Friends’ Introduction

Silvia had a vast array of Friends, especially between the Wars, but we only have evidence of those who wrote to her and, in a few cases, of those to whom she wrote letters. The correspondence, as mentioned on other pages, is held in various libraries – notably the Beinecke Rare Books & Manuscript Library at Yale University. Copies and some originals are held in family collections. Insights about some of her friends can also be extracted from her two travel books.

A - Mentors

There are three specific friends who had a significant influence on Silvia, especially in her 20’s & 30’s (approx. 2013-1933).  I consider them to be her Mentors. They were:

(Uncle) Charles Reeve (1857-1936) – Barrister & Journalist

Ralph Hodgson (1871-1961) – Poet & Lecturer

Sir William Rothenstein (1872-1945) – Principal of the RCA

All three were admirers as well as mentors and, given that her father died when Silvia was only 9 years old, they were probably ‘father-figures’ too. Reeve and Hodgson were acquaintances, in and around Fleet Street, through the press network. Rothenstein, who moved in a wide-ranging artistic and literary circle, may well have known both Reeve and Hodgson but, as yet, there is no evidence to support such an assumption.

There are no letters from Reeve, just comments about him in other people’s letters. The correspondence between Hodgson, plus his wives, and Silvia lasted a lifetime. The letters from Rothenstein are written covering a period of approx. ten years – in several, she is addressed rather fetchingly as ‘Helen of Troy’.

Other Influences (aside from all things artistic) that affected her life were
Religion (tradition, cults and Catholicism…)
Politics (two world wars, suffragette movement, the abdication…)
Literature (books/authors mentioned in several letters)

B - Correspondents

The correspondents listed below are in alphabetical order according to surname. Please click on those shown in colour to access their part in Silvia’s story. It will take time to add details for all the remaining names…

Bagnold, Enid (Lady Jones)

Bryher, (novelist, born Annie Winifred Ellerman)

Clough-Taylor, Eric (poet)

Doolittle, Hilda (American poet & author, aka HD)

Freedman, Barnett (artist) 

Hodgson, Muriel (Hodgson’s 2nd wife)

Hunt, Violet (novelist & feminist)

Gibson, Nan/Nancy (met in Jamaica)

John, Augustus (artist)

Lamington, Riette (Lady Lamington)

Larsen, Per (Danish photographer)

McCarthy, Desmond (theatre critic)

Nash, Paul (artist)

Pearson, Norman Holmes (American academic)

Plank, George (American illustrator)

Rutherston, Albert (theatre designer & artist; Wm Rothenstein’s brother)

Steen, Marguerite (author)

Turner, Delphine & Walter (poet)

Williams-Ellis,  Sir Clough (architect)

——-

Tony and other admirers

School friends