Chapter 6
By Freda Utley

Before the war ended I had attained a position of some responsibility as a “Junior Administrative Assistant” at the War Office earning a salary of £250 a year which rendered life easier for me and mother before my brother came home from the war.

The Old War Office, London

The Old War Office, London

Temple, after returning from Mesopotamia on leave following Dada’s death, had been posted to France where he was wounded and gassed at Le Cateau shortly before the Armistice in November 1918. Discharged from hospital early in 1919 he joined us at 68 Jessel House, Judd Street, opposite St. Pancras Station.

His experiences and mine since our childhood and early youth had been so different as partially to account for the divergent paths along which our destiny or our characters were to lead us in the years to come. He had escaped my bitter experience at an English boarding school and had enjoyed a year at Cambridge University before enlisting in the army at the beginning of the 1914 war. Subsequently commissioned as an officer and posted to the Connaught Rangers, he had lived under the shadow of death, been wounded twice, and suffered far worse deprivations than I while fighting in the mud and cold of the trenches in France and in the desert heat in Mesopotamia. But his worst periods of danger and discomfort had been interspersed by joy and ease, love and laughter, whereas my life had been drab. Untroubled by our mundane cares he had enjoyed the war in spite of hardship, danger and wounds. Having faced the ultimate test life seemed wonderful to him as to others who have escaped death.

As he was to write years later on his hazardous voyage across the Atlantic in a small sailing boat, the most wonderful feeling in the world, bar only the ecstasy of love, is that following escape from danger.

In Edmond Spencer‘s words:

Sleep after toyle. port after stormie seas,
Ease after war, death after life, does greatly please.

Now, together, again, after his high key and my low key sufferings, we confronted the difficulties and uncertainties of life in post-war England without money.

At the War Office I had become a branch secretary of the Association of Women Clerks and Secretaries. Through this trade union I obtained, in 1920, a bursary from the Ministry of Labor made available to war workers who could prove that their college education had been prevented or interrupted by the war. Thus, five years after I left school, and six years after I had passed Cambridge University’s entrance examination, I became a student at London University. Temple, a year previously, had obtained a grant from the Ex-Officers’ Fund to resume his university studies, and I now joined him at King’s College.

Neither of us was really unfortunate in having had to wait so long to get a university education. The intervening years since Temple had left Cambridge and I had left Priors Field, had taught us both, through a variety of experiences, lessons rarely learned in the academic world. And because we had both had to wait so long to get our university education, we appreciated our opportunities more than most college students.

The Librarian at King’s College told me that Temple and I were continually astonishing him by the variety of our interests. For both of us it was wonderful once again to be able to satisfy our hunger for knowledge, irrespective of whether the books we read would help us to pass examinations.

Originally, my bursary of £2 a week covered only two years of study, which did not permit me to enroll for the B.A. degree. So, like Temple, I started work for the Journalism Diploma. Both of us specialized in psychology and attended most of the B.A. Honors lectures in this subject along with our regular journalism courses.

Here I might mention a striking illustration of the difference between Temple’s mind and temperament and my own. One night during my first year at King’s College I had got home at 1:00 a.m. from a dance, to be told by Temple that our class would have a psychology test that morning. For an hour he coached me and I did so well that I gave 97% correct answers in our written test and came out top of the class. But Temple, who had enabled me to achieve this success in competition with a lot of Divinity students, got a rating of only 70%. The difference was that the challenge of an examination brought all my faculties to the highest pitch, whereas Temple was stymied by his greater and more profound knowledge of the subject, as also perhaps by lack of the competitive spirit which was highly developed in me. Moreover, he could not write as fast as I could because he had lost the use of one finger of his right hand when wounded in 1917 on the Somme.

It is easier to answer questions when one does not know too much, as I have long since realized. Yesterday, I could write articles and books very fast. Today, I take much longer because I have learned enough to need to pause and reflect and ponder what I really think or believe. And, of course, today I no longer possess the exceptional memory of my youth.

Encouraged by Temple, who believed I could do anything I set my mind to, and determined that after having at long last got to college I must obtain an Honors degree, I entered for the B.A. Intermediate examination in the Spring of 1921, without having attended the preliminary courses.

For a few weeks I mugged up on my Latin and other subjects not included in the Journalism course, and thanks to the good grounding I had acquired at Priors Field, passed this preliminary first year B.A. examination. A feat which so impressed the King’s College authorities that they induced the Department of Labor to extend my scholarship from two to three years, thus enabling me two years later to obtain my B.A. degree in History with First Class Honors.

Temple had tried to persuade me to take Honors in Psychology but I was more interested in history, economics and politics. He, having studied history during his pre-war year at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, had become interested in psychology during his years in the Army. But coming to realize that psychology without a knowledge of medicine was of little use, he became a medical student, after obtaining his Diploma in Journalism. Like my father, my brother was always as interested in the sciences as in the humanities and possessed a rare combination of “literary and scientific aptitudes” to quote from a testimonial given him by King’s College recommending him as a “stimulating lecturer alike in history and in elementary science.”

Although we profited in other ways from our Journalism courses, neither Temple nor I ever learned how to make easy money by catering to popular tastes. We both had a try at writing stories for magazines but they were always rejected. I remember endeavoring to get a soap opera type of story of a poor girl gets rich boy accepted under the pseudonym of Felicity Fitzmaurice. My failure was no doubt due to my story sounding too much like a parody of popular fiction.

Temple with memories of his pre-war years at Cambridge when he had been influenced by the literature of decadence and had been able to indulge his love of beauty and “gracious living,” fine wines and foods and furnishings, wrote stories in a neo-Oscar Wilde or early Waugh vein. His efforts were no more successful than mine for much the same reason since they read like a burlesque of such books as “The Portrait of Dorian Grey” and “Vile Bodies.” One of his stories I remember involved a millionaire aesthete who had his bathroom fixed up with two tubs enabling him to plunge from warm scented water into an icy tub – a procedure supposedly calculated to restore his sexual virility following a drunken orgy the night before.

One writes well only when one writes as one pleases, not in conformity with actual or imaginary popular taste. Many years later, reviewers of the book Temple’s widow and I compiled from his log book jottings and letters, written while sailing across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans on a small yacht, praised the charm of Temple’s fine writing which showed “the heights to which Utley might have risen had not death taken him.”

Since my brother and I were supporting our mother, our bursaries were not sufficient for us to live on. We both gave lessons in English to foreigners, helped by our knowledge of French and German. We only got five shillings an hour and had to travel long distances by tube or bus to earn it in the late afternoon or evening after a day’s work at college. But we were lucky in that our pupils were interesting people with whom we established friendly relations and whom it was a pleasure to teach.

R.U.R  Larel Capek

R.U.R Larel Capek

Temple had pupils at the Czecho-Slovak Legation – his “Checks” we called them – with whom he was brought in contact by his friend George Silva, translator of Kapeck’s famous play, R.U.R., which gave the word “robot” to the English language. I taught Russian employees of the Soviet Trade Delegation and of Arcos, the equivalent of Amtorg in America.

During the war years I had been more concerned with my own and my parents’ struggle for existence than with the class struggle or Socialism, or any idealistic notions of how to establish a more just and rational social and economic order. But once at college I began to take an active part in politics, becoming secretary of the King’s College Socialist Society, and later chairman of the London University Labour Party. I joined the Independent Labor Party and became well acquainted with Fenner Brockway. Jimmy Maxton and other dedicated Socialists who led, or inspired, this Left Wing tail of the official Labor Party and opposed its underlying imperialist concepts.

As yet, I had no more knowledge or understanding of Communism and Marxist theory than the “Parlor Bolsheviks” or “Park Avenue Pinks” of the 30’s and 40’s. Nor did my first Russian pupils enlighten me. They were high Communist Party officials out to enjoy life in the “capitalist world” after the rigors of the “Workers Paradise” and for the most part confined their propaganda to jokes about England where they were enjoying the best years of their lives.

Then I met Plavnik. an old Bolshevik who had lived long years in exile in Germany after the revolution of 1905. To him Bolshevik theory was the breath of life. He was honest and sincere, although extremely vain. His English lessons usually became my German lessons and instruction in Marxist theory. Boris Plavnik was the best type of “Old Guard” Communist: courageous and sincere and self-sacrificing in contrast to the hypocrites and self-seekers who assumed leadership of the Party following Lenin’s death. He was honest even in analyzing himself, which is a most rare quality. One evening he took me to listen from the gallery to a meeting of Russian Mensheviks in exile in England.

The speakers were Abramovitch and Dan, leaders of the Social Democratic minority which had split with the Bolsheviks in 1905. As we listened to the speeches, Plavnik got more and more excited and finally exploded to me: “He is a very bad man.” “Why bad?” I replied. “Of course you disagree with him fundamentally, but that does not prove he is a bad man.” Plavnik kept saying that he knew Abramovitch (or was it Dan?) was bad, bad, and I kept on saying, “How do you know he is a bad man?” Finally Plavnik replied, “Because he does not like me.”

All of us are inclined to see evil in those who dislike us, but how few are candid enough to admit it!

Although so honest about himself, Plavnik shied away from realities when it came to his beloved Party. Whenever I pushed him into a corner by demonstrating the inconsistencies or contradictions of the “Party Line” he would tell me I had no understanding of dialectics. “Sprechen sie bitte dialektisch”, he would adjure me, looking at me severely down his long nose when I argued that it made no sense to attack and undermine the British Labor Party as “social fascist” while also hoping for a Conservative defeat.

Plavnik was the most humane of men, and later on in Moscow where he and his devoted wife remained my friends, he sank more and more into his shell, unable to defend, but unwilling to condemn outright, the atrocities committed by Stalin. Like others among the best of the old Bolsheviks, he could not bring himself to face up to the fact that the revolutionary movement to which he had given his whole life had failed and degenerated into Stalin’s tyranny. As the years passed, we saw less and less of him because meetings were too painful between friends who dared not speak their thoughts to one another. Plavnik was lucky enough to go into an insane asylum just before the great purge began: at least that is where he was supposed to be in 1935, and we knew his mental faculties had been failing since the death of his beloved wife a year or two before.

Shortly before my graduation in 1923 I defended the Soviet Union as the college speaker in a debate on Russia with H.N. Brailsford as the guest speaker on my side. Our opponents were Sir Bernard Pares, a “White Russian” emigre who had won high academic honors in England, and Cecil H. Driver, a fellow history student, who in later years became a Professor at Yale. When I next met Pares, thirteen years later, he had become a defender of the USSR, while I, back in England after my disillusionment in Russia, was holding my tongue for my husband’s sake, but hating Stalin’s totalitarian tyranny. The change, it seemed to me was not in us but in Russia. Like some other distinguished exiles Pares patriotism caused him to welcome precisely what I abhorred, namely Stalin’s transmutation of communism into national Socialism; and of the Comintern into the arm of Russian policy.

Brailsford, meanwhile, standing steadfastly on his liberal principles, had become one of the all too rare British writers who dared to expose the horrors of Stalin’s Russia in defiance of the powerful ‘Popular Front’ of ‘Totalitarian Liberals’ and Communists which was exerting so great and baneful an influence on Western public opinion and policy.

Cecil Driver’s subsequent career exemplifies the academic rewards which accrue to those who never compromise themselves through extra-curricular activity or any expression of “controversial” views. He and I were rivals at King’s College where his conservative bent endeared him to the head of the History Department, Hearnshaw, whereas my radical opinions and activities as Secretary of the King’s College Socialist Society were disfavored. Yet such was the impartiality in academic judgement which has generally distinguished British universities that it was to me, not to Driver, that Professor

Hearnshaw awarded the Inglis Research Studentship, after I had won higher honors in London University’s B.A. examination. Three decades later, invited to speak at Yale University by such conservative stalwarts as Professor Willmore Kendall, William F. Buckley and Brent Bozell, I found Cecil Driver securely ensconced as a teacher of Political Science, in good repute in the liberal establishment. Whereas I, despite my more distinguished academic record, had found myself precluded from obtaining a university appointment in America on account of my strongly expressed anti-Communist views which made me too “controversial.” This is a later story referred to here to illustrate the “changes and chances” of life and the ambivalent meaning of “conservative” and “liberal” in our politically rotating world.

The Inglis Research Studentship at King’s College paid only £ 50 a year and required that I conduct a weekly seminar on political theory. But it also gave me the opportunity to coach backward undergraduates for payment.

A year later I was appointed to a resident research scholarship at Westfield College for Women in Hampstead where I enjoyed the luxury of a bedroom and study of my own. besides free meals and a bursary of £100. Of course, I still had to contribute to Mother’s support, but I earned extra money teaching Workers’ Education Association evening classes, writing occasional book reviews for the Daily Herald, and contributing articles to the Independant Labor Party’s New Leader (which, insofar as I remember, managed to pay only 10/ for an article) but was an influential weekly. Thus, I was enabled to study for London University’s M.A. degree which, unlike that of Oxford and Cambridge, is rated as the equivalent of the American PhD.
The subject I chose for my M.A. thesis was research on the “Collegia,” (trade guilds) of the later Roman Empire, thus combining my knowledge of Latin and the interest in ancient history I had acquired in childhood and youth with my modern political interests and activities.

During my two years’ work for my M.A. degree I spent long hours in the British Museum deciphering collected Latin inscriptions from tombs, studying the Theodosian Code and Gothofredus’ Commentaries thereon (available in a huge brown leather bound volume requiring a 2 ft. high stand to prop it up to be read) and reading translations from the Greek of the writings of such early Fathers of the Church as St. John Chrysostom in order to glean information on the status and condition of the workers in the last days of the Roman Empire.

My Director of Studies, Norman H. Baynes, Professor of Ancient History at University College, was the most inspiring as well as profound scholar I ever knew, and had a delightful sense of humor. At his yearly series of public lectures on the Byzantine Empire you could “have heard a pin drop,” as the saying goes, except when his audience roared with laughter at his funny stories of saints and sinners, emperors and courtesans. hermits and foolish virgins, bishops and monks, and the ‘sports news’ in Constantinople where the chariot races between Reds and Greens at the Hippodrome were followed like American baseball games.

The story I remember best, (which may be included in the small volume Baynes later wrote on Byzantium in the Home University series), concerned some beautiful girls in a Black Sea Greek City who mocked a Christian hermit who, being a ‘fool for Christ’s sake,’ was revered by the ignorant but regarded as a lunatic by the sophisticated.

As I remember the legend, this otherwise kindly old man had cursed the foolish virgins who teased him, and rendered them all squint-eyed. When implored to lift the curse which marred their beauty he replied that it was better for them that he not do so since had they remained beautiful they would certainly have sinned. Being now ugly, they were sure to be virtuous and go to heaven.

Norman Baynes, who died in February, 1961, at the age of 83 after a long illness, combined, in the words of his obituary in the London Times, “scrupulously exact scholarship with the gift of an imagination which he was not afraid to use.” For this reason, “his lectures and writings have meant so much to generations of undergraduates who were enabled by his bold reconstructions to understand something of Jewish, Greco-Roman and Byzantine life.”

Because I had specialized in ancient and medieval history – a rare choice since most students took medieval and modern courses – I had attended Norman Baynes lectures and small seminars as an undergraduate before he became my Director of Studies while I worked for my M.A. degree. It is to him I owe the wide horizons of my historical perspective, as also more inspiration, help and encouragement than from any other Professor under whom I studied. Today I deeply regret having failed to get to England to see him once again before his death, following my extensive travels in the Middle East of recent years when I visited Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Iraq; all the lands permanently influenced by Greece and Rome which after they became part of the Arab world preserved much of our classical heritage during Europe’s Dark Ages. And which, after having made so great a contribution to civilization in times past, are once again beginning to play an important role in history after centuries of obscurity under Turkish or Western imperialist domination.

My debt to Norman Baynes as an inspired teacher is incalculable. I also owe a great deal to him as a friend. In 1926 after visiting him at his home at Northwood I wrote to Mother, “He was charming, and has made me feel so much happier and less worried. He has taken my thesis to read again in order to help me to put it into final form for publication. He was so nice about everything and so really friendly. Do you know, just because I mentioned earlier on that I had been very occupied with your affairs which were going badly, he said I should remember that if I were in difficulties there was always £50 ready with him for me. Isn’t he extraordinary?”

Many years later, after I had escaped from Russia with my two year old son and was nearly destitute in England prior to the success of my book Japan’s Feet of Clay ,
Norman Baynes again wanted to help me financially. I can no longer remember whether or not my ‘bourgeois prejudices,’ not yet quite dead, prevented me from taking money from him, although I think I must have done so. The big thing was that Norman Baynes, the revered and beloved teacher of my youth, still held me in high regard and with considerable affection, despite my having abandoned the study of history to immerse myself in politics. Although he spent his own life in academic studies, he understood and sympathized with my descent to Avernus in the belief that the Soviet purgatory was Paradise, or at least a way station toward it.

In contrast to Norman Baynes, whose profound historical knowledge and perceptive intelligence prevented him from having illusions about Stalin’s dictatorship, Dr. Laistner, Professor of Ancient History at King’s College, was to shock me when I met him again some fifteen years later in America. In the 20’s at King’s College he had been a dyed-in-the-wool conservative who disapproved of my radicalism but, like Professor Hearnshaw, did not let his political views affect his judgement of my academic merits. But in 1941 when I gave a lecture at Cornell University where Laistner had become a professor, he defended the Soviet Union against me. He was, of course, an Englishman and “Uncle Joe” Stalin was by then England’s “gallant ally.” Laistner was a handsome, blond Aryan type of fine physique, but a colorless personality who never married and lived with his mother.

Baynes, rugged face, too wide mouth, beetle brows and angular figure was almost ugly, but his dynamic personality, character and intelligence rendered him singularly attractive.

Although the perpetual problem of how to get money for Mother still made life difficult for Temple and me, by 1924 we were much better off than when he first came home from the war.

We still lived in a small cold-water, three-room-and-kitchen flat at Jessel House. Judd Street, close to St. Pancras Station on the outer edges of Bloomsbury. But we now had a gas fire in the living room and a bathroom with a geyser to heat water, instead of having to light a fire under the “copper” in the little wash house behind the kitchen and transfer the heated water with a scoop into a tin tub in the kitchen which, when covered by a board served as a table.

Remembering our poorest years as students in London Temple was to write from Suva in the Fiji Islands shortly before his death in 1935:

“I have not to get up on a freezing, foggy London morning and light the copper before I get a bath. I have not to go dashing about all over London to earn 5/- an hour giving English lessons – I am probably a ‘spoilt child of fortune’ as I tell Zarathustra my half-caste Persian kitten, he is. I remember well that I have now got everything material I used to think I wanted when we could get nothing in Jessel House. Nevertheless, it was more fun in the Galapagos with Brun . . . . “

Today, as I sit writing this book in my centrally heated house in Washington, D.C., with the wolf far from my door instead of howling nearby as during many of the years of my youth, I look back on the Spartan years of my life with nostalgia. So true it is that material comforts have little to do with happiness. Many who have always enjoyed them say this without knowing what it means to be without them. But I can claim to speak from experience, having known real poverty in England, and far worse deprivations in Russia than even the most ‘underprivileged’ Americans can imagine.

Although I was to experience far greater privation and discomfort in Moscow in the 30’s, the niggardly poverty of our life in London in the 20″s was harder to bear. Not only because it is in youth that one longs most for pleasure, pretty clothes, fun and gaiety, but also because it is far worse to be without money in an affluent society than to share the general poverty of neighbors and friends.

Arcadi, my long lost Russian husband, whose gift of humor sweetened our lives and helped me to make light of hardships and discomforts in Russia, used to say how much easier it was to be happy there than in the “capitalist world” where everyone longed for all sorts of unnecessary things. “Look,” he would say with a twinkle in his eye, “in the bourgeois world people are never satisfied, but in Russia one feels fortunate if one manages to get a seat on a streetcar getting to work, or if one’s soup at dinner contains a bit of meat.”

All values are relative as Hadow, who once loved me, used to say during our student days. Although I have forgotten his first name, I can still hear his melodious Scotch voice with its rolling r’s pronouncing this favorite aphorism of his, the truth of which has become ever clearer to me during the up and down course of my life.

I have no idea what happened to Hadow or whether he is still alive today somewhere in the vast reaches of the declining British Empire which Scotsmen of his quality did so much to create, develop and sustain. But the memory of his healthy ruddy countenance, vivid dark eyes, thick black hair, warm smile and sturdy figure clothed in an ill-fitting reach-me-down suit, revives in my mind’s eye as I distinguish between the dim or well-remembered companions of my youth. He was one of the nicest men I ever knew and he would have cherished me and given me security and his mind was as good or better than mine. But he aroused no spark in me much as I valued his friendship and respected him for his goodness, intelligence and honesty. He was a down-to-earth Scot with his feet firmly planted on the muddy ground of reality who would have held me back from expending much of my life on an abortive quest for justice on earth.

Mother was a good cook who managed to provide us with a tasty and satisfying dinner in the evening during the hardest years of our student lives. Dinners which ended with strong cups of coffee, ritually brewed by my brother from beans freshly ground at the corner of our kitchen-dining-room table. Until this welcome end to the day, Temple and I endeavored to stave off our youthful appetites, unsatisfied by the ham or cheese sandwich, which, with a cup of coffee, was all we could usually afford to buy for lunch at the King’s College underground cafeteria, except on the rare occasions when we won a few shillings, sometimes even a pound or two, betting on the horses. Many other students at King’s could be found running out into the Strand between afternoon classes to buy a paper giving the racing results.

The attraction of betting is, no doubt, greatest among the poor, and in our case we had been lured into temptation by having been given a tip about Spion Kop who won the Derby in 1920 at odds of 16 to 1. Mother and Temple had dared to stake several pounds on this tip, given us by our once-a-week charwoman whose sister’s husband worked at a famous racing stable, and they enjoyed a long holiday together in Brittany that summer on their big gains. I. too, had won a few pounds and was able to buy some clothes, although unable to accompany them to France since I was then still working at the War Office.

Spion Kop wins the Derby 1920

Spion Kop wins the Derby 1920

We occasionally got another good tip from our charwoman and Temple also worked out a “system” which required that he do complicated calculations based on weights and age and past performance of the horses. By and large I think we won more than we lost by the shilling or half crown bets we usually confined ourselves to. The main thing was that these “flutters” added a little excitement to the daily grind, and sometimes enabled us to enjoy a good dinner with wine at some Soho restaurant.
As our economic situation improved we betted less and less and eventually abandoned the futile pursuit of fast horses as a means to make money.

Although I had missed out on Spion Kop there were other summers when I enjoyed a vacation abroad. Temple and I knew how to enjoy a cheap holiday on the Continent by travelling “hard”-third class-with bread, wine and cheese to sustain us on the journey, and finding some auberge, or small hostelry in places where no tourists and few foreigners came, and prices were so low that we could afford to pay them.

Speaking French fluently, and feeling ourselves carefree if we had a few pounds and a return ticket in our pockets, we went off together or separately to France or Italy on summer vacations returning home when the money was spent. At Camaret in Brittany, during that Spion Kop summer, Temple and Mother and Walter Field had discovered an inn where £2 a week covered the cost of room and board, including lobster or langouste, almost every day. Here, becoming friendly with the daughter of the house, I went fishing with her and her brothers at the dawn of many a happy day, and learned from them the words of Breton songs, still remembered.

This fishing was quite different from mackerel drifting in Devonshire where one cast long nets at evening and hauled them in at daybreak. In Brittany the fishermen depended mainly on the langouste (crayfish) they caught off the Cornish shores from large sailing boats which spent weeks or even months away from home. The dawn fishing at Camaret was more of a pastime or only a minor means to earn money. Ground bait was cast around the boat attracting multitudes of fish which we caught with small harpoons.

Besides holidays abroad I was lucky to have Marjorie, my Prior’s Field friend, whose story I have already told in the chapter entitled “My English School.” After marrying her fisherman in 1921 she was happy to have me visit her in Sidmouth whenever I could afford to leave London and enjoy the greatest of all pleasures to me: swimming in the sea. Nor was Marjorie my only good friend in Devon. There was also Kathy and her husband Stan Harris. Kathy was an educated girl whose widowed mother had run a boarding house and who had married an illiterate, but far more intelligent fisherman than Marjorie’s Ern whose views reflected those of the newspaper he happened to read that day.

Many of my letters preserved through the years by my mother, now helping me to write this book were written to her while, for one reason or another, she was staying with Kathie and Stan Harris at their house on Old Fore Street, Sidmouth, ostensibly as a paying guest or lodger, but receiving the love and care and sympathy which are beyond price.

Mother accomplished wonders in decorating our small flat, where her “bedroom'” with its black silk-covered divan and various-hued cushions was also our living room. We kept open house once a week with only beer or cheap Spanish wine and sandwiches with most of our guests sitting on the floor, but with good conversation and great argument lasting far into the night.

Temple, after passing his medical examinations at King’s College, started clinical studies at St. George’s Hospital in 1925. One of his best friends was Dr. David Frost, who married my college classmate, Dora, who later became the wife of Hugh Gaitskell, leader of the British Labor Party.

I remember Dora as a petite, very pretty girl with flashing dark eyes and beautiful curly black hair, who aroused the protective instincts of all the young men in our circle. although she was tough-minded, had a sharp and witty tongue and was eminently well able to take care of herself. In 1962 Teddy Joll, with whom I had long lost touch, wrote me a letter telling me about various members of the “Utley Circle” in Bloomsbury in the 20’s. and said: “And there is dear little Dora, maybe wife of a future Prime Minister and of an eventual Earl.” To judge from which remark, “steady Teddy” Joll. who became Deputy Registrar General of the United Kingdom before his retirement in I960, and was our neighbor and close friend while he lived with Bobby in Jessel House, still felt protective toward Dora.

David Frost, unlike Dora, was the type of sensitive Jew without money and with an inferiority complex, which may have accounted, in part, for his joining the Communist Party years after I had already left it. After his and Dora’s son was born. Temple warned David that he might give the same complexes to their child as those from which he himself suffered. As Temple saw it, Jewish parents were inclined by excess of affection to store up trouble for their children by making them feel themselves to be the center of the universe. Later, confronted with the realities of life, a child thus reared reacts by developing either a superiority or inferiority complex, resulting, in turn, in behavior that alienates friends and creates prejudice.

I don’t know what has happened to David and Dora’s son. His parents were divorced long ago and according to what Dora told me when I visited her in London in 1953, David had been such a brute to her that she had left him to marry Hugh Gaitskell.

Since God works in mysterious ways one can count it a good thing that, thanks perhaps largely to David’s behavior to her after he became a Communist, Mrs. Hugh Gaitskell became uncompromisingly anti-communist, and no doubt also influenced her husband in that direction.

Yet, I remember David with affection as a gentle, intelligent and kind young man. and wonder whether if Dora had been less hard and ambitious, although so feminine in appearance and behavior, he would ever have taken the Moscow road.

Because David Frost was one of the most devoted, loyal and helpful friends Temple ever had, I am, no doubt, prejudiced in his favor. There were so many times when David “turned up trumps” when Temple was in trouble that I find it well nigh impossible to believe that he was ever the brutal husband Dora depicted. But I must admit that I never really liked Dora, no doubt because she possessed and exploited to the full all the feminine allure which I lacked. I was no doubt “catty” about her in those distant days, to judge from a letter written to my mother dated 5 July, 1926 in which I refer to “a man called Napier with whom both Robert and Dora have been very friendly but who seems to have fallen in love with me . . . Married of course, still it is quite pleasant and I have annoyed Dora very much.” Showing that I was as inclined to female joy in conquest as most women, I concluded my letter by saying: “I am feeling better about life.”

There are several other references to Dora Frost in my letters to Mother which revive my memories of this clever and attractive woman whom I knew so well when we both studied at London University and who was to become the “first lady” of the British Labor Party.

Since I am now dropping famous names, I should also mention Elsa Lanchester, another member of the 1917 Club who was a friend of Temple’s and came to our parties. Her “boy friend” in those days was a musician singer and comedian called Harold Scott who never won fame and fortune, but helped launch Elsa Lanchester on her successful career long before her association with Charles Laughton. Elsa then was a girl and Harold in his thirties, or maybe even older since he was one of those small, slight, blond, blue-eyed types who never look their age.

Strange that although I never knew him well or liked him much, I can today still vividly remember Harold Scott dressed in grey flannel trousers and a worn tweed jacket, his high forehead surmounted by scanty golden hair and his long, thin nose slightly red at the tip above his full lipped mouth, strumming on the piano and singing a long forgotten song called Thank God for the Middle Classes,” with the refrain:

If His Majesty the King
Wants any little thing
He sends for the middle classes.

One evening at our flat Philip Rabinovitch, chairman of the Russian Trade Delegation in London, “fell for” Elsa Lanchester after she and Harold had delighted us all by their comic skits.

Philip Rabinovitch had been a tailor in New York before the Bolshevik revolution, had a fine baritone voice and enjoyed singing, fun and good company. His rendering of “Black Eyes,” and the “Volga Boat Song” (or Vulgar Boot Song as my friend Yaffle, the humorist and cartoonist of the I.L.P. called it) was superb. But he also took joy in singing such silly popular ditties of the time as “When it’s nighttime in Italy, it’s Wednesday over here.”

That evening long ago in London he and Elsa Lanchester sang a duet I should otherwise long since have forgotten, in which two derelicts on the Thames embankment tell one another:

“The Times, The Telegraph And all the papers says: Money is much cheaper today.”

Philip Rabinovitch and his wife Sophie, also a Party member, were to remain my friends until the end of my life in Russia. He became a Vice Commissar of Foreign Trade but was never a party snob. He had a sense of humor, courage and a kind heart, and he owed his rise to a leading position in the Communist hierarchy to his great abilities, which was rare, since the road to preferment for most was paved with the bodies of those they had denounced, slandered, or falsely accused.

Whenever in Moscow our housing difficulties were the greatest, Sophie Rabinovitch would invite me and my husband to take a bath in their well-appointed apartment – a tremendous boon in those days. And it was Philip Rabinovitch who secured us a room in the New Moscow Hotel when we were homeless. He respected my husband as one of the best “non-party specialists” working for the Commissariat of Foreign Trade, and there was doubtless an affinity between them since both were former members of the Jewish Social Democratic Bund.

It required both social and political courage in the 30’s in Russia for Bolshevik “aristocrats” like Philip and Sophie Rabinovitch to welcome a “non-party specialist” such as my husband to their home. Looking back I realize that they were permanently influenced by the years they had spent in exile in America, where democratic personal behavior comes naturally.
When I finally left Russia in April 1936 following my husbands arrest. Philip Rabinovitch was to send his official limousine to take my son and me to the station, a courageous act in those times when even to speak to someone connected to anyone else arrested in the Great Purge was dangerous.

I do not know what happened in the end to Philip and Sophie or to their lovely daughter Nuria, whose piquant face, sylph like figure, and lovely smile revealing small perfect teeth which really were like pearls, are etched on my memory. She had been married three times before I left Russia in 1936 which was not unusual among the children of the Communist “aristocracy,” but she had followed her heart and never became a snob like so many others who married for privilege and status.

Probably they were eventually liquidated since this was the fate of most of the best of the old Bolsheviks. Today, more than forty years after I first knew them in London, I can still hear Philip singing silly songs at Jessel House, in the days when it was still possible to be both a Bolshevik and a decent human being full of the joy of life.


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