Richmond, Susanna (5 of 10).  National Life Stories: Artists' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2009-07-28, 2009-07-29, 2009-07-30, 2009-07-31

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Rounton, North Yorkshire

  • Interviewees

    Richmond, Susanna, 1923- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Westley, Hester (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 5: [Session Two, July 29th, 2009] [02:29:06] Discussions surrounding SR’s name; parental discussion about calling SR ‘Faith’; anecdote about crossed telegrams to Colombo; SR’s registered name, Eleanore Elsa after EB; SR changed her name to ‘Susanna’ later in life; SR called ‘Nora’; born 6 December, 1923, Chelsea; details of occasion of her birth; HWR bet on a horse called ‘Perambulator’. [00:03:00] Parents living at same address until leaving London; WR at Eton; ended in Buckinghamshire, a rectory called ‘Great Kimble’; historical significance of the house and its relationship to the Richmond family; a gift to the church from HWR. [00:04:55] Memories of Chelsea home; difficulty of the arrangements; distance of parental relationship. [00:05:59] Descriptions of nursery in Rounton; day nursery and night nursery; anecdote of cold cream and bats; smell of smoke from Uncle Maurice. [00:07:49] Nanny, Lillian Monk; description of her service and kindnesses; later friendship. [00:09:29] Arrangements with nannies. [00:09:54] Early daily routines; breakfast in nurseries; ‘brain fritters’; the cooking of vegetables; tea time routine. [00:11:28] Preparations of food for nursery. [00:11:55] Daily schedules as a girl; ‘colour lent by brother’; comics smuggled into nursery. [00:13:12] FB died in 1931; SR lived with HB in Sloane Street; SR’s education at French school in London from age 4. [00:14:21] Parents departure when SR was eighteen months of age; awareness of ‘another life’. [00:15:10] ‘Until 8, there was a basic life divided between London and Yorkshire’; walks along streets; attire as a girl. [00:16:34] Ages 4 to 8, SR at village school when not able to return to London; dislike of governesses; ‘I was quite a little fiend’; anecdote of SR’s Shetland pony in Rounton. [00:18:20] Details of travel from London to Yorkshire; Irish chauffeur, White. [00:19:41] EB had an idea that she wanted ‘one graceful daughter’; SR sent to ballet school. [00:20:59] Details of daily visits with parents; working habits of HWR. [00:21:57] First memory of HWR; personal encounters with HWR at that age. [00:23:21] HWR retires when SR was 8 years old; days after retirement. [00:23:47] EB’s religion, a Christian Scientist; her daily activities. [00:25:04] Vague memories of objects in nursery; toys and pedaling cars; details of pedaling cars through the Common Room; inheriting dolls from grandmother; SR’s tomboyishness; her fear of anything medical. [00:29:10] Reasons behind selection of French schooling; only other English child was granddaughter of Charles Dickens. [00:29:55] Memories of EB’s reading to SR ‘enormously’; details of reading selections and locations of readings; love of Greek stories. [00:32:34] SR sent to boarding school run by Ms. Yell; lessons learned at boarding school from ages 9-12. [00:33:46] Departure from school coincides with HWR’s professorship and appointment as Master of Downing College, Cambridge. [00:34:50] Richmonds’ move to the country; ended in a village near Hereford in rented accommodations; settled in Great Kimball, a Victorian vicarage; description of Great Kimball. [00:36:44] Living locations of sisters at this time. [00:37:36] ‘An ample house’; bedroom arrangements in house; cook, Florry; an advanced form of heating called ‘the fug’; decorations of the house--huge paintings of ‘naked gentlemen playing cricket’; a painting of Mercury; ‘very very traditional’ paintings; SR never taken to National Gallery, despite family’s connections to art; HWR’s inheritance of paintings; ‘old-fashioned pictorial scenes’. [00:41:25] Recollections of decorating house; after Bauhaus, the desire to paint walls cream-coloured. [00:42:05] Involvement of EB in setting up of houses; kept Buckinghamshire house while HWR taught at Cambridge; during wartime family moved to Cambridge. [00:43:05] Description of Buckinghamshire garden; EB’s gardening with HWR; SR’s interest in gardening. [00:45:15] House staff at Great Kimball; SR’s feelings towards staff. [00:45:55] House staff at Cambridge; ‘extraordinary old woman and a gardener named Toffs’; staff during wartime; she’d been cook to Joseph Chamberlain, father of Neville, who ‘invented the heads of screws’. [00:47:29] Servants’ address of SR’s parents. [00:47:52] EB’s ‘democratic’ outlook and her participation in Oxford Group. [00:48:27] SR addressed by cook as ‘Miss Nora’; memory of formality of dress and address; a transition during war but never left EB. [00:49:49] Distinction between ‘lady’ and ‘woman’. [00:50:40] EB’s involvement in daily routine of house at Great Kimball; EB’s interest in correspondence. [00:51:30] Impressions of having HWR at home after retirement from Navy; his fondness for her. [00:52:26] Description of bedroom at Great Kimball; HWR’s carving of Noah’s ark animals. [00:53:39] SR’s relationship with clothing; EB’s making cotton frocks for SR; difficulties dressing later in teenage years. [00:55:44] Dressing habits of EB; EB’s adventure with ‘fuzzy hair’ as a girl; views of makeup among women in the family. [00:58:49] Dressing habits of HWR; ‘quietly well-dressed’. [00:59:18] Sourcing of clothing and shoes. [00:59:41] EB’s friendship with Winston Churchill’s wife who advised EB on colours; EB’s interest in colour combinations; evening clothes and jewellery; buying jewellery at Woolworth’s. [01:01:47] Shopping at Woolworth’s; anecdote about a wedding gift from Woolworth’s. [01:02:41] Pocket money allocations. [01:03:34] Awareness of and attitudes towards money; a ‘moment of concern’ after HWR’s leaving the Navy; source of funds and pensions. [01:05:21] Reasons for WR, brother, going to Eton; his experiences at and expulsion from Eton. [01:06:02] WR’s education after Eton; SR’s visits to WR at Eton; anecdote about WR and his time at Eton; toughness of public schools--‘preparing people to run empire’. [01:07:36] WR’s experiences as only son; HWR’s replication of his experiences for his son; WR as a ‘wit’. [01:09:00] EB’s affections for WR; WR’s death; EB’s reactions to his death; his personality and his being a misfit; WR’s composition of an article for ‘Punch’ and parents’ reaction to piece. [01:10:41] WR’s experiences after Eton with a ‘progressive educationalist’; Gordonstoun, ‘a ghastly place’; left for education with enlightened pedagogue George Lyward, ‘an extraordinary man’; Lyward’s teaching ideas--a theory of usurpation; ‘the problem was being yourself’; WR removed and sent to a ‘crammers’ and made it to Cambridge ‘in a leisurely way’. [01:14:05] WR’s military service during WWII; memories of pistol practice at Cambridge; WR’s retrieval of men at Dunkirk; his stationings during the war; leading of party at taking of Madagascar, where he suffered sun stroke; experiences towards end of war; return to Cambridge. [01:17:00] Job as journalist for Daily Mail--covered birth of Prince Charles in a piece titled, ‘Battle of the Bulge’; went to America; ‘he always moved in the best circles’. [01:17:58] WR’s unhappiness and difficulty forming relationships with women; his tragic death; anecdotes of being ‘crazy in a charming way’’; he liked to be dashing. [01:20:00] SR’s memories of WR during wartime; parents’ reactions to WR’s service; comparison with cousin’s experience. [01:22:01] WR’s naval experience compared to HWR’s naval experiences; their relationship. [01:23:26] Daily routines in Buckinghamshire; Stilton at Christmas; HWR’s contradictions in personality; freedom during girlhood. [01:25:18] Impressions of governess period; memories of a governess during Christmas at Rounton; ‘what a calculating fiend I was’. [01:27:29] Reasons for being sent to prep school; attitudes towards being sent to school; sleeping in dormitories; ‘quite a sad atmosphere’; details of the ‘tragic relationship’ between the matron and the Latin teacher as a legacy of WWI; comparison to boys’ public schools; ‘puritanical’ rituals at school; swollen joints from the school; sisters sent to Down House and returned with chilblains on knees; SR always ‘bored by Caesar’s Gallic Wars, which we always seemed to be reading’; enjoyment of French and love of grammar. [01:32:33] Vague memories of grammar instruction; dislike of ‘slovenly writing’--‘hopefully’ as an example of sloppy thinking. [01:34:29] Teachers and friends at school; ‘a girl we admired’. [01:35:12] Ideas of luxuries; birthdays and cakes. [01:35:37] ‘Empire Day’; ‘Girl Guides happened between Latin and French’; ‘dampers’. [01:36:58] A pet lamb allowed to accompany SR to school. [01:37:39] ‘Grant-aided schools’ and SR’s sent to The Perse School in Cambridge; atmosphere and teachers at the school; passage through School Certificate; education styles at the school. [01:39:48] Views on separation of science and art. [01:40:57] End of School Certificate and a memorable teacher’s style in teaching Reformation. [01:41:25] Attended Oxford at 17. [01:41: 54] HWR’s move to Cambridge; Oxford Union’s vote against dying for King and Country--and its effect on Hitler as well as hiring of military men to heads of college. [01:43:11] F.R. Leavis as a family friend. [01:43:36] Living in Master’s Lodge at Downing College; details of the house and architecture; walled garden. [01:44:45] Life as a Master’s daughter; difference in lifestyle during WWII. [01:46:06] EB’s life as wife of Master; ‘her own private creative life was religious’; her great skills at correspondence; composing on carbon paper. [01:47:28] Routine at Cambridge; EB’s ‘natural artistry’ during the blackouts; EB’s self-discipline. [01:48:49] Family evenings at Cambridge and Buckinghamshire. [01:49:33] Anecdote about EB’s wit about evening’s walk. [01:51:03] EB’s ‘knuckling down’ and her talents at making cakes; cooperation with housework from HWR; EB’s keeping of goats and bees and chickens at Downing during WWII. [01:53:09] Anecdote about ‘temporary boyfriend’, a Hungarian refugee during the war. [01:53:57] Memories of declaration of war; knowledge of refugee and concentration camps. [01:55:10] Boarding a German Jewish couple, Eckhardt, in Buckinghamshire; a Jewish boy whom EB saw through education. [01:55:57] Class awareness of events under Hitler; its contact with Germany; discussion about ‘Remains of the Day’; WR’s work in Germany before WWII. [01:57:32] Details about a visit from a Germany admiral before war. [01:59:01] Unawareness of politics--’a middle-class cocoon’. [01:59:52] ‘Masses of tramps’ and codes about helping the needy. [02:00:56] Discussion of politics at home; forbidden topics at mealtime; anecdote about writing an essay about dealing with poverty in the country; Hitler’s operations at the same time. [02:02:41] Attendance at dinner during late teenage years; anecdote about abdication; story about dressing up as a guest for tea. [02:04:19] Views on living a life of official rounds. [02:04:50] Parents’ interest taking in SR’s education. [02:05:15] Reasons for attending Oxford; interest in ‘war work’ rather than schooling; contemporary views of art and classics; selection of history for speciality; eligibility for university education; training for university; reading of ‘War and Peace’. [02:09:41] Anecdote about preparation for university from a Cambridge family friend; SR contracts flu skating on the fens; arrival of college examinations and acceptance to Oxford. [02:11:09] ‘Absolutely unthinkable to go to Oxford without Latin’; story of college interview. [02:11:40] Selection of college, Lady Margaret Hall; reception of scholarship and sitting at high table. [02:12:30] Pass of first year and academic life; drawing at Ruskin School; unhappiness at university; calling up of young men. [02:14:35] The only ‘safe’ men were religious; love of philosophy; competitiveness of women’s colleges; reactions towards not receiving a first. [02:16:14] Law making undergraduate women teachers and civil servants; SR scheduled for a job in Reading University teaching economic history. [02:17:30] Learning to oil paint when supposed to be preparing for teaching. [02:18:05] Move to London and desire to attend art school; teaching by 21st birthday but ‘too young’; reasons for avoiding application to Royal Academy and attended the Central School of Arts and Crafts instead; choice between departments at Central; painting department populated by Chelsea School; its usefulness for SR’s artistic development. [02:20:28] Securing a studio flat at Maida Vale; shared flat with daughter of Prime Minister of Israel; through her, SR met two students of artist David Bomberg [DB]. [02:22:02] Meeting of PMR; SR’s puzzlement at representation and first impressions of seeing a painting that ‘made [her] jump’, El Greco. [02:23:48] Feelings towards ‘Bomberg kids’, something ‘tub thumping about their attitude’. [02:24:56] Move from London to Rounton--’a complete waste of time’; visit from PMR; slow discovery of DB’s ideas; return to London and attending DB’s classes. [02:26:08] Description of DB’s classes; his techniques and ideas. [02:27:28] Continued attendance of DB’s classes until trip abroad with PMR to Aix en Provence, then to Spain; later joined by DB and moved to Ronda.

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