Queries on letters

First volume (1928–1946)


To his mother, 2 September 1931: ‘Johanna [surname?] cooks excellently’


To Diana Hubback, 30 October 1933: ‘I wish I had seen you under more favourable conditions: there were too many people about & I don’t much care for Miss Sperry.’


To his mother, January 1934: ‘I am not sure that Friday night is a possible Friedmann night’.

To his parents, 6 September 1934, from Palestine: ‘Niouta Schneerson asked Ida [Samunov] when I was getting married! apparently Mrs Goldberg has invented a rumour that I am engaged & will marry soon!’

To his parents, 24 September 1934: ‘Erev Yom Kippur Foster & I happenned to be near Beirut: there discovered a whole group of husbands who ran away from their wives and Jewish public opinion (you remember the Halpern case?) for Y. Kippur – party of 4 consisting of Van Vriesland, Smoira (lawyer) Pflaum (philologian) & a doctor, to whom we talked.’


To his mother, mid-November 1935: ‘Thank you for your letter & pamphlet. I read the pamphlet in its original form when it appeared in the Times, it is very outspoken, but still does not tell all’

To his parents, late November 1935: ‘To-morrow 2 Jews, Mr Isaac Saul & Mr Abraham Herman are coming to tea with me. Solidarity.’

To his mother, late November 1935: ‘With regard to McMichael [a type of wireless], I cannot possibly write myself to anybody. You see I am not a musical critic & to say that I am (reviewing books on music is not = musical criticism) would be legally prosecutable as obtaining money under false pretences, what you do I am not responsible for, if necessary I can always say I knew nothing about it, so your dealings with Mr Jenks do not concern me. So please tell him to send me a set, the earlier the better.’


To Mary Fisher, December 1936: ‘When I rose in the morning, Victor R. had gone to his laboratory, Mrs R. was in bed, my co-breakfaster, a Mrs Venetia Montagu (wife to a dead Secretary for India, Edwin M., handsome, smart, awful woman, celebrated society wit I am told, but quite genuinely clever and entertaining, only very awful. With two dogs, and 3 aeroplanes, piloted by a ravishing young man [Rupert Bellville] with whom she visits Persia, Tibet etc.) was not helpful. At this point the butler approached & said the car was ready whenever I wished it. My difficulties seemed solved. (this story cd be expanded a la Smith–Cox [A. H. Smith and Christopher Cox? implications?]: is it known which of them adopted the method of infinite elasticity first? pre-established harmony?).’


To Elizabeth Bowen, early 1937: ‘at this point a Mrs Harrod look came into his face, – “the woman whom Pater loved & in whose company Swinburne & Meredith delighted,” or whatever it was, except that I suppose he was quite eminent in 1908’

To Mary Fisher at Ashton Wold, Peterborough (now [2002] home of Miriam Rothschild), 31 July 1937: ‘It is 7.45, & one must dine soon. Not a moment of time has there been: or such as there has was spent in interviewing the elocutionist provided by Mr K[enneth] Barnes [principal of RADA], & in thanking yr parents. Suitably enough this for the Rothschild Estates [??]. These are not the aeroplane ones [Victor and Barbara], but their mother, quite a dignified old lady, originally from Hungary.’


To his parents, 1938?: ‘In Christchurch I sat next to a crypto-Jew called Clive, in Erlanger’s bank, who praised Blum as only a Jew can’; ‘Mr Sacher jun. arrived to be taught to day: he looks like his mother & has a thin, vulgar, Manchester voice’; ‘Harold Nicolson [...] a little dirty minded, like Mr W. Wolf, but less bitter.’


New York is full of persons who look like (a) Balogh (b) me (c) you (d) the Gauleiter.’

To his parents, 23 September 1940, from New York: ‘I stayed for 14 days with Aronsons on account of its being cheaper (I paid 1 dollar a day) they pretended not to want money, but wanted it all the same. Mulya is offended by the pointed silence from London, whereas Oiserman writes to him.’ [Anna Oiserman, a distant Schneerson cousin of Mendel and Marie, was married to Zemach Oiserman, possibly a business connection as well. They lived in London at this point and knew the Berlins and the Samunovs well. More info.?]

To his parents, 5 October 1940, from New York: ‘Living here with Rau is also economical & much nicer – he is a simple fellow, with an inferiority complex vis a vis me, which now has passed away: he was much upset by Ika’s end.’ Mentioned in same letter: Arthur Poliakoff (b. 1909), prosperous furrier, contemporary of IB at St Paul’s. [date of death?]


Details for Allison Cooke of the Evening Standard?

To his parents, 7 October 1942, about his illness and those who can carry reports of his recovery from the US to the UK: ‘You will probably have seen Lady Fraser by now.’

To his parents, 17 October 1942: ‘a box of cigars to our friend Chester’. Is this Norman Chester, and if so why is he ‘our friend’, especially before he came to Oxford?

To Daphne Straight, 26 November 1942: any info. on Wills, Grant Mackenzie, Rodgers, ‘Jolly Jack’, all probably members of IB’s staff in Washington, or at any rate his colleagues?Capt. Crawford’s suicide has plunged Paul [Scott Rankine] into continuous hysteria.’ ‘We appear to have engaged a doubtful character named David Cohn, a friend of J. Foster & Angus MacDonnell, who, I am sure, will give immense trouble.’

Third volume (1960–1975)


Who is ‘Behrens’, mentioned in October 1962 in a letter written from Lowell House, Harvard? ‘Behrens is neurotic about his health or really ill: I have not seen him yet.’

Who is ‘Miss Holli’, mentioned in October 1962 in a letter written from Lowell House, Harvard?

Items requiring footnotes are shown thus; further context can be supplied on request; suggestions, please, to Henry Hardy

Last updated 2 February 2013