Wednesday, August 24, 2022

577. A Summer Anthology (6): Sun Burnt a Bright Pink

In February and March 1905, Ricketts and Shannon enjoyed vacations in Rome and Florence, and in August of that year they kept it closer to home. They bivouacked on the English coast for a prosaic reason: their house at Lansdowne Road was being painted. Their accommodation was The Albany Hotel, that curves around Robertson Terrace in Hastings. The hotel had opened in 1885 under the name Albany Mansions.

Albany Mansions, c.1890

Charles Ricketts to Michael Field, 1 August 1905

[British Library Add MS 58088, ff 152-4]

Dear Poet
We are here the house painters at the Palace having driven us away. On transplanting I of course shrieked like an uprooted mandrake, but I have become reconciled mainly owing to the good local grub. [...]
"Choose a friend as you would a book" – I have this on the tip of my pen as I spent quite a considerable time in spending 1 & 6d on a book this morning, at the local library, fixing finally on Emerson’s Essays, a purchase which I now rather regret. I had exhausted tedious spectacled Suetonius whom I had bought in a new translation. I quite understand St Augustine’s defence of him, this author whom I confused with the great Tacitus is a transparent journalist of the oh fie! oh my! type and now, would write for the Standard, which Shannon is now reading – the rest of his time is spent in pretending to read the great Bernhard, Bernhard Shaw that is, not the other, though both are moralists in disguise.

The two Bernards were Bernard Shaw and Bernard Berenson - and the added "h" in their names is due to Ricketts's imagination.

I am just now quite great at whitewashing the C[a]esars, only one seems to have been really bad & a monster & that is Calligula [sic] who reminds me of Michael. On my return I shall look up Tacitus.

Michael was Katherine Bradley, the older half of the writing duo Michael Field.

I have become sun burnt a bright pink, the pink of pink flannelette, Shannon is a deeper hue like a ham, or the Roast beef of old England. [...] 
I send you a sea greeting
The Painter
This place is a long stretch of seafronts some miles long, steady & continuous like the Earthly Paradise of W. Morris but not quite so monotonous.

The Albany Hotel, 1906

Thanks are due to John Aplin for providing the transcription of this letter.