'Katherine Mansfield Today' Blog

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What was KM thinking and writing 90 years ago today? The ‘KM blog’ posts daily extracts of her letters and notebooks written almost 90 years ago...
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9 January 1923

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Katherine Mansfield died from a haemorrhage at eleven o'clock on the night of 9 January 1923, soon after the arrival of her husband, John Middleton Murry, for his first visit to the Prieuré. She was buried at the cemetery at Fontainebleau, where her gravestone reads:

     KATHERINE MANSFIELD
              WIFE OF
   JOHN MIDDLETON MURRY
            1888 - 1923
     BORN AT WELLINGTON
           NEW ZEALAND
           DIED AT AVON

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8 January 1923

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   My blue wool dress is in large holes. Those cashmir cardigans look as if rats have gnawed them. As to my fur coat - its like a wet London cat. The last time I was in the stable I caught one of the goats nibbling it. How are you off for clothes? Would you like brown corduroys? That big woman Miss Marston whom you took such a fancy to, wore them. She got thems from Barkers - outsize - 35/- They are breeks and a smock & long plain coat. Very practical.
   Write and tell me how you are will you? Dear Ida?
   Our calf is still allowed to be with its Mother. I can't understand it. Its a huge creature now. We had great trouble with the mother who had to be massaged daily. Do you massage your cows? Will you tell me how your stable is kept? What is the condition of the floor. I'll tell you about ours in my next letter. It worries me.
                          With love from
                                  K.M.[To Ida Baker, unsent, early January 1923.]

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7 January 1923

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   Do you kill pigs where you are? It goes on here. Two were stuck yesterday and their horrid corpses were dissected in the kitchen. They are frightful things to watch and to smell. The worst of it is until their heads are cut off they are still so pig like. But we kill them outright. That is one comfort.
   I am looking for signs of spring already. Under the espalier pear trees there are wonderful Xmas roses which I saw for the first time this year. They reminded me of Switzerland, and somebody found four primroses the other day. I have moods when I simply pine for the S. of France or somewhere like Majorka. When this time is over I shall make for the South or the East & never go North again. [To Ida Baker, unsent, early January 1923.]

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6 January 1923

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My dear Ida
   I have purposely not written to you before because I felt you wanted me to disappear. . .for a little. I was right, wasn't I? But you have been in my mind today. How are you? How are the cows? As you see I am sending you 100 francs. Play with it. I don't want it. Until your financial position improves its no good minding taking any small sums I can send you. And as I have lost my money complex you can take them quite freely.
   Very much is happening here. We are in the throes of theatre building which ought to be ready by the New Year (Russian style) on January 13th. Its going to be a most marvellous place. Mr Gurdjieff has bought 63 carpets for it & the same number of fur rugs. The carpets which were displayed one by one in the salon last night are like living things - worlds of beauty. And what a joy to begin to learn which is a garden, which a café, which a prayer mat, which l'histoire de ses troupeaux and so on. My thoughts are full of carpets and Persia and Samarkand and the little rugs of Baluchistan. [To Ida Baker, unsent, early January 1923.]

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5 January 1923

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My dearest Marie & Jeanne
   I am seizing the last moments of the old year to write to you, for I cannot let it depart without a letter from me. I have been such a very bad correspondent lately. I am only too painfully aware of it. But it was awfully difficult to write. There seemed nothing to say. Were I to attempt to describe my present surroundings and way of life it would all sound like a dream, and I have for the moment no interests outside it.
   As you know I came here for a ‘cure' but its not a ‘cure' in any ordinary sense of the word. The cure consists in leading as full and as different a life as possible, in entering into as many new interests as possible, in taking up all kinds of new things of every sort and description. Purely medical treatment there is none, as we understand it, or not enough to mention.
   We are about 50-60, mainly Russians established here in a colony, and leading a very particular kind of communal life. [To Charlotte Beauchamp Perkins and Jeanne Beauchamp Renshaw, unsent 31 December 1922.]

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4 January 1923

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   But such grand flights being impossible I burned what boats I had and came here where I am living with about fifty to sixty people, mainly Russians. It is a fantastic existence, impossible to describe. One might be anywhere - in Bokhara or Tiflis or Afghanistan (except alas! for the climate!). But even the climate does not seem to matter so much when one is whirled along at such a rate. For we do most decidedly whirl. But I cannot tell you what a joy it is to me to be in contact with living people who are strange and quick and not ashamed to be themselves. It's a kind of supreme airing to be among them.
   But what nonsense this all sounds. That is the worst of letters; they are fumbling things.
   I haven't written a word since October and I don't mean to until the spring. I want much more material, I am tired of my little stories like birds bred in cages.
   But enough. Dear Elizabeth, I have not thanked you even for the Enchanted April. It is a delectable book; the only other person who could have written it is Mozart.
   My [word missing], from the moment they arrived in Italy had a separate blissful existence of its own. How do you write like that? How? How?
   Do you see John, I wonder? He sounds very happy and serene - Life is a mysterious affair!
   Goodbye, my dearest Cousin. I shall never know anyone like you; I shall remember every little thing about you for ever.
                       Lovingly yours,
                           Katherine. [To Elizabeth, Countess Russell, 31 December 1922.]

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3 January 1923

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Dearest Elizabeth,
   Here is the £100 you lent me. I am sending it, as you see, at the last last moment while the old year is in the very act of turning up his toes.
   I wish I could explain why I have not written to you for so long. It is not for lack of love. But such a black fit came on me in Paris when I realised that X-ray treatment wasn't going to do any more than it had done beyond upsetting my heart still more that I gave up everything and decided to try a new life altogether. But this decision was immensely complicated with ‘personal' reasons too. When I came to London from Switzerland I did (Sydney [Waterlow] was right so far) go through what books and undergraduates call a spiritual crisis, I suppose. For the first time in my life everything bored me. Everything and worse everybody seemed a compromise, and so flat, so dull, so mechanical. If I had been well I should have rushed off to darkest Africe or the Andes or the Ganges or wherever it is one rushes at those times, to try for a change of heart (one can't change one's heart in public) and to gain new impressions. For it seems to me we live on new impressions - really new ones. [To Elizabeth, Countess Russell, 31 December 1922.]

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2 January 1923

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   We had a very quiet Christmas here, as the Russian Christmas is not until January 6th. Their New Year is on January 13th. What a frightful bother! Christmas, in any case, is no fun away from ones own people. I seldom want to make merry with strangers, and that particular feast is only enjoyable because of its childish associations. I remember us all going to St Paul's and Mother's enjoyment of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." And that makes me think of darling Leslie still a child, enjoying everything. Such memories do not make for gaiety.
   I see by the papers I have received that my last book is nominated for the Vie Heureuse French Literary Prize as the former one was. It has no chance of success, for the French never take short stories "seriously". However, it is a good advertisement and costs nothing.
   Jack still sounds very happy and busy, dividing his time between the country and London, with a strong bias in favour of the country. I do wish the English climate were more temperate and that I could look forward to settling down there. But the idea of settling is to me what it seemed to be to grandpa Beauchamp. Only I am driven where he went willingly.
   My new book will not be out before the spring. I am still a little undecided about the title. I feel the choice of titles ought to be studied as a separate art. [To Harold Beauchamp, 31 December 1922.]

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1 January 1923

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My dearest Father
   I am writing this letter when the old year is at his last gasp and in the very act of turning up his toes! May the New Year be full of happiness for you. I wish I could imagine we might meet in it but perhaps in the one after I shall be fortunate enough to turn towards home and to see you at the Grange. It is a dream I would love to realise.
   Since I last wrote I have been leading a very tame semi-existence here. My heart, under this new treatment, which is one of graduated efforts and exercise, feels decidedly stronger, and my lungs in consequence feel quieter, too. Its a remarkable fact that since arriving here I have not had to spend one entire day in bed - an unprecedented record for me! I feel more and more confident that if I can give this treatment a fair trial - as I intend to do - and stay on for six months at least, I shall be infinitely stronger in every way. More I do not venture to say.
   Did I tell you in my last letter that the people here have had built a little gallery in the cowshed with a very comfortable divan and cushions. And I lie there for several hours each day to inhale the smell of the cows. It is supposed to be a sovereign remedy for the lungs. I feel I must look a great pa-woman, perched up aloft. But the air is wonderfully light and sweet to breathe, and I enjoy the experience. I feel inclined to write a book called "The Cowiness of the Cow" as a result of observing them at such close quarters. [To Harold Beauchamp, 31 December 1922.]

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31 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Dearest Brett
   What haven't I to thank you for! A letter, 2 photographs and the perfectly charming little Beaver Puff. They were all my Christmas presents from England (except for a drawing from J.M.M.). I am so glad to have the photographs. Have you sold the little landscape yet? Looking at it I went back to Sierre for a moment & sat in the carriage at the hotel door about to drive away down the sunny streets and out into the vineyards. It seems years and years ago, though the Beaver Puff is a great lamb and it feels incredibly soft - delicious.
   Now for your letter. We are talking at cross purposes about Laws. Dear old Cezanne didn't discover those shapes! They have meant what he said they meant for thousands & thousands of years. Also one cant start laws like hares nor can one light on them in 5 weeks. I mean something utterly different - far more difficult and profound. Laws are handed down to those who have knowledge. For all I know the laws of painting may have to do with the planetary movements; I don't know. But they are quite different to "inward spiritual beauty". However the subject is dreadfully unprofitable, and I shouldn't have started it. I wanted merely to hint at something, to suggest something - no more. I am too ignorant to talk. [To Dorothy Brett, 31 December 1922.]

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30 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Darling Bogey
   My fountain pen is mislaid, so as I am in a hurry to write please forgive this pencil.
   Would you care to come here on January 8 or 9 to stay until 14-15? Mr Gurdjieff approves of my plan and says you will come as his guest. On the 13th our new theatre is to be opened. It will be a wonderful experience. But I wont say too much about it. Only on the chance that you do come Ill tell you what clothes t0 bring.
   One sports suit with heavy shoes & stockings and a macintosh & a hat that doesn't matter. One ‘neat' suit with your soft collar or whatever collar you wear & tie (you see you are my husband & I cant help wanting you to look - what shall I say?), slippers, and so on. That's all. If you have a cardigan of course bring it and a pair of flannel trousers in case you get soaking wet & want to change.[...]
   I hope you will decide to come, my dearest. Let me know as soon as you can - won't you? I hope Tchekhov's wife will be here. I have gone back to my big lovely room, too, so we should have plenty of space to ourselves. We can also sit & drink kiftir in the cowshed.
   I cant write of other things in this letter. I hope to hear from you soon.
                 Your ever loving
                                   Wig. [To J. M. Murry, 31 December 1922.]

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29 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   Our cowshed has become enriched with 2 goats and two love birds. The goats are very lovely as they lie in the straw or so delicately dance towards each other butting gently with their heads. When I was there yesterday Mr Gurdjieff came in and showed Lola and Nina who were milking the cows the way to milk a goat. He sat down on a stool seized the goat & swung its hind legs across his knees. So there the goat was on its two front legs, helpless. This is the way Arabs milk. He looked very like one. I had been talking before to a man here whose passion is astrology and he had just written the signs of the Zodiac on the whitewashed stable walls. Then we went up to the little gallery & drank koumiss.
   Goodbye for now, my darling. I feel this letter is flat & dull. Forgive it. I am ever your own loving
                                Wig. [To J. M. Murry, 26 December 1922.]

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28 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   You see Bogey if I were allowed one single cry to God that cry would be I want to be REAL. Until I am that I don't see why I shouldn't be at the mercy of old Eve in her various manifestations for ever.
   But this place has taught me so far how unreal I am. It has taken from me one thing after another (the things never were mine) until at this present moment all I know really really is that I am not annihilated and that I hope - more than hope - believe. It is hard to explain and I am always a bit afraid of boring you in letters.
   I heard from Brett yesterday. She gave me a very horrid picture of the present Sullivan and his views on life and women. I don't know how much of it is even vaguely true but it corresponds to Sullivan the Exhibitionist. The pity of it is life is so short and we waste about 9/1O of it - simply throw it away. I always feel Sullivan refuses to face the fact of his wastefulness. And sometimes one feels he never will. All will pass like a dream, with mock comforts, mock consolations . . . [To J. M. Murry, 26 December 1922.]

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27 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My darling Bogey
   I think the drawing of you is quite extraordinarily good, and in a very subtle way. I had no idea Rothenstein was that kind of artist. People will say it makes you look old. That is true. But you have that look. I am sure c'est juste. I am more than glad to have it & I shall keep it v. carefully. Thank you, my dearest. The photograph I don't like so well for some reason. But photographs always pale before good drawings. Its not fair on them.
   How is the old Adam revived in you, I wonder? What aspect has he? There is nothing to be done when he rages except to remember that its boundto be - it's the swing of the pendulum - ones only hope is when the bout is exhausted to get back to what you think you really care for aim for wish to live by as soon as possible. It's the intervals of exhaustion that seem to waste so much energy. You see, my love, the question is always ‘Who am I' and until that is discovered I don't see how one can really direct anything in ones self ‘Is there a Me.' One must be certain of that before one has a real unshakeable leg to stand on. And I don't believe for one moment these questions can be settled by the head alone. It is this life of the head, this formative intellectual life at the expense of all the rest of us which has got us into this state. How can it get us out of it? I see no hope of escape except by learning to live in our emotional & instinctive being as well and to balance all three.  [To J. M. Murry, 26 December 1922.]

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26 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

  I shall be glad though when the spring comes. Winter is a difficult time. You know you must not worry about me or say you do or don't. Its exactly as though you took a piece of my flesh and gnawed it. It helps neither you nor me. Worry is a waste of energy; it is therefore sin. And to see you waste energy destroys energy in me, so you sin in two ways. Thats surely easy to <say> see.
   As to starting [?] gear why don't you begin taking photographs of yourself - take them all day. And look at them. Then begin to decide which are ‘good' and which are ‘bad' ones. Then try & sort the work bag in your mind before you begin to learn to think & direct your thought. Open your mind & really look into it. Perhaps you wont mind what you see. I mind.
   I must end this letter. If youd like me for a friend as from this Xmas Id like to be your friend. But not too awfully serious, ma chere. The whole difficulty in life is to find the way between extremes - to preserve ones poise in fact to get a hold of the pendulum.
   Jack said he would be delighted to have you whenever you felt like it. He sounds different in his letters, much simpler.
                      Yours ever
                               K.M.[To Ida Baker, 24 December 1922.]

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25 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   Our pudding was made in a babys bath, stirred by everybody & Mr Gurdjieff put in a coin. Who gets the coin gets our darling new born calf for a present. The calf - 1 day old - was led into the salon to the beating of tambourines & to a special melody composed for it. It took it very quietly. But two minute baby pigs which were also brought in & allowed to play squealed & shrieked terribly. I have been v. interested in the calf The cow didn't seem to mind the affair. She only lowed faintly & when a leg appeared Madame Ovstrovsky & Nina put a rope round it & pulled & presently a tall weak feeble creature emerged. The cows eyes as big as saucers reminded me of Charles. I wish we gave our cows apples. Some of the names are Equivoqueveckwa, Baldaofim, Mitasha, Bridget. Our mule is Drabfeet.
   My existence here is not meagre or miserable. Nothing is done by accident. I understand v. well why my room was changed & so on, and to live among so many people knowing something of them, sharing something, that is for me very great change & ca donne beaucoup.
[To Ida Baker, 24 December 1922.]

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24 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Dear Ida
   This is to wish you a happy Xmas. I meant to have something for you. For the moment I have nothing & can't get anything. I can't give people commissions nor get to Fontainebleau myself So take whatever you please that I happen to have and that you think you would like. What about the green cardigan par exemple? Especially as you probably paid for it yourself In the course of a week or two I shall send you the sleeping vests you bought me. I cant wear them. That kind of wool next to my skin brings me out in a rash. . . I presume of course, it doesn't you.
   We are going to féter le Noel in tremendous style here. Every sort of lavish generous hospitable thing has been done by Mr Gurdjieff. He wants a real old fashioned English Xmas - an extraordinary idea here! - we shall sit down to table 60 persons to turkeys, geese, a whole sheep, a pig, puddings, heaven knows what in the way of dessert, & wines by the barrel. Theres to be a tree, too & Father Xmas. I am doing all I can for the little children so that they will be roped in for once. Ive just sent them over coloured paper & asked them to help to make flowers. Its pathetic the interest they are taking - -[To Ida Baker, 24 December 1922.]

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23 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   I do love to hear about your Dunnings. What a queer thing you should have found them just at this time. Not really queer for it does seem to me to be a truth that when one is in real need one finds someone to help. Are you and ‘Bill' friends. I mean more friends than you and Frieda were, for instance, for you had no separate relationship with her really, did you. I would like to know them both. Darling precious Bogey this is not a letter this time, only this note written on a table piled with paper chains, flowers, little bon bon cases, gold wire, gilded fir cones - you know the kind of thing.
   I attended the obsequies of the pig this morning. I thought I had better go through with it for once & see for myself One felt only horribly sad. . . and yesterday I watched Madame Ouspensky pluck singe & draw our birds. In fact these have been 2 gory days, balanced by the fairy like tree. There is so much life here that one feels no more than one little cell in a beefsteak - say. It is a good feeling. God bless you darling.
                 Ever your
                           Wig. [To J. M. Murry, 23 December 1922.]

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22 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Darling Bogey
   Just a note to wish you a Happy Xmas. I am afraid it will not arrive in time for today is Saturday not Friday as I fondly imagined. But there! Put the blame on the poor Xmas postman. No, even to think 0f such an unfair thing wont do at all. . .A Happy Xmas, my dearest Bogey. I wonder very much how you who always say you hate Xmas so will spend it this year. Perhaps the Dunning children will make it seem real at last. Do tell me about them.
   Here we are to have great doings. The Russian Christmas is not due for another fortnight so Mr Gurdjieff has decided the English shall have a real old fashioned English Xmas on their own. There are so few of them but that makes no difference to his ideas of hospitality. We are to invite all the Russians as our guests. And he has given us a sheep, a pig, two turkeys, a goose, two barrels of wine, whisky, gin, cognac etc, dessert of all kinds, an immense tree & carte blanche with which to decorate it. Tomorrow night we have our tree followed by the feast. We shall sit down to it about 60. Whoever gets the coin in the pudding is to be presented with our newborn calf - a perfect angel. Would that it were mine! [To J. M. Murry, 23 December 1922.]

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21 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

We had a fire here the other night. A real one. Two beautiful rooms burnt out & a real fear the whole place would go. Cries of "Vode! Vode!" (water), people rushing past all black & snatching at jugs & basins, Mr Gurdjieff with a hammer knocking down the wall. The real thing, in fact.
   What is the weather like with you. Its so soft & spring like here that actually primroses are out. So are the Christmas roses under the espalier pear trees. I love Christmas; I shall always feel it is a holy time. I wonder if dear old Hardy will write a poem this year.
   God bless you my darling precious
                    Ever your
                             Wig. [To J. M. Murry, c.17-20 December 1922.]

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20 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Dear Bogey darling I shall not have any Xmas present for you. But you know that £5 I sent you. How much did you spend. Would you buy a book each for Chaddie & Jeanne for me & keep the rest for yourself? Jeanne would like DeLaMares new poems Down-a-Down-Derry I am sure (its 7/6, isn't it?) and Chaddie - hm - that is difficult! Some book that looks pretty and tastes sweet- some love poems. Is that too vague? And may I ask you to execute these commissions for me? I hope there will be something left over for you darling. Buy it with my love. I'll tell you what I want for a present. Your photograph. The proof of the drawing of course I should simply treasure, but why should you send me that. Keep it. Of course if you could have it copied. There is a man here who is going to take a photograph of me one day. I have changed. I have no longer a fringe - very odd.  [To J. M. Murry, c.17-20 December 1922.]

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19 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Then on Saturday afternoon when I was in the stable he came up to rest, too, and talked to me a little. First about cows and then about the monkey he has bought which is to be trained to clean the cows. Then he suddenly asked me how I was and said I looked better. "Now," he said "you have two doctors you must obey. Doctor Stable and Doctor New Milk. Not to think, not to write . . . Rest. Rest. Live in your body again." I think he meant get back into your body. He speaks very little English but when one is with him one seems to understand all that he suggests. The next thing I heard was that I was to come into here for the rest of the winter. Sometimes I wonder if we ‘make up' Mr Gurdjieff s wonderful understanding. But one is always getting a fresh example of it. And he always acts at precisely the moment one needs it. That is what is so strange. . . [To J. M. Murry, c.17-20 December 1922.]

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18 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My fortunes have changed again. I have been moved back from my little bare servants bedroom on the general corridor to my beautiful sumptuous first room overlooking the lovely park. It seems almost incredible grandeur. I suppose - I feel I have learnt the lesson that other room had to teach me. I have learnt that I can rough it in a way you & I have never done, that I can stand any amount of noise, that I can put up with untidiness, disorder, queer smells, even, without losing my head or really suffering more than superficially. But how did Mr. Gurdjieff know how much I needed that experience? And another mystery is that last week when it was intensely cold I felt I had come to an end of all that room had to teach me. I was very depressed and longing beyond words for some real change and for beauty again. I almost decided to ask him to send me away until the weather got warmer. [To J. M. Murry, c.17-20 December 1922.]

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17 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My darling Bogey
   I am so delighted to hear of your ½ motorcar. I think it is a most excellent idea. What fun you and Sullivan will have with it. It is so pleasant to think of you two together and I like to know that Sullivan will now understand you from a real standpoint, after sharing your life & working with you in the real sense. Do you teach him to cook and to sew and to knit. The fairies in the keyholes must have a quiet laugh or two of a gentle kind. As to those four little wood gatherers I love them. I hope your tooth is better. Just the same thing has happened to me. My biggest and brightest stopping has come out. But I shall have to hang on until the spring when I can get to Paris. So far all is well.
[To J. M. Murry, c.17-20 December 1922.]

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16 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   I am glad you are working. I don't at this moment feel near painting, though I had a long talk about it the other evening with a man who once had a collection of Gaugins in Moscow. But his point was what is the use of painting unless one knows the laws of art. How can it have any compelling, real value if it is just dans le vague. You have to know not only the effect this painting has on you, but the principle underlying that effect. And so with music and so with literature. We play with the arts and produce something good by accident.
   We have a great deal of music here, but its eastern not western. Quite another world. The dances too are often ancient Assyrian dances, or Arabian or Dervish Dances. I feel as though I have lived years in the East. There are between 50 and 60 of us here all occupied in different ways. One lives in the centre of such a various active world - no, not in the centre - one is part of it. It is very different from my life of the last few years.
   I cannot today write of your last but one letter, dearest Brett. I rejoice for you.
   Goodbye for now.
                          Ever your loving
                                             Tig.
The tea is marvellously good. How did you know I was longing for some good tea of my own? It was one of your happiest flukes. [To Dorothy Brett, 15 December 1922.]

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15 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Dearest Brett
   Of course I listen; of course I am glad to hear. And do not think I don't appreciate the fact that you have gone on writing. I do - fully.
I wish I could write back. But for the moment there simply seems nothing to say and I know so little of what is happening. Your visit to Selsfield for instance you speak of as though I know about it. But I don't. And the Sullivan affair - scarcely at all. Its bound of course to come to a foolish end. Poor L.E! Thats where sentimentalism leads a man. She, of course will always look for the softer bed and the softer man and always hark back to Sullivan. She is an unpleasant little creature at this stage of her development. Why see her otherwise? To Dorothy Brett, 15 December 1922.]

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14 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

That, the ultimate remark in this letter was what I was driving at when I suggested you should join Jack. I felt then I'd be sure of you.
Dear Ida,
   Forgive this paper. The parcels have arrived and are extremely satisfactory, thanks very much. Why are you still so awfully tragic? I feel you must be very ill physically. Tell me your Physical health. I am not dead though you persist in pretending I am. And of course I shall not be here all my life. ‘Connected' with this work and these ideas, yes, but that is different. As soon as I am cured I shall leave here and set up a little place in the South and grow something. You can come and talk over the fence if you like and are not too mournful. Come and stay with me if you promise to smile now and again. Dear Ida! Thank you for the tops and for everything. As I have said I'll write again at Christmas and provided you are a happy nature I shall beg you to join forces with me when I leave here, if you care to, of course, in some kind of farm. So learn all you can for goodness sake.
                 With love, yours ever,
                                       KM [To Ida Baker, 15 December 1922.]

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13 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

And when I remember last year & that bed in the corner week after week & those trays. Here there is no more fine food. You eat what you get & thats the end of it. At the same time I have wonderful what shall I call them? friends. When you leave Lisieux - come to Fontainebleau for a few days. I will arrange to meet you there. Not before the late spring though.
   Ill write to you again at Xmas - a long letter instead of a ‘present'. For I haven't one for you. And tell me all you care to about your new life. I am sure I know a great deal more about cows than you do. I spend hours every single day with them.
   Goodbye for now dear Ida.
                         Yours ever
                                  K.M. [To Ida Baker, 12 December 1922.]

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12 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

I think it would be very well worth while for you to know Dunning. I am sure Dunning knows how to live. However, its as you please. And you may find Lisieux absorbing. I would be very glad if you would tell me your financial position. Will you? Quite frankly?
  It is intensely cold here and very damp. Very rarely the house is heated. I have a fire in my little room though. I live now in the workers quarters & have the kind of bedroom Gertie Small might have. Bare boards, a scrubbed table for the jug & basin etc. At about 10.30 p.m. we start work in the salon & go to bed at about 1-2 a.m. The corridors are like whistling side streets to pass down - icy cold. My hands are ruined for the present with scraping carrots & peeling onions. I do quite a lot of that kind of kitchen work. But I shall be glad to exchange a very grubby washing up cloth for an apron or an overall. This life proves how terribly wrong & stupid all doctors are. I would have been dead 50 times in the opinion of all the medical men whom I have known.  [To Ida Baker, 12 December 1922.]

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11 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My dear Ida
   Many thanks for your two letters. The postman has told me this morning that my 6 colis are awaiting me at the post office. I'll send you a line when I have ‘examined' them. I am sure they will be very nice. I will also send you a cheque for 300 francs for the coat & skirt in the course of a day or two. If that suits you. I hope you like your farm. Jean S. is a very good youngish writer, I believe. You ought to try & get hold of his books in your library. Thank you for telling me about jack. He sounds happy. I dont think I can talk ‘fuIly' about my suggestion that you should join him in a farm. It seemed to me for many reasons a very good idea and I suppose I had deep reasons. But such explanations are futile. He wrote as though he liked the idea but you were not very keen, & mentioned the fact that beautiful hand weaving is done at Ditchling which might interest you to learn. [To Ida Baker, 12 December 1922.]

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10 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My dear Lady Rothermere.
   I was so glad to hear from you, so sorry to know you are not coming to Fontainebleau until January. I have been hoping, for days, to hear of your arrival. We miss you here awfully.
[letter incomplete, 10 December 1922.]

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