proven talent having exceeded hers in proof, but taking her individual capacities as well into consideration as this bloody blasted damn breed thing has not allowed for her development OR his since 1943

I am somewhat bitter over Jig’s being forced “economically” to take German jobs just because Germany is NOT his milieu or that of any of us and Cyril our opinions—Jig Pavla Jack self—are diametrically the opposite of everything damn hoch-de-kaiser stood for.

Jig should NOT be in Munich, ever were it the old and far more interesting Munich known to many people fifty years ago.  Jig and Pavla are both visual artists primarily and although it is JIG WHO HAS THE INTELLECT there have also been proofs of Pavla’s sensitive quality.  It should have been FRANCE where they would be welcomed, and it strikes me as muddled folly that when Jig was there in 1949 he was reduced to nincompoop level by the sort of damn fools who now govern the French; probably the very ones who, in 1926, struck us all as too damn much like “ants” to be tolerable.

This is just opinion.  Remember I cannot see anyone, having no teeth and no money and having still to be reassured about last summer and its hefts, cannot yet leave the house.  And I do think it is a criminal commentary on the entire Scott-Metcalfe situation that an American artist and creative author of Jig’s proven ability, who has, also, proven ability in those practical ways that have to matter, though things should not have come to this, has to go to a German city to pick up bloody damn crumbs in order to support a family that would never have been of its present dimensions but for just the sort of bloody alternate sex starvation and over propagation bloody religious dictation imposes.  [ . . . ]

[Typed carbon copy, not signed.  Handwritten insertions.  UTK: 511217]

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

December 28, 1951

Mr Creighton Scott
Hotel Regina-Palast
Maximilian Platz
Munich, Germany

Darling Jigeroo

I hope this can be forwarded to you as I suppose this address is merely temporary and Jack and myself would so much like to see you at least for a week or so before you go home to the USA.

I also suppose I might have known should I send any mail of real importance to yourself and Pavla something would happen, if not what has, an obstacle of some sort to your receiving it.  I have this address because the precis was sent to you at Pitcher Lane for Pavla and yourself to read and send to your Dad.  I had first sent it to Margaret De Silver with the request that, since she almost never sees you and Pavla any more, she try to find someone to give it to you in person. She mailed it instead, probably having had too much to do to look for anyone and having, apparently, more faith in circumstances than I have; and the Postmaster at Red Hook returned it to her with the above address on it as the forwarding address for you.  And she at once sent it on to that address as she never should have since it represents about two months of work for me, off and on, of course, and hotel addresses are seldom more than temporary.

I can’t be annoyed with her because she has really saved the day with the help she has given respecting many of our problems in being still stranded here “economically”, damn it, but I wish she had thought twice, and the awful anxieties I have had ever since we have been here as a result of the lack of communication with you darling Jig, has been hell.

However, I will just hope that the hotel forwards it if necessary and you will receive it and write to tell me and say something of why you are in Germany and whether or not you can visit us here briefly as we hope and have a steamer rug please bring it as blankets are our present greatest need when anyone is here.

The precis was sent especially because of my opinion, which cannot be shaken, that somebody tampered with Cyril’s autobiography at those points involving ourselves before and since our divorce, and that this tampering, just before the book was completed, when first your stepbrother had been ill and Cyril had been to his bedside, then Cyril himself had been ill, was done without consultation with him and that he has never since been in a position to publically protest the incontestable great damage done him us and yourselves because he and his wife also are under “economic” duress.

This is far more than a “merely” personal issue and as long as I live I will do everything I can to smash “silencers”. It is my conjecture that I aroused enmity by reporting an intimidating janitor, in the early stages of the war, in New York, and that some very low minion of the police department made this a pretext for meddling with the lives of moral and intellectual superiors and somehow somebody on some other pretext which, since, has been carefully “white-washed” by utter scum, tried to “get even” that way.

* * * * *

Evelyn’s continuing obsession with sending her précis to Jigg and with the “tampering” of Cyril’s book continue into the following months, Not even a plan to bring her and Jack back to the United States would temper these concerns,

 

 

37. Two Red Hooks, false teeth and birth control

There are two places bearing the name Red Hook in New York state.  One is a small rural community in Dutchess County in the Hudson River valley, about 100 miles north of New York City.  The other is a district in Brooklyn, one of New York’s five boroughs.

In June 1951 Jigg and his family moved to a house on Pitcher Lane in Red Hook in Dutchess County. Cyril (who had now resumed his original name of Frederick Creighton Wellman) had been living in a retirement colony in Red Hook for some time, and it is possible that the family moved to be near him. Jigg was now working for the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and commuting, a long and expensive journey. A month after moving to Red Hook Jigg and Paula’s fourth child, Julia, was born in the neighbouring town of Rhinebeck.

As in previous chapters, most of these letters, which demonstrate the increasingly illogical nature of Evelyn’s thought processes, are carbon copies and therefore not signed.  

* * * * *

To Gladys Grant

26 Belsize Crescent
[July, 1951]

My dear Glad

I appreciate your longer letter which arrived this morning, though I wish its length were more informative as to facts and more cheerful as to yourselves and ourselves.  I just know you gave time to it and that time is precious, and the impulse good, although I go on disagreeing as unshakably as ever with what you say about people who have congenialities among you as we have among some old.  I don’t consider generations have anything to do with obstacles to rapprochements.  They are imposed mostly by conditions in which age is made to seem to figure, and doesn’t.

Yes, you have written me Jig is “recovering”.  You weren’t specific however.  And though you said he was back to normal weight and I hope he is and stays there I think 168 is normal for him and I would like to know if he is near that, and whether or not—and this is most important—he has lost football effect in front.  I decided he had some temporary swelling and this also showed in his hands and I have been very anxious ever since.  You see he had a slight murmur—not just during war but almost all his life—and that is what he was forbidden rough games.  And during the war his heart got jumpy partly by nervous anxiety having over-stimulated his pulse.  And he was told to drink beer to induce lethargy.  Well, I think beer is as bad as a too high blood count or as a quick pulse.   I consider it is a quack racket.

So do whenever you can let me know that he has lost football and lost puffy hands.  He was I think you will agree outwardly very nearly the perfect physical specimen when the war began.  He did not play games, but he fenced and even boxed.  He has still very healthy skin and always has had.

However, again, I don’t agree that I should just take it Jig and Pavla stopped writing because they didn’t want to write.  They were placed in such an unfair position that it seemed, for the moment, useless.  It is wicked the persistence with which dirty libellers  insist that we are merely disliked by our family of which they know nothing since before the war, and never knew much anyhow.  Again I say, why did Jig come to London?—because he cares for us.  Was Jig a hypocrite in being affectionate and good here?—NO!  And I’d like to smash whoever implies such a falsehood.

Yes, there may be congenial people here, but when you cannot leave the house because of lack of first dress, then stockings, and now teeth—to be fixed—you don’t meet anybody.  Beside the British are cold in some regards and you have to know them well, and Jack and I have been libelled here as well as there.

This country is church-run religious dilemma and the author of Escapade has not been published here since 1934.

DON’T DON’T DON’T please PLEASE send ham!  What good is damn belly-stuffing to us when we are deprived of every human reason for being.  Our appetites are good, but it is worse than wicked that so many Americans are incited to think Britain needs nothing but groceries, and culture going to put doesn’t matter.  It is a criminal misapprehension deliberately disseminated in the States.  At least six or seven friends appealed to for books and typewriter paper, have ignored appeal and sent grub.  NO.

Love  to yourself and Edgerton

  • * * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and Jack Metcalfe

Pitcher Lane
Red Hook, New York
July 7, 1951

Dear Evelyn and Jack—

Yesterday—July 6—a daughter was born to us, named Julia Swinburne Scott.  Vital statistics:  weight 7 lbs 12 oz, 19 inches long and perfectly formed.

We are all well though weary after a hectic time getting moved before the baby came.

Please stop worrying about mail—it all reaches us and registry is unnecessary and only harasses me with trips to the PO to sign, when I have plenty to do as is.  I’m just a lousy correspondent and that’s all.

Excuse horrid ink color and the scrawl—it’s hard to write in bed.

Love, Paula.

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

July 12, 1951: Heard from Pavla that she and Jig have another, – Julia. Born July 6th.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

July 25, 1951

Darlings

I go on being so grateful to Pavla for her letter telling me of Julia’s birth. She is, however, now nineteen days old and I will again be happier when somebody we know in the States has seen her mother and her father and herself and Denise Fredrick and Mathew and writes to me specific details as to them and their health and fortunes.

I consulted the map we have and located both Red Hook in Greater New York and Rhinebeck, which was the postmark on Pavla’s letter, and I do hope I am correct in supposing the Red Hook on the map is where Pavla is–though I couldn’t find Pitcher Lane, and just take it for granted she didn’t mean a hospital but the present family residence.

I think it was splendid to Pavla to write so soon, but I am naturally imaginatively sensitive to everything connected with Julia and her and Jig and the children, and I am also just hoping that Denise or perhaps Denise Fredrick and Mathew are visiting at Rhinebeck or somewhere in the country until Pavla can recuperate and Julia and her mother and father are settled comfortably in whatever home will be the family’s for the present.

I know New York summers and I hope the proximity of Red Hook to the water1 means at least some whiffs of sea air and some space outdoors for the children. I also do so hope my correspondence with you both will soon cease to be so one-sided. I’m not really a droning gran’mar, who goes over and over the same questions a million times! It is just that it is difficult to write natural letters until I am assured of natural and explicit replies that arrive here and are delivered to ourselves. If I had a letter once a month that really kept me aware of important happenings and was sometimes specific like this one of Pavla’s I would be much improved myself as a letter-writer. So I hope and hope you will see some mutual friends beside Gladys, who, as she invariably does, didn’t mention Julia, but bloody damn “advised” me not to inquire into the lives of the bloody damn “younger generation”.

Whenever our letter welcoming Julia is commented on, we will be very grateful to have the comment specific enough to leave no doubt that it went to the right address and that the address is not temporary.

Love again–I never want to pester with too many letters but I don’t really know what anybody there thinks about anything and I must assure myself that the non-Scotish Scotts–Jig’s Dad always included–know we are not indifferent but go toward them in spirit with whatever we have continually.

1This letter and several of those following is based on Evelyn’s assumption that Red Hook is somewhere in the greater New York area. Her 1920 edition of the Baedeker guide to New York showed a Red Hook in Brooklyn but not on the Hudson River.

Red Hook map

Modern map showing location of Red Hook [snazzzymaps.com]

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

[August 1951]

It would be best to know where Jig’s job and other normal information and stop fools gossip—please tell me

Darling Jig and Paula

The letters sent to Pitcher Lane may have reached you but I had been able to find on our old maps just one Red Hook, near Buttermilk Channel, Brooklyn, and thought you must be there, and Margaret De Silver wrote to Greater New York hoping to locate you and relieve your anxiety, and had no reply.  So I send this to Red Hook just discovered on another map as up near Rhinebeck and on the Rhinebeck, Philadelphia and Reading RR of 1910.  There is Red Hook and Upper Red Hook on this map, which is marked

I thought some friend going north in a car had mailed Pavla’s letter about Julia, and Gladys must be prompted by diabolists, because after I had carefully explained to her that Pitcher Lane was I thought in Brooklyn, she writes me “I have talked to Pavla on the phone and she has invited me to be Julia’s godmother”.  And not a word does Gladys say about my possibly erroneous conjecture, it was the most normal supposition to make as the map marked Catskills was not even noticed by me, so far from jobs did that locality seem.

It was so completely natural for Pavla writing in bed and not yet recovered from her confinement to have not thought of such a confusion as possible.  I love her and I love my son and I love her letter.  She may not have known—neither she nor Jig—that there were two goddam places—really three is the hell of it—Upper Red Hook, Red Hook, Dutchess County, and Red Hook Long Island.

But we are all sane so please do something at your end.

I won’t call Pavla “Paula” until there are no further complications about names changed.  I don’t see any real reason for it—none was ever given me—and endless torments must be ended and Pavla is the best name for writing.  Paula is a nothing name—female Paul I—nothing doing!  I’m sure Pavla can see this is the truth.

* * * * *

To May Mayers

[August 1951]

[Initial page[s] missing] And as I conclude those aspects of things which are not pleasant, I really must defend Jig and Pavla regarding birth-control, of which they know practically nothing.  It isn’t exactly a crime to have four children, as one set of extremists appear to suppose.  But on the other hand Pavla’s health and Jig’s are both strained at times by their responsibilities and their very love of the children for whom they would like to do their best.  They have immolated themselves for their children financially and have lived like monks and nuns at times—it is no exaggeration.  We know what they have endured.  They do not say this but I say it as spectator they have no guile.  And though you yourself—please not my dear May—say “I can’t believe Jig and Pavla do not know all there is to know about birth-control”, I wish to add that I very much doubt they do, little though it is.

When I was as young and younger than they “birth-control” was being advocated as you yourself know by conscientious and really “advanced thinkers”—though we don’t like the cliche label.  And as I had been ill in Brazil during most of five years and had a very painful childbirth and an operation afterward which was not entirely successful, I felt on returning to the States that I had a right to forestall any possibility of having further children who would be bound to suffer from my deteriorated health and the fact that we were again in the arts and poor.  But I never got any information that really could be called “birth-control”.  It should be medically backed as civilized sense public and legal and whatever doctors don’t know they should be allowed to learn.  As you know I had further sewings-up in the States and these may have resulted in what was tantamount to “birth-control”.  But I never got any candid advice anywhere, except once here in England when I was ill and discussed these things with Mr Norman Haire1 who believes as I do but had not any really guaranteed dependable “birth-control” knowledge, just conjecture based on experiments in Holland.   I asked every doctor I know—and though I did not know you when I first came to New York—I doubt you could or would have been any more informative as New York did regard birth-control information as illegal and its dissemination punishable—and this to me proved that New York was as barbaric as the Brazilian sertac.  I said so in 1921 and I say so again in 1951 in defence of mothers and fathers.

To me, the sort of pious vermin who sit about deploring normal sex lives and condemning families to starvation unless both parents are either monks or nuns or profligate, ought to be shot.  That is the essence of anti-birth control and it is crime.  I would not send people to jail for distributing birth-control but jail any doctor who withheld birth-control information were I the legal arbiter of my country.

Jack’s best and mine to the Mayers and especially May—especially all of you is how I feel.

1Evelyn’s gynaecologist

* * * * *

To May Mayers

August 6, 1951

Dear May

I think we have just had an orgy of rotten cross-purpose mail.

I was obliged to allow my teeth to get in bad condition because I lacked clothes shoes stockings—one summer it was one thing, on another,—and because it is humiliating in an atmosphere of rah-bottom-ing all the time admit to the lack of such necessities as Jack and I have had to, every so often.  The teeth were loose and I often shifted most of them with my finger.  But when it came to pulling, there was more difficulty.  They were hard to pull, and at moments no amount of whatever they use in the gums effected the normal deadening.  And when finally this was really achieved—and May will remember the codeine that wouldn’t work, though it was many years since I sometimes had to take syrup of codeine in Brazil when I was ill–when the essential deadening of pain was accomplished, I was given a temporary plate that as a fit is the cat’s pyjamas.

It was cast from the teeth that were all loose and out of their natural position.  I originally had regular teeth.  The plate first made in Santa Fe for two front that abscessed fell and broke and always dangled a little.  The second plate made because it broke didn’t fit and I never wore it if I could help it.  But the effect was approximately that of my originally nice teeth which were often remarked as I grew up as like those of my father the late Seely Dunn, whose teeth were really noted as perfection—as anybody who knew him thirty years ago and they will confirm this.

This bloody plate makes me nearly vomit—not aesthetically but literally—it is such a bad fit.  But is it probably a job-lot “type” of plate and I am now determined that the dentist make the permanent plate disregarding the teeth he pulled—of which he showed me the marks on the misfit, as if that proved anything.  It certainly explains the misfit.

So now I am as shut up as ever, because, damn it, I have no teeth except a few underpinnings below.

I tell you because of your public health position and your real interest in some means of improving public services without kow-towing to damn job-lotters.

The other issue I have in mind is birth-control which just must be made legally available and guaranteed as authentic in the States.  You know the love one has for one’s family insists on it, and not that maligning reverse dirty opponents try to put forward as argument—decent normal humans should not be asked to “choose” between trappist sanctums1, like Tom Merton’s, and normal sex life conjugal or not.  Has anybody recently resumed agitation for voluntary birth-control—voluntary birth-control to save the parents.  Parents have some rights in the world, or would if criminals didn’t butt in.  Jig and Pavla love Julia and so do we.  We don’t butt in, like crooks.  We would like to see them all more than just surviving.  It may sound nice to be a bloody “family tree” but individuals mean most and adult individuals must be first in decisions.  After all I love Jig and Pavla as well as Denise Fredrick Mathew and Julia and Jig is in the situation of one who must perform Herculean labours—he is not a “Hercules” and doesn’t wish to appear one.  This is for the doctor to do something about we think and there were some disinterested enough to really care at one time.  Here’s hoping.  Accidental sterilization I know of, and no harm results for women.  Voluntary however and not tote imposed.

Pavla is not a cow her health is the first consideration and her decision but the public issue is for everyone.  [Remainder of letter missing]

This must be a reference to the fact that Thomas Merton had entered a Trappist monastery

 

* * * * *

To Bernice Elliott

August 6, 1951

Dear Bernice

This is just a note to ask you to please try again to contact Creighton and Pavla and the four children.  You do not know whether Pavla received your letter or not, and we are almost certain she did not.

She and Jig were in a flat too small for three children and they moved soon before the birth of their second daughter and fourth child, Julia Swinburne Scott.

They are now in Pitcher Lane Red Hook New York which I think as I have consulted an old map we have, is in Brooklyn near Buttermilk Channel as there is a locality there so named and I can find no other in New York or in New York State.  I am almost sure I am correct and to have you see them and tell me precisely everything as to how they are and what the baby and the three older children are like and how all are as to health and this very especially—Jig normal weight and Pavla strong we hope—would be the most blessed gift you could bring—even more blessed than typewriter paper which we need and I would have asked you to bring but for baggage space.

Do do see them once for me please as an act of genuine friendship.

The best of good voyages on the best of good ships

Affectionately

* * * * *

To Bernice Elliott

August 6, 1951

Dear Bernice,

To say it is upsetting you sailed for Britain just at this time and made no further effort to contact Pavla and Jig when you knew you were to see me is disturbing even though you have written me you think libel at the bottom of rotten interferences with my communications.

Well, I hope you realize the family is, also, victimized financially, to some extent, by the fact that legal full information on birth-control guaranteed to be safe and certain is not yet available in the States as it should be, so that our bloody government leaves normal humans no choice between trappist sanctuaries and families beyond their means, I regard it as criminal that birth-control has yet to be legally accepted—it MUST BE.

I have no teeth whatever at present.  They were all pulled out but a few “pins” last month and the temporary plate is just partly ready and doesn’t fit at that, and I just hope you will not have a toothless hostess added to the shock of a white-haired transformation I mind less when you arrive here.

Would you like to stay in the “spare” room?  We would be pleased and the two pounds ten a week we have to charge for it not to get in a worse jam financially is probably about what rooms cost here.  The “festival”1 has not pursued us, but may you when looking for a hospice and you can be moderately comfortable here until you sail if you like and perhaps write some—can have the use of the kitchen and sometimes “chip” in for dinner which Jack likes to cook in recent years.

I am having precisely the same difficulties in getting anybody to show any human interest in my family at Pitcher Lane Red Hook New York, as in Rutherford, from which they moved because the flat was too small.  But it is possible when you yourself return to the States you can do something to SMASH SILENCE which imposes false aspects on natural human situations.  I hate people who are silent.  And I assure you Pavla and Jig are as opposed to silence as I am.  “Religion”—so-called—c’est de la merde!  Ca PU!  It is probably, in part, a consequence of my misguided attempt to become a Catholic, that this whole bloody mystery about nothing was started.  It reeks.  It is rotten.

This is my comment on poor Tom Merton and that ghoul’s hole he must be in.  I think most double entrendre unjustified, but I must say “trappist” sounds to me like short for “trapped”.  Jig probably agrees.  We saw the outskirts of that resort of tourists where they “commune with God”, and I can’t express how sleazy such a habit is.  And yet we are both convinced that Tom himself is good and genuine in consistence with his character when a child.

We like lovingness and goodness that is not contingent on politics and is the natural disposition of the most genuine of the writers and painters known to us—down and out is damn brutes.  We won’t be associated with brutes.

Evelyn

1The 1951 Festival of Britain was drawing large numbers to London, many of whom found accommodation in private rooms.

* * * * *

To Paula and Creighton Scott

August 6, 1951

I send the carbon of this to Greater New York so there will be no excuse for anything save straight delivery to the addresses.  Love Mother

Darling Jig and Pavla

We think continually of both of you and of the now four children dear to us, too, and of the lightening of your financial burdens and the best means of attaining this solution of your personal problems.

We would so like to know specifically which of my letters you have received.  One or two had gone to Rutherford shortly before you moved.  And I have already written twice in answer to Pavla’s letter announcing Julia’s birth and well-being and complete normality—which with the non-Scotish Scotts means bright too, young though she still is.

I was obliged to postpone pulling or filling teeth until now because of the need to restore my mangled book, and this past month has been spent in pulling teeth that, though hard to pull, had been so loose I moved them with my finger.  Most are now gone and I have been given a horrible temporary plate which is gummy doesn’t fit and makes me almost vomit whenever I try to wear it.  I can’t see why the dentist took an impression of teeth that were all out of natural place in order to have this cast.  It seems that is State procedure1 and it is rotten.  Every summer, since 1944, has been wasted indoors to some extent because of lack of clothes, lack of shoes etc, and now I have enough of these to appear publically I have no teeth whatever for the time—just a few under-pinnings in the lower jaw.  The casting should be made again and disregard these displaced pulled teeth—what temporary is based on.  It is inanity.  I had the teeth of Seely Dunn my late father and these were noted as even and pretty.  So I hope this evidence of London’s myopia in dentistry will soon be controverted by some good sense respecting dentures.

Now I know August is the month2 Pavla has her birthday—the birthday I have hoped with Jack to celebrate ever since 1944—preferably there with you both and the four children.  But as we aren’t there yet—damn it!—I am going to ask Pavla to celebrate with us here bye in the most unique sense by doing her best to supply us personally with copies of Jig’s best poems and with any poetry of her own she has been writing.

We love you and so hope the move is from conformity to small towns, and that there will soon be an end of anxieties.

It appears Evelyn’s dentistry was done under the auspices of the newly-created National Health Service.
Paula’s birthday was in September.

* * * * *

To Gladys Grant

August 28, 1951

Dear Gladys:

I cannot  see what makes everybody who writes to us behave if there were a “skeleton” in our family when the one “skeleton” I know of is that until the war we were all recognized and established in the arts.

Are you bitten by this dead-eye-dick misinterpretation of every ordinary thing?—that’s the effect you give and that’s why we so often seem to disagree my dear Glad.

In the letter you were answering when you wrote on August the 8th, I mentioned Pitcher Lane Red Hook as the address of Jig and Pavla and said that I conjectured it to be on Long Island, as the one Red Hook I had then discovered on the maps of our old Atlas—it’s a Baedeker but we so use it and it is of 1910—the only one I had then discovered is on Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn.  As I took this to be the case, I also construed the postmark Rhinebeck, on Pavla’s letter about Julia as indicative of the fact that she must have given it to a friend with a car who lived up state where it was mailed.  And that she was not more explicit was normal of course, as she and Jig had just moved before her confinement and she was still in bed, and Jig had his job and three children as well as Julia to look after.

But I do wonder my dear Glad that you didn’t correct me if I am wrong, as I may be, because I have not found, on a map labelled “Catskills”—at which I had not glanced because I had already found Rhinebeck on the other map and it is not in the Catskills, which are far from jobs,—I have now found both a Red Hook and an Upper Red Hook on a railway that was once the Rhinebeck Reading Philadelphia and New England.  I have written six letters to Red Hook under the impression that it was in Brooklyn and one and maybe two were sent to “Greater New York”, and now I don’t know which were received, if any.  And I would not have looked through the maps again, had not Charlotte written me a terse postcard—her single acknowledgement of several letters sent to Sullivan Street NY which were about Julia and the family—just these words:  “Red Hook (Duchess County) congratulations”.

Is Red Hook in Duchess County?—second Red Hook, I mean.  Do you know anything in detail about them or their surroundings now?  Has Jig a job—we hope so.  We and most of all I here, have been in a hell of anxiety about Jig and Pavla their health and money for the four.

Why can’t people with common sense see that by falling for rot of which rumours that isolate us and my family are a part, they virtually hand us all over to criminal “police protection” which should be shot.  I know Jig is “nominally” free to write to me and so is Pavla, but actually every detail that has happened in their move to Red Hook is a repetition of the happenings of 1946 when Mathew was born, and they were broke and had no house.  And among the many things I don’t forget, is the fact that kuklux terrorists were active in North Carolina when they were there with Cyril.  And that even in the north Jig has had two experiences of intimidation and been rescued by his boss.

Churchiness has become antipathies to me so I am rather sorry to hear you will be a “godmother” but if Julia and her parents get any comfort out of it—tant millieur, though I doubt it.

Love to them and yourself.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

August 29, 1951

Darling Darling Darling Darlings

Please for humanity’s sake and ours relieve my anxiety about you as much as you can NOW.

I have sent six letters to Red Hook Greater NY—Buttermilk Channel Brooklyn—told several people I thought you had moved there—Margaret De Silver among them—and now have a letter from Charlotte—or rather just a postcard—in which she says merely

Red Hook Duchess County NY

I think this is wrong and my distress is acute.  I think bilgey and wicked rackets in America spread false rumours and attempt to divide families in this criminal way.

Please reply and explain please we love you so I think there are factions there to indite and impeach.

This post office thing has got too much to endure.

* * * * *

To Paula and Creighton Scott

August 29, 1951

Darling Darling Pavla and Jig

Are you at Red Hook Brooklyn or Red Hook Duchess County.  I have already mailed six letters to Red Hook NY one of them with the addition of “Greater” to New York and two relative to Pavla’s birthday and all to Jig’s health and Julia.

Please please please please elucidate the address.  That Pavla’s letter was postmarked Rhinebeck1 has added to confusion, because we cannot find any Red Hook near there on the maps we have—and if there are two in New York we should know which and how to distinguish them.

Charlotte Wilder sent Duchess County and I am now worried more than ever as she doesn’t explain why she thinks so—just your address with Duchess County added.

Lovingly, oh we do love you

1Rhinebeck is about 7 miles from Red Hook.  Julia was born in Rhinebeck and the letter Evelyn is referring to was posted from there.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

September 9, 1951

Darling darlings

Please do something about assuring me there is no more confusion of addresses.  Is your Red Hook in Duchess County?  You say you receive my mail and I don’t receive all yours, but how the hell do you know whether you receive all mine or not—I don’t know because your replies are not yet SPECIFIC ENOUGH.

I am worrying every minute about the health of all six, and though it may be said I don’t help by worrying, there is a limit to the applicableness of that comment.

You know the history of thefts that began with than damn medical article and pictures and paintings by Jig and by Cyril and Merton and others, and the theft of the mss of my French Revolution novel in Canada.  I think hanging and electrocution and guillotining would serve them right.

I don’t yet know specifically where to lay the blame, but you also know if you have all my letters about the extent to which clothes, stockings, shoes etc have kept me housebound year after year; and though Diana Winslow’s gift of a suit and coat this years coincided with shoes and enough stockings to go out in, the tooth-pulling and the plates that don’t fit have had the same effect as last-year’s lack of apparel.  So there is no time when anything could have been stolen except during those seven weeks of tooth-pulling and plate-fitting.  I had to go out then, and Jack had an extra lock put on the front door.  But one day I forgot the extra one and left just one on, so perhaps that is when it was.  The other was secure, however, and it is atrocious.  I wish the Governments would fall wherever thieving is tolerated, as it undoubtedly was in New York and in Canada during the war.

 

Have you any garden in the new place?  I have written Paula of the really lovely spring bloom in front of this house, prettier this year than ever before; and now one of the trees which never bore anything before—the small trees are cherry—has suddenly changed its sex and begun to bear plums profusely.  It was without any fruit last year, whereas last year the roses and hydrangeas and privet were really beautify, and this year not any flowers worthy of mention on anything.

Love and hope to six adult and young non-Scotish Scotts.

* * * * *

To Gladys Grant

September 11, 1951

Dear Glad,

Your gift of paper arrived and we are very pleased and grateful, and that I do not use it here is really a compliment as the quality of it and the parcel Charlotte sent at the same time are so nice I would like to have Jack complete his book on them should it be possible.

Won’t you please tell me whether Jig and Pavla are near Rhinebeck or not?  Is it the Red Hook with the Pitcher Lane, and is there an Upper Red Hook and a Red Hook such as shows on my map of the Catskills?

If people are “mysterious” about mail or about their location, it is just the proof of everything I say about Jig and Pavla’s victimization by those who have libelled me and Cyril and Jack and probably Joe and Margué.  I should think anybody would see this was the case.  It is the sort of senseless hushiness which accompanied intimidation in my own experience of it in Grove Street in 1939.  I was definitely intimidated, and when I complained was at once inundated by “mystification”.  I thought it was the war, but after all, the war can’t go on forever and should never have done so in that guise.

Jig and Pavla and Cyril are the most candid people I know and Manly Wellman in that respect is like them.  I have never met anybody less given to dissembling unless it be Jack and myself and I must have normal straight-forward information for their good.

Dont say I “blame” you when I reiterate these protests.  I don’t, I just think if there is any more suggested hushiness it must must MUST be defied.

* * * * *

To Julia Scott

September 11, 1951

Dear Julia1

When Denise was just born I went to New York to see her and thought she was the nicest baby I’d held in my arms since Jig was her age and size.  And though I wasn’t in Nyack or the States, but in Canada, when Fredrick and Mathew were born–and I don’t remember for certain whether Fredrick was born in Nyack like Mathew or in New York–I soon went from Canada to see Fredrick and though he was the nicest little boy I’d ever carried in my arms since Jig, also, was one year and ten months old–about.  When Mathew was born, although myself and step-Gran’pa Jack were already stuck here in England and couldn’t go home to see him as Grandfather Scott probably did, Mrs Grant wrote me that Mathew was the nicest baby she had seen for a long time and that he looks very like Jig when his age, and this, you may be sure, pleased me greatly.  And now you are born, and the last of the four non-Scotish Scotts, I can’t think of little nicer than to be able to pick you up and kiss you on the brow and then kiss your sister and both your brothers on the brow as well.

Perhaps Mother and Father will preserve this until you are old enough to write the letter we have always hoped Denise and Fredrick and Mathew would send us.  And that they will send it, we continue to hope.  But when I think of you and the long lives and happy lives we trust all four will have, I feel I am gazing into the furthest future we personally can envisage, because you, being the youngest, though you won’t have a longer life than the rest, will probably outlive everyone and outlive all the silliness most people regard, today, as “very new”.  So your letter, when it comes, should be the wisest letter I ever had.

Ask Mother to tell me the sort of eyes and nose you have, the sort of hair and chin, and how fast you grow.  And don’t forget, as you begin to acquire teeth, that your Grandmother Evelyn and yourself were toothless at precisely the same time.

Your teeth will be the prettiest of us two, but all the family’s teeth are pretty I hear, and even mine will do very nicely for telling you again “we love you”.

Julia was 2 months old

* * * * *

It was clear that there was no way Jack and Evelyn would be able to find the money to return to the United States.  Next week we learn about the financial burden that was the house at No 26 and the effect it had on their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36. Isolation

Evelyn and Jack were enduring a life of bleak poverty in post-war London, and her letters convey their difficulties. These letters are lengthy and sometimes incoherent, possibly because Evelyn, alone all day and unable to go out due to her proclaimed lack of suitable clothing, filled the time by doing what she knew best, writing.

A search of the various collections yielded only two letters dating from 1950.. Judging by the very large number of surviving letters from 1951 and 1952, it is fair to assume that she wrote a similar number in 1950.  After Evelyn’s death, Jack destroyed a large quantity of her documents because he could not bear to see her writing on anything:  it is likely that this included many of the letters she wrote in 1950.

The following sequence is a very small selection of the letters written during the first half of 1951.  These letters are lengthy, repetitive and sometimes incoherent, and have been heavily edited to reduce repetition.  Evelyn’s language becomes increasingly bizarre, reflecting her growing conviction that her letters were being intercepted by political forces, with the specific aim of keeping her from her family. In his unpublished memoir, Confessions of an American Boy, Jigg refers to his mother’s overweening self-obsession, to the extent that she was incapable of understanding or responding to another’s needs or point of view. It appears she could not comprehend that someone to whom she wrote would choose not to respond to her letters: ergo unanswered letters were being intercepted for vague political reasons based, partly, on the fact that she and Jack remain in London even though she is an American citizen.

The first letter picks up from shortly after Jig’s visit to London in 1950.  The family had been living  in Rutherford, New Jersey since November 1949:  it just happened that a former lover of Evelyn’s, William Carlos Williams,  a well-regarded poet and a  paediatrician who had looked after Jigg when he was a small child, also lived in Rutherford.  It is not clear whether Jigg knew this when the family moved, but Evelyn took the opportunity to ask her former lover to visit the family:  Williams never responded to her pleas. 

Evelyn kept carbon copies of most of her correspondence, including the letters in the collection.  As a result, very few of them were signed by her.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

For Pavla to forward to Creighton Scott–ask Pavla to smile at the length I could never write short letters. It’s because there is so much to say

26 Belsize Crescent
March 19, 1950

Darling Jig

Jack and myself do so hope and hope and hope your return to London promised on November 26th will be soon.

Your visit of November was, as I have written to Pavla, the brightest spot of the last bloody five years, since the damn war was supposed to end. And to find you so like your original self in your interests and outgoingness filled us with an optimism of which we were becoming almost incapable.  You revived up and the good job you made of things when you were here can’t be undone.  However, even if that hadn’t happened, we will never change toward yourself and Pavla and the children and your art and her talent.

We love you Jig darling we love Pavla-Paula1 (I am really anxious for her to write as Pavla because of Paula Snelling, Pavla is more completely her name to us).  We think politicians scum but there are the exceptions there too so we hope the Conservatives will get their majority and tell the truth about this and bloody that in a world which has got so rotten it could hardly be more so.

Have you been able to see any of the France you knew when you were a child?  We think of what a really good and delightful and unique child you were Creighton-Jig darling when we were at Banyuls and Collioure, yourself and myself and Merton, and when you were with myself and Jack at Cassis-sur-mer and in Algeria with us.

English spring is pleasant.  Do try it please.

1Paula was born in a Spanish-speaking part of New Mexico and was named Pavli, the Spanish form of Paula. She was known as Pavli Scott until it became too burdensome to have to explain the origin of her name.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
January 1, 1951

Please please send me your address should you move as I need and must really have it for the Consulate here whenever I do there.  Please don’t throw me back on Gladys1 I don’t like asking favours and Jack and I are with Jig as Cyril is–our address in the States is Jig’s

Darling Jig

This is for Pavla too and I send with this in one envelope the birthday letter for Mathew2 which you will see is one of the jingles from the juvenile by me of which I still have one copy.  I hope Mathew will like both the jingle that goes with the book and the illustrations for the impromptu jingles not to be included.

We don’t yet know whether at least three-quarters of our mail to the States has ever been received by anybody.  And though during the visit of 1949 here, Jig said he “thought” “most” of the letters we had sent there to yourselves were received there was no way of checking on it and we had no real opportunity to discuss particular letters and identify them by content–especially as this sort of thing has been going on continuously since 1944.

I continue to think people we all used to know have been monsters–whatever their reason–in none of them so far having made so much as one gesture toward seeing Jig and Pavla and the children–all five of you–personally and giving me some first-hand information, as there are a few whose mail apparently is not stopped or obstructed–something that leads me to wonder if I have not–ever since I complained about the results of phoney–I think–“inquiries” into “subversiveness” in 1939–been on some kind of damn libellous “list”.  That is the single explanation that occurs to me of mail that apparently does get here in a few selected instances and not others.

We were given just a sketchy idea of events between 1944 and 1949, and when on top of that no word came from France after Jig promised he would be here again in two weeks, the impact has been a disaster to everything but love.  We love him and I love every one of you and we both really love Cyril as the best friend we ever had yet, and just discount whatever appears to have resulted in a breech we can’t yet elucidate.

I know we are every one sane and good individuals, and until dirty war politics impinged on our lives our lives were full of interest and achievement.  Please help to lift and remove the bann on both plain speaking and art, for we have every proof that there must be one.

We love you and our love is really indestructible but common humanity insists we know how rotten silence was imposed on our free human interchanges. We are not politicians but artists who think–and until thinking is re-encouraged in the States Civil

1Evelyn had been using Gladys Grant’s New Jersey address as her “permanent” US address. This request may have been another ploy to persuade Jigg to answer her letters.

2Matthew’s birthday was 26th January, when he would be 6 years old.

 

* * * * *

To May Mayers1

January 8, 1951

My dear May

This is to thank you and Lew for your Christmas gift.  This and my hope that you would see Jig and Pavla in person and relieve my mind respecting them are of great importance to me.

This you will grasp is to me very significant.   When Jig was here in November 1949 his physical aspect was so altered I would hardly have known my own son, though just five years had elapsed since I was in Tappan with him and Pavla.  And though the atmosphere during his five days in this house was affectionate and genial, he was plainly somewhat constrained in his allusions to the injustices and humiliations he and Pavla, who are just innocents, have had to endure since their marriage.

He is good and we love him and I know he is not changed actually.  But as I have said to many people, there is everything in my own experience to indicate that the books of Evelyn Scott were “listed”—perhaps by the Government—as not conducive to that bovine frame of mind unscrupulous commerce encourages2, and although the utmost quibbling could never discover anything “suspect” he and Pavla have actually suffered something on my behalf.

You, May, are the medico, and an advocate of the normal and perhaps you will tell me why you think Jig, who when I saw him in 1944, was muscular and in good condition as to weight should suddenly have gotten stout, and why even his nose didn’t look like Cyril’s as it always has, and why his very expression of the eyes was changed.  The very colour of his eyes has changed and their very shape—they were unusually large for a man, blue in which grey predominated and were deep set and very pretty and they are now blue—pure blue—or were in 1949—and do not give an impression of being deep-set or large, just average.  Could any medical monkeying in the Army have done this?  If so they are criminal fools.

Please tell me whatever you can you and Lew May my dear.
Our love

1May Mayers was introduced to Evelyn by Gladys Grant and was a long-term and loyal friend. She was a physician,working at Mt Sinai Hospital in New York and was often the recipient of Evelyn’s theories about medical issues.

 

2Evelyn was highly contemptuous of books which she perceived as having been written for financial return, not as “art”.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

214 East 18th Street, NYC
January 12, 1951

Evelyn dear

Your letter of Dec 11th has just been forwarded to me from Mt Sinai Hospital.  I regret to say that I received your previous letter, but I was travelling thru the State and so busy I did not get to answer it.  I

It seems too bad that somehow your contacts and correspondence with Jig has been so intermittent and unsatisfactory.  At such long distance I am inclined to think this is almost inevitable.  But it makes me sad.  I see no way to intrude into this situation, however.  I wish that Jig would keep you in equally close touch with his affairs. But you know how it is Evelyn, some people are better at that sort of thing than others.  I am sure he thinks of you a lot even when he doesn’t get down to the business of writing.

I hope the new year will somehow get you and Jack in the clear.  I wish you were not so far away.

Our best to you both
Love
May

* * * * *

To Gladys Grant

Scotch Plains, NJ
January 15, 1951

My dear Gladys

Jack and myself were really glad to have your letter, and we think of you as we do of Dudley on every occasion likely to revive affectionate associations.

But we continue to be troubled by a constraint in your correspondence which we do not blame you yourself for, but which we must construe as a commentary on rotten conditions in the States.

I haven’t asked you to do anything for us since spring 1950–almost a year, now.  But notwithstanding your saying “I can’t do any of the things you want me to”, I am now asking you something again, because I think as my requests are every one sane normal human and reasonable, if you “can’t” execute them, it’s time you, too, did something to assist to make it possible for normal Americans to carry on normally with their lives and careers.

We have not yet ceased to have egregious criminal interferences with mail.  I think there has to be a check on it and this probably to take the form of more “police” trial.

I cannot even conjecture any reason why it is we yet have been unable to account for so many of our letters and have had no acknowledgement that they were received.  It is either the fault of supposed authorities here or there, but that phoney “probing” in the States, of which I had that sample so often sanctioned, leads us to infer the fault is more there than here.

Pavla has written me many letters I have never received though I did receive a single note sent here in October 1950, which advised me of Jig’s being home.  And as I have had very few specific acknowledgements of any letters sent to them and to other friends during the year, I am still in the predicament of not knowing whether to condemn the mishandling of mail by postal authorities as the cause of all this, or whether in some instances, people have not replied because they were otherwise badgered.

Can you see Pavla and Jig now?  I hope so.  I can’t see any sane sensible reason why an old friend of the family living just a short journey from Rutherford should find it difficult,, or even if it is, why that friend–who all her life has been humane and generous, should not be willing to make the effort to again relieve our minds completely.

In 1944, in bloody damn Tappan, he was, it was obvious to me, already being made alarming respecting myself and Cyril and Jack and our friends, and what I gather to have been intimations that we were blacklisted for Government inquiry as “subversive” because we do not write sheep-fold “literature” for low-level commerce and nincompoop “labour”.  And as the impression I had then was even more pronouncedly my own in 1949, and I also know he and Pavla must have been “pushed around” to some extent–perhaps in connection with us and Jack’s being British–it was a very severe strain on my poise when, on his leaving here for France, he did not return when he said.  And it has become still more a strain to not be allowed any correspondence with him and Pavla save those two notes, she of an entire year, neither informative save as to Jig’s re-appearance.

He is restored to radio announcing and there can certainly be no damn mystery respecting this.  But on every occasion of my writing to ask anybody we know who knows him to please go to Rutherford to see them, there has been no responsive move and ninety-nine-and-a-half-percent of the times no allusion to the request, afterward.  We must begin to be humans again NOW–we shouldn’t permit American to become a country of “psychological dog-trainers”–like these tote countries are!  Will you please try to see Jig Pavla and the children and tell me your impressions of them genuinely.

Please be our old Gladys and don’t be afraid to speak out against the stupidities inane fools aspiring to dictate must have attempted to impose on Americans–results prove it [remainder of letter missing]

1Evelyn was concerned always to have a “permanent” US address to give to the US Consulate in London.

 

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

January 15, 1951

My dear Jig and Pavla

It is preposterous we decent people with distinctions in achievement to our credit should be shoved, here by finances, preponderantly, into analogous and ambiguous positions.  It is rotten and intolerable.

We are so tired of political tyranny.  We hope for the change to Republicans but are without illusions and know the cultured men of intellect must go on pressing the rattybottom or peruna dregs of very party until tyranny ceases.

We think Jig should paint and write and Pavla write and every one of us should be revived and restored and we know even mentions in print will assist revivals.  It is black rot that during these three years since 1937 we have been treated as ghouls treat authors, who will not be forgotten or ignored an should be restored to the normal means of living and their normal careers and contacts now.

We would be so grateful for specific acknowledgements of specific letters.  I am now trying to think of something to enliven the mail for Denise in February.

Love is not all-powerful–damn hokey-pokey fake religiosity.  But it is high value in the world given over to hatred, and we do stand by our affections these cannot be shaken nor can our confidence in ourselves and yourselves creatively.

Our affectionate for yourselves we hope helps

Mother-to-Jig Evelyn-to-Pavla Jack-to-both and-anything-they-like-as-to-name-to-Denise Fredrick and Mathew

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

February 16, 1951

Evelyn dear

I have never answered a letter so promptly before—your letter arrived yesterday am!

What is important is what you say about Jig, Pavla and the kids.  As a mother, you can be very sure the situation you have been telling me about has troubled me greatly—far more than I was willing to admit to you, since I saw no way of doing anything about it.  But since you are really putting me on the spot, tho’ ever so gently, I will pick up the challenge and tell you a little bit more about it as it looks from where I sit.

Since you left for England, I have lost all contact with the mutual friends we had.  The one exception is Gladys—I have seen her once in 2 years perhaps for a brief visit and lunch, or something like that.

After receiving your previous letter however, I took the liberty of inquiring again about Jig and his family from one of your friends, explaining frankly that you were worried and that I wanted to give you some information.  I was informed that Jig and his family are all well, that he has had some difficulty in supporting his family, that the change in his appearance which you observed when he was in England, was probably the result of all those stresses and strains.  But I was informed that they are in no different situation from most families having several growing children to raise in these troublesome times of high prices etc.  Apparently Jig had hoped to improve his situation when he went to Europe, but things did not work out as anticipated.  Pavla makes a wonderful mother, the kids adorable and well brought up and cared for.

There it is in a nutshell.  Whatever block there is between you and Jig—as regards communication—is not, I am convinced, the result of any conspiracy.  Your politics, your writing, the British Labor Govt etc etc have nothing to do with it.  And mail in this country is never intercepted.  I am sure that whatever letters you write are delivered.

Otherwise, no special news.  I am glad you are well again and I hope you and Jack do keep well.  We are all find at present—but facing this troublesome world, with crisis after crisis, it takes courage to try to maintain a balanced and objective outlook.

Our very best to you both
Love
May

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

March 10, 1951

Dear Evelyn:

I don’t know what to write as you disbelieve what I say and accuse me of hiding things when I try to be absolutely frank.  That naturally leads to constraint and makes me put off writing–Perhaps the same is true of others and is the reason they don’t write either.

Now about Jig and his family.  Of course I see them!  I wrote you in detail when they were here about a year ago, i.e. Paula and kids, Jig was in Europe, and have kept in touch ever since.  The were over for Denise’s birthday celebration–all fine.  I haven’t seen them since but have talked on telephone.  The kids had the flu like almost everybody here, but not bad and were fine two days ago when I talked to Paula on phone.

Jig was pretty sick in Europe but is better now.  I can’t give details because they don’t want to talk about it and so I don’t know–He lost a bit of weight which I think was good.  So far as I know they are settled in Rutherford.  Like lots of the younger generation  they don’t like questions and withdraw from those who ask them.

I want to remain friends to you and Jack.

Gladys

 * * * * *

To May Mayers

March 11, 1951

May my dear

I am pleased that you thought my letter was “more relaxed”, my dear May, but I am sorry to say it wasn’t.  I am compelled by the incredible cold-blooded obtuseness of most of those dominant in Britain and America today to protest the conditions here and in the States which have been imposed on Jack and myself and Jig and Cyril and their families—I am compelled by my natural human feelings and by the sort of literary and financial impasses we have yet to surmount, to protest over and over.  If you were here or we could meet otherwise than in correspondence, you would have ample proof that I am NOT “tense” as a matter of “temperament” which can be put aside, but because we are still fighting for our lives every moment of every day.

What the hell am I supposed to think?  Talk about totalitarian oppression, it could hardly be beat in the sort of things that have happened during my seven years and Jack’s of attempting to preserve normal contacts and communications with our family in the United States of America.  I have never seen anything so rottenly evasive and whoever or whatever it is that has interfered.  And as for being “tense”, if I starting breaking up the china and hurling the bric a brac it would still be just the normal human reaction to such senseless atrocity respecti9ng decent normal human connections there.

So don’t ask me to just accept such a situation because I won’t.  We all know what low caliber minds have figured in American politics from the start.  I think these have been at work.  And I think they must have become for more brazen as a result of dumping foreigners in the States adlib.

So you see I disagree with your interpretation of these extraordinary silences about my family as not being connected with external aspects of things, I am damn sure they must be and criminally so.

Love to Dan and Lew us both

* * * * *

 

To Creighton and Paula Scott

March 25, 1951

Any news of you whatever does Jack and myself good, but Gladys recent note about you mentioned that Jig, when in France, was ill, I am distressed to think that happened when he was so comparatively near here and could have been so well taken care of by me in the room he was in here those five days.

I had asked May Mayers to go see you and find out how Jig is and think it would be good should she do so, but she won’t go unless asked specifically as a doctor, and so I just hope you’ll decide to ask her and relieve my mind and perhaps get some valuable help.

Jack has had to borrow again to get even a beginning on the [garden] wall that fell down.  Ninety pounds estimate for repairs, so I could have kicked that damn fund.  They are all alike—a lot of political fifth-rate hoaxers.  But I think a waterloo for the funds that are merely that is due.  They have spent billions literally on just stereotyping voters—what it amounts to.

Our love to yourselves and the children.  I am going to be a real grandmother to be proud of yet or but, tell them.  We just WON’T be licked nor will you I know and certainly Cyril won’t.

Jack’s love and mine

* * * * *

To May Mayers

March 28, 1951

May darling

Don’t throw up your hands when I appeal to you again.

Now May darling please know I really am imaginative toward you yourself and if I were the sort who can see people suffer and not turn a hair I would not protest these things to you.  But I have no one else in any sense associated with medicine to whom I can appeal.  Your brochures on industrial disease have now arrived and I am going to read them as soon as I complete this eleventh-millioneth typing of my novel mss—which will NOT be typed again honestly this time, as it is now clear.

And now Gladys, when I implore her to see the family—writes me in a letter of March 10th, as vaguely as ever.  She says “I don’t know what to write to you as you disbelieve what I say and accuse me of hiding things when I try to be absolutely frank”.  Well I HAVE JUST ACCUSED HER OF NOT ANSWERING my questions—that’s all.  I never at any time ever said I “disbelieved” her.  I don’t know where she gets such misconceptions unless she has neighbours who pump her full of guff.

I was glad to hear you were in touch with Gladys, I think she is very unfortunately situated in isolation such as has been “wished” on her by the isolation of her house.  I am not angry with her herself and have never been, but I don’t think she is using her imagination as she can when conditions are normal–that is to say when she is not heckled or harried, as she must be periodically to say such really stupid things when she isn’t really stupid.  And I think she has too much pseudo “legal” advice from a lawyer who has become antagonistic and unfriendly to ourselves–to myself and Creighton, at any rate.

She never writes except on these damn via air, self-contained envelope-cum-note-paper things–just one page and almost always handwriting so there is no room to say much.  And here is the rest of what she has to say this time in the letter that must have crossed yours to me or mine to you:

Jig and Pavla I know despise “youth guff”–it is for utter driveling fools.  Pavla has written me and I know she has, and her letters were not allowed to reach me and this is the truth as to Jig when in France also.

If I had the power to indite official mystifiers at any point I’d have ‘em hanged or electrocuted or shot.

There I stand myself and I think it probable that if the genuine opinions of the people I know best were obtainable now most of them would agree with me and my family would completely.

Affectionately

I have been twice x-rayed as a “TB suspect”1 and once was pronounced a “case” but the opinion was later revoked as a “mis-diagnosis”—and I am still alive and KICKING and my lungs are normal.

1Evelyn died of lung cancer in 1964. This is one of several references to possible problems with her lungs.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

April 1951

Darling Jig and Pavla

Darling Jig and Pavla when will I have your letters?  When?  We do love you so and Jig as artist has proven he is so completely worth saving for the fine arts and Pavla also, though she has just begun and he has accomplished considerable–to use an old-fashioned American phrase.

But as we all get well and we everyone have I hope there will soon be an end and an end of hushiness about whatever goes on that fuddles doctors as it evidently does.  You will remember Ingermann’s twice “diagnosing” me as a “cancer” patient, disproved by the Rockefeller Cancer Hospital’s real tests and no recurrences.  So what I might add is that they all seem to be  swallowing bee-bee, to all intents and purposes.  TS Eliot and Bevin had anal operations, which has included myself and Jack and Hall Bynner

It may be a “wonderful world”, but I think it is a helluva one just the same, and hope you will agree optimistically that it is.

Love and love and love

* * * * *

To May Mayers

Personal
April 29, 1951

May my dear

There is no “impasse” with Jig and his family my dear May.  I disagree with you about a “block within the family”.  I know how comprehending and good our relations with own family have been for every year of our lives until the war and there were no quarrels in the war.  But remember that Cyril’s autobiography which publically disclosed the identity of my father was virtually suppressed.  It was egregiously edited and distorted as regards our personal relations; and that he ever endured such editing can reasonably be attributed by those who know his character completely to the fact that he was financially pinched to the point we have been or worse at the time it was published—a pinching consequent not on him or ourselves but on political manoeuvrings in the book world and the art world.

This is guffy of course.  But I can see the pattern of libel in such a happening; and the fact that Jack is well-born1 and not scum probably figured.  I remember at “Yaddo” when the “dialectical” Jews among the guests jumped down my throat because I was a “Southern aristocrat”!  Well I was actually born in the South in a genuine ante-bellum mansion, but if they’d ever lived in Clarksville they might—if they ever grasped anything—have seen how ironically ludicrous it was as an “accusation”.

We my darling May don’t “gloss” anything unless you are bent on stirring my ire because when anything is “glossed” I feel like a fourth-of-July firecracker ready to explode.

1Jack Metcalfe’s family included minor gentry.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

May 2, 1951

Dear Evelyn:

Sorry if you don’t approve of this paper1. I won’t inflict it on you after the present supply is used up. I use it because of its convenience and the saving in time and money–time because I have to stop and get each letter weighed and often have to make a special trip to the PO. Money because this is considerably less than the same amount of air mail stationery plus stamp.

I did not mean to say you accused me of lying in so many words. But time after time you have asked questions about Jig or his family. I have reassured you when I knew and you have immediately written or asked me to contact others to find out the very things I have told you. Or I have told you I did not know certain things, such as Jig’s whereabouts when in Europe, and you accuse me of reticence or lack of frankness. I realize you do not mean it as it sounds, but it shows a lack of trust which is hard to bear by an old friend. If you have shown the same to others who are less understanding, it is no wonder you receive no answers.

It’s no use talking about conditions so far away. I think they are very different here from what you think them. Things have changed a lot since even Jack was here, both for better and worse. But certainly there is no censorship on the mails that I have ever heard of. Sometimes everyone expresses their views too freely! We are all confused and I think the English are too, though I don’t feel competent to judge from across the ocean.

Love to you and Jack both–I’ll write again. Glads

1Gladys had been using pre-stamped air letters, commonly used at that time and until the 1970s

* * * * *

To Gladys Grant

Personal
May 20, 1951

My dear Glad

If I went into the chronology of our correspondence and you yourself read over my file of letters and questions and your replies and these dates of these indicating the time between my writing and your answers you would not say I was unreasonable. I am not. However, I don’t see why you should have interpreted this as “mistrust” of yourself. It is mistrust of a policy of evasiveness regarding most specific facts which seems to have become pervasive in America, like a sort of contagion. But I have never blamed you yourself, nor do I specifically blame the many others who have followed a policy of never replying to me or whose letters–so I know in a few instances, were either lost in the PO, confiscated thee under some pretext of “censoring”–wrong I think in communications to Britain–or were not delivered here because of factionalism in the PO either in the States or Britain.

Our finances here are as dire as ever. Jack has never been as discouraged as recently. He just hasn’t had the heart to write. And that is criminal. We do not want to be reduced to “turning on the gas”, but we would rather than be shoved from pillar to post by such conditions as the government here–probably dominated by uno’s extremists–have imposed on us. We will not be paupers. And that is that. But we can’t merely “exist”, and in order to live at all require both cash at once and the restoration of our raison d’etre in specific terms of art.

I have re-registered at the American Consulate and the preservation of my citizenship is prized by me and I am honestly very grateful that it is now grasped there that I am not indifferent to it nor is Jack but that we have been too broke to go home—home for me and home for Jack too should our lives become normal again and he be enabled to resume his quota residence. But we have been “economically” exiled. You cannot call it anything else. The furthest thing from our thoughts when Jack was re-patriated during his war service, was to be stuck here as we have been and not allowed any “choice” whatever as to how long we remained.

We can easily be saved and if and when we are well and good–anything else is murder.

You are our good friend Glad or I would not confide. I am very clear in distinguishing you and your character from surroundings and such changes in the States as have been for the worst. The competence of generals in military spheres is one thing and important no doubt, but there are problems at home there as there are here which require the first attention and get very little.

Our very real love to you and everything good and genuine to yourself. I appreciate every one of your helpful moves.

* * * * *

To May Mayers

Personal
May 27th 1951

My dear May

Jack and myself grow increasingly desperate about getting home to the States—we will just die here as a result of “economy” unless something is done for our books there.  I call it murder.  We have been economically exiled and it is preposterous to say we were ever allowed any choice about it.  We may move before long to cheaper quarters and sublet this flat—once it is repaired—but we are still having to mend the garden wall that collapsed last summer, and the law about taking out money should we sell it would have to be abolished for any sort of sale to be worthwhile—it couldn’t be very profitable in any case unless the mortgage were paid off.  I’ll let you know if and when we move.

So you see again when you say we “isolate ourselves” in England you are not as accurate about me as you are about medicine, I here quote your own words May darling.

Well you will see that the financial pressures that have compelled us to remain in a veritable slough of despond, unable to buy more than postage stamps and certainly not boat fares, are scarcely to be classified as our “choice”.  Don’t forget that when Jack went over in 1947 to maintain his quota and tried to get a job to bring me over there—me born there—he didn’t succeed and had one substantial offer after he was on en route home.  Jack is qualified to teach as very few of those who “thrive” in our robot system of “education” are, but it cut no ice.  He is honours in philosophy University of London and has also much experience in teaching higher mathematics and every sort.

We just go on fighting and hoping so please you do too.  I know Jig and myself and Jack and Cyril and Pavla and the children will meet you and Lew and Dan on the old footing eventually, and just hope before long.

Affectionately

Please don’t forget—regarding legalities—how unjust every repercussion of libel about me and Cyril has been on Jack and on the Jig of Escapade.  They were even less responsible for any result whatever of our elopement of 1913.  Cyril’s divorce from me as his Common Law wife secured in Chichuaua County Mexico is legal and was witnessed by the US Consul there.  We are not renegades who ignore responsibilities.  And if you were Jack and had been as good as he has to both myself and Jig as Cyril’s con and my son and had lived in the States as he and I were in 1930—well, May my dear you too would find some of the things we now know have been said about us very embittering.  America ain’t perfect, and you know it isn’t!  I speak as an old old American—so old I can claim Bunker Hill and early Virginia.  I dont because it also has been made a guffy cause, but I know my America.

* * * * *

To Frederick Scott

Personal
May 27, 1951

Dear Freddy1

As your father when little Jiggie–or Jiggeroo–was very much interested in collecting stamps I take the liberty of supposing you probably are also interested and I send herewith a few stamps from old letters I have received here for which I hope you have an album. Or if it chances Denise is the collector, you can hand them on to her please.

I hope my letters reach you and Papa and Mama and Denise and Mathew because I write to every one of you and very seldom have any reply, though I know Mama and Papa have complained there that some letters sent me here were not received.

“Gladys”–Mrs Grant–has written me of having seen you three children and Mama and Papa recently and she says Denise is sweet and pretty and Fredrick is as pretty as little boys have a right to be and Mathew is very pretty as–being the last and youngest–he should be, whether girl or boy. And she also says you are three bright and good children–and Fredrick is the most interesting little–but no longer very little–boy she knows. I am sure you are growing up at such a rate that I and Stepgrandpappy Jack are the more eager to get back to the States before you are grown completely so we can be acquainted with you as children too.

Give Mama and Papa and Denise and Mathew and your own Grandfather Scott our affectionate thoughts of them.

And please please do write to us one of you NOW.

1Frederick, Jigg and Paula’s second child, was 8 years old when this letter was written

* * * * *

In the summer of 1951 the family moved to a house in Red Hook, a small town in the Hudson River valley about 100 miles north of New York city.  Next week, Evelyn attempts to locate the family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35. London and second-hand clothing

Margaret DeSilver, a well-connected and wealthy Manhattan socialite, would soon be a major player in the lives of Evelyn and Jack. None of the letters in the collection gives any indication as to how they met, possibly in the 1930s or  early 1940s, but it is clear from the letters that have been found that their relationship had been in existence for some time and that it was close.  It becomes more and more important, as will be seen in later chapters.

The start of this sequence finds Jack visiting New York in order to maintain his right to residency in the United States.  He is also using the opportunity to seek employment, while Evelyn is taking advantage of his visit to try to gain information about Jigg’s whereabouts.

* * * * *

To Cyril Kay Scott

For Jack to send on to Cyril please
26 Belsize Crescent
August 30, 1947

My dear Cyril,

I am asking this to be sent by Jack who is now in New York, at Margaret De Silver’s, and who I know would like very much to see you herself for his own pleasure and because the affectionate regard of us both is the same as ever.

The object of this letter, however, is to implore you–and I mean implore–to relieve my distress and the distress Jack feels on my behalf and as one genuinely fond of Jig regarding his strange treatment of both of us, who have written to him repeatedly in the three years since I stayed with him and Pavla at their express invitation to do so; and had, except for the atmosphere imposed by war, a good visit and when I left took a most affectionate farewell of them and their children, anticipating that we would always be the good friends we have been throughout our lives.

I have been here three years and a few months, and for the first two years I wrote to Jig regularly every week (not very interesting letters, perhaps, but that was the war), and no reply did I ever have, except two brief notes from Pavla, which acknowledged by inference that my letters were being received in Tappan.

Jig and Pavla both know very well that my feeling for their three children is the normal affectionately interested one of any grandmother, and while Jack is, as he would say, “just a step-gran’pappy”, he also is interested in them and would enjoy meeting them and getting acquainted.

Knowing that every day during this long interval I have spoken of Jig and every day have thought of him and almost every day have asked aloud why Jig didn’t write, when Jack left the first thing he promised was to ascertain Jig’s address which has never been given us since they left Tappan and see Jig if he could in any case write to Jig there and get a reply which would clear the air of what has become a miasma of mystification and very positive unhappiness, which is the proof of my normality as a mother.

I have been, during all this last year, reduced to sending any mail I wanted to reach Jig to Ralph Pearson, who refuses to give Jig’s address, and offers no explanation whatever as to why, merely says he was “asked not to”.

I cannot force Jig to conduct himself like himself humanly generously decently scrupulously.  During his entire life he has always been good honest responsive sensitive and civilized, but to remember the evidence as we both do of that makes the present situation the less tolerable the more completely incomprehensible.  What suggestions have been made to him?  Who is inducing an attitude so at odds with what he humanly is.  And explanation of any sort would be a godsend.

I have been humiliated by having sent letters to the Broadcasting Company, registered which advertise to the public that my son for some good damn phoney suggested fool no-reason acts as if I were dead WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY.  We have never quarrelled, we have had a few “spats” that never lasted but we have never quarrelled.  Therefore Creighton, who has also experienced the war–this last war–not the other–cannot with his intellect possibly believe he can “lose himself” in that way.  There are all the ties he has to some extent chosen, in marrying Pavla, in the responsibilities resultant; but additionally he is in continual contact, whether he prefers it or not, with Pearsons, Hales, Brownells1 and Fosters, who, whether or not well-meaning (it remains to be proved that they are, except as regards Pavla) do not appreciate Jig, have NOT the brains the taste the perspicacity the insights into art and living that his father and his step-father and his mother have why the hell and in the name of all common sense then, should Jig be a sort of domestic martyr, to every sort of imposed family tie, and be cut off from the one assortment relatives with whom he has things actually in common. I resent the situation on Jig’s behalf just as much on my own.  Pavla is a good sensible girl, she has an average good mind but she is not profound, she is not extraordinary and she is in many ways lacking in perspicacity as regards the things in which Jig’s interest is most vital. [1952–Pavla intellect cannot be assessed as she was too young and immature at marriage for judgements–This was provoked by her then apparent exclusion of me–circumstantial only I hope]

This is not a mother-in-law’s opinion–I was very fond of Pavla and I will be easily fond of her again in a normal atmosphere with normal behaviour on her part towards ourselves.  But I have and do resent (with reservations, for the letter seemed so unlike herself that I have interpreted it in the light of various possible excuses or justifications of the moment, as she saw things, how wrongly–and certainly it was wrongly) the fact that I was sent a letter with such a content (I hadn’t known before the baby was expected) and with no address, and have been left in the period mental torment resultant from such a hiatus in communication.

If I could think of it as deliberate it would be hard to forgive but I think we have every one of us been so controlled and manipulated by every sort of force and influence during the war, that my view of what has happened is based on that, any my judgement of it is a continent one.

You can always assure Jig (though he should know it anyhow) that I will never be a “clinging” mother and that Jack any myself have our own careers work and interests and do not “batten” psychologically, or otherwise But normal human affection has its demands, too, and in a world all but ruined by the rotten putrid totes (and may they meet their annihilation), no one who values his or her integrity of individuality can afford to slight normal human feelings.

So let’s abolish “mystification”.

With the affection best wishes I know Jack shares I am as we both are again
Your very admiringly,

A reference to Paula’s maternal aunts, and particularly her great aunt Gertrude Brownell

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Eastham, Massachusetts
September 6 [1947]

Dear Evelyn:-

I hope you got the $50 in time.  The mails are so slow and your letter had to also be forwarded from NY.

The reason I seem so unresponsive and do not answer your letters is because I am anyway rather confused politically and of course do not know the situation in England at first hand as you do, but my sympathies, as you must surely know by know, are with the Labor Party in general, and here in USA with the Socialist Party, so there really is not much that I can say.  As for the world of arts and letters, I certainly agree with you that it is in a woeful state, but I do not know what I, as a Philistine, can do about it except to buy the books and the paintings that I like and to protest that this and that are not published or exhibited.  My protests are, of course, entirely futile, as I am not a figure or a force in those worlds and have absolutely no chance of appearing authoritative, natch.

As for Jig, that is a personal matter about which I am also entirely incompetent, as I do not even know where he lives, and letters I have written to him in the past, merely friendly, neighborly letters, have gone unacknowledged.  Harrison1 has clear and friendly recollections of Jig and frequently says he would like to get in touch with him but it appears to be quite impossible. [She knows why I ceased to see them and I should think someone could have relieved my anxiety about taking “sides”.  Margaret is included in all I say of Jig—details different that’s all why guess]

Anyway, as you know, I love and admire you and Jack and do wish things were not so rotten for you.  But I think it unfair of you to make your friends responsible for all your troubles.  People really DO still protest, but the forces are such that their voices simply are smothered.

Margaret DeS

[They should have some sense about Jig.  These silences cannot be an advantage to him, they are a painful embarrassment  Jig is fine of spirit I say, and certainly they cannot deny he has intellect—his book]

This may well be Harrison, or Hal, Smith, who had previously published a number of Evelyn’s books.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

I AM OFFICALLY EVELYN SCOTT AS WELL AS MRS W J METCALFE

Reynolds, Richards & McCutcheon
Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
68 William Street
New York 5, NY

September 22, 1947

[1952—London they were at first reluctant to cash anything for Evelyn Scott legal professional signature as author—Evelyn Scott Evelyn D S Metcalfe was Margaret’s gift I was here alone and literally without a cent Jack was trying to get job in the States]

Dear Madam:

Herewith, draft No D-14306 for $50 drawn on the Central Hanover Bank & Trust Company, 7 Princes Street, London, England, to the order of Evelyn Scott, which is sent at the request of Mrs Margaret DeSilver.

Very truly yours,
REYNOLDS RICHARDS & McCUTCHEON

Cc:  Mrs Margaret DeSilver

[1952 The Bank here has since cashed checks to Evelyn Scott but Jack had left me access to his account with the signature Evelyn D S Metcalfe.  Everything, in 1947, was a bloody mess.]

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[October 8, 1947]

EVELYN METCALFE 26 BELSIZE CRESCENT HAMPSTEAD LONDON NW3

SAILING OCTOBER 8 ARRIVING OCTOBER 17 POST OBTAINED LONDON CORRESPONDENT OF NEWYORK PERIODICAL  DEAREST LOVE.  JACK

[They went back on this offer letting Jack work at it 6 weeks pallid also racket]

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[October 10, 1947]

EVELYN METCALfE 26 BELSIZE CRESCENT HAMPSTEAD LDN NW3

NOW SAILING ON QUEEN MARY ARRIVING SIXTEENTH OR EARLY SEVENTEENTH LOVE. JACK

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

October 11, 1947

My dear Mag,

The Reynolds, Richards McCutcheon letter with your gift was received by me just a few days after you wrote yourself you were sending it, and is now with the bank, having arrived in the nick of time, when, again, due to “this and that” (and god rot this and that) I had just two pounds cash left to draw on.  [1952—I had not a cent left in the house–literal]

Yes it was the first time (barring five dollars sent once, which insulted me) that I have received any money whatsoever since I have been in England this time.  When I was here as a Guggenheim Fellow1 I cashed checks here of fund money, and when Jack had enough, in Suffolk, he opened an account for me so that whether the money was for my books or his I would not have to consult him about what I spent for personal necessities.

Mag darling, I told you, I would write you more about what’s wrong with “this and that”, and I am doing so.  And my situation as it has been so far is especially unjust as regards Jack himself, on whom has devolved the responsibility for maintaining us both, which he has done impeccably; but it has been often by “odd jobs” which sacrificed the time he requires for creative work; and as normally I earned as much as he did (sometimes one more sometimes the other) also at creative work, there was never a more senseless and inexcusable waste of two talents.

I will go to the Bank again to make sure the gift has been cleared (I went there on Thursday and they thought so, but I didn’t try to do anything as to drawing on it), and if it is and I am pretty sure it must be, I will mail this then with my very great and continued affection, because the most important thing to say here really is that you have again done something generous and genuinely good that is just Margaret and thank you very much.

Evelyn

Evelyn had received a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation in 1932 and, exceptionally, a further grant a year later. These were intended as financial support to enable her to write, and did not carry any duties with them.

* * * * *

 To O  C Reynolds

October 11, 1947

Mr Oliver C Reynolds
Reynolds, Richards and McCutcheon
Attorneys and Counselors at Law
68 William Street, New York City USA

Dear Sir,

Mrs Margaret De Silver has just written me enclosing the carbon of your original letter of September 22nd, 47, containing draft No D-14306 for $50 dollars drawn on the Central Hanover Bank and Trust Company, 7 Princes Street London, England, at the request of Mrs Margaret De Silver and made out to myself Evelyn Scott

Your letter and the draft would have been acknowledged earlier, but I did not receive it until about eight days ago and the Bank, when I last called there, on Thursday (this is Saturday) had not yet cleared it, but were sure it was all right and will be cleared when I go there to draw on it or before.  As a gift I am sure it is all right, but the longer time it has taken to clear it may have been due to its having been sent to me in my professional name which was my legal name when married to Cyril Kay Scott, and which is still my legal name as regards books contracts and anything of a business nature appertaining to my literary career, but which, incredibly, I have not used officially since I arrived here during the bombing phase of the war, as the literary careers of myself and my husband have been very much interrupted until recently.

However, we are beginning to re-establish ourselves normally, and while Mrs De Silver has apologized for having sent the draft that way, she need not have done so, as after all, the preservation of my continuity as a writer in an official as well as unofficial way is important to me, and especially as my son Creighton is also a Scott.

The draft was deposited in the account of my present husband W J Metcalfe, who is John Metcalfe the British author and publishes in the USA.

Thanking you for having sent Mrs De Silver’s generous and appreciated gift.

Very truly yours

I am very explicit, because I dislike “pokers, pryers and snoopers”, and if it is actually true, as is published in the papers, that the Government reads your mail, I just think it best to tell everything relevant.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

October 17, 1947

Margaret my dear

Jack arrived yesterday evening full of good news of yourself as the best friend ever was.  I did not know you had again helped out about the Queen Mary and my gratitude is reintensified.  These have been a very long two months and a half, and when Jack cabled about the change of boats, I was relieved for his sake and my own that he was not obliged to put up with the terrible accommodations of the previous voyage.  But I did not know it was entirely due to you yourself that he was able to arrange the transfer and actually, as your air mail saying he was “on his way” arrived last Tuesday or Wednesday, and I thought the Queen Mary took just four days, I didn’t believe Jack was here until he was at the front door.  And my delight was all the greater, and I have been wishing all day I knew what I could do for Margaret De Silver that was half as good as what she has been doing for us both.

He feels very much encouraged about things as a result of this renewed contact with USA friends and so do I, and the one thing yet to be solved in personal relations is how to re-establish normal communication with Jig, but I am certain that it will be re-established and we will be all three good friends and able to express what is our fundamentally affectionate attitude given a little time.  I have my own idea as to how a situation as a-typical of ourselves has come about, and of course while I won’t blame anybody until I am quite sure about blame, I think it probable Pavla has been stuffed with absurd suggestions, which may or may not have been absorbed.  She is herself honest, but is susceptible to suggestion, an she may have been jealous because of misinterpreting various things due entirely to the war.  She may have actually told Jig a whopper, also as a result of her excitability, and I think the difficulty probably is just that, as it explains by inference some comments Jig made while I was there that I did not understand. But he himself is so completely honest, that, as she was originally, I hope it will clear up.  (Margué may be the nigger in the wood pile, as she is ridden by fake theories of behaviour, and was continually inventing “complexes”, just fool in my opinion.)

I wish I could, I say again, do half as much for you as you for us.

1The preface to Life Is Too Short was written by Cyril’s eldest son, Paul I Wellman

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary

Jack earned his modest living as a teacher in a series of private prep schools or “crammers”, teaching mainly algebra and Latin.  He kept a diary for many years, recording in his neat schoolmasterly hand each day’s events in a kind of staccato narrative. His life was ordered and orderly, and this was reflected in the diary entries, often brief and very similar from one day to the next.  Sometimes they varied .  .  .

December 25, 1947: Breakfast. Work. Coffee. Work. Lunch. Felt mouldy and went to bed. Got up again and had tea. Supper of steak. More work at Maths. Cake and bed.
January 28, 1948: Gladys has sent a box of typewriter paper, very welcome; – and the paper is excellent quality.
March 12, 1948: E’s teeth troubling her greatly of late.
April 18, 1948: E still very poorly with jaw-ache.
May 10, 1948: Letter to E from B Baumgarten asking E to employ another agent.
June 25, 1948: Letter from Gladys with $50 arrived just as I was leaving for school.
July 12, 1948: Posted letter to Maggie, also letters (3) from E to possible agents

* * * * *

No letters from or to  Otto Theis or his wife Louise Morgan for the 20 or so years prior to this letter were found during the search for Evelyn’s correspondence.  This does not mean that there were none:  it is clear from the tone of the letters that were found that the relationship continued and was warm. 

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

August 13, 1948

[First page(s) missing]  Standing as regards clothes any one of these acceptable and every one needed.  I have a pair of slacks and some old blouses for wear indoors.  I have a coat ten years old and somewhat out of style for very cold weather (worn but usable if not smart)

I have not a pair of shoes—brown or black or both very acceptable, size five-and-a-half c last, for highish heel dress, five d last for a tennis or heelless shoe (and in espadrilles I wore four and a half d—I like low or moderate heels (very high, tire) wear sandals indoors when I have them, and though having no dressy shoes, would still find good black grey or brown evening shoes second-hand acceptable, as of possible use with all future dress (have an old blue dressing gown and no slippers, by the way).

I have no moderate weight or light coat, nothing for moderate winter weather or coolish summer fall or spring; and either a sports coat or a dressy coat (or of course both) would be most welcome—size thirty-six bust gives a good coat shoulder (the best jacket shoulder is thirty-four, but usually the skirt measures don’t g, being larger in waist, and longer in skirt than a misses size)—and as becomingness is as important as warmth, I may say, that I can wear to advantage brown black sage green medium green (can’t wear acid green or bottle green) tan, beige, fawn, and any subdued mixture of tan or beige with green or blue or yellow or orange, or any very small pin-stripe on a tan or brown or fawn base, also russet and deep wine (not bluish) and navy blue, but don’t like, and I can’t wear (beside bottle and acid green) black-and white (hideous), white (horrors), very pale fawn (terrible) and though I can wear navy blue, it is not really becoming, just passable, and lacks interest when you have few clothes as it is more difficult than brown black and beige to combine with various other colours, can’t wear grey (atrocious).

I have no suit except one bought in 1938 and darned, as well as démodé, the skirt conspicuously short.  So a coat suit would be very very very acceptable; and the range of colour is about the same as for coats, although the matter of combining other colours with it figures more importantly than as regards coats, and I can wear yellow blouses with brown, green blouses with brown, pink and cherry blouses with brown navy blue and black, and pale blue blouses with all three; and, as well, especially with black blouses in any interesting floral strip or check if it is small, the more colours combined in one textile subduedly the more interesting the effect with a plain suit.

I have no dresses whatever; neither for hot or cold weather sports or afternoon or evening, so every sort of dress is a fine fine fine if in style, with a close-fitting blouse or top and a longish, flaring skirt.  A black dress with subduedly vivid colour touches, or a black dress with cream (can’t wear white touches, hideous), or a dress in a very small and intricate floral pattern on a black brown or green base.

I have not any stockings, I have no underwear nor rags, especially step-ins and bras (a few frayed, 6 slips, all much too short to be of any use now); my stocking size is eight and a half, step-ins with elastic 28 waist without elastic 29, brassieres 34 bust.

I also greatly appreciate elastic step-in girdles without bones but with hose-supporters, price new one dollar and a half, 28 waist, like the step-ins, slips 34 bust.

I have not a hat of any sort, but hats are something you have to buy yourself, in most instances, though sometimes toques or tie-on turbans or comprise headgear can be used second-hand.

Well there is the situation and of course blouses in any of the colours mentioned as becoming would be gratefully received—thirty-four or thirty-six (thirty-four not washable, thirty-six washable).

Slacks eighteen year size (I have a pair, but just one) twenty-nine waist, brown black blue dark (not bottle) green, pin stripes in same, and any material including corduroy which I like very much in most colours.

I don’t expect any one source to supply all these, nor do I anticipate a full supply from every available source combined, but it does seem possible some could be acquired and sent over, if I do not over-tax, the generosity of those to whom I appeal.

I didn’t mention the evening dress, but if any are going and in the mode, all the better; but I cannot wear a real decolette now, having got too “old and skinny”; and I actually cannot stand the temperature indoors here well enough to wear thin clothes without an evening jacket—so that ingredient is more complicated.

A black brown or green dress, or a black dress with touches of interesting colour, just decolette enough to not to be mistaken for a “day dress” is what I would buy if I could buy one and with it, either as part of a costume, or as combinable with the dress, a short wrap of the jackety order, with a touch of trimming in colour if it were black, or perhaps if the dress were black the jacket could be one of the becoming colours subdued but contrasting. [remainder of letter missing]

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan and Otto Theis

Personal
August 15, 1948

My dear Louise and Otto

I have written to both Lenore Marshall  and to Margaret de Silver and shall write to some others, asking them to try and locate friends who will donate me some second-hand clothes in good style, so I can make a front here and get about some.  But we cannot pay duty and I can get no assurance that any clothes will reach me really free, and I am therefore trying to find somebody who is coming to England to visit and could bring a few things second-hand with her own clothes (a woman, it would have to be).  And as you two have mentioned seeing Americans, and brought the California girl here, I have wondered if yourselves or perhaps Sophie and Ruth might not know somebody who was about to visit England who would be willing to include such gifts for me with their belongings and deliver them on arrival.

It is a favour I dislike asking, but the situation fully justifies it I think; otherwise, I might as well be in prison.  I haven’t even marketed since May.  Not a step can I stir from the house under these conditions.

Perhaps Sophie and Ruth themselves might know somebody who had something used but not worn and in good style and though I know this is chance, I include with this a list of needs of measurements to send on to them if you yourselves consider it fitting.

I stress style because I want to put up a good front, and I don’t want just “kivver”1, as per charlady, as that would defeats the real purpose of being decently dressed again, but though it is a lot to ask, I know Sophie is already au courrant with some of the charitable wealthy and as I have written Margaret, Marie Garland supplied me with half a wardrobe of very expensive good quality clothes which were not entirely satisfactory only because I had to have them altered; which I couldn’t now afford and which seems about the hardest thing to get done in London there is, judging by our previous experiences in that line.

So if Sophie or Ruth know anybody with clothes to contribute and also know somebody who is soon to arrive in England that would be splendid.  And if they know somebody who would bring clothes and would be good enough to communicate with Lenore Marshall (better post than phone) and with Margaret in case they have anything to contribute—then that will again be good and whatever we do eventually get on books will not have drains on it, to the same extent, for to solve the problem, we actually require several thousand dollars (house repairs, painting, etc, a good sale, not a sacrifice, taxes, and things including clothes and dentist needed by Jack too.

And so I throw myself on your generosity, for the time—if you can do anything, as I say, well and good and whether you can or not it is very much to be appreciated that I can discuss things with you both with complete candour.

our love
Evelyn

1Cod-Cockney for “cover” or clothing.

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

September 13, 1948

My dear Louise

I am glad you did not phone, again.  Often here, too, the phone rings, just as Jack is about to call somebody for me—I do so less often), and we have also been treated to hocus-pocus, by way of tangled wires, on so many occasions, a few weeks ago, we had to leave the phone off the hook overnight and a good deal of the day, until whatever flim-flam corrected it was summoned, to have any peace whatever.  This has occurred so many times, in the last four years, if a normal telephone service were not a great convenience, in emergencies, I would get rid of it.  But of course normally it can be useful, and I just wish, too, the public knew what shenanigan went on to produce, repeatedly, such silly business.

I am obliged for suggestions about where to get clothes cheap, and hope these not utility1, for as I said, when dressed at all, I want to be dressed as suits myself and not as the government dictates, or anybody dictates.  We haven’t got six pounds.  We have under five a week, and most of it goes on the house so we just can buy food and some smokes. But when we make some money I can apply to the place you mention.

But I admit fit is the second-hand problem, though it is difficult to believe Sophie would be anything but willing to inquire of the millionaires she knows when opportune.

And again this brings us back to the vital issue, and the sensible view abut publishing and selling enough in both Britain and America to render charity to authors superfluous.  If it weren’t for racket controlling, I think every one of us be already without the necessity to ask the favours.

Everything good to yourselves to Jack’s book my book and the book about which I am eager to have clear facts—here’s hoping we soon have true facts about public matters, too, and give up huge plans, and a power war which is affecting us everyday, largely because the public is ignorant of the techniques and methods by which it is promulgated, and electorates can’t yet and should demand responsibility of irresponsible governments and forces.

Evelyn with love

During and for some years after the war, clothing was rationed and what was available met standards designed to reduce the use of fabric: these “utility” standards sometimes but not always affected their stylishness. Evelyn clearly thought them not stylish.

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

September 13, 1948: Letter from Gladys enclosing $25.
September 24, 1948: E got cheque for $50 from Maggie, which I paid into bank (it was made out to me)
October 14, 1948: Went into town and bought children’s book for Denise at Foyles. E got first parcel of clothes from Maggie today.
October 15, 1948: Bought more children’s books at Foyles.
October 16: 1948: Further parcel of clothes came for her today from Maggie
October 29, 1948: E got another parcel of clothes from Maggie.
November 26, 1948: . . . also packet of typewriting paper from Gladys.
December 25, 1948: At home all day, working mainly on Scilly novel. Removed teeth after tea, as very sore. Supper of steak. Work. Bed.March 14, 1949: Got letter from Margaret with $100
April 4, 1949: In evening found out we had run out of American-size typewriter paper, – and E accordingly depressed.

* * * * *

In November 1949, Jigg decided to try to find employment in Europe, and sailed to London en route to Paris. He had been given some small commissions in England and hoped to find work at the BBC or, failing that, a post in Paris, for which he felt he was well qualified with his fluent French and his extensive experience in radio journalism. The family had moved to Rutherford, New Jersey, where they lived at three different addresses during the following 18 months, including the period Jigg was in Europe.

 

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

November 17, 1949: Found E had opened in error letter for me from Pavla to say Jig coming to London.
November 20, 1949: Jig rang up from Regent Palace Hotel and arrived soon afterwards, bringing whisky. He stayed the night, company retiring, after coffee, at about 1.30

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

Regent Palace Hotel, London
Monday, November 21, 1949

Dearest baby—

I had a very severe shock a while ago.  The telephone in my room rang and when I answered it, it was my mother.  The letter you sent care of Jack was the means by which she knew I was coming; and they found out where I was by the simple expedient of calling up the Cunard line every day and asking where I would stay until the right ship came in.  Naturally I had to go out there, which I did last evening.

It was awful.  E Scott is much better—in fact, she is quite changed.  But they are both living in a state which I can only describe as near-destitution.  The house is up for sale.  For a while they hoped to live on some money the government allotted them to repair bomb damage; but that was not allowed.  Jack is very sick with the same thing Dad had—an infected prostate, but he can’t have it out because he does not dare give up the occasional tutoring jobs by which they keep body and soul together and take the time to be operated on.  They are both almost emaciated and so shabby they are quite ragged.  The rent from the house is no longer enough even to keep the house going, and the price of fuel and repairs, etc, has skyrocketed in the last few months so that they are heavily in the red.  Lately they have been unable to pay for the gas which heats the house, and the tenants are threatening to leave.  If that happened, they would have to leave themselves, with no place to go.  Jack has been trying to look for a job, but he can’t because he has no decent clothes, and all he has been able to get is a few kids to tutor.

I went out last night and stayed until midnight, then found that the underground closes and that there are no cabs late at night, so I slept on the couch.  But they no longer have even enough blankets to keep warm, and I slept under a coat.

I couldn’t stand it.  The upshot is that I lent them fifty dollars, mostly to pay the gas bill, buy a few clothes, and get something to eat.  They will also be able to fix up one of their 4 rooms so that they can take a lodger.

I’m sorry, baby.  It is really appalling.  Nobody asked me for anything but I just couldn’t stand it.  Blood is a little thicker than water, and it’s hard to watch anybody living on oatmeal.  I am sending out some of the grub I brought with me.

If you can raise the missing fifty I will be all right.  My room here is paid for until Wednesday—that is, Thursday morning, when I shall be able to go to a pension and live much more cheaply.  However, I find I can’t do that until they give me my ration books, which won’t be until Wednesday.

Try to raise it from two sources, on the grounds that my going to work is delayed by red tape.  It seems to me that Glads and Julia could do that between them.  I shall be in a frightful jam if I don’t get it, but I will do the best I can.  You should get a bank draft and send it to me here, or wire it here (to this hotel).  Even if I have moved, I can always get mail from the hall porter after I have left.

I am terribly sorry, baby.  The letter care of Jack was a mistake, and I should not have gone out there, but I didn’t know what I was getting into.  And I just simply couldn’t take it all in my stride.

I have told them that I am leaving for the continent on Wednesday, so they don’t expect to see me again excepting perhaps for a brief visit, which I can’t refuse.  I have between 35 and 40 dollars left, and that will do the trick if I can get the other fifty.  I would think up any reason but the real one, if I were you.  Tell them I have to pay for a laboring permit—anything you decide is propitious. I will avoid pitfalls hereafter.

The other thing I am in a hurry about is the letter to the Newsweek man in Paris.  I want to start planning to do something about that if life here seems too rough.  Paris is, I am told, quite comfortable, and we may be happier there.

I have a terrible pip at the moment, and I am sorry to afflict you with this dismal letter.  By the time I have seen BBC and so forth, I will feel better.  I have to get started pretty soon.  I intend to take a nap and then start on my rounds—I didn’t sleep at all last night.  I’ll let you know what I find out pronto.

When you send money or the letter to Jess Jones, send it airmail, or if you find it cheap enough, wire to me.  Perhaps you can send money with the message.

Once again my humble apologies.

I read your beautiful letter, and the letters from Freddy and Bumpy, and they made me break down.  Don’t give up hope or anything—it’s not that bad by any means.  And the 50 will put us back where we were before, so that nothing will really be changed.  Perhaps you can raise it in small chunks—I think the cost of a labor permit is the best excuse.  50 dollars is 15 pounds fifteen shillings, an enormous sum in England at the moment, the minimum wage being 6 pounds a week.  It represents a month’s wages to quite a few.

God bless you, baby.  I love you better than anything in the world.  I’ll write you again later, when I am more myself.

Your devoted husband,
Jigg

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

November 21, 1949: Jig left after breakfast, I putting him on right track for a taxi.
November 24, 1949: School–and lunched there. Tea. Nap. Jig arrived.
November 25, 1949: School as usual. Tea, Work. Nap. Supper of corned beef. Read stories etc to Jig. Bed.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

Rutherford, New Jersey
Saturday November 26 [1949]

Dearest Angel—

Today I got your letter about your mother and Jack.  I put a PS on the letter I was about to mail to you—about it–but this is the real answer.  And yet I don’t know what to say—except that until we have some money of our own we can’t help them any more—after than perhaps we can—at least enough for Jack to have his operation.  I was sorry to learn that they are so terribly up against it.  But we can do no more now, so please don’t get into anything more.  I have enough for myself and the kids with Julia’s and Gladys’ help, but if I have to send you more (not counting the other twenty you’ll get next week) before the normal need for more arises, if it does before you can get things started for us, the kids and I will be up against it.  So stretch it, will you, honey?  I’m dying to know how the BBC thing works out.  It’s the limit that your letters take so long to get here, but I suppose that regular mail would be 10 days instead of five.

I told [Deo1] and Aunt G that you had to pay 50 bucks for a labor permit.  They helped out, but we can expect no more from them for quite a while.  Julia and Glads are doing their best.

Dorothy McNamara, Paula’s maternal aunt.  This passage makes it clear just how dependent Jigg and Paula were on financial support from Paula’s family.

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

November 26, 1949: Walked home, and all three had lunch of soup, – no, mistake, – Jig didn’t want any! Nap.
November 27, 1949: Work most of day. After supper read aloud to E and Jig from This Emergent and from 1926 diary. Bed.
November 28, 1949: Morning school. Jig just leaving when I came home for lunch.
December 25, 1949: Spent all day quietly at home. After tea read E’s MS to p 515. Steak and Christmas-pudding for supper. Work. Bed.

* * * * *

In spite of some had seemed positive interviews in England and in France, Jigg did not secure employment in Europe and returned to the United States some weeks later. Evelyn had been very hopeful of his success in finding employment in Europe as she saw this as bringing her son and his family within easy reach of London and Jigg, realising this, did not tell his mother that he had returned to the United States jobless.

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

 

34. An inheritance is lost

Seely’s second wife, Melissa Whitehead, married Seely shortly after Maude travelled to Brazil to join Cyril and Evelyn.  She had been a work colleague of Seely’s (there are hints that she had been his secretary), was not much older than Evelyn, and the two women never met.  She would be, however, critical in Evelyn’s search for information about her father and his will:  the following sequence of letters records this search.  

In this sequence there are references to Maude “causing trouble”.  This refers to events of 1915, when Seely sent Maude to Brazil to look after Evelyn and her new baby, and soon after divorced her, in her absence, on grounds of “desertion”.  It was feared that Maude would cause trouble by seeking some form of financial support from Seely, and as a result Seely was anxious that his whereabouts were not known to Maude’s extended family.  In the event, Evelyn and Cyril took financial responsibility for Maude and later, after they were no longer able to do so, Maude became the responsibility of her Clarksville cousins, with whom she lived until her death in 1940.

Although there is no evidence in any of the correspondence to support this suspicion, it is easy to deduce that a reason for Seely’s decision to divorce Maude was his wish to marry his young colleague, Melissa Whitehead.

* * * * *

To Melissa Whitehead Dunn

26 Belsize Crescent
April 20, 1947

Mrs Melissa Whitehead Dunn
Lynchburg, Virginia USA

My dear Melissa

I will appreciate precise information from you about my father’s last years, when he fell ill, the exact date of his death, where he is buried, and so on; and, also, anything you incline to tell me about what you and he were doing in this interval of years since I last saw him, in nineteen-twenty-five; when I went to Washington, to your Kay Street flat (you were away) and he came up to New York.

I have just learned that he was dead, and the news is so belated that condolences may seem to be so, as well.  But believing you and he were very fond of each other, I am sure you feel it a loss not to have him there, and I am sorry—as, I must acknowledge, I am somewhat sorry for myself, too, since I always anticipated an eventual assumption of the old normal affectionate relations with my father, and, of course, with yourself the friendly give-and-take with which I think we began.  The hiatus of years, during which I have repeatedly attempted to re-establish contact, all in vain, would have been discouraging; and yet somehow I never doubted that the gap would be bridged, and an explanation given of his apparent ignoring of me; which I could but conjecture as, however wrongly from my point of view, due to complexities aroused by the fact that I was my mother’s daughter and was responsible for her practically.  My mother died in 1940 and in trying to see both sides of the situation (and you know, and he knew, I never criticized the divorce in any “strait-laced” way—as how could I being divorced myself now from Cyril, though I still respect him very much) I thought that, with my mother in the picture, perhaps normal human attitude would be easier for us all.

Well, that is enough of that!  Your whereabouts were given me in a very clear and good letter from J P Morgan and Company, to whom I wrote after having previously written to the Interstate Commerce Bureau.   They did return it, with a pencil scribble at the bottom, “resigned, Jan, 1926, died, 1943”,  date corrected as May, 1944 but day not given and much official stamping at the top.  And of course I could not let things rest there, and so wrote to the Head of J P Morgan and Company; as I was told, many years ago, that my father was a Morgan employee, and that you and he lived at Cranford, New Jersey.

The most exasperating aspect occurred in 1937, when Walter Frank, of the legal firm of Kurzmann and Frank, 25 Broad St, NY, was asked, by me, as a favour, to inquire about Father of various connections he had in Washington, and he agreed to do so, but refused to give me the address when he got it, because he said the lawyer who gave it to him thought it should be withheld lest my mother “make trouble”.  I did consider that an insult to my father, myself and her; and I was so indignant, at the time, that I suspended my search for a while—it just seemed so stupid, Melissa, when if I were a trouble-maker I would obviously not have waited twenty years to make trouble, damn it!  And Mother had many fatuities but much pride of a sort and would never have done anything of that kind, I am sure—couldn’t have, in her financial circumstances!  So much for meddlers—to hell with ‘em, is my sentiments!

One of the bits of gossip about you and my father that was circulating in Clarksville was that I had a half-brother, and while I would no believe mere gossip from any source, I have always hoped it was true, and it is merely because I heard of it in that way that I have a sort of bizarre sense of “indelicacy” in mentioning it.  But for your sake, too, I hope it was, and if so, you may be sure Melissa that it is an added reason for being on normal friendly terms, and certainly not the reverse.

I have discussed ourselves at some length in proof of the absence of any feeling of constraint on my side, and a perfect willingness to accept the decent explanation I think you must be as ready to give as to why we seem to have been plunged into mystifications, for nothing, all these years.  My address with Scribners has been in Who’s Who all the while, and father given there as father, but as you probably never thought of that when not communicating a happening so vital to me, that is no occasion, in itself, for any grudge.  However, Father being the man of sentiment I know he was, I should like to be assured that I was not forgotten by him in his last years.  Maybe you have a recent photograph of him you could spare?  He told me, in 1925, he still had the “Brick-Brownie” doll and other mementos of me, and I was most touched.

My good wishes to yourself as yourself, and the hope, for us all, of compensations for many things that were not happy.

* * * * *

To Andre Chenet1

Personal
[May 1947]

Mr Andre Chenet
New Orleans, Louisiana

Dear Mr Chenet,

I learned of the death of my father, Mr Seely Dunn, a year ago, when attempting, as I have on several previous occasions since the commencement of the as yet inexplicable silence antedating his death, to locate him as living.  And it has taken all this while to receive confirmation of the place of his interment, and to learn that you, as Melissa’s brother-in-law, had charge of the disposition of his ashes at Metairie Cemetary, New Orleans.

And as I have written Melissa four registered letters, of which three were, I am sure, correctly addressed, and must have reached her, and she has answered none of them, I judge her, for reasons as yet to be specified, to be unfriendly.  And I therefore appeal here, to you, as possibly taking a more detached view of conduct towards me, on her part, and that of my father (originally a most scrupulous man) which has caused me great distress, to assist me toward a human elucidation of what is behind her attitude, and whether or not it reflected his, and what his actually was.

When I last saw my father face to face in 1925, he was friendly and affectionate; and though Melissa was not in Washington when I stayed a night or two at their Kay Street flat, I was told she was not well, and at some sanatorium, and nothing whatever occurred to throw light on my father’s subsequent failure to reply to letters sent to his place of business; as we did not quarrel, and I had already, in 1919, been duly “forgiven” for any discomfort he may have suffered as a result of my having “run away” from home.

I have been indignant, at times, since, as any mother would be, that my father, who had every reason to be proud of his grandson, my son by my first marriage, Creighton Scott  was ignored and I do not pretend that I do not think it distinctly odd, to say the least, that, as I was quite honestly the “adored” only grandchild of my grandparents, Mr and Mrs O M Dunn, and continued to believe they merely consigned to my father a responsibility toward me they had previously considered theirs, when they re-made their Will and left everything to him (in 1921, a year before their death), that there is, as yet, no indication, that my father, when gravely ill, and not give me, his daughter (and as far as I know, he and Melissa had no children) so much as a thought.  But I hope the impression that he did not is erroneous; and will asking for your help in clearing up whatever misapprehension may have given rise to his attitude, to tell Melissa, also, that, in consistence with my own loyalties, I am entirely willing to resume friendly communication with her, provided the decent human explanation is forthcoming.

But as I am not unimaginative about other people’s troubles, I quite realize that the explanation of yourself or any personal friend of my father’s, may completely alter my view of what seems to have taken place; and to that I look forward.  Tell Melissa my father was so afraid of “yellow journalism” when he stayed in NY (1925) he registered at Earls Hotel off Washington Square as “Captain O’Neil” and became panicky when I was visited by a friend who was a “feature-writer” but not of “yellow” journalism.2

The name of my first husband, from whom I am divorced, was legally changed to Scott, and my son, who was originally named for my father, dropped Seely for Creighton, as I dropped “Elsie” for Evelyn; and while my father and Melissa knew this, the fact that we all suffered something as the butt of “yellow journalists”, when I ran away from home, may have been an ingredient in a “mystery” to me highly painful; and may have something to do with the failure of Melissa to inform the Biloxi hospital of my existence and ask them to notify me of his illness, as of his death.  And all these things I am taking into account, in an effort to be just, although I admit I feel somewhat “ill-used”, and Melissa should realize even in New Orleans we are what is called distinguished people.

I acknowledge a “posthumous” clearing of the air cannot be the same as if my father were living, but it is, nonetheless, something for which I would be very grateful, indeed.

Sincerely yours,

[Did not respond or admit he “buried” my father’s ashes—acknowledged this letter and no more. This version of pen most accurate word by word as other letter mailed before I put the pen emendations here but this is approximate and has all the gist of the first minus to crossed and equivalents.]

1Melissa’s brother-in-law

2It appears that Evelyn and Cyril’s “elopement” precipitated a flurry of interest in the so-called “yellow” press, mainly newspapers owned by William Randolp Hearst. This coverage appears to have caused her family and Cyril’s considerable distress.

* * * * *

To the Postmaster, Lynchburg, Virginia

September 8, 1947

Postmaster
Lynchburg, Virginia [Replied with forwarding address]

Sir,

On April 21st, 1947, I mailed registered, a letter addressed to Mrs Melissa Whitehead Dunn, 252 Norfolk Avenue, Lynchburg, Va, which was of the utmost importance, as it was a request for information regarding the death and last illness of my father, Mr Seely Dunn, formerly of Lynchburg, which I have since learned occurred at the Veterans’ Facility, Biloxi, Mississippi, May, 1944; but of which I had not notified at the time.

When I did not hear from Mrs Melissa Dunn, as I had supposed I would, as my letter was entirely friendly, and though distressed, merely repeated an explanation of her silence (I am a professional author and my address with my literary agents or with my publishers, Chas Scribner’s of New York, was available), I also wrote to the Clerk of the Records of Lynchburg, asking for my former step-mother’s address and any information relevant to my father he could give me, and he replied very kindly, but no will is recorded there, and the Clerk knew of Mrs Melissa Dunn, merely that she was said to be “in Washington”.

My father served in the 1914 war, and having no personal contacts in Washington, I wrote, on the advice of a family connection, to the Dependants and Beneficiaries Claims Services of the Veterans’ Administration, asking them for further information and through them learned where my father had died.  But of Mrs M W Dunn they could tell me nothing.

I am, therefore, writing to you to be good enough to affirm the receipt of my registered letter at the Lynchburg Post Office, where I have assumed it did arrive as it had my return address as above.  What is perhaps forwarded to the addressee, and is it permissible to give me her address:  If so I should much appreciate it, though I am certainly discouraged in the matter of her willingness to assist, and especially as I have written to a Mr Oldham, who I am told was, for a very short time, before my father retired, in business with him, and that letter also has so far been ignored.

I feel a degree of apologeticness in appealing thus to a stranger but my predicament is, I believe, sufficiently unusual to justify it.

Very truly yours,

I am known professionally as Evelyn Scott

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

 

United States Post Office
Lynchburg, Virginia

September 16, 1947

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

Replying to your letter of September 8, 1947, the registered letter referred to, sent by you to Mrs Melissa Whitehead Dunn, was forwarded to addressee at #1421 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington 5, DC.

Yours very truly,
S W West, Postmaster

* * * * *

To S W West, Postmaster, Lynchburg, Virginia

October 5, 1947

Dear Mr West,

I greatly appreciate your reply to my inquiry as to whether the letter I addressed to the second wife of my father, Mr Seely Dunn, deceased, and sent to her former home, 252 Norfolk Avenue, Lynchburg, on April 21st, 1947, had reached you, and been forwarded.

I especially thank you for telling me that it was forwarded to 1421 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC, as, while I was awaiting your reply (which was prompt and that, too, is appreciated) I was given 1421 “Moss” Ave,1 as her address by a friend, and as my communication is important you have saved me trouble.  The war has taught us to value accuracy.

Yours very truly

Morgan gave Moss Ave other was “forwarding” address—probably for “bureau” de lon tum etc

1The confusion may have arisen out of the habit of referring to “Massachusetts” as “Mass”. Evelyn would not have known this, and understood the shortened version to be “Moss”.

* * * * *

To Melissa Whitehead Dunn

October 5, 1947

[Mrs Melissa W Dunn (sent with a request for unofficial forwarding and as a personal favour to the sender, by Mr R J Hinton of Washington, DC, whom I have asked to glance at its contents that he may be assured he is not being imposed upon by me)]

Dear Melissa [Was not acknowledged]

This is the fourth letter sent you requesting you to explain why my father did not reply to letters sent various business addresses during all the years since 1925, when I visited him briefly at the apartment in Kay Street you and he had when he was the Assistant Director of the Interstate Commerce Bureau; why I was not notified when he became seriously ill, and I could have been reached as Evelyn Scott through my publishing address, or Chas Scribner’s, as given in Who’s Who and elsewhere, and through other publishers of my earlier books; and why I was not notified of his death?

This is being sent as an “open” letter, which is quite unofficial, Mr Hinton having demonstrated a good will I wish were more frequently encountered as we flounder in “red tape” and as I don’t want to embarrass him with any emotional intricacies which may be involved, I won’t go into detail as I have in letters sent to addresses given me as your home addresses..

But it is a fact that I never quarrelled with my father, and that while my first husband Cyril Kay Scott, for whom myself and my present husband have the utmost human respect, did have a “scrap” with you, about my early books, of which you disapproved, I cannot believe anything so trivial at the bottom of conduct on either your part or my father’s so unjustified I now see things.

When I last saw my father in Washington, and he went to New York to see me, he was as usual affectionate and kindly.  I visited England that year and he sent me a fifty dollar check and wrote in the same affectionate terms.  But when I was in Washington at the flat you were not there, and the explanation was very vague, and made the more so by the fact that Mr Scott and myself had already decided to separate—I say the more vague, because he had defended me to you in the one “tiff” that had occurred.  My father knew I expected to resolve the situation as between Cyril and myself as it was resolved in a civilized divorce.  I afterwards some years later married my present husband John Metcalfe the British-American author but there was certainly no “grudge” there as you have not as yet met him, so what is it about?

I am as would be normal for any mother, more indignant on behalf of my son by my first marriage, Creighton Scott than on behalf of myself.  Creighton as you, Melissa very well know was first named “Seely” because of the affectionate esteem in which his father Cyril Kay Scott and myself held Seely Dunn.  The Creighton which he preferred was preferred and the Seely dropped  because of my father’s inscrutable attitude.  I realize divorces were not, at the time my father got his from my mother, Mrs Maud Thomas Dunn, who died in Clarksville Tennessee, in 1940, taken as a commonplace as they are now, but my father’s very obvious anxiety then lest my mother “make trouble” was preposterous actually.

You will remember that at the time myself and Mr Scott and Creighton saw you and my father in New York, while my father was still in the US Army, my father did not so much as want Creighton to know his grandfather was his grandfather, lest child as he was he tell my mother (Mr Scott was supporting her then) that he was in contact with ourselves.

But of course as I do know such an attitude was not typical of my father.  I think the explanation must be in the falsity of suggestions made to him from some external sources, and, no doubt, to you, too.  In nineteen-thirty-seven, I tried to locate him, and was told by the intermediary, who actually knew where my father was and wouldn’t tell me, that my father had the same fear of being made responsible for my mother; for whom I actually had the entire moral responsibility though financially assisted at intervals by my relatives and present husband.

The preposterous ingredient must have been due to lies of a sort, and really is unreasonable, as my mother made no effort to contest a divorce on the nominal grounds of “desertion” by her; never asked my father for a penny as far as I know-and I think my mother could never have “kept a secret” whatever the condition.  And when I did last see my father, soon after the death of my grandparents, who, though I now know my grandfather remade his Will and left everything to my father, my father certainly had not taken the position that I was to have nothing (and as yet jhaven’t had a cent, or so much as one of my grandmother’s thirty three thousand dollars worth of diamonds), the inference was that he continued to feel some responsibility for myself as his child.

The moment “money” is mentioned, a flavour of the “sordid”, seems inevitable; but after all, tangibles are included with intangibles in most versions of responsibility, and while I put the intangibles before everything I continue, again, to insist that my father owed me some final recognition of my existence and the debt is tangible and intangible both.

I think there is a civilized opportunity for clearing things up and making some amends to both Creighton and myself.

Sincerely

* * * * *

To Melissa Whitehead Dunn

Personal
October 5, 1947

Dear Melissa  [not acknowledged]

I sent you a registered letter air mail1 on September 19th, 47 which I am certain was addressed correctly as far as my information at the time went:  to Apt 607, Heatherington-Apartments, 1421 “Moss” Ave, Washington, DC 54.  But as your address was given thus to a friend who, I think, misread the abbreviation “Mass” as “Moss”; and as Massachusetts Avenue is now confirmed as correct to the Lynchburg Post Office, through which I have been inquiring as to what happened to the registered letter sent to you from here last April 21st, 1947, I sent this to make sure you do know I have been trying to contact you and elicit a reply from you regarding my father ever since I first learned last January that he died.

I have a carbon of the letter of Sept 19th, 47 and of the letter of April 21st, 1947, and if you wish their contents repeated, I will be pleased to send you copies of my carbons, but I feel sure you must have had the first letter at least; and hope the second is in the hands of a Post Office sufficiently perspicacious to realize what mistake was made.  When the letter of Sept 19th, 1947, was sent here in London, there was something of a flurry in the PO, and matters were further complicated by the fact that the officiating clerk wrote “Whitehead” instead of Dunn on the registry receipt; but he says that is not important as the registry number is correct.  However the matter of having been originally given a wrong address, or a misunderstood address, is something else.  And as the letter is concerned with your private affairs, as with mine, and is a point blank demand to know why you have not informed me as my father’s daughter regarding his death, and given me some human explanation of the inscrutable and to me wrong wrong wrong silence maintained during so many years before he died, perhaps you will prefer not to have it fall into other hands than your own.  I therefore suggest that you inquire at the Washington Head Post Office for the letter unless you have already received it.

We have as my other letters tell you, various conjectural explanation of why my father did something so “out of character” as appears, but you are in a position to make a civilized gesture that is explanatory in more than conjecture merely.  And I insist and insist again that my father himself, uninfluenced, could not possibly have completely neglected me his only child voluntarily since nineteen-twenty-five, and that he could not possibly have entirely failed to included myself and Creighton when bequeathing (assuming he made a Will) whatever he had when everything he had was originally my Grandfather O M Dunn’s and was ultimately intended for “Elsie”.  That my name is now legally Evelyn doesnt not affect the situation or the human history behind this.

I hope you will agree both regarding the explanation and the necessity for amends of some sort.

Sincerely as myself first but also as the daughter of Seely Dunn (I may here ask whether he is buried at Metairie, as I haven’t yet found that out)

[1952—Julia Swinburne Scott the fourth grandchild of my father the late Seely Dunn of Lynchburg was born in the USA July 6th, 1951 Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe—nee Elsie Dunn professional author writes as Evelyn Scott]

This letter has not survived.

* * * * *


To Andre Chenet

Personal
October 30, 1947

I think you are the Mr Chenet in question, but wishing to preserve an accurate record of this correspondence, I ask, in case of error, for the return to me of my letter to my present address  I am a US citizen but my husband is British, domiciled in USA which he has recently visited to maintain his status, as a quota-re-entrant, and we are here for the time

Sir,

Having learned by the merest chance, in an effort to re-contact as living, my father, the late Mr Seely Dunn of Lynchburg, Va, at one time a resident of New Orleans, that he had died, in 1944; I have been for the better part of a year writing officials and others who seemed likely sources of information regarding his illness, place of death, place of internment, his executors, and the present whereabouts of his second wife, Mrs Melissa Whitehead Dunn.  And I have just been informed, by the Deputy Clerk of the Civil District Court of the Parish of Orleans, who has been most generous in his efforts on my behalf, that, according to the advice given him, a Mr Chenet he believes to be yourself, as your phone number was also given him, had charge of arrangements for the interment of my father at Metairie Ridge Cemetary.

I am the daughter of Mr Seely Dunn, and as far as I know, his only child, his first marriage having been to my mother, Mrs Maud Thomas Dunn of Clarksville, Tennessee, from whom he was divorced , and who died in Clarksville in1940.  And while I have for many years, been much distressed and perplexed by the conduct of my father, always previously scrupulous and responsible, in not having replied to letters written him at his early business addresses, I cannot yet belief that the neglect to notify me when he became seriously ill was his intention; and it seems to me entirely out of character—his character—that he should have done this.  And I continue convinced he must have remembered me in some way in his Will or elsewhere, and therefore hope that, his executors once located, a distressing situation can be cleared up.

I saw my father face to face, last, in 1925, in Washington and in New York, and he was friendly and affectionate, and send me, afterwards, a check for fifty dollars, for which I had not asked.  And though I have realized the fact that I had the entire moral responsibility for my mother, and supported her, with some assistance from relatives and my husband (my first husband, Mr Cyril Kay Scott and my present husband both actually), probably disturbed his conscience, he was never reproached by me, and must have known I continued fond of him.

If therefore you are the Mr Chenet in question, and did actually arrange my father’s funeral, I hope you will respond to this with the information to which I have a human and legal right.

However, if the explanation exists, we will all be most grateful to have it, as I am sure, would my own grandfather, Mr O M Dunn, who lived in New Orleans for more than half his life, and who was a bond of sympathy between me and my father, as we both admired him as “the salt of the earth”—something said of many people but in this case merely just.

Hoping for an early reply from you, and that it will be one to relieve my natural concern, I am,
Very truly yours

* * * * *

To Melissa Whitehead Dunn

Personal
October 3, 1951

Dear Melissa:

Will you, in case you have actually received the four letters sent by me to this address, one forwarded by the Lynchburg Postmaster, and possibly, a fifth letter I requested the “Veterans’ Bureau” “Department of Claims, etc” to send on—in case you have every one of these letters, or even ONE of them, won’t you please emerge from your silence and make some moderately human gesture in elucidation of why you did not tell the “Veterans’ Facility”, when my Father was ill and dying, that I was his daughter and should know something of his death and his estate.

Will you tell me anything whatever?  You know something of my candour and you must have realized I would not just meekly accept a stand on your part superficially “irrational” as my Father himself identified me when Cyril applied in 1923 for the Permanent Scott Family Passport and he—my Father, the late Mr Seely Dunn of Washington at one time—signed the application, and it is absurd to be aware as I think you must have been that my Father has been on record as my Father since 1914 or 1915 when my Mother came to Brazil to “visit” us and registered as Maud Thomas Dunn (Mrs Seely Dunn) at the American Consulate in Recife the day she landed from the Lamport and Holt steamer.

It was in Recife that Cyril with my agreement took the first step toward the establishment of the Common Law Marriage which we had decided was the one solution since his second wife in New Orleans would not, then, as yet, divorce him, though long afterward—a few years, we gathered—she did.

You know all these things and that every word I have said about any of these official steps is the truth and that our Common Law Marriage was re-established in the States with our documented re-acceptance as a family and our documented change of name:  not a change by deed-pole [sic] but by usage.

We must be accepted as we are, as having taken the steps we did for the motives actually ours, which were accepted until this damnable war seemed to re-poison American and British minds.  And I have brought up the date business because I cannot think of anything else that you could possibly have been exploited to alarm either you or my Father about our relationship.

Maybe I am just “telling you something”—if so well and good.  I do not and never did like any sort of concealment, and that you and my Father began in Lynchburg with what may have been merely as a social lie in denying my existence, has resulted in humiliations, implied insults from every quarter, and I really don’t know what else, as myself any my second husband John Metcalfe have been stuck here in Britain with just enough money to keep us actually in food, and literally no more, ever since he was demobilized.

We have been immolated, Creighton and his wife and children have been nearly so we are allowed to think and it must be so, and this is probably as true of Cyril who is I am certain basically unchanged, though we do not hear from him and his Wellman son does not answer letters, or else does not receive them.

Anyone with an atom of sense should realize that to communicate with myself and Jack normally is to stop libel, and that to be silent, is to foment it.  So it may be your letters—Melissa—have been sent to me and I never got them.  My daughter-in-law says I do not receive elucidating letters sent by her here.

Will you please acknowledge this as suits you
Evelyn-Elsie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Office of Register of Wills and Clerk of the Probate Court
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Washington, DC
December 7, 1951

Dear Madam:

In response to your letter of November 21, 1951, in further reference to the estate of Seely Dunn, deceased,  you are advised that this office can add nothing to our previous letter (dated October 16th, 1951).  An examination of the records of this office still fails to disclose that a Will of the said Seely Dunn, deceased, has been filed herein or that Letters of Administration have ever been applied for upon his estate.

Very respectfully
Theodore Cogswell
Register of Wills, Clerk of the Probate Court

* * * * *

The finality of this letter puts a seal on Evelyn’s search for her father’s will and her inheritance. There are hints of Evelyn’s suspicion that Melissa Dunn may have concealed the existence of this will and, as Seely would therefore have been deemed to have died intestate, she would thus have inherited all his property, but there is no evidence for this.

Next week, back to the realities of life in post-war London.

 

33. In search of an inheritance

At about this time Evelyn decided to re-open contact with her father, Seely Dunn, whom she had last seen at a brief but cordial meeting in Washington DC in 1925.  This desire may have been prompted by filial affection, but was very probably also motivated by her difficult financial position and by her hope that her prosperous father would be able to help.

When she tried to re-establish contact in 1946, she was shocked to discover that her father had died in 1943, and that she had not been told. This, naturally, upset her. She also believed that her father would have left her a sizeable sum of money, as her grandfather, Oliver Milo Dunn, had been very well off and she believed he would have passed a sum to Seely to be kept in trust for her.

Evelyn’s search began in 1946, when she learned of her father’s death. She embarked on a flurry of letter writing to try to establish both the facts of her father’s death and the existence of the will which she was confident would establish her claim to this inheritance. These letters, in a very different style to her more informal correspondence, demonstrate Evelyn’s desperate and obsessive search for information by writing to every individual and institution that might possibly help her. Many letters repeated the same information again and again and these passages have been deleted in the interests of brevity and readability.

A significant feature of this correspondence is Evelyn’s increasing reference to libel, as well as some references to the current politica situation as the cause of this libel.  This is a taste of the tone of many of the letters she later wrote.

[Most of the letters from Evelyn in this sequence are unsigned carbon copies.  In the early 1950s, Evelyn began annotating the letters she wrote and those she  received in her characteristic spiky hand.  It is not possible to reproduce this handwriting in this blog, so, as a poor proxy, Evelyn’s comments are designated by italics within square brackets.]

* * * * *

Obituary
Seely Dunn
from The News, Lynchburg VA, May 6th 1944

[Married Maud Thomas Feb 4 1892 divorced during 1914 war.  Evelyn Scott Metcalfe, born Elsie Dunn is Mr Dunn’s only child]

Seely Dunn, 74, of Lynchburg died at 5.15 am in a government hospital at Biloxi, Miss, following a long illness. [born Toledo Ohio]

Born October 13, 1869, he was the only child of Oliver Milo and Harriet Seely Dunn of New Orleans.  He was married Nov 18, 1917, [second wife was] to Melissa Whitehead of New Orleans, a relative of the Virginia Whitehead family.

Mr Dunn was a railroad executive until World War I, in which he was a captain and later a major.  Before the war he spent two years in Honduras as construction engineer in charge of surveying through the jungles for a railroad for the United Fruit Company.  For six years after the war he was with the Interstate Commerce Commission in Washington from which position he resigned to become associated with the firm of J P Morgan in New York.  He retired in 1935 and came to Virginia to live.

Though confined to his home for most of the time he lived in and near Lynchburg, he became well known.

After coming to this section Maj Dunn purchased a home near Forest Road, later selling his place and coming to town.

* * * * *

The following is the letter with which Evelyn started her quest, and which was returned to her with unexpected and unpleasant news.  The letter, in an unopened envelope, was returned and on it was scrawled, in pencil, ” Resigned January 1928, died 1943″.

* * * * *

To Director, Bureau of Interstate Commerce

[This brought return of my letter with unsigned marginal scribble announcing my father’s death.]

Personal Attention, Please
26 Belsize Crescent
Hampstead, London NW3
December 22, 1946

To the Director of the
Bureau of Interstate Commerce
Washington, DC

Sir

It is with a degree of hesitation that I approach a stranger, in connection with so intimate a matter as information as to the present whereabouts of my father, Mr Seely Dunn; whose address I herewith request you to supply if you are able.

My father was, in 1925, when I spent a few days with him in Washington, the Assistant Director of your Bureau, and resided at 1746 K Street, where he had an apartment in a building in which, I believe, he had an interest; and I was told, a year or two later, that he had removed from Washington to Cranford, New Jersey, and was employed by the firm of J P Morgan and Company.  But since he was in Washington, he has neglected to correspond with me; and while I attribute this to the estrangement between him and my mother, from whom he was divorced, and who died in 1940 in Clarksville, Tennessee, and, therefore, bear him no grudge, I have frequently, and particularly during the war, been regretful of the unjust impression created by having to give his address, on my American passport application, and other documents, as “unknown”, and being obliged to say that I do not know whether or not he is, as I hope, still very much among the living. [reply was very sad news of my father’s death—date given in error as 1943.  It was 1944 I now know–1951]

I now hope, however, that you will be able to put me in touch with him, again, and there may be some resumed contact with him—at least to the extent of a letter.

Again, my apologies for troubling you; but I shall certainly be most grateful for any assistance you can give me, preferably by forwarding this letter to my father himself, or, if not that, by requesting Mr DeBardeleben, Junior, to do so, should you chance to know him.  And in any case, if you do neither, and can tell me where to write to my father, I shall appreciate the return to me of this letter, which I should prefer was not in a file to which others have access, where it might be misconstrued as reflecting on him, which is not at all my intention.

Very truly yours,

My father should know, I think, that while British by marriage, I am still an American citizen.

I enclose an envelope with, I hope, the appropriate stamps—the only American stamps I have!

 

* * * * *

From N C Brooke, Postmaster, Washington DC

United States Post Office
Washington 13, DC

April 10, 1947

Dear Madam:

Reference is made to your letter of December 22, 1946, (received under register No 3955) requesting assistance in obtaining information concerning your father Mr Seely Dunn, at one time the Assistant Director of the Bureau of Interstate Commerce and a resident of this city.

Considerable research has been made in an effort to help you in this matter insofar as postal regulations permit.  It has been ascertained that Mr Dunn left this city in the year 1941, moving to a farm in the state of Virginia, where he died on May 5, 1944 and the farm has subsequently been sold.

It is regretted that no information can be furnished concerning the address of the present Mrs Seely Dunn.

Very truly yours,
N C Brooke
Postmaster

* * * * *

So sure was she that her father would have made some provision for her in his will that she sent similar letters to all the possible jurisdictions in which a will may be been lodged:  The Lynchburg Virginia Circuit Court, the Lynchburg Probate Court, the Lynchburg County Court, the New Orleans Civil District Court  and the court for Gulfport Mississippi, as well as  New Orleans and Lynchburg Virgina Public Libraries.  The content was broadly similar, and the following example gives a flavour of these letters and of the irrelevancies Evelyn thought necessary to include.

* * * * *

To Judge of the Probate Court, Lynchburg, Virginia

Personal
June 12, 1947

Judge of the Probate Court  [sent in duplicate was not acknowledged]
For Lynchburg, Virginia

Sir,

I take the liberty of applying to you for any information you can give me concerning my father, the late Mr Seely Dunn of Lynchburg.  I appeal to you in some embarrassment on so personal a matter, but I am Mr Dunn’s daughter and, as far as I know, his only child, and when I have clarified my reasons for doing so I hope that you will consider me humanly justified.

My father’s first marriage was to my mother, Mrs Maud Thomas Dunn, a native of Clarksville, Tennessee, who died there in 1940; and as he had re-married his present widow, Mrs Melissa Whitehead Dunn, after his divorce from my mother, and as I was in constant contact with her, and had the full financial responsibility for her maintenance, that may explain why my father, since 1925, has not communicated with me or replied to my letters.

This, however, is conjecture, for my father, throughout my childhood, was a generous and scrupulous parent, and we never subsequently quarreled.  Nor could he and his second wife have supposed me reprehending regarding his divorce, for I am also divorced; and, for that matter, while still married to my first husband, Cyril Kay Scott (author, painter and lecturer, and an American citizen) I and he met my father and his wife and, I am sure, amply demonstrated our impartiality as regarded my father’s divorce and re-marriage, and my son by my first marriage, my son was then a child of five or six years of age, Mr Creighton Scott (also an American citizen) met my father and his wife as well.

In 1925, when he was with the Interstate Commerce Bureau, I visited him briefly in Washington, DC (when he was most affectionate and considerate), and it was to the ICB I first wrote last autumn; asking them to return my letter if they were unable to forward it to him.  It was returned, with a note on his death scribbled on  it, and that was the first I had heard of it; though on writing to J P Morgan and Company, on the suggestion of the late Mr Morgan’s sister-in-law, I was told, by a Mr Moseley of Morgan’s, of my father’s service with them, his independent business venture (they did not tell me what it was), and his final removal to Lynchburg.  And as soon as I had the Norfolk Avenue address I wrote to my stepmother, and she has not yet answered, and as I am in doubt as to what her attitude toward me is, I cannot even be certain of her replying at all.

In 1925, when my father was especially nice to me, and after I went to Washington, came to New York to see me, in turn, my grandparents, Mr and Mrs Oliver Milo Dunn of New Orleans, Louisiana, had not been long dead.  And my father showed me a news clipping which, though it did not, as I recall it, give the terms of my grandfather’s Will, gave the estimate of his estate as evaluated at something over three-hundred-and-thirty-five thousand dollars, and the jewelry of my grandmother (who collected diamonds, in a modest way) as worth thirty-five thousand dollars in the market as it was then.  And as my father was an only child, I assume this went to him, and that he, therefore, had some substance to dispose of.  But I do resent, at this juncture, having been kept in the dark as to the disposition of my father’s property and effects, and think I have every right to know precisely what was done with them; and this regardless of whether or not I was included in his Will.  He was a man of high standing in business, and prior to the hiatus in our correspondence, was meticulous in his family obligations, and I cannot reconcile with what I know of his character what seems the omission of so much as a memento for me in any of his final arrangements.

I should, also, say, to avoid any possible confusion, that I was originally christened “Elsie”, and any reference to his daughter “Elsie” which exists in a documentary way is to myself.  However, I have never used the name since I became an adult.  I have been signing book contracts as Evelyn all my adult life, my two marriages are the marriage of Evelyn, and my father himself subscribed to my signature as Evelyn on my first application for an American passport, and I was divorced as Evelyn, and Evelyn is now my legal name; though I am still my father’s daughter; and at the beginning of the war, when my husband, who is still domiciled in the USA as I myself am, took up his old commission in the Royal Air Force (in which, until recently, when he was released, he was a Squadron Leader) I requested Judge Matt Lyle, of Clarksville, Tennessee, to procure me my birth certificate and several affadavits, signed by persons who have know me all my life swearing that Elsie Dunn, as I was when christened, and Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe, as I am now, are one and the same.

I am assured that, in England, information regarding Wills can be had by applying to Somerset House, and is open to the public; and while, of course, it is possible my father left no Will, I think it likely he did, and am assuming you are at liberty to advise me in this regard.  But it is on the human side most of all that I would be grateful for any possible illumining as to my father’s incredible silence during these last years, and anything whatever that throws light on that will be welcome, as, also, information as to Mrs Melissa Whitehead Dunn’s present whereabouts, if you have it.

I respectfully await your reply,
Very Truly Yours
[Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe neé Elsie Dunn]

* * * * *

To the Head, Veterans’ Administration

July 9, 1947

In Reference to Major Seely Dunn deceased, and Claim No XC 910 629

Sir,

I am writing to request you, if possible, to amplify the very meager information I have received, in recent months, concerning my father, Major Seely Dunn, who served in nineteen-fourteen; and of whose death I learned by the merest chance, when I wrote to the Interstate Commerce Bureau last fall, requesting assistance in locating him.  My letter was returned by them, as I had asked, if it could not be forwarded to my father, with a pencil scribble informing me that he had died.

I had received no communication from my father for some years, in spite of several efforts to contact him; and while the explanation was yet to be forthcoming, I attributed this to the fact that he and my mother, Mrs Maud Thomas Dunn, of Clarksville, Tennessee, (who is also now deceased) were divorced and he had remarried.  But as when I last saw him he was kind and affectionate and we never quarreled this is merely conjecture; and while until learning of his death I always hoped he himself would elucidate his peculiar silence, I now feel it encumbent on myself to clear it up if this can be done.

I have been much distressed by the fact that I was not notified of my father’s serious illness or death, and I have written to a legal friend in New York to supplement this effort to get at the truth by forwarding an inquiry from me to the Probate Judge in Lynchburg, but as my own attempt to get facts began last September and beyond knowing my father has died I seem to have gotten nowhere, you will I think appreciate my persistence.  I was baptized “Elsie” and was called that by my grandparents, Mr and Mrs O M Dunn of New Orleans, La (my grandfather was the General Superintendent of the Southern Lines of the Illinois Central), but the name Elsie was dropped when I became adult, and I have been twice married and once divorced as Evelyn, and my father himself subscribed to the Evelyn I use on my passport and in book contracts, so I cannot believe the failure to notify me due to any confusion regarding the childhood “Elsie”.

I make myself very explicit so that no time will be lost because of any vagueness on my part, and I await your reply with much appreciation for your attention to my dilemma.

Very truly yours

I was born in Clarksville, Tenn.  I have a birth certificate and refer you for corroboration to Judge Matt Lyle of Clarksville.

 

* * * * *

To R J Hinton, Dependents and Beneficiaries Claim Service

Personal
August 17, 1947

Dear Mr Hinton

This is to thank you very much indeed for your kind and informative letter regarding the circumstances and place of death of my father, Mr Seely Dunn.

I am, however, still ignorant as to what was done with any other estate he may have had, and am as puzzled as ever as to why my step-mother did not notify me or have me notified when he was as ill as he must have been to have been “hospitalized” in Biloxi; and I am as distressed as ever on the human score of an apparent ignoring of us by him which is completely in conflict with my previous knowledge of his character, and with his attitude when I last saw him.

Please do not think that I wrote to the Veterans Administration with any idea of contesting my step-mother’s claim.  I am sufficiently familiar with service regulations in Britain to have realized before writing the Administration that I myself did not qualify as a “dependent”; nor would I have wished to “compete” in such an unpleasant way under any circumstances:  it is a most repugnant thought.

And with this plea regarding the address, and my thanks reiterated, I am

* * * * *

To the Head, Veterans’ Administration Facility, Biloxi, Mississippi

Personal
August 25, 1947

Sir,

I am writing to inquire for information regarding the illness and death of my father, Mr Seely Dunn, formerly of Lynchburg, Virginia; who I learn, was hospitalized in your institution, during his final illness, and there died, on May 5th, 1944.

My father and my mother, Mrs Maud Thomas Dunn, formerly of New Orleans, were divorced (my mother has since died in Clarksville, Tennessee, her native place), but while my father did not contribute to her support, and I was financially responsible for her during her last years, I was always on good terms with my father, who re-married, and whose second wife I also met at a time when she appeared amiable; and I have, in consequence, been much distressed by my father’s silence. And it was to relieve this distress, that I repeated, almost a year ago, my previous attempts to get in contact with him,  and it was then that I learned, on the return of his letter, with a scribble at the bottom[of the envelope] that he had died.

The Clerk of the Court there also replied very courteously, to the effect that my father had no Will recorded in Lynchburg, and that Mrs Melissa W Dunn had removed to Washington.  But did not know her address, nor did he know where my father had died.

New Orleans was the home of my grandparents, and, at one time, of my father and mother and myself.  But my continued mystification is due to the fact that I have written to relatives in New Orleans and to friends who are in close contact with New Orleans and not a one of them have, as yet, been able to tell me anything specific about my father.

So I am somewhat where I was as to specific and personal information and personal contacts with those who knew my father himself.  Can you tell me to whom to write as probably helpful in this connection?  Can you inform me of what illness my father is supposed to have died?

I will be grateful for any assistance,

Will you be good enough to tell me whether obituaries of my father were published in New Orleans newspapers, and whether these mentioned among his survivors myself my son by my previous marriage, Mr Creighton Scott, and his three children, Denise, Fredrick and Mathew Scott my father’s great grand-children

Very truly yours,

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Veterans Administration
Washington 25, DC

September 18, 1947

[I do not think it is with Veteran prerogatives to keep me out of contact with any of my family family-connections or friends]

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

This will acknowledge receipt of your letter dated August 17, 1947, in which you request information concerning the present address of the veteran’s widow.

In reply you are informed that under the provision of existing laws and regulations this information may not be released to you, however, if you will forward to the Veterans Administration a letter addressed to Mrs Melissa Whitehead Dunn in an unsealed envelope bearing sufficient postage without return address, this Administration will undertake to forward the letter to the latest address of record for Mrs Dunn.

Very truly yours,
R J Hinton
Director
Dependents and Beneficiaries Claims Service

[I complied neither Melissa nor Mr Hinton ever acknowledged my letter  I sealed the letter—not I think, I asked Mr Hinton to read it and mail it as a personal favour]

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Veterans Administration Center
Biloxi. Mississippi

September 22, 1947

My dear Mrs Metcalfe:

I have your registered letter of August 25, 1947, making certain inquiries concerning the last illness and death of your father, Mr Seely Dunn.

I recall very well the hospitalization of your father and recall that his wife, Mrs Melissa Whitehead Dunn, was with him during his last period of illness and death at this institution.

We only have on file the clinical records.  Our records indicate, however, that your father was admitted here for treatment on December 24, 1943, and died on May 5, 1944, the cause of his death being Carcinoma of the Tongue.  On the authorization of his wife, the body of your father was prepared for shipment and sent to J William Lee’s Sons Company, Washington, DC, for cremation.

We have no records as to any other relatives that might have been listed by Mr Dunn at the time of his hospitalization here.  As stated above, the entire records outside of the actual clinical files were forwarded to the Veterans Administration in Washington, DC, for filing in connection with other records in his case.

I am sure that a letter of explanation similar to your letter of August 25, 1947, addressed to this station, if forwarded to the Veterans Administration in Washington, DC, could serve as a basis for the development of further information which you might desired.

Very truly yours
E A Hillier
Manager

[1952—I blame the war for most of medicine’s mistakes—misdiagnosis was said to be frequent.  This happened three or four years after end of All Friends Are Strangers was in first draught—death recounted in it similar]

* * * * *

To E A Hillier, Veterans’ Administration Center, Biloxi, Mississippi

Personal
[September 30, 1947]

Carbon for the record of Creighton Scott

Dear Mr Hillier,

This is to acknowledge your reply of September 22nd, 1947, to my inquiry regarding the illness and death, the place of interment of my father, the late Mr Seely Dunn.

I thank you for the courtesy extended to far, but I still think legally I should have been notified of my father’s illness and death, and that some apology is due me that this was not done.

Therefore, I will continue to appreciate further aid in locating my father’s executors and personal friends if you yourself or anybody else connected with the Hospital has any helpful information.

Repeating my thanks for the assistance already given,
Very truly yours,

* * * * *

To R J Hinton, Dependents and Beneficiaries Claims Service

October 5, 1947

Dear Mr Hinton,

I am sending with this, as you were good enough to suggest, an unsealed letter to my father, Mr Seely Dunn’s, second wife and widow, Mrs Melissa W Dunn, and not merely is it agreeable to me that you have it unsealed, I request that you peruse it yourself before forwarding it.

You yourself have been more human than “official” merely, and for that I thank you, again, as I had written to the Biloxi Hospital, and their reply referred me to you, and though Biloxi is less than a hundred miles from New Orleans, they did not so much as tell me whereabout in New Orleans my father was interred.

Again my appreciation for any assistance
Very truly yours,

If for any reason it seems to you that my objection to ambiguities regarding the enclosed letter implies too great a favour, I will appreciate the return to myself, though, again, I can merely enclose British stamps, which I do with apologies.  I should, however, for the same reason (my detestation of the ambiguous, as a frequent source of mutual injustice), appreciate your reading it first in any case

[self-addressed return envelope sent Mr Hinton with this]

* * * * *

One of the problems Evelyn encountered in her search was confusng or inconsistent information about where her father had been buried.  She had assumed that, since he had been living in Virginia he would have been buried there or in Washington DC:  she eventually discovered that he was buried in New Orleans near her grandparents.

* * * * *

To Metairie Ridge Cemetery Association

October 30, 1947

Head of Metairie Ridge Cemetary Association
New Orleans, La, USA

Sirs,

Having learned, during an effort to contact the living, my father, the late Mr Seely Dunn, formerly of Lynchburg, Va, and at one time a resident of New Orleans, that he died, at the Veterans’ Administration Facility, in Biloxi, Mississippi, on May 5th, 1944; I have been for many months trying to find someone who could tell me who his executors are, and why I was not notified when he became seriously ill.  And Mr R S McBride of the Civil District Court of the Parish of Orleans (the court in which the Will of my grandfather, Mr O M Dunn, once of New Orleans, is filed) has been good enough to put himself to some trouble to extend the meager information I have so far garnered; and tells me that my father, according to the advice given him, is interred at Metairie (in, I presume, the same lot as my grandparents).

Mr McBride says of my father was buried there on May 20th, 1944; and as the Biloxi Hospital wrote he died on May 5th and was “cremated in Washington”, I would like to have this confirmed, if it is correct; in which case the reference to arrangements for his burial, are to his ashes.

I am Mr Dunn’s daughter by his first marriage to Mrs Maud Thomas Dunn, formerly of Clarksville, Tennessee, from whom he was divorced, and who died in Clarksville, April 1940; and I think that, beside my human right to know the circumstances of his death, I should legally speaking also have been communicated with at the time.  And I therefore write to ask you if you will kindly extend the above information.

I am particularly puzzled by the fact that I was not advised what occurred, because as Evelyn Scott the author of eighteen published books, I could easily have been reached through my publishers

The location of my father’s executors is probably of the first importance, but I should also be obliged for any suggestion as to personal friends to whom I might write, if you know the whereabouts of any.

Very truly yours

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Veterans Administration
Washington 25, DC

November 21, 1947

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

This is in further reference to your letter of August 25, 1947, and your subsequent letter addressed to the Manager, Veterans Administration Facility, Biloxi, Mississippi, requesting information relative to the last illness and place of burial of your father, the above-named veteran.

Supplementing the information previously given you in August 4,1947, it may be stated that it is indicated from information of record that the veteran entered the Veteran’s Administration Hospital at Biloxi, Mississippi on December 24, 1943, and that his death occurred at 4:00 am on May 5, 1944.  It further appears that the remains were shipped to Washington DE, and were cremated by J William Lee’s Sons Company and were then shipped to New Orleans, Louisiana, where interment occurred.  The name of the cemetery is not of record. [1952—Metairie Ridge was supplied later as possible and this confirmed.] As stated in letter from this office dated August 4, 1947, it is not incumbent upon the Veterans Administration to notify relatives of a veteran of his death unless such relatives have potential title to death pension or compensation.  This will explain why you were not notified of your father’s death by the Veterans Administration.

There is no information or evidence on file in this case showing the disposition made of any property of the veteran, either real or personal, since his last will and testament, if he died testate, was not submitted in connection with any claim filed by his dependents.  Since the disposition of any real and personal property of a veteran is not under the jurisdiction of the Veterans Administration, information regarding such matters is not of record.

The Veterans Administration has no knowledge of any obituaries of your father’s death which might have appeared in the New Orleans papers, and the addresses of any of his personal friends are not of record in the case file.  You are further informed that all available information has been furnished you relative to your father’s death.

Very truly yours
R J Hinton
Director
Dependents and Beneficiaries Claims Service

* * * * *

To the Probate Court for Washington DC

October 3, 1951

Sirs:

As I have not yet been assured that there is a Probate Court under Federal jurisdiction, I hope I address you correctly.  I wish to know whether or not you have on file any Will of the late Mr Seely Dunn whose residence was Lynchburg until he fell ill and went to the “Veterans’ Facility” in Biloxi, Mississippi, where in May 1944, he died.

He and my Mother, the late Mrs Maud Thomas Dunn of Clarksville, Tennessee, were divorced and he had remarried a Miss Melissa Whitehead of New Orleans, and she I think disliked me because of my Father’s differences with my Mother, though for a time she appeared friendly.

My Father had never to my knowledge attempted to conceal our relationship until, a few years before his death, he bought a house in Lynchburg and retired there with his second wife.  But I have discovered, in my efforts to ascertain something about his death and his possible Will, that in Lynchburg neither he nor Mrs Dunn second commonly referred to me, and their intimate friends had any idea that he had a daughter and that she was myself.

All these things are matters of public record, so I have found it difficult to grasp that I was not notified when my Father fell ill and no notice of his death was ever sent me:  this admitted by the Biloxi Hospital and by the Department of Claims and Benefits of the Veterans’ Administration.

The hospital blames my stepmother.  I think her dislike led to one of those “social fibs” which are frequent and that she may have involved herself in some technical irregularity by having persisted more or less innocently in a fib in its origin without original intention.  And this seems to me the more likely because my Father’s death occurred in the course of the war, when panics were easily incited.

I have written endless letters about these things to various people whom it might have been reasonably supposed could be informative, but many letters are still unacknowledged and the comparatively small number who have replied either could not or would not elucidate.  However but I have been fairly reliably assured that my Father did not file any Will in Lynchburg; that he did not file any Will in New Orleans where I grew up and my parents lived for a time and that he could not have filed any Will in New York.

Can you advise me on any step that will end a silence so inane, which, however, is dangerous as an incitement to libel.

Mrs Melissa Whitehead Dunn may have been intimidated in some way, as a result of real ignorance of Law.

May I have at the very least the acknowledgment of the receipt of this letter by whoever does receive it—the Probate Court I hope, if there is such a Court in the Federal District.

I consider silence in itself almost a crime with the world in such continual upheaval as it has been since 1939.  And that I will be deeply appreciative of any sort of human response to an appeal which has been iterated to exhaustion ever since 1947, will, I hope be comprehended.

Respectfully Yours,
[(Mrs John Metcalfe) Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe
neé Elsie Dunn
legal authors signature Evelyn Scott]

1 Jigg had just gone to Germany with his family to a position with Radio Free Europe in Munich; but as he was doing his utmost to not tell his mother his whereabouts, she did not find this out until much later.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Office of Register of Wills and Clerk of the Probate Court
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Washington, DC

October 16, 1951

Dear Madam:

Referring to your letter of October 3, 1951, you are advised that an examination of the records of this office fails to disclose that a Will of Seely Dunn, deceased, who you state died in May 1944, has been filed herein or that Letters of Administration have ever been applied for upon his estate.

For your further information, you are advised that only the estates of deceased persons who died either a resident of the District of Columbia or who left property in the District of Columbia are of record in this office.  Inasmuch as each state has its own separate probate authority, it is suggested, therefore, that in order to obtain the information desired by you, it will be necessary for you to ascertain the name of the city, county and state in which the decedent was a resident at the time of his death and then correspond with the Register of Wills or Surrogate of such city, county and state.

Very respectfully
[Illeg signature]
DEPUTY Register of Wills
Clerk of the Probate Court

* * * * *

 

To Probate Court, Biloxi, Mississippi

November 19, 1951

Clerk of the Probate Court and Register of Wills of the District Serving
Biloxi, Mississippi

Sir:

I was born Elsie Dunn, in Clarksville, Tennessee, January 17th, 1893, and am the only child of my late parents, Maud Thomas Dunn and Seely Dunn, then of that city.

However, when my Father fell ill and died, his death occurring on May 5th, 1944, at the Veterans’ Facility, Biloxi, I was not notified. I did not learn of my Father’s death until almost three years afterward.   And ever since that time—now four years—I have been doing everything possible to obtain some exact information; at first respecting the circumstances of his death, and subsequently regarding his estate and his possible Will.

I have applied to the Probate Courts of Lynchburg, New Orleans and Washington, and all three have reported that no Will of my Father’s was ever filed with them.

Mrs Melissa Whitehead Dunn had evinced animosity to me, and this had resulted in a gradual drifting apart of my Father and myself so that I know nothing whatever of his life in recent years.  But he an I had not quarrelled, and I cannot see that this estrangement can possibly justify an apparently persistent withholding of information I as his only child, and the only grandchild of my grandparents whose affection for me was great, have a right to.  I have wondered whether or not Mrs Melissa Whitehead Dunn, disliking me as she did, could have begun a concealment of my relationship to him casually, and in the manner of what might be called a “social fib”, and if this was a fib she so neglected to contradict that she abruptly found herself in some illegal position which unscrupulous lawyers have battened on by advising her to “say nothing”.

This is conjecture, but I will be indeed obliged for any help or advice on how to get at the truth, and of course this letter is, first and foremost, an inquiry as to whether my Father filed any Will or whether any letters of Administration on his estate were ever applied for by the Probate Court in which the Wills of residents of Biloxi are filed?

Again, we have no means with which to pay lawyers.  Can this injustice be overcome at this distance in any way?

* *  * * *

To Theodore Cogswell, Probate Court of the District of Columbia

Personal
November 21, 1951

Your letter of October 16th, signed by the Deputy Register of Wills and replying to my inquiry respecting the possible filing in Washington of a Will of my late Father Seely Dunn, has been received and I herewith thank you.

My Father’s death is no mere “rumour”.  I think I have a right to be informed as to what has become of an estate that, when he inherited as to what has become of an estate that, when he inherited it some years ago from my late Grandfather, Mr O M Dunn, who was for many years the General Superintendent of the Illinois Central Railway and was stationed in New Orleans, and who was a Director of the White Star Line and had other investments as well and owned nine houses in New Orleans at one time—was of comfortable size.

I, therefore, incline to the opinion that my stepmother may have become a victim of unscrupulous legal quibblers who, in taking advantage of me because I am stranded in London and have been since 1944, are, also, taking advantage of her and are probably guilty of libel.  I think they have libelled myself and my husband and probably my first husband from whom I am divorced, and, in libelling the old generation have libelled my American son Mr Creighton Scott my Father’s grandson, who has no part in my correspondence about my Father.

I will, therefore, be greatly obliged, also, for any step taken to counteract libels.

With very genuine gratitude for any assistance

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Office of Register of Wills and Clerk of the Probate Court
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Washington, DC

December 7, 1951

Dear Madam:

In response to your letter of November 21, 1951, in further reference to the estate of Seely Dunn, deceased, you are advised that this office can add nothing to our previous letter (dated October 16th, 1951).  An examination of the records of this office still fails to disclose that a Will of the said Seely Dunn, deceased, has been filed herein or that Letters of Administration have ever been applied for upon his estate.

Very respectfully
Theodore Cogswell
Register of Wills, Clerk of the Probate Court

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Office of Register of Wills and Clerk of the Probate Court
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Washington, DC
December 7, 1951

Dear Madam:

In response to your letter of November 21, 1951, in further reference to the estate of Seely Dunn, deceased,  you are advised that this office can add nothing to our previous letter (dated October 16th, 1951).  An examination of the records of this office still fails to disclose that a Will of the said Seely Dunn, deceased, has been filed herein or that Letters of Administration have ever been applied for upon his estate.

Very respectfully
Theodore Cogswell
Register of Wills, Clerk of the Probate Court

* * * * *

The final tone of this letter puts a seal on Evelyn’s search for her father’s will and her inheritance. Next week, Evelyn tries to discover from Melissa herself where her father’s will is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32. Is life too short?

Cyril’s autobiography, Life Is Too Short, was published by Lippincott in 1943.  It detailed what he described as his six careers to date and was greeted with moderate critical approval. It included an account of his “elopement” to Brazil with Elsie Dunn, the adoption of their new names, the birth of their son Creighton (who was known by his infant nickname “Jigg” throughout his life), the years of poverty in Brazil and their return to the United States in 1919.

Evelyn did not see  this book until 1945, although she knew it had been published.  When she did finally see a copy she was angered to read what she considered to be distortions.  She could not believe that Cyril would have written some of the descriptions of her and their relationship which she considered to be libelous, and the only possible explanation she could imagine was that some one, unnamed, had altered the text between the proofing and printing stages.  That person had somehow got into the print works and  had altered the passages she objected to with libelous intent.  This suspicion, which developed in her mind into a certainty, was a central theme in her letters from then on.

[NB:  I have a copy of the original typescript and have been able to compare it to the published version.  The only small differences between the two are typographical or grammatical.]

This is important because it marks the beginning of Evelyn’s continuing and increasing conviction that she was being libeled, and this in turn fed her conviction that she was being kept from her son and grandchildren.  I am introducing it here because 1945 is the point from which Evelyn’s gradually deteriorating mental condition can be most easily dated.

In 1951 Evelyn prepared a lenthy (70 single-spaced pages) document in support of efforts by friends to raise funds for her return to the United States.   The heading on each page reads:

Précis of events indicative of libel, to be read as SOON AS POSSIBLE BY CREIGHTON AND PAVLA SCOTT AND JOHN METCALFE AND, if possible, by CYRIL KAY SCOTT WHOM EVELYN SCOTT IS CONVINCED HAS BEEN VICTIMIZED WITH HER AND THEIR SON AND DAUGHTER-IN-LAW in consequence of a tampering and tinkering with LIFE IS TOO SHORT either when it was in manuscript or was being sent to press which either was unauthorized and completely illegal or was done without consultation with the author respecting facts involving both him and Evelyn Scott and their son when a child which are misrepresented and are sometimes fantastically untrue and as much to the disadvantage of the author as to Evelyn Scott and their son and his wife–the aim of this precis, which is a condensation of a longer precis to be completed in consistence with it, the restoration of the Integrity of American and British Artists and Art.

The entire document is prefaced by the following handwritten note:  “This MS contains an enormous amount of inaccuracy and I can only caution any reader to check almost any statement in it.  Paula Scott”

* * * * *

TO ANY Personal Friends WITH PRIDE AND INTEREST IN THE PRESERVATION OF THE INTEGRITY OF AMERICAN AND BRITISH ARTISTS AND ART

She is NOW, in 1951, convinced that the distortions of the truth respecting her Passport Document Common Law Marriage to Cyril Kay Scott, one of the earliest of the steps taken in Brazil the registration at the American Consulate in Recife, of the birth, on October 26th 1914, of their son, then called “Seely” Scott and afterward Creighton Scott—that this legal marriage was misrepresented to and by the Church, and that this also was the case respect­ing the divorce obtained from her as Mr Kay Scott’s Common Law wife, in 1928, in Chichuaua County Mexico, where divorce and marriage Laws are consistent.

Mr Cyril Kay Scott himself registered for himself and for Evelyn Dunn Scott as his wife on their arrival in Rio de Janeiro from New York, via London, on as he says the Hamburg-American liner Blucher, in the spring of 1914, before Passports were required by the States, Britain or Brazil. And that everything concerning the steps which documented the establishment of the Common Law Marriage which was absolutely concluded in Chichuaua County1 in 1928, were, between 1939 and the present, being libellously distorted and to some extent deliberately and by intention, she has not a doubt since she re-read Mr Cyril Kay Scott’s mangled autobiography, into which have been interjected misstatements in respect to everything appertaining both to her and her son that he himself, with his innate high qualities of character, the fineness of mind proven in his paintings and his novels filled with psychological insights which could NOT have written, and which are completely at odds with many comments on life philosophy and art that are recognizable as his by everyone who ever knew him well, and are scattered throughout the book. The book, Life Is Too Short is completely veracious in regard to facts which concern his scientific career and his careers in the arts and in business, including the war industry of which he was a competent administrator though he trained himself. But there is NO emotional or personal truth in the book; and it cannot be credited that any man of Mr Kay Scott’s wisdom and good sense, who, as well, has been the most understanding Father of his son and Evelyn Scott’s could concoct a cock-and-bull story about “secret agents” and “murders” as a pseudo-explanation.of the issuance of the Emergency Passport given him for himself and Evelyn Dunn Scott and Creighton Seely Scott as the Scott family, by Ambassador Morgan, when the real reason was Evelyn Dunn Scott was in seriously bad health, physically, and NOT mentally, as other libels in this book imply.

I think Mr Cyril Kay Scott incapable of mean falsehood of a petty order such as pervades those portions of Life Is Too Short which concern the life we shared during our Common Law Marriage of Fourteen Years; and as the decree which was granted him for the “desertion of bed and board”, in 1928, in Chichuaua, was consistently sanctioned by the American State Department the decree itself signed by the American Consul then at Juarez who was Mr John Dye, there was no point whatever in such a lie, unless inserted there by those whom the war had made the enemies both of the author and our son and of Evelyn Scott and JohnMetcalfe, Evelyn Scott’s second husband; who is NOT the “Father of her son”, as she has vaguely gathered some have had it.

But just before she returned FROM Canada to Tappan, New Jersey, to await her waiver and obtain the British Passport required before she could sail as an “RAF” wife into the War Zone and which she resigned immediately on landing in Britain, Mr Paul I Wellman1 had been at death’s door. And she learned this, and that Mr Kay Scott, too, was then ill, from her son and daughter-in-law in Tappan. And as she did not as was usual after her absences see Mr Kay Scott in person, and Mr Creighton Scott expressed himself in her hearing as “not interested” in reading Life Is Too Short—he and his wife were probably repelled by gossip of its vicious attack on her, Mr Creighton Scott’s Mother, but this, then, she did not know—and she herself had no opportunity to read what had been said of her until Mr Lewis Gannett, in 1947, loaned Mr Metcalfe his copy of this book and it was brought to her to England by him and she, in turn, was so revolted by the passages that libel both that she could scarcely read it,—the full and clear comprehension of the real extent of damage which may already have been done to her and her son and her daughter-in-law, his stepfather, and Mr Kay Scott himself—awaited the re-reading of Life Is Too Short in 1951 which she has just recently completed.

In 1943, she had no money to buy the book without a sacrifice of necessities she would gladly have made, had it not been that Creighton and Pavla’s aversion to it decided her that it might be best to read it at some other time; and now that she no longer doubts that libellers must have set to work on her and her son her daughter-in-law and her present husband during the war, she is too impoverished to bring libel charges against anyone, even should she wish to; and this, she is certain, is the truth regarding all concerned.

Think of having failed to warn Mr Kay Scott, when he acknowledged minor kindly practical aid, that, by listing his own and Evelyn Scott’s son and their son’s wife as among those who had “confirmed facts” in Life Is Too Short, he was allowing for the inference that she had neglected or shown little love for her only child, though there are many, and he above them all—who can attest that her concern for Mr Creighton Scott’s happiness and talents has been unremittingly proven her life long, and that as soon as he so much as contemplated marriage it extended to his present wife as well. Think of these things, and of an mss sent on probably unread after these passages were re-done by a “proxy”—possibly “authorized” but not “specified”—and think of the dismay Mr Kay Scott must have felt on reading them himself, and discerning a baseness towards him which, by seemingly reflecting on his son Creighton Scott and Creighton Scott’s wife, was like a criminal cancellation of his own generosities of a lifetime. Slanders inception is always among congenitally de­praved types, and, doubtless, in America, that system introduced with gangsterism, which allows criminals to batten on their moral betters, and is designated “police protection”, has fostered slan­der as convenient to extortion. And even as Evelyn Scott conjectures that slanderers must have battened obliquely, probably in contexts of the war and immigration, on a defamation of herself by which it hoped to embarrass the British and American consuls of 1943 and 1944, she is as con­vinced that Mr Kay Scott, also, loving very genuinely the children of his first marriage, was as much tricked into their inclusions in “Acknowledgements” as on the score of Mr Creighton Scott and his wife; as wilful insult was, to superficial minds, even more easily attributable to the Wellmans and especially because both Mr Paul I Wellman and Mr Manly Wellman1 have been newspaper men and are inured to some extent to the hardness expected in newspaper work.

Evelyn Scott does NOT believe they would be capable of vengefulness toward her, as she likes all of them, nor that they, any more than their Father, would allow any book by Mr Kay Scott to be cheapened by the atrociousness of those passages in Life Is Too Short which are most at variance with everything else Mr Kay Scott has written. So in her estimate, all concerned are victims!

1Chihuahua, Mexico. This is typical of Evelyn’s repeated misspellings of names.

Next week — back to normal!

 

 

 

31. A son writes not to his mother

Now that she  was in London with Jack, Evelyn became increasingly preoccupied with the lack of news of her son, his wife and their (now three) small children.  Jigg, perhaps as the result of the unhappiness and stress caused during her stay with them in Tappan, did not wish to continue contact with his mother and did what he could to impose distance between them.  At this point Gladys Grant, a long-time friend of Evelyn’s, became the buffer between Jigg and his mother.  She had met Jigg some years earlier and was fond of him, she could see how destructive Evelyn’s possessive behaviour could be, and  she managed a delicate balance between her continuing friendship for Evelyn and her desire to protect Jigg and his family from Evelyn’s desire to control his life.

Evelyn’s preoccupation with finding Jigg increased over the years and in 1951/52 she began to annotate her earlier letters and the replies she had received.  These annotations in her inimitable spidery hand give considerable insight into her mental state at this point, and are italicised and enclosed in square brackets [ ].

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott


Scotch Plains, New Jersey
November 1, 1946

Dear Evelyn:

I am ashamed not to have written before, but kept putting if off in the hope of telling you more.  I’ve forwarded all your letters but my last address for Jig is also care of the radio station in Chicago.  So far as I know he is still there with apparently no prospects or likelihood of being in or near New York.  I’m always glad to forward letters but, of course, this makes for delay and sometimes uncertainty.  Of course the registered letters would have been kept at the PO but the others just lie there.  I’ve been planning to get a PO box, but there isn’t one to be had just now and it would mean daily trips to Scotch Plains.  The old mail man used to be much more careful, but I suspect I’ve lost considerable mail lately.  I’m particularly upset today as all the boxes along this route were torn off by hoodlums last night—Halloween!  So glad as I am to forward any mail for you, I think you ought to know it is not too reliable.

As to the kids—I wrote you after I saw them last.  They were fine then but I haven’t seen them since.  When Jig went to Chicago, I believe the rest went to Paula’s father1—but for how long, I don’t know.  But I’m sure I’d hear and, so would you, if anything went wrong or any of them weren’t well.  They were flourishing, the last time I saw them.  I’m sorry I can’t tell you more as I realise you must want to know. [remainder of letter missing]

Ralph Pearson, then living in Nyack, New York.

During this period Evelyn was preoccupied with preserving her US citizenship (which was never in danger) and believed that one way of doing this was to be “domiciled” in the US.  Accordingly, she asked Gladys if she could use her address as evidence of this “domicile”.  Unknown to her, Gladys had also offered to let Jigg and Paula use her address as a forwarding address as a buffer to prevent Evelyn easily finding out where they were.

Evelyn, frustrated by her inability to contact her son, turned in desperation to Paula’s family.  Some years previously she had met Ralph Pearson, Paula’s father, a talented silversmith who ran a successful design business, and contacted him.  This led to her invoking Paula’s mother, Margué Foster (who had divorced  Ralph and married artist  Joseph Foster) as well as other members of Paula’s family.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
December 22, 1946

Darling Jig and Pavla

What has happened?  Where are you?1  I have written several letters to the business address given as Jig’s on Pavla’s July letter, and sent them registered, but have had no reply, and have merely inferred Pavla was with her father until she rejoined Jig, which she must by this time have done.

I am writing to Ralph Pearson and sending this letter with the one to him for forwarding, but his address, also, I misplaced, and I have only remembered it recently as Piermont Avenue.

As I am telling him, I had to give Jig’s address as care Gladys, when I got a new American passport and don’t know yet whether he received a check meant for Freddy’s birthday, and it is also very important that I have Jig’s correct present address2 for a British agent for The Muscovites, which there is a strong possibility of my being able to sell in Britain; and it need it similarly for the validation in the States of the Will of which he has a copy, in which he and Jack are appointed my literary executors.   Anyhow, all this goes to prove how necessary it is that we all keep in some sort of continuous contact and I don’t know how may more got where they were sent, and while that was during the bombing, there seems more than ever no reason for being left in the dark NOW.

Our love again and again and I do implore Creighton and Pavla themselves to reply NOW to this.
The very best to you two and to the children.

1At that time, Paula and the children were living in Pine Bluff, North Carolina near Cyril and his wife Louise, and Jigg was commuting from Chicago at weekends.

2Evelyn often claimed she had important practical reasons for needing Jig’s address, but these ploys never had the desired result.

3Paula’s great aunt Gertrude Brownell

* * * * *

To Ralph Pearson

26 Belsize Crescent
December 22, 1946

[Ralph replied after several letters and in 1949 I learned of experience in Chicago like experience reported in The Sun column during early part of war–similar]

Dear Ralph Pearson,

When Pavla and Jig moved from Tappan, in July, Pavla wrote me saying she would have no permanent address until she was settled with Jig, again; and Jack and myself have been much concerned about her, Creighton and the children recently, as we have had not a word since, although as Pavla, on the envelope enclosing her letter, gave Creighton’s business address as the Columbia Broadcasting Company, Chicago, and we have written several letters to him and her there.  [Other letters were not returned—there were not many two or three at most]

Her own letter was blank as to address, and it has been merely by inference that we have assumed she was with you until she joined Creighton, which by now she must surely have done; though Gladys Grant, said she thought Pavla could be reached through you.  And I would have written to you, in any case, and asked you to relieve our anxiety, and I had not misplaced your address, which I, all at once, remembered a day or two ago as Piermont Avenue.  You have lived there so long, I am sure the fact that I have not got the number won’t matter.  [June Jig had been in Army then ill]

Well, there is the situation!  Jig and Pavla have always kept us apprised of what happened and of their whereabouts, heretofore, and if I had let myself I could have been in a fine dither, by now!

I wrote Margué during the war, to the address which was hers when I visited Pavla and Creighton on my way back to Jack and have written there, again, although that is two years and a half ago, and she may have moved; but I have yet to get a reply; and as letters I sent Pavla’s Aunt Gertrude at the same time I wrote Margué, and which undoubtedly, if it arrived, went to the correct address, [1952—All requests for addresses—anyone’s—were ignored. except that he sent Harper’s ] was never acknowledged, you can’t blame me for the anxiety I shall feel until I have your answer to this and all the necessary information about Creighton and Pavla, Denise, Fredrick and Mathew, whom Jack and myself love very much and for whom we feel the greatest loyalty.  [No allusion to my books and Jacks or to Jigs has been made by Mr Pearson]

And so you will understand why I appeal to you, certain as I am of your innate kindliness!  Letters, the children’s and your own, are of first importance NOW, but the other things are also very VERY very important to us, and, ultimately, what we are able to do for ourselves is important in effect as regards them too.

Our regards to you all, and our very great appreciation,

Do you know Cyril’s address?  I had a letter sent him in my care for months, and can’t forward it because he didn’t give me any more address when he last wrote than Pavla did.  Really, if it wasn’t damnably serious, it would be funny.

* * * * *

To Ralph Pearson

26 Belsize Crescent
January 12, 1947

Dear Ralph [Took two years to get a reply to this.  He is Jig’s father-in-law]

I called you Ralph “Pearson” in the letter I mailed, or I should say Jack mailed for me, last week, and that is how it is addressed, and while I am sure it will get to you, well known as you are, I add this apology.  I think you live on Piermont Avenue?  Am I not right?  That would explain the ease with which I seem thrown into confusion about the spelling of your name, for I believe I did the same thing in writing you from Canada.  But hereafter, with Louise’s1 permission, I shall call you Ralph and let it go at that.

Feeling sure you will have the first letter by the time this arrives I won’t repeat the contents at length, but I do beg you again, please, to give me whatever news you have of the children as soon as possible.  My distress is great, and Jack, likewise, is anxious; and there are still the important reasons for having Creighton’s address, first and foremost to give the agent handling his novel for British publication, and secondly for documentary purposes, validation of will, and to append to my passport as when at the American Consulate I had to give his as Gladys Grant’s, and it shouldn’t be that everything went through her.

And there is, besides these things,my human feeling to be considered, and Jack’s also affectionate concern, and if both Creighton and Pavla, but of course especially now at once Creighton would write to us as before it would make a very great difference and make us all happier.

Thank you very much and again Jack’s and my regards and good wishes to you and our love and very great love to Creighton and Pavla and Denise and Freddy and Mathew.

Evelyn Scott Metcalfe

Ralph’s second wife

288 Piermont Avenue, Nyack [Google Street View]

To Creighton Scott

Ralph M Pearson’s Design Workshop Courses by Mail
288 Piermont Ave Nyack, NY

February 3, 1947

Dear Jigg:

This second letter came from Evelyn today; I send it on to you where it really belongs.  I have finally after much thought and after consulting Louise, decided on the letter in answer, a copy of which is enclosed [see below].  I cannot see the need of telling her lies, nor of the insult of silence; to us it seems that you should take care of the matter as you know all the answers.

Though Evelyn was distraught while staying with you, silence will only make her more so.  Can’t you see your way to set her at ease before the situation goes from bad to worse?  It would appear to be a son’s duty to do that.

Cordially,
Ralph

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Ralph M Pearson’s Design Workshops Courses by Mail
288 Piermont Ave Nyack, NY

February 3, 1947

Dear Evelyn:

Your letters both received, the second one came today, and both have been forwarded to Jigg.

I fear I can be of little help to you as it is obvious that this situation exists between you and Jigg.  Besides he must know all the answers to your queries.  The letters you have been sending to them certainly must have been forwarded; why he has not answered I do not know. [He did know he and Jig were both pestered by “inquirers” about Ralph’s innocuous second wife Pavla’s step-mother and calling me Margaret Jack Carlo it is just rackety politics]

So, this seems to be the best I can do.

With best wishes,
Cordially,
Ralph

[1952 There was some constraint about the content of Life Is Too Short when I was with Jig in Tappan. He seemed happier about this in London when Jack and I both said the libels libelled the author and that it was evidently re-slanted by a ratty editor to suit low markets  1952—I think the silences I object to criminal—imposed by criminals]

* * * * *

To Ralph Pearson

26 Belsize Crescent
March 30, 1947

Dear Ralph, this is the second time I have written my objection to the tenor or your last letter; which annoyed—and more than annoyed!—and perplexed me to an extent that made me very indignant; and caused me to write again today when I had calmed down, and could be temperate. [Ralph cooked up a pseudo-explanation thinking he was being helpful as Jig didn’t want to write about a fight—explained the effect on me was disturbing. Margué always said he was cruel.]

Well, that I have done, but the reason for my indignation is as was.  There has been NO no no no NO NO “falling out” of any sort between either Creighton and myself, Jack and him, Pavla and Jack, or Pavla and me.  And why almost a year has passed since Pavla (of whom I am fond) wrote me a letter with a content distressing to me and to Jack both (in which she spoke of the difficulties of the move to Chicago, her plight in having to stay “with friends”, the financial problem of move to such a distance, her wish and Jig’s to be re-established somewhere together at once, and the birth of Mathew—whose advent had never been mentioned to us as imminent in any previous letter), and no further letter has been received here in London by either Jack or me from either of them, is a complete mystery.

And the reason your—Ralph Pearson’s (NOT to mix pronouns) letter was and is a cause for indignation, was and is because Pearsons and Fosters, apparently, are in constant touch with them and our grandchildren.  But when I ask Ralph Pearson to corroborate as Creighton’s present address, that on the envelope of Pavla’s letter (the letter was blank as far as address went), the request is ignored, and on the basis of a fool and quite false assumption.

I asked for Margué’s1 present address, as no letter to her has yet been answered from her old address (although I saw her during the war and she was very pleasant and apparently interested in both Jack and myself as well as Creighton and Pavla); and you—Ralph Pearson I mean again—chose to ignore that request, as well—why why WHY?

I would have supposed a man whose work connected him with the arts would evince some symptom of imagination considering what we have all been through during the damn war; considering that I left the States in a convoy and got here under a rain of bombs; and there has been no real peace yet, and news or information of any sort about our family (and none are nearer or more loved that Creighton and Pavla and their children)—but, no–!  There was not any of the anticipated humanity in the reply I actually got.

What is wrong?  Is there a sort of “Pearson-Foster” opposition to human relations of a natural sort, or what?  If there is an explanation to be given, then you should give it.  If anybody is offended about anything we should know who is, and why!  And in any case I hold you and Margué to a degree responsible for failing to assist in relieving whatever misapprehension, if any, is at the bottom of this rotten madness.  You are both in contact with them, and you therefore have an advantage in influence, and if you refuse to use it on behalf of normal decent human civilized contacts and normal decent human civilized relations between mother and son, son and step-father-in-law, the consequences be on your own head.  You are assuming a responsibility I should not wish to have mine in the state of the world as it is when and while the civilized and normal have a supreme value, everywhere and anywhere.

But I, AGAIN, register objection about a situation which forces me to use “go-betweens”, where there has been no quarrel.  You have merely stirred resentment, where otherwise there would be amiability.  Fifteen letters, literally, sent to the States, have been unanswered in the last two years, and all to previously good friends—again why why why WHY? (and this does not include any of the letters written Creighton and Pavla, Pavla, writing infrequently to both having given blanket answers to most

Justly protesting, I am sincerely

[They have all been unhumanly cruel to me—is it because conditions there have been unhumanly cruel?  1952 E Scott]

1 Ralph’s first wife and Paula’s mother, Margaret Hale (Margué), remarried after their divorce; her second husband was Joseph Foster.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Scotch Plains, New Jersey
April 11, 1947

Dear Evelyn: [She sent paper twice]

Your letter came yesterday and I would have answered it then, but was just taking my son to New York to return to school and had several business things I had to do there.  Last night I came back so tired that I waited to write you until morning.

I realize how you must want to hear about your grandchildren and wish I could send you details.  But I haven’t seen any of them since they left Tappan or even heard for the last month or more.  In Paula’s last letter she enclosed a nice one from Denise, very sweet and well written, mainly asking about the fish they gave me before they left.  So perhaps you know more than I do!

Love to you both as always.
Glads

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

Scotch Plains, New Jersey
May 12, 1947

Dear Jig:

This is written to you to ask what you want me to do if and when your mother comes.  May I say that I promised to give your address to no one without official permission, I’ll lie and say I don’t know, if you prefer, but I’m not a good liar and this may just make her angry and more hurt and determined.  It’s none of my business but, if you don’t want to see her, wouldn’t it be easier for both of you to cable her before she started?  If she gets to this country she is almost sure to find out somehow were you are.  I realize such a cable is hard and cruel but won’t it be much worse for all of you after she is here?

Please forgive my butting in.  I won’t mention it again.  Unless I hear to the contrary I’ll just refuse to give your address, if I’m cornered.

Excuse scrawl.  I’ll write again soon and be sure to let me know how you all are.

God bless you all
Love
Glads

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Scotch Plains, New Jersey
June 15, 1947

[1952  This letter rather stupid in view of facts.  Jack was about to sail—arranging passage when this arrived]

Dear Evelyn:

I’m sorry I did not send the paper before, but waited for you to confirm where you were,  I am sending it herewith.

I must also tell you one very important thing.  Don’t come to this country unless you absolutely have to!  I am sure it must be much worse than England and certainly can’t be any better.  We have more material goods to be sure, but everything is terrifically expensive and the grab attitude is terrible.  I am sure you would both be utterly miserable.

I hope when you wrote “domiciled with me” you did not mean to stay here.  Not that I don’t want to see you and Jack, but there isn’t an inch of space.  You can always have mail sent to this address, if you trust the RFD, and I’ll be glad to forward it.  But there isn’t any place to sleep.

As for Jig and Paula, I haven’t heard from them for ages and can’t tell you their address.  The last letter, I believe, was the note from Denise and had none.  They are worse correspondents than I am, but I’m sure I would have heard if all was not well.  If the Chicago address is the last you have, it will undoubtedly reach him.  [1952—mail to Chicago was returned to London]

I hate to write this discouraging letter and perhaps should not send it, but I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to write again.  I’ll try to when I’m in a less depressed mood myself.

Love to you both
Gladys

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

c/o DeSilver, 130 West 12th Street, NYC
August 16, 1947

Dear Jig,

Here I am back in the US and eager to see you if you care for that.  Whatever the reasons (which I am quite willing to respect) for your long silence, you and I have, I trust, always been good friends and I hope that it may be possible to contact you, preferably in person, or, failing that at any rate by letter.  I feel that a certain amount of, at least, “tentative” clarification would be of mutual help.

I don’t know what in heck the conditions or considerations which have created the present impasse (to call it that!) may be, but I am not lacking in imagination which, towards yourself, has always been and will always be, exercised in the friendliest possible way.  Please take that as a first datum anyhow.

At the same time, you, also, are a person of imagination, so you can probably guess the effect on Evelyn (and by repercussion and propinquity on myself) of a sustained silence.  I fancy, from all one may gather, that she must have been a wearing inmate of your house while she was awaiting a passage to England, and I certainly feel no “disloyalty” to her in saying so.  You and I both know her well, and indeed she herself would now readily admit that she was a trying guest.  Anything of that kind, or any faintest attempt towards a repetition thereof, can, on my personal guarantee, be ruled out.  So if any fear of her being again parked on you has been at all operative, dismiss it.

None the less, and conceding all of this, her affection for you is very deep and genuine, and to grant it some sort of vent, if only by occasional correspondence, could, as I (failing further enlightenment) see it, do you no harm.  It would not be a wedge’s thin-end towards anything you might find obtrusive, inappropriate or oppressive.

Meanwhile, however, your silence has had the effect of rendering her unresigned to life in England.  A line or two, now and then, would, as they say, have kept her happy, or reasonably so; but, as it is, the absence of a word from you has received, progressively, a wholly disproportionate emphasis until it was warped and coloured her entire outlook, and tended, of course, to aggravate those very symptoms of nervousness and all else which may, in the first instance, have played some part in prompting you to drop correspondence.

Once again, please understand, I am not, nor is she, “blaming” (oh holy Mike!) or “reproaching” (oh even holier Mike!) you for all this.  Let us leave any obfuscating so-called “moral” issues out of it.  I am merely stating, without exaggeration and as straightforwardly as I can, the sequence of cause and effect.  And naturally I do not disguise that I, as living with her, am a highly interested party.  All of this, of course, comes back to me!

So what I want to put over to you is the present actual concrete picture and no more.  At present, and rightly or wrongly, that actual concrete picture is that lack of word from you is a prime cause—I may say the prime cause—of mental disturbance generally, impeding work and destroying health.  A word from you would relieve this condition and constitute no faintest kind of “threat” to yourself.  But you can imagine the effect a continued silence will undoubtedly have upon such a nature.

This, of course, is inadequate and partial.  In particular, it fails to convey how warmly I feel towards you, yourself, as a person.  That is quite apart from anything construable as mere “sentiment”, of which, I hope, I am sufficiently adult to be absolved.

If you feel like it, I want, as I’ve said, to see you.  I, just as much as Evelyn, am feeling rather bothered and “bottled-up” by this “situation”,–which I still insist on enclosing in inverted commas.

Yrs ever,
Jack

 * * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

c/o DeSilver, 130 West 12th Street, NYC
August 20, 1947

Darling Beloved Evelyn-Chookie

This is just an interim note by air mail.  As I told you in last letter (tho’ it was not air-mail, – and this may arrive first), I saw Ralph Pearson (it’s spelt that way, I find) on Saturday, – and left a short letter for Jig, which he will forward.  Jig had asked R P not to give his address to anyone, so of course I still have not got it, and it may be a week or so before I can get any reply.

R P seemed most friendly, – but a little hurt that you hadn’t visited him as often as he (apparently) had wanted.  He begged me to understand that he was not to blame. Now he regretted the present situation, and, for his part, had asked Jig to write to us, – and had no idea why he would not.

I am sure all this will adjust itself if only you (who have, at the moment, to play infinitely the most difficult part) can hold on for a while.  I told Jig, of course, how lovingly we both felt and I delighted I wd be to see him, – but at the same time assured him that I was not, in any way, “pursuing” him.  If I did, incidentally, learn his address, what good would that really be to us unless he himself had volunteered it?—as I think he will.

All love always
Dickie-Jack

* * * * *

To Cyril Kay Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
August 30, 1947

My dear Cyril,

I am asking this to be sent by Jack who is now in New York, at Margaret De Silver’s, Apt 12G, 130 West 12th St NYC and who I know would like very much to see you herself for his own pleasure and because the affectionate regard of us both is the same as ever.  Jack has written me he is is bringing home a copy of Life Is Too Short, and it will certainly be appreciated as both of us have been doing our best to get it and read it ever since it appeared, but when I was in the USA during the war I was advised to travel with such light baggage that I could not bring a book, besides lacking cash for buying anything not essential at the moment.  But in our estimate of literature an human beings books of the value we are sure that are essential, so it has been a great deprivation to have had to wait as long as this for one we especially want.

The object of this letter, however, is to implore you–and I mean implore–to relieve my distress and the distress Jack feels on my behalf and as one genuinely fond of Jig regarding his strange treatment of both of us, who have written to him repeatedly in the three years since I stayed with him and Pavla at their express invitation to do so; and had, except for the atmosphere imposed by war, a good visit and when I left took a most affectionate farewell of them and their children, anticipating that we would always be the good friends we have been throughout our lives.

I have been here three years and a few months, and for the first two years I wrote to Jig regularly every week (not very interesting letters, perhaps, but that was the war), and no reply did I ever have, except two brief notes from Pavla, which acknowledged by inference that my letters were being received in Tappan.

Jig and Pavla both know very well that my feeling for their three children is the normal affectionately interested one of any grandmother, and while Jack is, as he would say, “just a step-gran’pappy”, he also is interested in them and would enjoy meeting them and getting acquainted.

Knowing that every day during this long interval I have spoken of Jig and every day have thought of him and almost every day have asked aloud why Jig didn’t write, when Jack left the first thing he promised was to ascertain Jig’s address which has never been given us since they left Tappan and see Jig if he could in any case write to Jig there and get a reply which would clear the air of what has become a miasma of mystification and very positive unhappiness, which is the proof of my normality as a mother.

I have been, during all this last year, reduced to sending any mail I wanted to reach Jig to Ralph Pearson, who refuses to give Jig’s address, and offers no explanation whatever as to why, merely says he was “asked not to”.  It is a form of “scruple” somewhat like it would have been had I adhered to Lola’s request not to get money for her from anybody, when I had been told (erroneously, but I didn’t know it) that she was dying.  I asked for money for her without consulting her, and if it didn’t save her medically, it saved her from starving, and you yourself aided with complete disdain for such inhuman “pseudo” “scrupling”.

I cannot force Jig to conduct himself like himself humanly generously decently scrupulously.  During his entire life he has always been good honest responsive sensitive and civilized, but to remember the evidence as we both do of that makes the present situation the less tolerable the more completely incomprehensible.  What suggestions have been made to him?  Who is inducing an attitude so at odds with what he humanly is.  And explanation of any sort would be a godsend.

Pavla wrote the last of the two letters from her immediately after Mathew was born, said she and Jig were in a “terrible state”, did not say why, put no address on the envelope, and on the outside of the letter put the Columbia Broadcasting, Chicago, where Jack learns from Pearson he is not employed, having a better job elsewhere.  But I have been humiliated by having sent letters to the Broadcasting Company, registered which advertise to the public that my son for some good damn phoney suggested fool no-reason acts as if I were dead WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY.  We have never quarrelled, we have had a few “spats” that never lasted but we have never quarrelled.

That is why Cyril I implore you to throw any light you can on the situation and if you can exert influence with Creighton please do so, for I think we both realize by now that the idea of cutting early ties didn’t work.

Therefore Creighton, who has also experienced the war–this last war–not the other–cannot with his intellect possibly believe he can “lose himself” in that way.  There are all the ties he has to some extent chosen, in marrying Pavla, in the responsibilities resultant; but additionally he is in continual contact, whether he prefers it or not, with Pearsons, Hales, Brownells1 and Fosters, who do not appreciate Jig, have NOT the brains the taste the perspicacity the insights into art and living that his father and his step-father and his mother have why the hell and in the name of all common sense then, should Jig be a sort of domestic martyr, to every sort of imposed family tie, and be cut off from the one assortment relatives with whom he has things actually in common.

I resent the situation on Jig’s behalf just as much on my own.  Pavla is a good sensible girl, she has an average good mind but she is not profound, she is not extraordinary and she is in many ways lacking in perspicacity as regards the things in which Jig’s interest is most vital.  [1952–Pavla intellect cannot be assessed as she was too young and immature at marriage for judgements–This was provoked by her then apparent exclusion of me–circumstantial only I hope]

This is not a mother-in-law’s opinion–I was very fond of Pavla and I will be easily fond of her again in a normal atmosphere with normal behaviour on her part towards ourselves.  But I have and do resent (with reservations, for the letter seemed so unlike herself that I have interpreted it in the light of various possible excuses or justifications of the moment, as she saw things, how wrongly–and certainly it was wrongly) the fact that I was sent a letter with such a content (I hadn’t known before the baby was expected) and with no address, and have been left in the period mental torment resultant from such a hiatus in communication.

If I could think of it as deliberate it would be hard to forgive but I think we have every one of us been so controlled and manipulated by every sort of force and influence during the war, that my view of what has happened is based on that, any my judgement of it is a continent one.

Jack has the hypothesis (first time) that some fake analyst has impinged with the “mother complex” rot; and it may be so, though I believe Jig to be too sensible to accept that blather at this late date.  And as I know you yourself Cyril have just the opinion Jack and myself have of “psycho-analysis” as the most completely invalidated lot of rotten nonsense that was ever foist by duped doctors on a duped world, I somehow feel you won’t support that stuff, and if it is an ingredient will help.

You can always assure Jig (though he should know it anyhow) that I will never be a “clinging” mother and that Jack any myself have our own careers work and interests and do not “batten” psychologically, or otherwise But normal human affection has its demands, too, and in a world all but ruined by the rotten putrid totes (and may they meet their annihilation), no one who values his or her integrity of individuality can afford to slight normal human feelings.

So let’s abolish “mystification”.

With the affection best wishes I know Jack shares I am as we both are again
Your very admiringly,

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

Personal
26 Belsize Crescent
August 3, 1948

[1952–This letter was not specifically mentioned at any time]

My very dear (and it is our very dear, for Jack feels precisely as I do about you) very dear Creighton and Pavla  [Very few specific acknowledgements]

Jig’s letter which Jack received when he arrived here, continues to distress us because of its misapprehensions.  I don’t know their source, but I do remember every smallest thing that happened during my ten months stay with you, and remember most vividly of all that Jig was alarmed, as I was, lest some slip-up about my passage leave me on his hands financially, when he was carrying every bit of financial responsibility he could shoulder.  I remember he said then, that, in order to try and assure the speeding-up of my passage arrangements at the American end, he would be obliged to invent some story which would be comprehensible to his then-boss (whom I judge to have been a complete ass), and he intended to tell him there was friction in the family caused by my presence, and he was “desperate” about it.  And this I gather Jig did, and that is why Jack received the cable1 which was so incredibly unjust as regards myself Jack Jig himself Pavla and the children.

I was never “jealous” of Pavla or of Denise and Fredrick in my life, but when I was in Tappan, I was in actual panic, every moment, lest I be stranded there as I was in New York in 1939, when Jack was over here in service, and my income on books abruptly ceased, and I could find no means of supplementing it, though I had somehow to get my mother’s hospital bills paid, and she was dying.  I was in such panic, that conscious of a constraint the war was imposing on every one of us, and that we were not speaking with the candour natural to our affections, I “leaned over backward” not to appear too grandmotherly, or mother-in-lawly, lest it be supposed I placidly accepted just staying on there indefinitely, which I didn’t.

We both deeply regret Jack did not see you both and Denise Fredrick and Mathew last year, as you were one of the chief reasons he went to the USA; as he feels as I do the continuity of one’s intimate human relations is important in contributing to a sane normal life.  But, again, we do not blame you, but conditions.  We have not yet solved our problems, and still we hope.

We love you and the three children and we feel precisely as we always have about Cyril whom we have both been accustomed to consider one of our best friends, notwithstanding a divorce, for the occasions of divorce don’t last forever, and Cyril and I as Jack appreciates have a son, the son more important than the original cause of divorce.  For Jig’s sake I hope Cyril will write to both of us as he used to do.

1Dated January 28, 1944: see blog post 28. This reference to this cable illustrates Evelyn’s lack of awareness of the effect her behaviour had on her son.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

United States Post Office
Nyack, New York

July 21, 1949

[NB August 3rd 1949 this was an inquiry about mail addressed to my son in Pearson’s care which though correctly addressed was returned. I therefore regard the Post Office at Nyack as disingenuous and evasive and as having downright refused to answer straight questions regarding a specific instance of mishandling. This inquiry was made May 27 1949 this letter arrived August 2 1949.]

Dear Madam:

Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of June 29th, 1949, all which has reference to mail which you send to your Son, his Wife and your Grandson.

You are advised that Mr Pierson [ear—my fault! ]is alive and resides at 288 Piermont Avenue, for a number of years. All mail received at this office addressed to him or other persons in his care has been delivered to that address.

Of course, it would be impossible to trace the letters you mailed during the years 1944 and 1945, however, I can assure you that if they were addressed to Mr Pierson or someone in his care they were delivered to the above mentioned address. What he might do with such mail is unknown to anyone at this office.

We have no forwarding address for your Son or any member of his family and any mail addressed to them directly would be returned to the sender marked unknown. If the mail was addressed to your Son or any member of his family in care of Mr Pierson it would be delivered to Mr Pierson’s residence for such disposition as he cared to make of it.

Trusting this explains our position in the matter,

I am
Respectfully yours,
Postmaster

[NB 1952 This blast of ice returned to me a letter and parcel correctly addressed to Mathew Scott my grandson and Mr Pearson’s in Mr Pearson’s care–Mr Pearson said he know nothing of it. In London, Jig said Ralph’s second wife had been called a “red” because she was once in a teacher’s union in which were some communists. The two Pearsons were once socialists.]

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Ralph M Pearson’s Design Workshop
288 Piermont Ave Nyack NY

 October 7, 1949

[Pearson is as brutal as Walter Frank–Pearson lies I think and he knows a situation so painful would naturally make it impossible for Jig to read my letter in his presence.]

Dear Evelyn:

The Nyack postmaster just showed me another letter from you about Jigg not getting your letters. Now look, Evelyn–Jigg has received every letter you sent in my care. That last long one about a month ago came to me while he happened to be here visiting for the day and I gave it to him direct from the carrier–without reading it myself. From the way he acted I doubt if he read it, altho I saw him read part of the first page. He is following a deliberate policy of not answering your letters; that is the hard fact you may as well take into account. And I suggest you stop bothering postmasters about this family matter; it is hardly fair to them to be brought in on such a thing.

The packages must have gone astray because I was not in Nyack to receive them and it is too late now to do anything about them.

But every letter you send to me will be forwarded–so you may always be assured Jigg gets them.

It is very unfortunate, this whole situation–and I regret it very much–but there is nothing I can do.

Sincerely,
Ralph M P

[Egregious evasion–Ralph doesn’t answer during two years and not until I had embarrassed him by inquiring of the P Office about parcel ((returned))]

* * * * *

Next week Evelyn finally sees a copy of Life Is Too Short and is inspired to record her reactions to it.