This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

handwritten recollection of Betjeman and Anthony Blunt “scribbled down to amuse myself before your vol.1 appeared.”

Also included is a photocopy of a photograph of Betjeman acting in a school performance of The School for Scandal in the role of mrs Teazle. Kitching in his notes on Betjeman and Blunt remembers being paired with Betjeman to dance a minuet together in the play.

other reminiscences include bicycling trips, Betjeman painting a valentine in the hymn book of a boy that he fancied, first experiences of smoking “Betjeman went for a rather exotic brand of turkish cigarettes with gold tips”, losing contact at oxford “we very soon lost touch after we both went to oxford as be became all sorts of a snob”, and later meeting again with Kitching inviting Betjeman to speak at the Unicorn Theatre in Abingdon where the poet became the subject of a practical joke being crowned with a wreath of bay leaves, “i felt justified in playing one or two jokes on such a famous practical joker”.

Kitching’s reminiscences of Anthony Blunt are similarly vivid with discussion of Blunt’s formation of an Arts club, shopping trips, and a coach trip, “The same summer that i danced the minuet with Betjeman christopher hughes arranged a coach trip to see three things - the medieval glass at Fairford, the 17th century house at coleshill, and the house of William morris (surprisingly an old marlburian) at Kelmscott. Betjeman and Blunt were of the party and the most memorable bit was Kelmscott where may morris was still living with her lesbian landgirl, miss Lob, who to our delight was there wearing a red tie and plus fours”.

Blunt, like Betjeman, was invited by Kitching to read at The Unicorn Theatre. his last comment on him being “i suppose i have to add that Anthony showed absolutely no interest in politics at the time i knew him. my own feeling is that is was entirely due to the magnetic attraction of Guy Burgess that he ever got involved in all that.”

in the second letter dated Jan 1 1990 Kitching elaborates more on Betjeman’s visit to talk at the Unicorn Theatre and other meetings ending with a comment on their shared schooldays “it often strikes me looking back on my days at marlborough, how much i was educated in the broadest sense by my school fellows and how little by the masters.”

The final letter dated 8 Jan 1990 talks again of the Abingdon visit and ends up with two “flashes from marlborough” of Betjeman saying “This place has ruined my career” and of Betjeman “lying naked on the grass beside the swimming pool improvising doggerel ‘old marlburian’ verse to an admiring audience.”

G.K. White’s correspondence comprises a two page autograph letter dated nov 27th 1988. White complains that hillier did not contact him before the publication of Young Betjeman “because i could have supplied you with many funny episodes and utterances which could have enriched your book.. i cannot claim to to have been one of John’s closest friends, but i imagine that there are frew people still alive who knew him as well as i did, both in the years 1923-1928 and later in Dublin. i was very fond of John and count my acquaintance with him as one of my happiest stores of comic memories.” White goes on to take hillier to task for his portrayal of marlborough college in his book, elaborating on the college’s strengths and providing an impassioned defence of the master A.R. Gidney against whom Betjeman printed a barbed article in the new Statesman

A fascinating collection of memories of John Betjeman’s schooldays from two of his contemporaries at marlborough college.

37. [BETJEMAN, John] FERGUSSON, Adam. The Sack of Bath. With a Foreword by Lord Goodman and some introductory rhymes by Sir John Betjeman. Salisbury. Compton Russell. 1973.


8vo., original laminated boards. With photographs by Lord Snowdon, E.L. Green-Armytage and David Wood. A very good copy.

First edition.

WAS John BETJEmAn ThE inSPiRATion FoR UncLE monTY in WiThnAiL AnD i?

38. [BETJEMAN, John] MARSTERSON, H.L. Poems [About JB + PB]. [Hay on Wye Privately Printed by Anthony Kirke for Penelope Betjeman]. [christmas 1977]

£750 8vo., pp.4. A very good copy.

First (and only?) edition of this collection of 5 poems written by hubert marsterson, the Betjemans’s London accountant. The poems are Poeta in Urbe, Sir John in Cloth Fair thinks of his lot, Written after Penelope had

38 37

had a hunting accident losing teeth, Penelope on her travels to Kulu with Miss Simson in a motor car (1970) and Sir John’s 65th Birthday.

This copy is inscribed by Penelope to Bevis hillier “Bevis with love and best christmas wishes from Penelope 1977.” Penelope has added by hand under the printed title Poems “about JB + PB”.

With a typed letter with autograph postscript signed by Penelope Betjeman to Bevis hillier presenting this pamphlet as a christmas gift. “Enclosed poems were written by our enchanting London accountant hubert marsterson. i have had them privately printed for christmas - one day a collector’s piece???? much love and best wishes from Penelope.”

in the typed part of the letter Penelope discusses a visit from John Betjeman. “J.B. was up here for a long weekend and was in very good form in every way and really enjoyed himself exploring churches and a sinister old rectory, Streetish Goth falling down with two goats living in it and creepers growing right into the rooms”. She goes on to discuss a lunch that she and John Betjeman had with colin Stone, “Stone the Gnome millionaire” at Stone’s hotel clyro court. “John and Jenny and i had lunch and met the Gnome and he showed us his Gnome stone which is pliable and JB was completely bewitched by the whole extraordinary set-up.”

colin Stone was an entrepreneur who made his first fortune selling garden gnomes. he was a close friend of vivian mcKerrell and Bruce Robinson who were the real life inspiration for Richard E Grant and Paul mcGann in the film Withnail and i. he was the owner of the “sinister old rectory” and Penelope talks of getting her friend and neighbour John nankivell to help him restore it.

Penelope finishes the letter by remarking that she has “several unknown English/Tibetan vajrayana buddhists to stay for the big buddhist pow- wow at Llanigon...Who wouldn’t live in the hereford himalaya????”

A rare Betjeman item with an intriguing and witty letter from Penelope Betjeman to John Betjeman’s biographer Bevis hillier.

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104