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Martin Ferguson Smith

After being home-educated until she was fifteen and a half, Dorothy Leigh Sayers was sent to a boarding school by her parents in January 1909. They chose the Godolphin School, Salisbury. The essay presents some of the results of detailed research into Dorothy L. Sayers’s time at school. The main sources exploited are three: the letters, many of them unpublished, which she wrote while at the Godolphin; The Godolphin School Magazine; and the handwritten School Diary, with many items pasted in. Some use is also made of Dorothy’s unfinished novel Cat O’Mary, which is partly autobiographical, but not always factually reliable. As well as contributing much to school life, as a brilliant modern linguist and with her outstanding talents in music and drama, Dorothy benefited greatly from the high standard of education she received, from the civilised and stimulating atmosphere fostered by the outstanding headmistress, Mary Alice Douglas, and from the varied contacts she had with her fellow-pupils as well as with her teachers. But she also suffered setbacks, notably when she developed pneumonia after a bout of measles and nearly died, and when she left school suddenly before the end of what was planned to be her penultimate term.

in In and out of Bloomsbury
Martin Ferguson Smith

The essay is the first detailed study of Richard Williams Reynolds (1867–1947). It reveals that, although born in Liverpool, he was the illegitimate son of Brigadier-General Daniel Harris Reynolds of Arkansas by Annie Franklin, a British settler who had been widowed just before the Civil War, in which her lover fought for the Confederate Army. Educated at King Edward’s School (KES), Birmingham, and Balliol College, Oxford, Richard spent the 1890s in London, where he trained for the Bar and did some journalism. His membership of the Fabian Society brought him into close friendship with the writer Edith Nesbit. In 1900 he joined the staff of KES. His most famous pupil was J. R. R. Tolkien. In 1910 he married the novelist Dorothea Deakin, Nesbit’s niece, with whom he had three daughters. In 1922 he retired from KES. He and his family moved to Capri, where they associated with Axel Munthe and other writers and artists. But Dorothea died in 1924, and in 1935–1936 Richard suffered further losses on a Greek-tragic scale – the deaths of his daughters Diana and Pamela, and of the second wife whom he had just married. Pamela, a promising poet, perished in a fall down a cliff.

in In and out of Bloomsbury
Martin Ferguson Smith

Tristram Hillier made a distinctive and distinguished contribution to twentieth-century British art, moving from abstraction and surrealism to representational painting with elements of quasi-surrealism. His first visit to Portugal, in 1947, was of great importance. It arose out of a crisis in his private life: his Irish Protestant wife, Leda, had objected strongly to his recent return to the Roman Catholic Church and even threatened divorce proceedings. From a professional point of view, the visit was highly successful. The essay clarifies the context, dating, and itinerary of the visit, with full use made of the Hillier files in the Tate Gallery Archive and letters in the possession of the artist’s family. It gives special attention to scenes in the city of Viseu, presenting and discussing his paintings of Cathedral Square and the Church of the Misericordia and his very fine drawing, made en plein air, on which the Cathedral Square painting is based. The drawing, in private ownership since 1948, has not been published before. It and the painting executed months later in the artist’s studio in Somerset make a fascinating study in comparison and contrast.

in In and out of Bloomsbury