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An Annotated Inventory of Selected Letters to Ursula Bethell
at the Macmillan Brown Library


Greta Simpson and Olivia Smith
English 427 From Reading to Research (archives report) 2001 – 2003, University of Canterbury. Revised March 2005.

Mary Ursula Bethell’s papers (MB 558) at the University of Canterbury’s Macmillan Brown Library contain many letters written to her from the 1890s until her death in 1945. There are a smaller number of letters written by Bethell in this and associated collections. The present inventory is an attempt to annotate some of these correspondences.

Correspondents include:

To view the collection record, see http://library.canterbury.ac.nz/mb/archives/mb558p.shtml


Lawrence Baigent  

L4
Literary Manuscripts Box 4, Collected Poems

Correspondence from MUB to Lawrence Baigent, one of her literary executors. 3 letters, 1 postcard.
Dates: June 1944

 

Item

Date

 

Sender

Recipient

Leaves

Sender Address

Content

1

1944

Ursula Bethell

Lawrence Baigent

1

Hospital

Informs Baigent that she has inoperable cancer and is in hospital. Her remaining time ‘may be short.’

 

Requests that new editions of Time and Place and Day and Night be published, and that Baigent come to see her about the practicalities of the publication.

 

Notes at end: ‘I should have liked to see you again in any case.’

 

2

2 June, 1944

Bethell

Baigent

 

1

No address

Sends Baigent her correspondence regarding practicalities of re-publication of collections – he will forward these to intended recipient (Caxton Press, publisher).

 

Encloses ‘sad poems’ – the Memorial poems – which are for Baigent’s eyes only, as MUB considers them ‘unsuitable’ for publication. Reveals that she has not been able to ‘transcend’ her grief [over the death of her close companion Effie Henrietta Dorothea Pollen, 8 November 1934] and allows herself to express it once a year.

 

Forthcoming visit from A[llen] Curnow to discuss unpublished poems.

Postscript: ‘My own name must appear this time, ‘the grave’s a fine and private place!’

3

King’s Birthday

Bethell

Baigent

1

No address

Postscript to earlier message – along with some pieces of unpublished poetry (some incomplete). Asks Baigent’s opinion on whether they should be preserved.

 

Wishes to arrange another weekend visit before resuming radiation treatment.

 

4

12 June, 1944

Bethell

Baigent

 

Postcard

No address

MUB’s agreement to include poems from Garden collection and others. Query as to whether she must write to Sidgwick and Jackson [ London publishers of From a Garden in the Antipodes 1929] herself or if her assent to Baigent is enough.

 

 

Charles Brasch (i)

C1
Correspondence Box 1. See also L4 Collected Poems.

Correspondence from Brasch to MUB. 27 letters, many undated.
Dates: 24 May 1938 – 5 January 1943

Item

Date

 

Sender

Recipient

Leaves

Sender Address

Content

1

May 24 th 1938

Brasch

Bethell

1

269 Madras St , Christchurch

Informs Bethell of forthcoming visit to Christchurch.

 

2

Sunday 1938

Brasch

Bethell

1

Amberley

A note about Brasch’s time in Akaroa and time spent there with others including Blanche Baughan. Also mention of Toss Woollaston and D’Arcy Cresswell.

3

Saturday 1938

Brasch

Bethell

1

Waitahuna, Governor’s Bay.

Enclosed is a verse written at Governor’s Bay

 

Mention of the Woollastons.

 

Sends regards to the Pages. [Frederick and Evelyn Page were mutual friends; Page was a university professor of music, a music critic and an accomplished pianist.]

 

4

Tuesday evening 1938

Brasch

Bethell

1

Governor’s Bay

Mt Harper visit.

 

Mention of Woollastons.

5

June 29 th 1938

Brasch

Bethell

2

84 London Street , Dunedin

Toss Woollaston painting and need for anonymous donation so that Woollaston can continue to paint.

 

Mention of Rodney Kennedy, D’Arcy Cresswell and Eileen Duggan.

 

6

July 4 th 1938

Brasch

Bethell

2

84 London Street , Dunedin

Mt Harper visit.

 

Edith Woollaston’s unhappiness and Toss Woollaston’s financial situation.

 

Mention of Rodney Kennedy.

 

Mention of painter Thomas Arthur MacCormack.

 

Mention of upcoming trip across America.

 

7

July 5 th 1938

Brasch

Bethell

1

84 London Street , Dunedin

Enclosed cheque for Toss Woollaston fund.

 

Mention of Rodney Kennedy.

 

8

July 6 th 1938

Brasch

Bethell

1

84 London Street , Dunedin

Mention of Edith Woollaston.

 

Mention of meeting with Rodney Kennedy.

 

Discussion of imminent departure for England via America.

 

9

July 21 st 1938 (also written on 22 nd. From Auckland on Sunday night)

Brasch

Bethell

3

No address (probably from Wellington prior to departure for America)

Written prior to voyage, in George Gabites’ room.

 

Acquisition of American visa.

 

Visit to MacCormack and admiration for his painting.

 

Discussion of Toss Woollaston; failure to visit him and George Gabites’ desire to help.

 

Meeting with Cresswell and a passage of description.

 

Thanks Bethell for her counsel.

 

10

September 5 th 1938

Brasch

Bethell

2

On board Le Champlain, French Line

Return journey from America and description of time spent there.

 

His own pacifism.

 

Discussion of the recession/distance of New Zealand from him; has the same strength of feeling for England as for New Zealand.

 

11

October 22 nd 1938

Brasch

Bethell

3

Great Missenden, England

Thanks for Bethell’s faithful correspondence.

 

A friend’s reaction to Toss’s painting and a letter received from Toss, conveying feeling of hopelessness.

 

Surprise at critic’s choice to print all Bethell’s poems.

 

Writes of returning to New Zealand and why he will not consider it.

 

12

January 17 th 1939

Brasch

Bethell

3

The Abbey School, Graysholt, Hindhead, Surrey, England.

News of planned meeting with Bethell’s sister [Rhoda].

 

Comfort of having contact with friends in New Zealand.

 

Meeting with Robin Hyde through James Bertram.

 

Belief in Toss Woollaston’s ability and excitement at his success.

 

Mention of Rodney Kennedy.

 

A sense of impending war.

 

13

March 27 th 1939

Brasch

Bethell

2

11 Sussex Place , London .

News of meeting with Bethell’s sister.

 

News of Brasch’s sister’s death and thanks for Bethell’s sympathy.

 

Desire for Bethell to get Glover to publish her poems soon.

 

Mention of Rodney Kennedy and his visit to Europe.

 

Mention of Robin Hyde.

14

April 25 th 1939 (also a small part written on 28 th)

Brasch

Bethell

1

11 Sussex Place , London .

Sending a cheque of 20 pounds.

 

News of leaving the Abbey School.

 

Robin Hyde and Jack Bennett’s approval of Toss’s painting and mention of the Bennetts’ plan to travel to New Zealand.

15

May 1939 (parts written on 28 th, 29 th and June 1 st).

Brasch

Bethell

4 extant of 6

No address

Fragment of a letter (first 4 pages missing) with two poems enclosed.

 

Description of English landscape.

 

Possibility of his book being published by Glover.

 

Robin Hyde’s misquoting of Bethell.

 

Mention of Rodney Kennedy, D’Arcy Cresswell and Toss Woollaston.

 

Considering a return to New Zealand.

 

Pacifism.

 

16

July 31 st 1939 (continued in Hononlulu, August 5 th)

Brasch

Bethell

2

S.S. Matsonia , Matson Line.

Written on voyage to Honolulu.

 

Mention of time in New York and journey by train to San Francisco.

 

Money to support Toss Woollaston.

 

Feels he is being drawn back to New Zealand and will leave for New Zealand on the Monterey, departing September 18 th and arriving September 29 th 1939.

17

September 17 th 1939

Brasch

Bethell

1

Halekulani, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Outbreak of war and the need for pacifism in the face of it.

 

Changed plans for return to New Zealand.

 

Asks about Denis Glover, Toss Woollaston and others who face conscription into armed forces.

 

Robin Hyde’s death/suicide and her final writing of Dragon Rampant.

 

Reinforces the will and the need to remain strong in these hard times.

 

18

December 3 rd 1939

Brasch

Bethell

1

11 Sussex Place , London .

Warm wishes for Christmas and New Year.

 

Mention of Glover’s stay.

 

Desire to return to New Zealand after the war.

 

Enclosed are Virginia Woolf’s last essays.

 

19

January 16 th 1940 (mainly written on 22 nd)

Brasch

Bethell

3

Binsted, Hampshire.

Mention of looking forward to Day and Night.

 

Sees Toss Woollaston’s move to a remote place as a gamble.

 

Thanks Bethell for opportunity to look at John Schroder’s articles on Hyde and expresses his own thoughts on Hyde’s suicide.

 

War and difficult times.

 

Reference to Freud’s Moses and Monotheism; Middleton Murry’s The Defence of Democracy; Llewelyn Pruy’s Love and Death; Dante.

 

20

Easter Sunday 1940

Brasch

Bethell

2

11 Sussex Place , London .

Thanks Bethell for copy of Day and Night, although disappointed with Glover’s production of the work.

 

21

May 28 th 1940

Brasch

Bethell

2

11 Sussex Place , London .

Thanks Bethell for sending her book to him and delight at receiving things from New Zealand as reminders of what is in the world.

 

War and overcoming his own pacifism. Later, reveals anxiety about the war.

 

Reference to Letters from Iceland by Auden and MacNeice; T S Eliot’s Idea of a Christian Society; Goethe.

 

Has been called up for military service.

22

August 16 th 1940 (some written on the 22 nd)

Brasch

Bethell

2

11 Sussex Place , London .

The war has come to London: air raid warnings etc. Abandonment of pacifism.

 

Discussion of Bethell’s acquisition of a gramophone and her wish to receive records.

 

Reference to T S Eliot’s Idea of a Christian Society.

 

John Lehmann’s desire to write an article on writing in New Zealand for the New Statesman – has had correspondence with Frank Sargeson and has seen a copy of Bethell’s Day and Night.

 

Extensive discussion of John Mulgan’s novel Man Alone.

 

23

November 23 rd 1940

Brasch

Bethell

1

Felden Barns, Felden, Hemel Hempstead, Hertsfordshire.

Christmas wishes and New Year greetings.

 

War; it is harder for Bethell to live through a second war, while for Brasch, some of the outer pressure of the war has relieved pressure from within.

 

Pacifism.

 

Lack of correspondence between Brasch and Woollaston.

 

Reference to J D Suttie’s The Origins of Love and Hate.

 

NB A fragment of the envelope with which this letter belongs is with the collection of letters. Bethell appears to have made notes on it.

 

24

March 11 th 1941

Brasch

Bethell

1

Felden Barns, Felden, Hemel Hempstead, Hertsfordshire.

Written while sitting up during the night as a fire-watcher.

 

Agreement with Holcroft’s essay.

 

Sadness at George Gabites and his brother going into camp.

 

Greetings to Toss [Woollaston], Rodney [Kennedy] and G[eorge] G[abites].

 

25

April 5 th 1941 (partly written on 6 th, probably begun before the 5 th).

Brasch

Bethell

1 (fragment)

London .

Gramophone records to be sent.

 

Written from London where he has a job as a fire-watcher; has a room in Hampstead.

 

Wishes to give Bethell some money to make things easier.

 

Read a review of McCormick’s Survey of Art and Literature; discussion of various authors and book reviews.

 

Virginia Woolf’s death.

 

26

June 4 th 1941 (partly written on the 8 th and the 11 th)

Brasch

Bethell

2

11 Sussex Place , London .

Sadness for George Gabites and E H McCormick going respectively into camp and abroad, and for the New Zealanders killed in Crete.

 

Praise for McCormick’s Survey and the difficult job he has done so well.

 

Lack of intellectual stimulation in current employment (fire-watching).

 

Mentions again John Lehmann’s desire to write an article on New Zealand writing for the New Statesman.

 

[NB surviving envelope (not the one in which this letter was contained) on which Bethell has made notes about this letter.]

 

27

January 5 th 1943

Brasch

Bethell

1

11 Sussex Place , London .

Reference to T S Eliot’s poetry.

 

Encloses a fourth poem to complete the series for Bethell.

 

 

Charles Brasch (ii)

L4
Literary Manuscripts Box 4, Collected Poems See also C1 Brasch

Correspondence with Lawrence Baigent and Helen Simpson about selections for Collected Poems. 2 letters, 1 fragment.
Dates: 27 August 1946

Item

Date

 

Sender

Recipient

Leaves

Sender Address

Content

1

27 August 1946

Charles Brasch

Lawrence Baigent

2

Manono,

London Street ,

Dunedin .

Has been slow in reading of MUB’s poetry [for CollectedPoems].

 

Denis [Glover] will print the three published collections in their entirety, but Brasch sees several in Day and Night as ‘inferior,’ and speculates that these were only included in that collection because [E H] McCormick did not criticise them, and Bethell trusted his judgement.

 

On ‘By the River Ashley,’ Brasch finds only one piece worthy of inclusion (that beginning ‘That bridge from the city…’), rejecting the others because they seem to be ‘notes for poems and not the poems themselves.’ However, he decides on reflection that the reader should be able to see a small selection of the pieces from the ‘River Ashley’ poems. Attaches list showing which are worthy of inclusion, which not, and some with question mark.

 

Draws Baigent’s attention to a misprint in MUB’s Garden collection, which had been noted by MUB herself: on p. 47, in ‘Elect,’ line 13 should read ‘come home’ instead of ‘came home.’

 

Asks if he may see the ‘Elegies,’ which both Baigent and Glover have made reference to as MUB’s ‘best work.’

 

Reference to Dr [Helen] Simpson and their planned inclusion of a portrait and a sample of MUB’s handwriting in the Collected Poems.

 

Plans to deliver his own book to Glover (at Caxton Press) for publication before the end of the year. Perhaps the Collected Poems can be published in the New Year.

 

2

27 August 1946

Brasch

Dr Helen Simpson

1

Manono,

London Street ,

Dunedin

Repetition of information from Item 1 (letter to Lawrence Baigent, also dated 27 August 1946).

 

 

3

Undated

Brasch

[Glover, Baigent?]

1 (fragment)

No address

Note on ‘1939, Akaroa’:

 

Suggests corrections: first stanza, last line: ‘gone’ is grammatically preferable to ‘had left.’

 

Best example of MUB’s handwriting is ‘November 1936,’ although first two verses would have to be omitted.

 

 

D’Arcy Cresswell

C3
Correspondence Box 3

Correspondence with MUB. 36 letters.
Dates: August 1932 – 14 July 1937
 

Item

Date

 

Sender

Recipient

Leaves

Sender Address

Content

1

August 1932

D’Arcy Cresswell

Ursula Bethell

1

Barnswood, Hinds-Mayfield, R.D. 1, South Canterbury.

Asks Bethell for a critique of his article and her opinion on whether it would be suitable for a volume of poetry that he intends to write during his stay in New Zealand.

 

2

October 20 th 1932

Cresswell

Bethell

1

Barnswood, Hinds-Mayfield, R.D. 1, South Canterbury.

Critique of his own work, The Forest, a verse play.

3

[November/December 1932]

Cresswell

Bethell

1

Barnswood, Hinds-Mayfield, R.D. 1, South Canterbury

Pleads with Bethell not to take his criticism too seriously, as it is nothing more than an impression.

 

Preparing his anthology for publication in the New Year (1933) and is now writing a thesis to accompany it, entitled On the Moral Nature of Poets.

 

4

December 1932

 

Cresswell

Bethell

1

Barnswood, Hinds-Mayfield, R.D. 1, South Canterbury.

Is pleased by publication of ‘ The Long Harbour’ in the Press.

 

Critique of MUB’s poetry.

 

Hopes to publish Anthology Since Byron in the New Year (1933).

 

5

Undated

Cresswell

Bethell

2

Barnswood, Hinds-Mayfield, R.D. 1, South Canterbury.

Weather maroons Creswell in his room around the clock; closely engaged with the thesis for the anthology.

 

Critique of MUB’s poem ‘ Morning Meditation’ and asks if Schroder has viewed the poem. Also critique of ‘ Vigil’ and ‘ Autumn Afternoon.’

 

Hopes for more poetry to be sent after the New Year, once the anthology is finished.

 

6

March 20 th 1933

Cresswell

Bethell

4

Barnswood, Hinds-Mayfield, R.D. 1, South Canterbury.

Expresses his wish to go to Akaroa yet is deeply concerned about where he is.

 

Critique of the ‘ Akaroa’ poem and lengthy critique of many poems sent to him by MUB.

 

7

July 7 th 1933

Cresswell

Bethell

2

C/- William Goodfellow Esq., 27 Liverpool Street, Epsom, Auckland.

First letter written from Auckland.

 

Discusses time in Bulls spent with Ormond Wilson and family and comments on the difference between the North Island and the South.

 

John Schroder saw him off at Christchurch, a generous and enlightened man: ‘I have never experienced a more frank and unreserved hospitality.’

 

Views himself socially as an alien and an outsider.

 

8

August 1933

Cresswell

Bethell

2 (missing fragments)

C/- William Goodfellow Esq., P.O. Box 865, Auckland.

Discusses writing of thesis, which has been published by The Star.

 

Enquires if Bethell sees Ngaio Marsh.

 

9

November 1933

Cresswell

Bethell

4

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Discusses thesis; Bethell has seen it in The Star and Cresswell reveals that he has written another that is much more to the point, with the intention of having the entire work sent by Christmas.

 

Requests a copy of the Akaroa poem.

 

Tells Bethell of his employment, reading a broadcast on the subject of modern poetry.

 

Asks if she sees [John] Schroder and comments that he had a letter from him months ago.

 

 

10

March 19 th 1934

Cresswell

Bethell

5

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Staying with his brother Douglas and family. Description of cottage and reference to the providence of brother’s arrival, at a time when Cresswell had been forced from his lodging into a damp, empty house.

 

Ill health.

 

Works in progress ‘creep forward.’

 

11

Easter Sunday 1934

Cresswell

Bethell

6

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Is able to remain beyond Easter with his brother. After resolving to leave Auckland, has now decided to stay with the aid of the money sent by Bethell.

 

Thanks Bethell for her financial assistance and asks for his family to not be troubled by his situation.

 

12

May 1 st 1934

Cresswell

Bethell

2

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Comments on poetry; he would never take interest in the higher technique of verse.

 

Reference to his interest in Higgins and Turner.

 

Interested in assisting Bethell in making selection for publication.

 

13

June 1 st 1934

Cresswell

Bethell

3

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Bernard Shaw’s comments on lectures.

 

Reference to a great storm.

 

14

July 7 th 1934

Cresswell

Bethell

5

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Thanks Bethell for the story of the Cynaetheans.

 

Discussion of polytheism and paganism; also materialism and modern science.

 

Confident in gaining intellectual and material support for his latest publication.

 

15

August 12 th 1934

Cresswell

Bethell

9

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Offers advice on how many poems to choose for publication.

 

Discussion of religion; the opposition between polytheism and Christianity.

 

Postscript: ‘do not hesitate to be controversial again.”

 

16

September 22 nd 1934

Cresswell

Bethell

1

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

The Stream to come out after Christmas.

 

Requests that he be sent 24 poems and provides information on publication of a booklet of MUB’s poetry in Auckland.

 

Discusses the distinction between poetry and religion.

 

17

November 1934

Cresswell

Bethell

2

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Sorry to hear that MUB may move from Cashmere and asks her to consider moving to Auckland.

 

Went travelling with Ormond Wilson and his dog around the North.

 

Has secured 1 pound per week to finish his book and is finding his thesis has taken complete possession of him.

 

18

December 12 th 1934

Cresswell

Bethell

1

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Sorry for the loss of her friend [Effie Pollen].

 

MUB will now be leaving Rise Cottage in Cashmere, to live in a flat in the city.

 

Feels his own prospects are darkening; feels he has no command over his thesis.

 

Tells MUB that he regards her as very important in the world of New Zealand literature.

 

19

February 3 rd 1935

Cresswell

Bethell

1

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Hopes that her sorrow is losing its freshness.

 

Requests copies of MUB’s Garden and ‘The Long Harbour,’ but notes that he has little admiration for her mystical, religious or didactic poetry.

 

Also, copies of the poems are requested for R A K Mason.

 

Feels the burden of his thesis leaves him with nowhere to turn.

 

20

April 7 th 1935

Cresswell

Bethell

3

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Offers sympathy for her sorrow. Regrets that he cannot offer her assistance in the face of her financial disappointment.

 

Still expecting the poems he requested of her.

 

Reference to Ngaio Marsh and the need for literary folk to keep in touch.

 

Sadness for Bethell that she cannot journey to England, but views her situation in Webb Street as a blessing.

 

21

July 10 th 1935

Cresswell

Bethell

2

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Mention of his own troubled times, financial hardship, only just managing to feed himself.

 

Received invitation from Professor [Arthur] Sewell to address students at Auckland University [College].

 

Asks MUB to read his work, but understands she may not be able to in her present state.

 

22

July 23 rd 1935

Cresswell

Bethell

5

Castor Bay, Auckland.

Asks for her to examine the enclosed poem, with understanding of its anti-feminine/pro-masculine tone.

 

Thanks her for copy of The Garden.

 

Comments on success of his address at Auckland University.

 

23

October 1935

Cresswell

Bethell

2

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Enquires about her activities in Wellington and asks how long she will remain there.

 

Reference to Authors’ Week.

 

Completion of thesis.

 

24

November 1935

Cresswell

Bethell

2

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Typing of thesis is complete, but feels he is still not entirely pleased with it and now comprehends the enormity of the project he has undertaken.

 

Will send the thesis as soon as it is ready and the anthology will follow.

 

25

After Christmas 1935

Cresswell

Bethell

6

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Thanks MUB for her Christmas card and gift.

 

Reference to Milton’s ParadiseLost.

 

Lyttelton Harbour is now being bound, hopefully in time for Authors Week.

 

Has enclosed the anthology.

 

Intention to begin second part of his thesis/anthology as soon as the first is accepted.

 

26

Undated

Cresswell

Bethell

10

P.O. Box 865 , Auckland .

Comments that MUB sounds much more alive and happy.

 

Discussion of his own work: Lyttelton Harbour and The Forest, a stage drama.

 

Disappointment at C [R?] Allen’s review of Lyttelton Harbour.

 

Bad news regarding thesis: loss of profit makes the immediate future uncertain.

 

Mention of Robin Hyde.

 

Suggests MUB contact Denis Glover to publish some of her work in Christchurch.

 

27

Undated, Sunday

Cresswell

Bethell

4

Castor Bay, Auckland.

MUB’s poetry: positive response to all, with the exception of ‘ Weathered Rocks.’ [Time and Place ms]

 

Suggests possible title A Colonial Calendar, and that the anthology be divided into sections.

 

28

February 23, 1936

Cresswell

Bethell

1

Castor Bay, Auckland.

Encloses one of his own poems.

 

Robin Hyde is staying nearby, in the house that is on the same property as the bach in which Cresswell is currently living. [ 9 Rahopara Rd, Castor Bay owned by Jane and Elsie Stronach.]

 

Has resumed broadcasting position.

 

29

September 1 st 1936

Cresswell

Bethell

5

Castor Bay, Auckland.

Praises MUB’s anthology [Time and Place] and congratulates Glover on a fine job. Asks if he can write a review of it for Tomorrow [left-wing literary and political journal edited by H Winston Rhodes, Christchurch].

 

Encouraged by the appreciation of Lyttelton Harbour shown by MUB’s friends.

 

The Forest , Cresswell’s verse play, is giving him difficulty.

 

30

Undated (October or November 1936)

Cresswell

Bethell

4

Pukekohe, Auckland.

Pleased MUB liked his review of Time and Place and assures her there will be future collections to review.

 

Currently in the country haymaking, earning money for Christmas. Will return to Castor Bay for Christmas, but will go back to the country in the New Year.

 

The Forest is two-thirds complete.

 

Has been offered employment in the Forestry Department.

 

31

January 22 nd 1937

Cresswell

Bethell

3

State Forest, Waimauku, North Auckland.

Thanks MUB for the Christmas card and box.

 

Has taken the forestry position and will still be able to get into town to broadcast on weekends. Description of living and working conditions. Will move from Castor Bay bach into a room in town.

 

The Forest is on hold at present, yet the end is in sight.

 

32

November 1937

Cresswell

Bethell

6

Castor Bay, Milford, Auckland.

Discussion of Glover and Schroder; like MUB, he likes them both, but has not met either of their wives.

 

Comments that marriage seems aimless and farcical these days.

 

The Forest is still unfinished, but there is possibility that Glover will print it or it will be published in Tomorrow.

 

Current situation: is drinking too much, getting into debt, and seeking low company where he can realise his identity most clearly.

 

33

April 15 th 1938

Cresswell

Bethell

7

Castor Bay, Milford, Auckland.

Resolved some time ago to return to England as soon as he could afford the sixty pound fare. Feels he has finished with New Zealand and has three books to take back: The Poet’s Progress, The Forest and a new volume of poetry.

 

His family had raised fifty pounds, but from this, twenty-five pounds was needed to pay the fine for riding his motorcycle while drunk, for which he also lost his licence.

 

Plans to sail on the Rangitikei on July 28 th.

 

Did not enjoy Fairburn’s Dominion nor Glover’s excerpts.

 

34

June 2 nd 1938

Cresswell

Bethell

4

Castor Bay, Milford, Auckland.

Discussion of Bethell’s reaction to his drunken escapade.

 

Will go to Wellington on June 15 th to make broadcasting records.

 

Will sail on the Remuera on July 2 nd, although hoping he can earn the unpaid amount through record-making.

 

Currently staying with Ormond Wilson and the Mulgans.

 

Sadness at leaving certain aspects of New Zealand behind, particularly the natural environment. Is nervous about the fame and fortune awaiting him in England.

 

35

July 14 th 1937

Cresswell

Bethell

4

C.P.O., Wellington.

Only a fortnight until he sails on the Rangitikei [July 28 th].

 

Has enough broadcasting employment to keep him going.

 

Staying with Ormond Wilson, where George Gabites is also staying: his gramophone plays and he has good taste in music.

 

Concern about Europe’s current state.

 

Asks MUB to look for references to him in The Press while he is away.

 

Mention of Eileen Duggan.

36

Undated

Cresswell

Bethell

1

(fragment)

No address

Appears to accompany a prospectus that Cresswell sent to Bethell. Requests her to inform him of others who she thinks might like it.

 

 

Allen Curnow

C3
Correspondence Box 3.

Correspondence from Allen Curnow about selections for A Book of New Zealand Verse 1923-1945 (Caxton, 1945). 4 letters.
Dates: 18 – 29 May 1944

Item

Date

 

Sender

Recipient

Leaves

Sender Address

Content

1

Undated

Allen Curnow

Ursula Bethell

3

376 Esplanade

South Brighton

Concerning Curnow’s anthology, in which MUB is to be included.

 

Questions MUB regarding the name by which she will appear in the anthology: M U Bethell or Ursula Bethell; also, asks if printing of birthdate would trouble her.

 

Outlines the poems selected for the anthology:

Time and Place : ‘Warning of Winter,’ ‘By Burke’s Pass,’ ‘Envoy.’

Day and Night : ‘Spring on the Plain,’ ‘(Night Rain),’ ‘October Morning,’ ‘Morning Walk,’ ‘Southerly Sunday,’ ‘9 th July 1932,’ ‘The Small Hours,’ ‘Nor-West Evening,’ ‘Winter,’ ‘Waves.’

 

Reference to correspondence with D’Arcy Cresswell and Charles Brasch.

 

2

18 May, 1944

Curnow

Bethell

4

Press

On Alan Mulgan’s study of literature: Curnow objects to Mulgan’s view of literature in New Zea land as ‘some indirect advertising stunt.’

 

Believes his anthology will ‘outlast’ any of its critics.

 

Four additional poems will be included in MUB’s section of the anthology: a selection from From a Garden in the Antipodes.

 

Reference to his own poetry: inability to find those ‘rhythmic secrets’ that are evident in MUB’s work and in that of R A K Mason.

 

3

Monday 29 May

Curnow

Bethell

2

41 Leinster Road , Christchurch

Glad that MUB has decided to release second editions of both collections – Time and Place and Day and Night – and asks if she has mentioned her plans to others.

 

Encourages her to consider Caxton Press and his own idea of a Collected Poems that would begin with those originally published in From a Garden in the Antipodes. The collection would include all her work, because ‘ I can think of no poem which readers should not have the chance of judging for themselves.’

 

Curnow knows she has spoken to Lawrence Baigent about publication options, but finds his taste marred by ‘fastidiousness or priggishness.’

 

Identifies a progression in MUB’s work that is only seen when read in its entirety: ‘the merging of E.H. into the simple poet’s personality of Ursula Bethell.’

 

Encloses newspaper clippings from the Times Literary Supplement on the definition of poetic form.

 

Reference to W B Yeats’ Oxford Collection [the Oxford Book of Verse 1936]: the exclusion of the Great War poets because ‘passive suffering is not a theme for poetry.’

 

4

Undated

Curnow

Bethell

2

No address

Sends a copy of Penguin New Writing [edited by John Lehmann] to MUB; an issue that includes one of Curnow’s poems from Island and Time.

 

Reference to Greek poet [Demetrios] Capetanakis (1912 – 1944).

 

Discussion on poetry and the ‘distinctive attitude’ shared by all poets, which brings about the ‘poetic form.’

 

 

Denis Glover

L3
Literary Manuscripts Box 3, Day and Night. See also L2 Time and Place. 7 letters 1936.

Correspondence from Denis Glover. 8 letters, 2 undated fragments.
Dates: 22 July 1939 – 4 September 1941.

Item

 

Date

Sender

Recipient

Leaves

Sender Address

Content

1

22 July, 1939

Denis Glover

Ursula Bethell

1

Caxton Press,

129 Victoria Street , Christchurch

Sends three samples of paper, ‘very exclusive,’ and a new typeface for the linotype.

 

Will await MUB’s return (from the care of Sister Ratliff) before deciding on cover and binding, for which Glover favours ‘the Brasch style.’

 

Hopes MUB will be able to select verses for the collection with detachment.

 

2

3 August, 1939

 

 

 

Glover

Bethell

2

Caxton Press,

129 Victoria Street , Christchurch

Working long hours to get a printing job done.

 

MUB’s collection will take only two weeks to print, although they are completely booked for the next month. Suggests the book will appear early in October.

 

Hopes MUB is feeling well enough for the work, both ‘rich in meditations’ and physically strong.

 

3

22 August, 1939

 

 

 

 

Glover

Bethell

 

3

Caxton Press,

129 Victoria Street , Christchurch

Sends type samples – one that is good, but unavailable in italic; another two, one of which is too large.

 

Has not yet seen the manuscript.

 

Discussion of cover, a proper case binding using bookcloth and additional jacket.

 

Difficulty importing materials [from London] at this time.

4

 

 

 

9 September, 1939

 

 

 

 

Glover

Bethell

 

2

Caxton Press,

129 Victoria Street , Christchurch

Discussion of format and cover, whose colour MUB has chosen to be green. Cannot have gold-blocking as MUB would like, due to expense and lack of technology.

 

Frustrations in his own writing: has spent two weeks writing a piece of verse, but only ‘two or three lines’ are worth keeping.

 

5

 

 

19 September, 1939

 

 

 

 

Glover

Bethell

 

2

Caxton Press,

129 Victoria Street , Christchurch

Refers to MUB as ‘the author of From a Garden in the Antipodes (which sounds like a Royal Siamese title).’

 

Sends proofs, which he has looked over while eating lunch and which he may read more thoroughly over dinner.

 

Some alterations have not been done, eg. hyphen remains in ‘picnic’ when it would be better without.

 

Asks for MUB’s input on further alterations, eg. capitals for Latin, and inscriptional V instead of U for Latin.

 

Does not want an advertisement for Garden in the back of the book; instead, a page with ‘Other works by…’

 

6

 

 

 

23 September, 1939

 

 

Glover

Bethell

 

1

Caxton Press,

129 Victoria Street , Christchurch

Quick note to let MUB know he cannot send samples and specimen pages, but all details will be finalised when Glover begins work on MUB’s collection.

7

26 June, 1940

 

 

Glover

Bethell

 

1

Caxton Press,

129 Victoria Street , Christchurch

Thanks MUB for the [review] clippings she has sent.

 

Impossible at this stage to attempt a reprint – lack of finance and a market which would not accept a new edition at a higher price.

 

Not specifically disappointed with sales of Day and Night, but more generally dissatisfied with Caxton publications.

 

Sadness at ‘pursuing shadows not substantial things‘ and wishes to be remembered in MUB’s prayers, as ‘being alive is a bitter business.’

 

8

4 September, 1941

 

 

 

 

Glover

Bethell

 

1

Caxton Press,

129 Victoria Street , Christchurch

Distribution of Day and Night: 111 copies (35 of which were author’s and review copies); total sales are 76; at a cost of 52 pounds, only 17 pounds have been received.

 

Notes that ‘this book has never caught on’ despite publicity.

 

Does not mind Caxton’s loss, but feels MUB will not see the return of her 25 pound contribution. Asks for her view on reduction of price.

 

Note: Later addition to letter (probably by MUB) is an equation that calculates Caxton’s loss at 10 pounds.

 

Montague Harry Holcroft

C4
Correspondence Box 4

Correspondence from M H Holcroft. 6 letters.
Dates: 5 January 1934 – 30 October 1944

Item

Date

 

Sender

Recipient

Leaves

Sender Address

Content

1

5 January, 1934

Holcroft

Bethell

4

Wainui,

Banks Peninsula

Finding it difficult to write while on holiday, as mind is ‘asleep.’ In Christchurch, ‘a kind of asceticism’ helps him to write.

 

Description of natural environment: ‘sharpening summits against the sky.’ Images that will be ‘mental food for months to come.’

 

Discussion of Buddhism, as presented by ‘Doctor Gore’ – no preservation of individual identity in reincarnation.

 

Quotation from philosophical writing of Santayana and extensive discussion of human condition.

 

Reference to Traherne, an advocate of ‘self-discovery of the world’ and similar ideologically to pantheism.

Attempting to find new market for his writing, as The Press has refused him.

 

2

20 December, 1935

Holcroft

Bethell

4

251 Hereford Street , Christchurch

Times of poverty allow you to discover values that could not have been found any other way.

 

Discussion of the past and the ability of difficult times to allow us to connect to something greater than ourselves – but which we lose during times of prosperity.

 

Thanks MUB for copy of her book.

 

3

24 March, 1941

Holcroft

Bethell

6

Southland Times, Invercargill

Believes MUB has come to a ‘pause’ in her poetry and will write again, despite ill health.

 

Encourages MUB to publish a second edition of Time and Place or a Collected Poems in a single volume.

 

The Deepening Stream [: Cultural Influences in New Zealand. Caxton, 1940] brings him nearer the kind of work he wants to do, in which ‘thought and imagination can be made complementary.’ That work had come as a result of disciplined writing during the Depression years.

 

Dedicates most of the week to writing for newspaper: six days per week, writing at least one leading article every day, as well as book reviews and editing. [Employed at Southland Times 1936 until May 1948.]

 

Writing (about 1000 words each week) prevents him from slipping into ‘a mediocre journalism, echoing with clichés and platitudes’ and satisfies the need to express himself. Sometimes wishes he could commit himself to full-time writing, but employment has to be kept during difficult times.

 

Spends Saturday afternoons fulfilling Home Guard duties.

 

Journalism: brings some balance to writing and keeps him in contact with practicalities.

 

Encloses copy of his review of [E H] McCormick’s book [A Survey of Letters and Art in New Zealand, 1940]. Admires the survey, but questions some of M’s ideas, although he admits M was writing for an ‘undiscriminating public.’

 

Believes MUB’s poetry has influenced that of Charles Brasch: they share the same feeling for ‘the anatomy of the land.’

 

Postscript: interested in MUB’s reaction to the ‘ Forest’ chapter in his book, as it seemed to be the section that elicited the most response from readers.

 

4

28 January, 1942

Holcroft

Bethell

7

Southland Times, Invercargill

Discussion of Martin Buber’s work I and Thou which MUB has loaned to Holcroft. He enjoyed its ‘flashes of insight’ but lacked a full understanding.

 

Reference to [Bernard] Bosanquet’s The Meeting of Extremes in Contemporary Philosophy [1921], which is similar to Buber’s work, in attempting to bridge the gap between idealism and realism.

 

Has completed and revised his new book [The Waiting Hills, Progressive Publishing 1943]; once typed, he will send it to MUB for her consideration. Comments that the timing for publication is not good, particularly with the extension of the war.

 

Possibility of MUB writing poetry about Mount Grey. After a visit there, Holcroft senses a need for poetic expression about the place.

 

Suggests MUB would need to get further up the gorge, so that the presence of the mountains ‘presses upon the spirit.’ This kind of expedition would be ‘satisfying and stimulating’ for MUB.

 

5

6 August, 1942

Holcroft

Bethell

3

Southland Times, Invercargill

Discussion of latest work, The Waiting Hills.

 

Remains unpublished, due to problems with paper supply. Hopes that a Wellington publisher will have sufficient supplies.

 

This work marks a point in his development as a writer from which he wants to move forward.

 

Has revised the work, removing two chapters in their entirety: one on politics and the other entitled ‘Public Opinion.’ The first chapter, ‘The Darkness Outside’ has been shortened, but retained in its abridged form. There has also been the addition of an introductory chapter and a new chapter, ‘The Memory of a Voyage,’ as well as an extension of the final chapter, ‘Books for the People.’

 

Notes that in his revision of the work, he benefited greatly from MUB’s criticism.

 

6

30 October, 1944

 

 

3

Southland Times, Invercargill

Thinks of MUB constantly [cancer diagnosis June 1944].

 

Has received, from Dr. Helen Simpson, a poem from ‘By the River Ashley’ sequence. Is moved by it, particularly references to Mount Grey.

 

Thanks MUB for suggestion of Dr. Shepherd’s The Eternity of Time (received from Mr Davies) [Merlin Davies? Anglican vicar and husband of MUB’s close friend Kathleen Davies, nee Taylor]. Has had a great influence on his work at this time and revealed ‘a new field of metaphysical inquiry’ – typical of MUB’s influence on him over their years of acquaintance.

 

 

Eric Hall McCormick (i)

C6
Correspondence Box 6. See also L3 Day and Night.

Correspondence from E H McCormick. 43 letters, many undated. 3 letters from Ursula Bethell [?].
Dates: 19 January 1938 – 20 September 1941
 

Item

Date

 

Sender

Recipient

Leaves

Sender Address

Content

1

January 19 th 1938

E H McCormick

Ursula Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Toss Woollaston unable to stay, as McCormick’s mother is unwell. George Gabites has found a room for him.

 

Woollaston’s employment with Mr Duff has ended and living costs are hard to meet. McCormick has sent a contribution to the Woollaston fund to cover basic expenses.

 

2

January 25 th 1938

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Toss Woollaston has visited and they will have lunch tomorrow.

 

Woollaston’s exhibition has been delayed for a week; he must have need for the money McCormick is sending via MUB.

 

McCormick is attempting to work on ‘the survey’ [A Survey of Letters and Art in New Zealand, Caxton 1940].

 

3

May 26th 1938

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Expresses his joy at receiving Bethell’s letter and her poems. If MUB had not sent the poems, McCormick would have felt he was a failure as a critic. Asks that he be allowed to hold on to the poems for some time, so that he can make a thorough assessment.

 

On the criticism of MUB’s poetry, he explains that he may need to show something of himself and his attitudes towards people and poetry, so that she might better understand the criticisms of her work.

 

4

June 26 th 1938

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Hopes she is not anxious about the physical fate of her ‘children’ – her poems. McCormick is taking a thorough look at them, when he is not writing. Hopes she does not think he is neglecting her, as the poems require and deserve a lengthy examination.

 

Wishes to acquire a small cottage, as an occasional home for himself and one that he could lend to friends.

 

Reference to Shakespeare’s Othello: its magnificent rhetoric.

 

Claims he is not an educated person, as she often addresses him.

 

5

August 28 th 1938

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Despair at never being able to write a letter that returns her kindness. Also, returns letter sent by MUB (correspondence from Toss Woollaston); its style had the same freshness often seen in his paintings. McCormick tells MUB to keep the letter, as future researchers will find it of interest.

 

Looks forward to the end of the Centennial.

 

Discusses plans for publishing.

 

Will soon be living in Cranfield House.

 

6

Undated, Sunday (Winter 1938)

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Critique of poem sent to him by Bethell and asks about the copy of The Castle which he sent her.

 

Urges MUB to visit before it is too late to plan a Christmas publication; there are aspects of her work that require discussion.

 

7

October 2 nd 1938

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Anxiety about situation in Europe.

 

Private concerns too: needs to begin work on his survey to be finished by March.

 

Criticism of MUB’s work: he did not mean to suggest that her half finished poems were not promising.

 

8

Undated, Sunday

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

At ease now the elections are over. Claims that he and Dr [Helen] Simpson share political affiliations.

 

Reference to [Oliver] Duff’s ill health.

 

9

Undated, Tuesday

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Premature welcome note, to be followed up on Sunday.

 

MUB is expected to arrive in the afternoon and he will meet her at the boat.

 

Mr Duff is now well.

 

10

November 26 th 1938

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Letter will not reach her until after her return from Dunedin.

 

Has drawn up a schedule for his trip.

 

Consumed by the survey and its research.

 

11

Undated, Sunday (December 23 rd 1938)

McCormick

Bethell

2

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Wishes that he could stay in Christchurch longer than planned but the survey is troubling him.

 

Hopes to get a good deal of research and writing done in Dunedin.

 

12

Undated, Thursday (December 1938)

McCormick

Bethell

1

Moray Place, Dunedin.

Spending time at the Art Gallery and library carrying out research.

13

Undated, Tuesday (April 1939)

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

First letter since his return from Christchurch.

 

Work is pressing more urgently.

 

Critique of [MUB’s poem] ‘ Rock-Crystal.’

 

Tells MUB not to worry about sending the Chinese magazine, with information on [Robin] Hyde. [Hyde travelled in Japanese-occupied China February-August 1938. She published articles in English-language Chinese magazines and newspapers in China and later in London.]

14

Undated, Monday (after Easter)

McCormick

Bethell

2

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Dreading the accidents and errors at Centennial House while he is away. [In 1939 McCormick succeeded Oliver Duff as editor of the centennial publications.]

 

Has had time to have a leisurely read of [MUB’s poem] ‘ Autumn.’

 

Thanks MUB for the magazine from China and hopes that she will one day meet Hyde. [Possibly Tien H’Sia, in which Hyde published her long article about New Zealand literature, ‘The Singers of Loneliness.’]

 

15

Undated, Tuesday

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Had a harassing day, not in a fit condition to judge poetry.

 

Postscript: he will see ‘your Dr Allan’ in Christchurch to see a survey he is doing.

 

16

Undated, Tuesday

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

News about Archie Stockwell’s arrival tomorrow. [Archibald Stockwell was a lecturer of English at Canterbury University College.]

 

Did not manage to visit Rise Cottage on his trip to Christchurch.

 

Mention of Dr [Helen] Simpson and her survey [The Women of New Zealand, 1940]; he will be seeing her on Wednesday or Thursday next week.

 

17

Undated, Thursday

McCormick

Bethell

1

Centennial House, Sydney Street East, Wellington

Comments on title page of MUB’s work [perhaps Day and Night (1939)].

 

Reference to Paul Pascoe and Archie Stockwell.

 

Has received the Dottoressa survey [Simpson’s manuscript; dottoressa = Ital. fem. doctor].

 

18

Undated, Sunday

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Thanks MUB for the last ‘instalment’ that arrived last week.

 

Claims that he does not mind criticism of his work, as only a small portion of his professional capital is locked up in his writing.

 

Asks if he can discuss the survey with her at some stage.

 

19

Undated, Sunday

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Fears that the final chapter will not be finished and typed before the 5 th of the month.

 

Cranfield House has re-established itself a short distance from the original site and the Gabites girls stayed there while in Wellington.

 

20

March 24 th 1940

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Praise for the writing of Dr [Helen] Simpson and is pleased to hear MUB’s was the first letter to Dr Simpson.

 

Likes the idea of printed slips for each of their books and asks her to send one to view.

 

21

Undated, Saturday

McCormick

Bethell

2

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Has another section of the survey typed and ready for her to read, to be sent either with this letter or separately.

 

Feels unsure about Dr [Helen] Simpson viewing it, as it might be perceived as inadequate beside her own survey.

 

Struggling with the last two chapters; finding it difficult to get living people and recently dead into perspective or to find a pattern in their writing, other than a chronological order.

 

22

Undated, Monday

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Addresses MUB as his ‘deeply appreciated Critic’ and is grateful for the criticisms that both Dr [Helen] Simpson and MUB have given him.

 

Had intended to start work on the final two chapters after the first section had been sent to the printers, but he has not yet finished chapter six.

 

Hopes that it may be published by October.

 

Expresses sadness at MUB’s ill health.

 

23

July 9 th 1940

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Encloses a manuscript copy of his survey, which is the reason for his long silence in their correspondence.

 

Hopes to finish the survey within a month and asks her to criticize it severely.

 

War: one begins to accept the disaster of the war as a part of the normal course of existence.

 

Postscript: will post the manuscript separately, and there is no need to return it.

 

24

July 31 st 1940

McCormick

Bethell

1

(telegram)

Wellington North

‘Grateful to you both for your superb criticism. McCormick.’

25

Undated, Friday

McCormick

Bethell

1

Centennial House, Sydney Street East, Wellington

Addresses her as Evelyn Hayes, ‘for that is what I’ve called you in the survey.’

 

The survey is finished and now awaits final page proofs.

 

26

Undated, Monday

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Has been working on the index of his Survey, but is now feeling indifferent about the project and apprehensive about its size.

 

Reference to comments made about ‘Caxton boys.’

 

27

Undated, Monday

McCormick

Bethell

1

Centennial House, Sydney Street East, Wellington.

Discussion of business expectations surrounding the [T A] McCormack paintings; he sees it as a generous act on MUB’s part, which is much appreciated by George and Paul.

 

Good to celebrate her publication.

 

28

December 6 th 1940

McCormick

Bethell

1

(telegram)

Wellington North

‘Shall be with you in spirit, love to both. McCormick.’ [Refers to celebration of Simpson’s Survey?]

29

Undated, Wednesday (possibly December 12 th 1940)

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Addresses Bethell as ‘my dear and far more eminent poet,’ going on to say he is merely ‘a sort of literary parasite and scavenger.’

 

Thanks MUB for praise and tells her she will get a copy when there are enough sent to him.

30

Undated, Friday

McCormick

Bethell

4 (fascimile)

Centennial House, Sydney Street East, Wellington

Remarks on Bulletin.

 

Discussion of age, in which he states his own and says New Zealanders are late to mature, thereby making him seem childish. He dislikes her suggestion that his criticism can be dismissed as the inescapable outpourings of a young man, believing it should be regarded more highly than she suggests.

 

Attacks MUB’s view of New Zealand, claiming she judges this country from an elevated English status: ‘you’ve always worn these wretched English blinkers.’

 

31

Undated, Monday

McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road , Day’s Bay, Wellington.

Remorse for the ‘selfish, self-indulgent’ letter he last sent.

 

Views his life as a tangle of loose ends and little else.

 

Tells of his drafting into the war – perhaps a soldier’s life might give him time for calm reflection.

 

32

Undated, Monday

McCormick

Bethell

1

B. Company, 2 nd Training Unit, Military Camp, Trentham.

Home in the weekend for his first leave.

 

Everything she speaks of seems so remote; still feels as though he has been caught in a maelstrom; wonders whether he will get used to the life.

 

Has an upcoming transfer to the Medical Corps.

 

33

February 4 th 1941

McCormick

Bethell

1

(postcard)

Trentham

Note to thank MUB for the Manchester Guardian s she sent.

 

 

34

February 13 th 1941

McCormick

Bethell

1

(postcard)

Trentham

Note sent from camp hospital, where he is ill with shingles, but enjoying the peace and rest.

 

Hopes to get a transfer.

 

35

February 21 st 1941

McCormick

Bethell

2

No.41353, 5 th Medical Reinforcement, Military Camp, Trentham.

Addresses her by Christian name.

 

Has transferred to the Medical Corps, but doubts whether he will ever be content in the army, although at least in his new position he will be doing work that doesn’t ‘go continually against the grain.’

 

Is increasingly subject to superstition.

 

36

March 9 th 1941

McCormick

Bethell

1

Trentham

Assures MUB that her ‘act of faith – or of defiance’ was justified.

 

Only returned from leave last night and what happens to him now depends upon whether there is time to fit him with false teeth before his unit leaves; if he can’t go, he will leave with the next reinforcement.

 

37

March 31 st 1941

McCormick

Bethell

2

Trentham

Not long until he leaves – possibly sailing at the end of the week.

 

George Gabiies released from prison.

 

Wonders whether he will see George and Paul overseas, though this is a purely selfish hope; the war would not be so stupefying if it could be undergone with people like them.

 

38

Undated, Friday

McCormick

Bethell

1

5 th Medical Reinforcement, Trentham Military Camp.

Letting her know that they haven’t left yet and that he is getting his denture on Monday, so will be going with the rest. Feeling of suspense.

 

 

 

39

April 14 th 1941

McCormick

Bethell

1

5ht Medical Reinforcements, N.Z.E.F., Overseas.

Not the materials to write letters in his present situation.

 

The journey was fairly enjoyable; weather and food were good.

 

Is gradually becoming conditioned to this way of life; wonderful opportunities for observing New Zealanders of all types.

40

May 31 st 1941

McCormick

Bethell

3

1 st Camp Hospital, N.Z.E.F., Middle East Forces.

Released from quarantine yesterday and has been very busy with the sick; the work has given him a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. Feels he is doing something useful and has found the niche he hoped for when he joined the army.

 

41

June 20 th 1941

McCormick

Bethell

2

Public Relations Service, H.Q. 2, N.Z.E.F., Middle East Forces.

Thanks for her sending the clipping from the Times Literary Supplement; felt excitement when it dropped from her letter.

 

Sorry to hear of her ill health.

 

Has changed to a different post – has been appointed assistant archivist.

 

42

August 2 nd 1941

McCormick

Bethell

1

Public Relations Service, H.Q. 2, N.Z.E.F., Middle East Forces.

Glad to hear of the news of MUB, George and Paul; hopes to see Paul [Gabites] before too long and George before the end of the year.

 

Has not yet seen MUB’s nephew [Christopher Bethell?], about whom she is very worried.

 

Has seen parts of Cairo.

 

Hears that Mr Duff’s survey is now in print and is superb; Duff’s son is missing in action.

 

43

September 20 th 1941

McCormick

Bethell

1

Public Relations Service, H.Q. 2, N.Z.E.F., Middle East Forces.

Disquieted by what MUB said of her health in her last letter.

 

Now quite settled into this life and is more content now than ever; strong possibility of going back to New Zealand by the end of the year to set up a receiving depot for their records.

 

Approval of MUB’s plans, which he has told no one about; remarks that it is strange that she thinks he views Charles Brasch as a ‘fat capitalist’ when he has never had any clear picture of him; thought of him vaguely as someone rather pathetic and wistful, always on the fringe. Perhaps she was confusing him with Glover, he suggests.

 

 

Eric Hall McCormick (ii)

L3
Literary Manuscripts Box 3, Day and Night. See also C6.

Correspondence from E H McCormick before and after publication of Day and Night. 2 undated letters.
Dates: [1939]

Item

 

Date

Sender

Recipient

Leaves

Sender Address

Subject

1

Undated

E H McCormick

Bethell

1

Kotari Road ,

Day’s Bay,

Wellington

Congratulates MUB on the publication of Day and Night: the poems and the binding, printing etc.

 

Believes some of the poems will be ‘classics in a very good sense.’

 

Thanks MUB for the copy with personal inscription, in which she gives him credit for putting her on the ‘literary road’ again. Encourages her to write more poetry and to work on her new idea of ‘prose sketches.’ [Possibly ‘By the River Ashley’ project?]

 

2

 

 

 

Undated

McCormick

Bethell

6

(fragmented)

Kotari Road ,

Day’s Bay,

Wellington

[ Letter is fragmented, as it has been cut into pieces.]

 

Questions MUB’s sense of ‘exile’ – was it important to her, as she conveys a ‘rootedness and contentedness’ in her poetry.

 

Claims MUB’s work is ‘sophisticat[ed]’ in its social aspects, suggesting a ‘civilised’ world, while at the same time she indicates something much greater and more mysterious beyond the boundaries of the social world.

 

Suggests that Time and Place deals with themes and feelings which are more complex than those covered in the Garden collection; resulting in greater experimentation with form, compound words, rhymes/half-rhymes etc.

 

Has criticised ‘Residual,’ but emphasises that MUB is the best judge of her own work.

 

Critical comments on MUB’s work:

‘Morning Meditation’: rhythm and rhymes seem at odds with subject; dislikes the title.

‘Waves’ and ‘Midnight’: ‘superb and terrible.’

‘The Crucifix’: needs Part III, which has been lost.

Oddments: favourite is ‘Decoration.’

 

‘Hill Diary’: recommends publication.

 

‘At the Lighting of the Lamps’: recommends publication; ‘splendid.’

‘Picnic’: a ‘metaphysical triumph.’

‘Rose-Wreath’: must be published, hard for McCormick to relate to, because he lacks knowledge of neo-Platonism.

‘Rock-Crystal’: a ‘triumph.’

 

Newspaper Clippings

Best are ‘Spring Day on the Plain,’ ‘Summer Daybreak’ and ‘Autumn Dawn.’

 

Admits he favours rhyming, as opposed to free verse, which MUB seems to find more suited to expression of intellectual ideas and use of polysyllabic words.

 

Recommends publication in November, in time for Christmas.

 

Later, sees ‘Rainy Morning’ which must not be overlooked.

 

Explains further the description of MUB’s poems as ‘metaphysical’ – meaning she carries a mood, thought, or sensation, through to its conclusion.

 

 

 


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Last updated 23 May, 2005