On August 9, 1911, a heat record was set in the United Kingdom: a temperature of 36.7 degrees Celsius was recorded for the first time in history. The previous letter in this summer series (Purgatorial London) was set during the same heat wave, but focused on domestic scenes. In this letter, the world beyond is brought in.
|Louis Béroud, 'Mona Lisa au Louvre' (1911)|
The letter is addressed to Mary Davis, artist and wife of Edmund Davis who had commissioned the building of Lansdowne House for a number of artists including Ricketts and Shannon. It was from this flat that Ricketts wrote the letter to Davis, who was apparently traveling and thus provided with Ricketts's version of some news.
A lot had happened.
On July 20, the newspapers reported that Herbert Trench had resigned as director at Haymarket Theatre. There were many strikes that year, including those of railroad staff, which brought transports to a standstill, caused shortages in stores, which caused prices to rise, and drove housekeepers to despair - like Ethel, the loyal servant of Ricketts & Shannon (who continued to work for them until 1923). On 18 August, the House of Lords was forced to pass a new Parliament Act to curb its power. On 21 August, the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre; on 26 August, reports circulated that the director of the Louvre, Théophile Homolle would be fired, as, indeed, he was, two days later.
Charles Ricketts to Mary Davis, [Late August-Early September 1911][British Library Add MS 88957/8, f23]
Shannon had to go to some meeting at the R A, at the door he was asked his business and name.
Your name Sir?
O, I am Mr Shannon!
AttendantOh no Sir, you are not Mr Shannon
Thanks are due to John Aplin for providing the text of this letter.