Early Letters From Rosemary Parkes to Her Parents


Transcribed by A Maitland 2006.

Letter from School to Parents:


                           Lawnside, Malvern


Darling M&D 2:XII:'36


The days are absolutely haring by, I've never known anything like it, I'm spending hours a day in fruitless revision. What I don't know now, I never shall. I have just posted Uncle Cyril's birthday present. Thank you very much for sending it. I think Mrs Farmer must be a little ??, it only cost 31d here and you had 5d stamps on it!

   We had an awfully funny prayers this morning. Brag got on her hind legs about people having more than 2 sweets in a day. She said she hoped we realised how wicked we had been. It nearly killed me trying to control myself, and everyone else wasn't in a fit state to do anything after that. I shall have to lick mine and stick them together. Then they'll count as one! It doesn't make any difference whether they're gums or 2d's, you still have 2! Hence the sticking campaign. No sweets are to be eaten in prep. Well I don't know what she would think of us. We all eat lots of sweets, and I usually consume and apple or two, helps concentration! Yesterday, we had Buffy's birthday cake, when we were all rather worn and harasses after an hour's Latin and Algebra. Poor Brag, her hair would stand on end.

    I am afraid this is all very irrelevant. I expect we shall still continue to be "very wicked and dishonest" At least I know we shall. They won't say anything to us, I expect, in any case we all have hysterics before school cert. Everyone treats us as though we might break if not delicately handled! Its so silly.

    Oh dear it was a nasty to come down when we came back to school after Sunday, it was grand fun. Brag was in a horrid temper about the untidiness of the form room. She blew us up sky high. Actually it was very ??? because all the row was founded on was that we kept all our superfluous stuff under the sofa, or under the cushions. You've no idea how useful that sofa - I heap my racquet an balls under it. She swept in, pulled aside the sofa, and exploded with fury - before she looked down. When she looked there was nothing there. She was so staggered, she went and blew the Vth form up instead. She made the V all re-[1]dress and come down for a little powder talk. We could hear it in our form. They came down hooting with mirth, rows drop off them like water off a duck's back.

   Well I think I have rambled on long enough, its only taken about 15 minutes.

                       Lots of love Rosemary.



From Cambridge:



                                 The Manor House,


My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 I am sorry I did not write this after all last night, I went to bed early instead. I am going for early beds this term. My room is rather pleasant, but it is a bore having so many of my things in Sidgwick. You will be glad to know, Ma, that my blankets were packed away, and were not being used by the other person who has got my room now. It faces East, and is slightly larger than my own, and is unfortunately on the third floor of Peale.

   We had an absolutely wonderful time in London, I expect Bunch has told you all about it, so I won't repeat it all again, but I really was terribly glad that I had been. The do at Hurlingham was absolutely grand. It was such a different atmosphere from a deb. do, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves so much. It was a very glamorous do, and all the females looked very nice, at least I thought so. I don't know what Bunch's opinion of the clothes was, we didn't have time to discuss it. They had the most beautiful display of fireworks that I have ever seen. It was very lucky it was such a fine night. We danced on little platforms outside, surrounded by trails of coloured lights, and with loud speakers.  It was simply gorgeous dancing out of doors. The grounds of course, are beautiful, I didn't realise that they ran alongside the river.  We watched the barges coming up the river in the dawn, after the dance was over, it was all ghostly and lovely. People were bathing too after dancing, not many though.

   Lords was terribly exciting too.  It was incredible Harrow winning the match.  It was very good cricket too I think, though as you know I don't understand anything much about it, still it was good enough for us to watch without being bored.  The clothes of course, were devastating,  I have never seen such a fashion parade.  I should think it must be nearly as good as Ascot, it was so lovely seeing all the men in grey toppers too. We had tea in the United Universities Enclosures. I saw one or two people from here, but not many.  I saw one geographer on Friday night, and I think it gave hin an even worse shock to see me than it did me to see him. Still he did go to Eton.

   I am having a pleasantly lazy time at the moment.  I slept till 10 this morning, because no one woke me up, it was awful. Still I expect that I need the sleep.

    I went to tea with the Tabrums on Sunday, they rang up and asked me to tea, which was very nice of them. I am going there on Wednesday night. Joan is at h6me now. She has finished in London. Then this afternoon, we, ie. Susette and I went on the river, and got caught in a terrible thunderstorm which lasted an hour, and got completely drowned it was awful, so we lit a fire, and drank Bovril; Apart from  that I haven't done or seen anyone since I have been up.

    Thank you very much for sending all my books ma, you did pack them beautifully. Please could you ask Nanny to do something about the bottom of the under skirt of my blue frock as I think I tore it, and I had better to wear it for Trevor's do, also it has come undone at one of the seams up by the waist. Other wise I think it is o.k.
    I'm sending you my accounts, and I owe you 10/- which I will give you.
I did have the most lovely holiday, thank you very much.
    I'll write again in a day or two, but nothing much to say.

                                                    Sidgwick Hall,



 My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

          This is going to be a very scrappy and dull letter I am afraid. I have been working since I last wrote to you as you can imagine I had to. I had two supervisions on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I wrote the best essay I had written this term for the first one. That was due to the wireless I am sure. That was the first time since I have been up here. I have been recovering from the strain since then and am contemplating writing another two, the last this term. I have got some practical work to do, which takes ages. I have spent nearly all the morning messing around with rocks. Picking up lumps of granite, and saying firmly this is a felspar crystal and hoping for the best that it is, and looking at rock slices under the microscope and not seeing the slightest difference between the lot, and drowning myself with water trying to find their specific gravity, and then scratching one bit of rock with another and trying to find out how hard they all are. You are supposed to be able to tell all common rocks by holding a chunk of it and looking at through a magnifying glass. Then writing notes furiously in my lab book describing what I imagine and would like to think I have been doing.  I wish the lunch gong would go, I am terribly hungry, it is a long time from 8-0 to lunch at 1-15, with nothing to eat especially when it is so cold, and unfortunately I excelled myself this morning and slept till 8-30 and so didn't get down until all the eggs had been consumed. I have a nine o'clock lecture to morrow so I shall just have to wake up whether I like it or not.

   I have only two a week, and on those sort of mornings my temper is not so good.  0h it is freezing to-day. I have gone into all my winter clothes. The only thing I can do now is to wear a big coat over my coat and skirt. But that is so bulky for cycling. The lunch gong heaven! Lunch over I feel much more able to face the fray. I have just got to go and telephone, I do nothing hut borrow pennies to put in the telephone or stamp machine, I never seem to collect any.  I'm just going to buzz along and see someone now, so I shall have to finish this at a later date.

     After tea.

   Just had tea with Mrs Wood, do you remember meeting her once at Salcombe? The whole family came over to see the Tabrums.  She is American and I think very pleasant. I went to a party there on Saturday night when I got back on Saturday.  If was just a games do but great fun. She has got three children, Richard and Betsy who are at home.  Richard is at Trinity Hall, and then a third one who is still at school, David. Sorry my typing does seem to be bad.  I always get all my vowels mixed up.

   We had a grand day up in town. I was so sorry you couldn't be there Ma, we missed you horribly. I met Bunch at Paddington quite easily. I arrived at Liverpool Street at 10-30 and rushed straight across to pick her up by devious tubes and such like.  Do you know it is the first time I have ever been in London by myself. You will be glad to know I did not get lost, and that we managed to find our way by tubes quite happily, except when we ail went on to a flic after lunch when we took a taxi as that was the quickest way of getting from the Rembrandt to Leicester Square. We went straight to Harrods from Paddington and looked at evening frocks. I got the sweetest thing. Very young and girlish in pale blue! It is blue chiffon on top of layers of silk net, not very full, but showing the crinoline trend. It makes me look as if I had an eighteen inch waist which is lovely. It has got a true Edwardian bodice, very tight and boned and has a top rather like my cyclamen one in shape. There are ostrich feathers, little  ones, round the top, and in little whirls on the skirt. I don't know whether they are real ones of not, I suppose they can't be. They are the same colour as the frock.  Then it has a little sort of fishue (don't know how you spell it, but it  is pronounced like that) thing to drape round your shoulders when you feel like it. It can be worn with or without straps.  It was 71 guineas. I hope this isn't ruinous, but I think the frock is worth it. It isn't In the least sophisticated, you needn't worry about that. It was most awkward we weren't allowed to take them on appro or anything, which upset us an awful lot, but Bunch can send hers back if you don't like it, and have another one, but that is still all right if you don't want her to have on from there as I have got to get a dinner frock and I can get It from there, and something else as or course I shan't want to pay nearly that much. What will happen when the frock comes here I don't know as I have to pay cash on demand. But still with the assistance of Granny's money I suppose I shall be able to meet the bill. Would they send me a bank sheet if I wrote and asked for one as I should like to know just how money I do possess?  I know vaguely, but not to within a couple of pounds. Bunch's frock is utterly adorable.  It is Bunch in every line.  She looks sweet in it, and just as if she was coming out. (dinner gong, this letter is interrupted.)  I think she was going to write to you and tell you ail about it. I am sorry about all this clothes talk Daddy. But it has to be done. I am glad you enjoyed my last letter, it took hours to write. After all this discourse I will continue my ramblings. We walked to the Rembrandt Hotel from Harrods, it was beautifully convenient. As you know it is only just down Brompton Road. The Old Girls luncheon was most entertaining. I sat next to Buffy and Pam Winter, and opposite Jean Stewart and Bunch. Josephine Williams and Ann Goodman and Moira Kershaw, and lots of other people were there too. I saw Mrs Alan Thompson, and asked here about Teddy, she says he is a little better. They are the most tragic family. I am terribly sorry for them. We had quite a pleasant unch living up to the best traditions or what we should like to eat had we still been at school. Turkey and Fruit salad, and grape fruit squash, and one or two other things! We had a record of Lawnside saying that they all hoped we should have a good lunch etc. Do you remember Bunch did it last year. Well we drew who should reply for the old girl's. The lot fell to me. I was nerve wracked. I made the silliest speech, still it was a bit hard having to do it Impromptu. I heard the record afterwards, and I never knew that anyone could speak so quickly. It was certainly a revelation. It was quite audible though. After that we watched a film in colour of the fantasy that the school did at prize-giving. It was simply lovely. A Kodak man had taken it, what for I don't know. It was taken in Lawnside garden on a lovely day. The colours were marvellous. After that Buffy and Bunch and I all went to see Pygmalion.  Leslie Howard and Wendy Hillier.  Bernard Shaw's play, and adapted by himself for the flic, so that there weren't any of anyone else's words.  It was simply marvellous, one of the best films I have ever seen. Very amusing too. You must see it when it comes to Wolver. We just got it in nicely before catching our respective trains.  I went from King's Cross, and arrived at 6-30, just in time to get to the Woods, though I had to change in the station, which was not such a good idea, I finally got in at one minute to 12.  We all had the most awful rush to get taxis at this time of night especially on a Saturday as everyone leaves it as late as they dare, and they are all out. Altogether a very hectic day. Gee, I was tired on Sunday. I had lunch at the Bowens.  Do you remember meeting them at the Tabrums, Daddy?'  Dr. Bowen said he remembered that you held very strong political opinions, he thought that they were very sound! I told him that I never believed a word anyone else said about politics, which amused him a lot! I don't you know. You ought to be very flattered. That is in spite of the incessant bullying I get here. I will not be heckled into admitting something I don't believe or know anything much about. It was a most pleasant lunch.  Anne Bowen is a terribly nice child. The Newnham dance comes off on the 1st of December.  I have asked Richard Wood. I am contemplating asking Gordon as well. I shall join up with Francis and one or two other people. Most of Newnham don't seem to be going though which is a pity, still I believe it is a very good do. Harry Roy is playing, if that means anything to you. Mention it to Trevor and he will go green with envy! I think that the hunt ball is going to be more than pleasing.  Mummy you simply must come, it would be so much nicer if you would, I am sure that wouldn't hurt you. You needn't stay to the bitter end. DO I suppose that you will be at home when you get this letter. I expect that you will be very glad to get back. Is Nurse going, or are you going to keep her for a bit? I hope that you really are a bit better for you holiday. I had a letter from Auntie this morning and she said that she had telephoned you several nights.

     I had lunch with Auntie Bee and Uncle Cyril on Thursday which was pleasant, they brought me some lovely flowers. Last night I had coffee with Mrs Pybus, and she said you do seem to have got devoted parents I suppose she had seen Auntie Bee here on Thursday. So I assured her that I had.

     I am glad  that you have managed to get in some hunting Daddy, I look at the meets in the Telegraph when they publish, and they didn't look very thrilling. I am looking forward to seeing the house, I shall see it on the 6th, I think, unless I go to D.'s dance, and I don't see much possibility of that. I really must think of something to send her. Well I must stop rambling now. I am awfully sorry that my letters are so few and far between, but they take such a long time to write one worth the bother of sending.

                Lots of love Rosemary.