I once met E.M. Forster

IMG_1569Found among the papers of the mathematician Norman Routledge (1928-2013) this affectionate memoir of E.M. Forster. Routledge  had known Forster in the 1950s when he was a Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge. He went on to become a distinguished  teacher of mathematics and was a close friend of Alan Turing, inheriting some of his books. The second half of his working  life was spent teaching maths at Eton. These notes were probably for a talk he gave to the boys there (mid 1960s) with a sound recording of Forster talking (probably this piece from YouTube) and some reading from his books. The notes are written on the back of the maths  homework of one Hope-Jones minor…

I wish I was going to tell you about a great hero- figure, spouting brilliant and amusing things, and combining an amazing literary  fertility (an earth-shaking novel every year) with great and noble deeds -what should they be? – fighting injustice and involved in passionate love affairs? But he is none of these.

He happens to have lived since the war in the college, Kings, where I was an undergraduate, and so one would occasionally meet him on social occasions. He’s rather non-descript in appearance – has a moustache and rather dowdy clothes and speaks very little but listens a lot. Very gentle eyes. Is greatly loved by all who know him– has indeed the air of always having been loved without having had to strive for it. Can be very amusing if he wishes, but you have to listen carefully– I’ve seen people quite fail to notice that he has been making fun of them. Continue reading

TramstopinVienna1921

The £10 a year Professor—-academic privations in post WW1 Austria


When the Austro-Hungarian empire was dissolved following the end of World War One the new nation of Austria came into being. The economic consequences for this country was a drastic devaluation of the krone (or Crown) and inevitable hyperinflation. The following short article in the December 1921 issue of the University College Magazine is a chilling report of the privations suffered by academics in Austria and other countries in central Europe:

As a result of the privations which they had to undergo, ten per cent of the professors in Austria died between1918 – 20. Consumption is usually the first symptom---and that means the end is not very far off when there are no supplies of fresh milk and nourishing food, with nothing but a chilly room in the heart of winter, and no fire in the grate.
On October 15th 1921, one tin of milk in Vienna cost kr. 240, and today, since the appalling crash of the krone, probably costs 500 at least. A professor’s weekly salary therefore would be entirely expended on the purchase of three tins of milk.
The case of a Professor of Egyptology---met personally by the present writer in Vienna—is typical of many. He was working many hours every day as a clerk in the tramway office. Imagine---and pardon the suggestion—Professor Flinders Petrie filling up returns of ‘bus tickets, at the headquarters of the L.G.O.C, and being proud to have obtained such dignified work.
Eighty to 120 thousand kronen is the average salary of a professor. At present exchange rates this represents a maximum of £10 a year.
Try to imagine a professor in the University of London living on £10 a year!!
And the lot of a student is by no means brighter.2,000 kronen, the average monthly income of about 7,000 Austrian students will now buy 3s 6d, or a pound.
But there is fortunately a happier side to this otherwise gloomy picture.
The Universities of twenty-nine different countries banded themselves together last year to save, in so far as they could, the thousands of students and professors in the Universities of Central Europe. The £150,000 raised “fulfilled a noble purpose”, as Sir Maurice de Bunsen, former British Ambassador in Vienna wrote, “in keeping alight the torch of learning in countries where its brilliancy has been overshadowed by the national disaster.”
Let us all unite again this year and continue this splendid work.
Complete guarantees have now been obtained which warrant us starting relief work immediately in the Russian Universities. Your help is needed to make this possible.
[L.W.Harford]

John C Felgate

From the L.R. Reeve* collection this piece about a distinguished teacher written in about 1971/2. Can find nothing about him online but Reeve's piece may revive memories.

JOHN FELGATE

John C. Felgate I find now lives in Australia. I wonder why. Has he a son or daughter, brother or sister already out there who made him decide to leave his numerous friends, acquaintances and relatives in England where he was so popular and respected?
I doubt whether I shall ever know. That question, however, is not very significant. What is important to me is the fact that the memory of John (rarely Called Jack) always brings to mind many happy days together at dinners, reunions, conferences, not to mention one afternoon some years ago when he called unexpectedly at my bungalow in Kingskerswell, and left a note informing me where I could locate him at Newton Abbot. I found him, and that reminiscent happy evening was the last time we met.
Continue reading

5475521865_067df5ccde_b

Sir Fred Mander

From the Reeve* collection this study of  Sir Frederick Mander (1883 -1964) headmaster and trade unionist and the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) from 1931 to 1947. He was an important figure in British educational history but there is no photo of him available. He may be in this photo of members of the National Association of Head Teachers taken in Leamington Spa in the 1950s. Teachers are not movie stars and most searches bring up a British moustachioed character actor called Miles Mander who was born in 1884…Reeve is good on detail, especially speaking style - it is useful to know that occasionally Sir Fred 'murmured at the end of a sentence.'

SIR FRED MANDER

The late Sir Fred Mander was at one time a highly successful headmaster in Luton. During that period of his life he was popular with children, staff and parents; the school was throbbing with life and happiness, and when he resigned to labour in a wider sphere, Luton lost a splendid headmaster, although he still continued to exert a great influence in other branches of life in his own town.
Continue reading

caroline-graveson

Caroline Graveson of Goldsmiths’ College

From the L.R. Reeve collection - this worthy piece about Caroline Graveson of Goldsmiths’ College. She is commemorated at their library site which is where the photo comes from (with much thanks). Her dates are not given but she started there in 1905. Reeve, as usual addresses the subjects speaking skills ('…her elocution was perfect…majestic'.)

CAROLINE GRAVESON

It would be very unlikely to hear of even one ex-student, trained at Goldsmiths’ College, London, when Miss Graveson was the Vice-Principal, who would speak disparagingly of one of the most gracious educationalists of her long era and an illustrious member of the Training College Association.
  For Miss Graveson was one of those exceptional women whose integrity, judgment, fairness, and dignity were suggested immediately one met her, and one always felt that any of her interpretations was likely to be the right one.
Continue reading

mw14064

D.W. Brogan

© National Portrait Gallery, London

From the Reeve* collection. D.W. Brogan's books have become somewhat hard to sell but he is here recalled as a great lecturer by a connoisseur of lecturers (and Dons.)

SIR DENIS BROGAN

From what I had read and heard I hoped to see an attractive man, when I attended a lecture at King’s College, in London. I was not disappointed. He must be one of the most interesting lecturers in Cambridge; and his memory, particularly concerning American history is certainly uncanny: a phenomenon which must have been apparent to millions of people who have heard his ready responses to questions from America which surprised the American questioner, who had evidently expected to puzzle the Cambridge don with unusual questions.
  Few at the lecture had seen him previously; and his fresh complexion, sturdy body, unostentatious delivery and pleasing voice, was that of a cultured countryman. The audience of seventy were rewarded by an enjoyable hour of lecture and discussion. I can remember a few meetings as enjoyable, but we were learning something new in the best possible environment, and I dare not hope to enjoy a happier afternoon.
Continue reading

96b25264fd38bdf1eee1ce4bd89904b6

Arthur Augustus Tilley francophile and academic

Found in a copy of The Romantic Movement in French Literature - Traced By a Series of Texts (C.U.P. 1924) this obituary of A.A. Tilley by his co-author H.F. Stewart - also a distinguished Cambridge academic and francophile, but so far rather neglected on the web. It appeared in The Cambridge Review 6/3/1943. It is a model of its kind and gives a glimpse into a vanished world..

Obituary

Arthur Augustus Tilley - December 1, 1851 - December 4, 1942.No one who visited Arthur Tilley in the evening of his long life but must have felt himself standing on hallowed ground, in the presence of a veteran who, having fulfilled his course, was quietly, serenely, awaiting his call. "Le vent de l'éternité le frappait au front." Not that there was anything pietistic about his conversation. He would speak with grave simplicity of things deep and high, and pass easily to current events upon which he commented with shrewdness and vigour, or to the sometimes affectionate, sometimes caustic, review of men and their doings in the past. And what a range, and how varied, his memory covered! He was the favourite nephew of Anthony Trollope, whom as a boy he adored and as a mature critic he greatly admired. He had known everyone worth knowing i the University for 70 years, and his recollections were sometimes starling. A propos of a picture card of the Puy de Dôme he said to me the last time I saw him, "I took Bradshaw up there; I shouldn't have done so if I had known his heart was bad."

Continue reading

rowland2

The Miseries of Modern Life

Miseries of Travel (Rowlandson 1806)

In 1806 a witty Oxford don called James Beresford published The Miseries of Human Life, or The last Groans of Timothy Testy and Samuel Sensitive, in which a pair of curmudgeons railed against all the 'injuries, insults, disappointments and treacheries of everyday life'.Today they would probably be diagnosed with clinical depression, but Bereford’s book turned out to be a huge best-seller, proving that black humour is always popular in the UK. Indeed, rarely has mental illness been a source of such razor –sharp observations as those that emerged from the mouths of these Regency Victor Meldrews.

Some of the wit directed at miseries associated with coachmen, ostlers and taverns is very much of its time, but much of it has remained timeless and can still raise a smile today. I particularly like the following examples from their observations on ‘ Miseries of the Table ‘

After eating mushrooms—the lively interest you take in the debate that accidentally follows on the question ‘whether they were of the right sort ?’

Nicholas 'Horse Whisperer' Evans and his disastrous Scottish mushrooming party of a few years ago, gravely ill after consuming specimens of cortinarius speciosissimus, might wince at this one.

Or what about this ?

On taking your dinner from an a-la-mode beef house –the relish of your favourite dish disturbed by the perpetual recurrence of a doubt whether the animal you are feeding on was a native of the stall or of the stable

Seemingly, horse meat was ending up in fast food outlets even in Regency times!

To be continued… [RR]