All posts filed under: LETTERS

Letters to Madame X c.1940 – 1963

These are all the letters we currently have that were allegedly written by Rathbone to “Madame X” between c. 1940 and 1963. They’re numbered as they were when received by us. Nos. 13, 15 and 16 are currently missing. We’ve only received one letter in autograph. The rest are typed copies, seemingly quite aged and pretty hard to read. Some are annotated, but not always legibly. Everything in black is original text, my notes are in blue and the annotations are in red. LETTER 1: no date, possibly 1939-40 Dearest X – what an extraordinary amount of enquiry crammed into such a small and charmingly violet note. How do I begin? 1. Tell him Dietrich is an angel – for the first week that you know her. Thereafter all bets are off. Her self-interest is boundless. Her sense of ensemble non-existent. If she can erase you in front of the camera she will. She is legendary for being very accommodating in other ways, but it barely compensates for the sheer flaming hell of working with …

Letter from Fitzroy Davis to Michael Druxman

Recently Michael B. Druxman, Basil’s distinguished biographer was kind enough to send me a scan of a letter he received in 1975, just after his book was published. It’s interesting for the bit of extra light it throws on The vexed question of Rathbone’s second wife, and perhaps for another reason. The writer of the letter was named Fitzroy Davis, and this also happens to be the name of the author of the novel Quicksilver, which has been discussed here from time to time and which apparently features BR as a closeted gay man, insinuated to be having some kind of affair with an older man easily identified as Jack Miltern. Is this the same Fitzroy Davis? It might be informative to find out. The whole letter can be seen below, but here is an extract of the most relevant part: “I knew Mr Rathbone only slightly,but he did live near me in the Dakota, and I would sometimes chat with him when he was taking that old “cocktail spaniel” out for a walk. My …

Handwriting comparison

I don’t have much faith that it will resolve anything, but here as requested is a side-by-side comparison of the “X letter” with one known to be from Rathbone. The “control” letter was written to Mary Manners Sandmann (why did I say Manners? Who the hell is Mary Manners? :roll:)in October 1942. The X letter (allegedly) was written around December 1941, so they are pretty close in date. The full size file is quite big – around 2000px wide, so feel free to download it and blow it up and generally analyze the shit out of it. And if any of you know any document examiners prepared to work for no fee, please pass it on to them. We’d love to hear what they have to say 🙂

Letter from Aldous Huxley to Rathbone

We’ve read Huxley describing his first encounter with BR and Huxley – possibly – featuring him as a character in one of his novels ANTIC HAY.  Now here is Huxley writing to Basil. It’s 1950. BR is about to appear in Huxley’s play  THE GIOCONDA SMILE  and Huxley is writing to him about changes to the text…. Taken from  The American Reader 31  Pond Street Hampstead, N.W.3 ca. June 1950 Dear Basil, I hope that all goes well, in spite of the miserable state of the world at large, with you and your family. London is a good deal more cheerful than it was two years ago, when I was here last; and one prays that the respite from war and the improvement in conditions may continue for a while longer. Meanwhile I have seen Valerie Taylor and talked with her about the play, gaining some useful ideas about it from the Janet’s-eye point of view. She made two points which I thought were good. The first was that, when she played the part with Clive …

full(er) text of letter quoted in “a life divided”…

As suggested by a couple of readers,and after consulting with the owner, I’ve decided to publish a larger part of the text of one of the letters quoted in my blogpost “a life divided” (March 12 2013). Names and portions of text are being withheld by request. There’s no date on the original, but there is a later annotation that says “written from Canada, around September 1941.” If anyone has any info that can verify he was in Canada at this time then please let us know. “Darling girl – I found your letter this morning, but I think it arrived yesterday or the day before. Don’t fret. I’m well, really. Much much better than when you last saw me. It’s exhausting, and my voice is struggling with all the speechifying, but people here are wonderful… As to everything else, oh my dear girl, no one has ever questioned me so closely or made me realise how pitifully few answers I can provide. You look at me with those eyes and you see through every …

Biography Week: Two Unidentified WW1 Letters

Frank has informed us about the provenance of the letters in more detail. Apparently he bought them in a sale in London in 1980 and had no idea they might be by Rathbone until he read the book Famous 1914-18 which features Rathbone and gives details of his family. Initial feedback from a WW1 author suggests additional grounds for thinking the letters might be genuine. Apparently, Rathbone’s brother John was injured at the Somme in 1916 – and this fits with the comments made about “Johnny” in letter 1. All in all it does look distinctly possible these letters might be the real deal, and if so they are pretty significant, particularly the second one. If “July 26” refers to 1918 then it was written on the morning of Rathbone’s heroic action in No Man’s Land that won him his MC. We continue to want to hear from anyone who knows anything more about the origin of these letters. Email the Project (basilrathboneproject@gmail.com) or post a comment here. Sunday 15th Dear all, Bea’s letter arrived …

Handwriting comparison – (the mystery letter part II)

Frank B has produced a jpeg that compares the writing in the mystery letter to a known sample of the Baz’s hand. Opinions of all kinds welcome, but if any handwriting analyst happens to be reading, we’d very much like to hear from you! 😉 Frank asks me to point out that the known sample is written with either a fountain pen or a dip pen and the mystery letter is apparently written in pencil, which he says was a common thing for soldiers to do when in the front line when ink was not available.

Fragments of a letter to be identified…

“Frank B” one of our readers has asked me to put these fragments of a WW1 letter he has in his possession to see if people agree with him it may have been written by The Baz. Apparently he doesn’t want to put up the whole letter at this time but he tells me he has selected the part that contains family references which might help identification. I’ve given it its own post because if I put it in the comments it will get lost in the tangle. Frank would like feedback so feel free to comment. And here for comparison is a sample of Rathbone’s actual handwriting: BTW – does anyone know what that last word is before the signature? I assumed it was “son” but it doesn’t look like it at all. And why (if it is Baz) is he signing himself “PSB” and not “Basil”? Update– according to reader Greg Rathbone (no relation he says) the Baz did indeed have an uncle Harold and an aunt Elfrida. The latter seems such an …