Three Score And Ten (1961)

Colour picture of the dust cover from Angela Thirkell's 29th Barsetshire novel Three Score and Ten

References for the novel Three Score And Ten, by Angela Thirkell.

‘Relusions’ for the Hamish Hamilton 1961 edition.

The first five chapters of Three Score and Ten were written by Angela Thirkell. After Angela’s death in January 1961, the novel was completed by her friend the renowned film critic, C A Lejeune.

Chapter 1

5 the cuckoo of a joyless June

MIDNIGHT – in no midsummer tune –
The breakers lash the shores:
The cuckoo of a joyless June
Is calling out of doors: …

Midnight -and joyless June gone by –
And from the deluged park
The cuckoo of a worse July
Is calling thro’ the dark.”
Both verses from ‘Prefatory Poem to My Brother’s Sonnets’, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1876.

Browning’s wise thrush – “That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!” From ‘Home-Thoughts, from Abroad’ by Robert Browning (1812-89).

6 Caldecott picture-book – Randolph Caldecott, 1846-86, book-illustrator.

7 Thomas Hardy – 1840-1928, poet and novelist.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles – novel by Hardy, 1891.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin – novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852.

8 Nelson’s Hardy – Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy,1769-1839. Served with Admiral Lord Nelson and commanded HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Famous for Nelson’s having said to him “Kiss me, Hardy” as he was dying.

took the Nelson pension away – Horatio Nelson died leaving no legitimate children, so his eldest brother, the Reverend William Nelson, was created the 1st Earl Nelson by George III, given £90,000 (£100 million at today’s property values) to buy an estate (Trafalgar Park in Wiltshire), and a pension of £5,000 a year, to last for as long as there were Lords Nelson. The pension duly passed to his descendants. But in 1889 the government made an attempt to buy it out, offering a lump sum to the then Lord Nelson, which he rejected. When Lord Nelson tried to revive negotiations in 1904 the government not only refused to increase the offer but said that it could not afford to honour the one made 15 years previously. By the end of the Second World War, the Nelson pension – still £5,000 a year – was the only surviving one of its kind; the families of other national heroes such as the Duke of Marlborough, had been bought out. In 1946 the 4th Earl complained to the Attlee government that much of the pension was being eaten up by the cost of maintaining Trafalgar Park; so the Treasury proposed a deal that entailed passing a Bill ending the pension, but allowing the family to sell the estate, which had been purchased with public money for Horatio Nelson’s successors.

Browning makes praise and pray rhyme with Africa – “Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise and pray,/While Jove’s planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.” From ‘Home-Thoughts, from the Sea’ by Robert Browning.

when I was at The House – Christ Church college, Oxford University, is known as ‘The House’.

Eton College – an English independent boarding school for boys in Eton, Berkshire, near Windsor.

Lord Stoke’s reminiscences about wallpaper – compare:
‘One occupation I can thoroughly recommend if your heartless parents send you to bed while it is still light. You lick your finger and rub it up and down on the Morris wallpaper. Presently the paper begins to come off in rolls and you can do this till you have removed so much of the pattern that your mother notices it.’ – from Thirkell’s Three Houses.

when every goose was a swan… – “When all the world is young, lad –
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.” From ‘Young and Old’ in The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley.

the tears of things – “Sunt lacrimae rerum”, from Book I, line 462 of the Aeneid by Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro), 70–19 BCE.

10 the captains and the kings depart – “The tumult and the shouting dies –
 The Captains and the Kings depart”, from ‘Recessional’ by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).

A Complete Concordance to the Holy Scriptures – generally known as Cruden’s Concordance, is a concordance of the King James Bible that was singlehandedly created by Alexander Cruden (1699–1770). It was first published in 1737.

11 As good as Marleen it was” – Stoker has clearly seen films at the cinema featuring Marlene Dietrich, German actress b.1904.

O tempi passati! – Presumably Thirkell is remembering and regetting past times, but source?

Hebe – cup-bearer to the Greek gods.

Dr Pepper – a carbonated soft drink marketed as having a unique flavour. The drink was created in the 1880s by Charles Alderton in Waco, Texas. Like many early sodas, the drink was marketed as a brain tonic and energising pick-me-up.

Princess Louisa of Cobalt -one of the Hatz-Reinigens – Various references to this lady, sometimes in the form Herz-Reinigen, for instance in Enter Sir Robert, Northbridge Rectory, Love At All Ages and Jutland Cottage. Cobalt= Coburg – HT suggests a play on Windsor & Newton watercolours. Queen Victoria’s mother was a Princess of Leiningen, while Queen Adelaide was a Princess of Saxe-Meiningen. Reinigen means “cleaning”, hertz means “heart”, hatz means “ hounding”, or is it just supposed to be “hats”?

The Princess – subtitled ‘A Medley’ by Tennyson, is an extremely long poem, occupying 55 pages in the Macmillan collected edition. Mrs Morland is probably thinking of the lines:
“Eight daughters of the plough, stronger than men,/Huge women, blowzed with health, and wind, and rain,/And labour…”

woman who recites…difference coloured shawls and bare feet be – who can this be?

grown-up feet – Compare “It was one of the worst shocks in my life when I looked at my own feet when I was about fourteen and realised that they were getting grown up”, spoken by George Halliday in Peace Breaks Out.

13 Tony spat out his cherry stones – in The Demon in the House, chapter 3.

14 Prince Consort – Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1819-1861), husband of Queen Victoria.

Tinker Tailor – a counting game, nursery rhyme and fortune telling song: “Who shall I marry? Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief!”.

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen…”– Mrs Morland pursues this later: it is indeed a poem called Maud Muller, written by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892). Bret Harte (1836-1902) produced the parody:

“If, of all words of tongue or pen,/The saddest are ‘It might have been’,/More sad are these we daily see:/It is, but hadn’t ought to be.”

‘Out of the everywhere into here – Poem ‘Where did you come from, baby dear?’
by George Macdonald, 1824-1905.

15“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” – St Matthew’s Gospel chapter 23 verse 33.



Mark Twain – At least Lord Stoke picks on an American writer, though best known for his novels! The pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, American humorist, 1835-1910.

Algernon Swinburne, – English poet, 1837-1909. His parodies are less well known, but he produced a whole volume called The Heptalogia (1880).

16 Edwin Drood – unfinished novel by Charles Dickens, English novelist, 1812- 1870.

19 The Society for Correcting Translations – needless to state this is fictitious, though one can imagine Professor Mackail wishing to create one.

Adrian fell into the river cutting rushes – In which novel does Adrian fal into the river – ???
20 the B.B.C., that ravager of our noble English tongue -Throughout her novels, Thirkell makes many bitter criticisms of mispronunciations by the BBC.

21 “well, friends the merest Keep much that I resign” – from ‘The Lost Mistress’ by Robert Browning, 1812-80.

In which novel does Lord Stoke tell Laura of his romance with Edith Thorne? Several other references here including page 35 below.

22 ‘The River of Life’ – a painting by William Blake (1757-1827) illustrates lines from the Book of Revelation. The River of Life flows from the throne of God to the Tree of Life.

Time, like an ever rolling stream” – continues “Bears all its sons away;”
Hymn ‘Our God, Our Help in Ages Past’ by Isaac Watts.

23 My helmet has become a hive for bees – “His helmet now shall make a hive for bees”: from poem ‘Polyhymnia’ written in 1590 by George Peele (1558-1597).

The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstruous Regiment [rule] of Women – a 1558 tract by John Knox, infuriated at the fact that Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne of England and Queen Mary on the Scottish throne. Thirkell makes several references to this.

24 under way – (not weigh) is the correct expression for in motion; it has nothing to do with the anchor’s being aweigh. Strictly a vessel is under way when she is not at anchor or made fast or aground; she may be under way and yet have no way on her. (H. W. Fowler, Dictionary of Modern English Usage.

Skipjacks – a toy made with the wishbone of a fowl with a length of fine string tied between the two ends. There is one in the Horniman Museum.

25 diurnal course – “No motion has she now, no force –
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.”
from ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Steal’ by William Wordsworth.

Mr Parkinson moved to Greshamsbury – in Close Quarters

26 the workmen painting the house opposite a most revolting shade of shrimp-gamboge which we could describe far more accurately in one word, borrowed from our formerly lively neighbours the Gauls, if it were not rather too French… – Compare this passage from a letter Thirkell wrote to Margaret Bird in October 1959: “The large low building opposite me has changed hands and has been repainted a most hideous kind of browny-red – what the French wd call ‘caca’ [shit].” She repeats the term ‘caca’ for this colour in three other letters.

27 Cold Comfort Farm – a novel by Stella Gibbons, a friend of Angela Thirkell, published in 1932. It parodies heavy countryside novels such as Precious Bane by Mary Webb, published in 1924.

28 Kinchinjunga – or Kanchanjanga is a peak of the eastern Himalayas, situated on the boundary between Sikkim and Nepal.

Mount Everest – is in the Mahalangur Range. The international border between China and Nepal runs across Everest’s summit point.

moraines, whatever they are – ackcherly they’re ridges of debris deposited along the sides of a glacier.

29 Oliver Twist – by Charles Dickens, published 1837.

a quadroon – old-fashioned expression for a mixed-race person with one quarter African and three quarters European ancestry. So George Knox is correct, being one-quarter French!

Alexandre Dumas – French writer, 1802-70. Angela Thirkell gave lectures on Dumas père.

30 All were silent and held their countenances intently

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings – “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies”: Psalm 8 verse 2.

Chapter 2

34 There was an old woman who lived in a shoe -.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread; Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed. Traditional nursery rhyme.

35 smiling put the question by – “The chancellor, sedate and vain/In courteous words return’d reply:/But dallied with his golden chain,/And, smiling, put the question by.”: From ‘The Day-Dream’, the section entitled ‘The Revival’, by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

36 Open Sesame – a magical phrase in the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves in One Thousand and One Nights: it opens the mouth of a cave in which forty thieves have hidden a treasure.

37 a copy of Punchsubtitled ‘The London Charivari’ this was a British weekly magazine of humour and satire established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew. It ceased publication in 1992.

38 Dr Ford proposes to Anne Todd – who rejects him to marry George Knox in High Rising.

39 There was a kind of idea about one of the Vicar’s daughters – Sylvia Gould in The Demon In The House.

39-40 Swing high swing low – continues: “swing to and fro,
That’s the way they set wedding bells ringing you know.” which appeared on a Valentine card about 1907.

40 The expression the hair of the dog, for an alcoholic drink taken to cure a hangover, is a shortening of ‘a hair of the dog that bit you’. It comes from an old belief that someone bitten by a rabid dog could be cured of rabies by taking a potion containing some of the dog’s hair.

41 Roundheads– the name given to the supporters of the Parliament of England during the English Civil War 1642-1651 (many of whom wore their hair very short in contrast to the ringlets of the Cavaliers). Also known as Parliamentarians, they fought against King Charles I and his supporters.

Sputnik 1 – the first artificial Earth satellite, launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by The Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. Thirkell wrote in a letter to Margaret Bird, June 1958, “this horrible cold and those silly Sputniks upsetting the weather”.

The Ice Hell of Pitz Palu – Mrs Morland is nearly right: The White Hell of Pitz Palu was a silent movie from Germany, 1929, directed by G. W. Pabst.

42 Princess Louisa Christina – see above, page 11.

44 The Corsican Brothers – (Les Frères corses) is a novella by Alexandre Dumas, père, first published in 1844. It is the story of two conjoined brothers who, though separated at birth, can still feel each other’s pains. Dion Boucicault adapted Alexandre Dumas’ French original into a play, The Corsican Brothers; or, The Fatal Duel, in three acts. The play was first shown at the Princess’s Theatre in February 1852.

Irving – Henry Irving (1838-1905) was a famous English actor-manager.

Littimer – Steerforth’s very formal and correct servant in Dickens’s David Copperfield.

Edith Graham and the pearls – see Enter Sir Robert

46 what did people say in the year 1000 – “In this year [1000 AD] a terrible comet appeared – which by its look terrified many, who feared that the last day was at hand; inasmuch as several years before it had been predicted by some, deluded by a false calculation, that the visible world would end in the year of Christ 1000.”: Annales Hirsaugiensis written by the German abbot Joannes Tritemius, about 1500.

life-blood of a master spirit – “A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit – embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.” From Areopagitica by John Milton, 1644. The first part was used by publisher J.M.Dent as a colophon for their Everyman’s Library series of reprints of classic texts.

47 Jonas Chuzzlewit – in Martin Chuzzlewit by Dickens: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Psalm 90 verse 10.

O fortunatos nimium sua si bona norint, agricolas – translated from Latin means “The farmers would count themselves lucky, if they only recognised their blessings”: Virgil [Publius Vergilius Maro] The Georgics, 458).

hundreds and thousands – also known as sprinkles or sugar strands are very small pieces of confectionery, multicoloured, used as a decoration for cakes or desserts.

48 laudator temporis acti – praiser of time past, from Horace’s Ars Poetica.

If seven maids with seven mops – continues: “Swept it for half a year,/
Do you suppose,’ the Walrus said, /That they could get it clear?’” ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ in Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll, 1871.

The Egyptian Hall – in Piccadilly, London, was an exhibition hall built in the ancient Egyptian style in 1812. Presumably Lord Stoke is recalling a film shown there.

Hin und zurück – (There and Back) is an operatic ‘sketch’ (Op. 45a) in one scene by Paul Hindemith, with a German libretto by Marcellus Schiffer.

Le Spectre de la Rose (The Spirit of the Rose) is a short ballet about a young girl who dreams of dancing with the spirit of a souvenir rose from her first ball. One of the Hosiers’ Girls refers to it in The Headmistress.

Captain Deuceace is a character in Vanity Fair by W. M. Thackeray.

Tony’s exploring of the Stokey Hole – is recounted in The Demon in the House, chapter 3.

50 Cheltenham – a regency spa town and borough located on the edge of the Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Gloucestershire. Sister Chiffinch also plans to retire there, but I can’t recall in which book.

The Importance of Being Earnest – in Act 2 of Oscar Wilde’s play, Jack appears in ostentatious mourning for a fictitious friend.

Queen Victoria remained in deep mourning after the death of Prince Albert in 1861.

51 “And a partridge in a pear tree” – the first (and last, because it is cumulative) line of the carol ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, first published in England in the late 18th century.

53 The BBC Third Programme – a national radio service produced and broadcast by the BBC between 1946 and 1970. It became one of the leading cultural and intellectual forces in Britain. It was the BBC’s third national radio network, the other two being the Home Service (mainly speech-based) and the Light Programme, principally devoted to light entertainment and music.

Chapter 3

60 “elderly women are much more apt than men to ‘Have a leg’,”
– compare “half the elderly women in Chelsea have a limp or a shuffle” in Thirkell’s letter to Margaret Bird of January 1957.

Mrs. Mounstuart Jenkinson and Sir Willoughy Patterne appear in The Egoist , a novel by George Meredith, 1879. She says of him that apart from being young, rich and handsome, “he has a leg”.

62 Stoker could always conjure spirits from the vasty deep – “I can call spirits from the vasty deep.” Glendower’s boast in Henry IV Part 1, Act 3, scene 1, to which Hotspur replies “Why, so can I, or so can any man;/But will they come when you do call for them?”

63 “England expects that every man will do his duty” – a signal sent by Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, from his flagship HMS Victory as the Battle of Trafalgar was about to commence on 21 October 1805.

See how this river comes me cranking in – Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 1, Act 3 scene 1.

64 Vehmgericht – a tribunal in Germany during the Middle Ages, in connection with a secret organisation under sanction of the emperor for the enforcement of justice.

65 “Moab is my wash pot – continues “over Edom will I cast out my shoe:” Psalm 60 verse 8.

67 stonkered – Australian slang: completely exhausted or beaten; whacked. Recalls the years that Thirkell spent in Australia with her young sons..

72 Clara Gazul – Nobody knew of this better than Angela Thirkell, whose biography The Fortunes of Harriette was published in 1936.

the Health Service – The National Health Service was launched by Aneurin Bevan in July 1948.

74 before the Kaiser began creating – Kaiser Wilhelm II – German Emperor, 1859-1941.

Ragnarok – in Norse mythology a series of future events resulting in the doom of the Gods.

75 Tony Morland played with Rose and Dora Gould, and Dr Ford appeared to be becoming emotionally involved with Sylvia Gould, in The Demon In The House.

cela n’empêche pas– that doesn’t matter.

to parody the Count of Paris’s remark – “Younger than she are happy mothers made”: said by Paris in Romeo and Juliet Act I scene 2.

76 the female of the species is more deadly than the male. – Poem ‘The Female of the Species’ by Rudyard Kipling.

77 a Victoria – an elegant French carriage. It may be visualised as essentially a phaeton or brougham with the addition of a coachman’s box-seat, but not enclosed and therefore open to the elements. See also page 141.

78 cars breaking down wherever they went, like Kipling – Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936 was an early convert to motoring and originally had a steam car, which always needed water and was always breaking down. He wrote about invented adventures in that car in ‘Steam Tactics’ in Traffics and Discoveries, 1904.

Mrs Merivale agonises over guest towels – in Miss Bunting Chapter 7.

78 In which novel does Laura visit Pomfret Towers – **

“One does miss the war sometimes.” – Thirkell’s attitude to the war can be gauged by her calling the novel in which World War II begins Cheerfulness Breaks In, and that in which it ends Peace Breaks Out.

80 In Sir Walter Scott’s Rob Roy – (1817) Robert MacGregor, the romantic outlaw and freebooter, says: “Where MacGregor sits, there is the head of the table.”

Glamora Tudor again – thought to be Gloria Stuart, born 1910, who appeared in more than forty films in the thirties.

Voltaire pseudonym of François Marie Arouet, – French writer, 1694-1778.

The Académie française – is the pre-eminent French council for matters pertaining to the French language. We know Pierre Boulle from Wild Strawberries.

Abner P. Schreibfeder – his surname is German for pen-nib.

The Spectator – is a weekly British conservative magazine, first published in 1828.

81 a Travelogue about New Guinea – Margaret Mead’s Growing Up in New Guinea was published in 1930, comparing the views of the indigenous people on family, marriage, sex, child rearing, and religious beliefs to those of westerners. Might the possibly suggestive contents of such a film make “Everyone was glad that they should improve their minds” ironic?

83 Sylvia “went rather red in the face and twisted her hands”. – This was the behaviour of the adolescent Alice Barton and Anne Fielding.

Letters from people recognising original sources in novels – as did the families of the originals of Miss Bunting and Lady Emily, who objected very strongly to the fictional portraits.

84 he stood upon a pulpit, not in one – And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose: Bible, Nehemiah chapter 8 verse 4.

Montrachet and letters complaining of errors – in a letter to Margaret Bird, 2 October 1950, Thirkell writes of “A very angry letter from a lady who said she was an R.C. and that the Church of England had no real head”.

there’s a great text in Galatians – Mrs Morland remembers the verse and its original poem correctly. First published in Robert Browning’s Dramatic Lyrics 1842.

85 Manichees – Manichaeism was a major religious movement of the 3rd century that taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness.

86 snipe-flight – an expression used several times about Mrs Morland. The snipe has a zigzag flight. Which makes it difficult to shoot.

87 Mrs Gilpin – “The morning came, the chaise was brought,
But yet was not allowed
To drive up to the door, lest all
Should say that she was proud.”
– from ‘The Diverting History of John Gilpin’ by William Cowper, 1785.

Chapter 4

89 continued the even tenor of her way – Angela Thirkell has this the wrong way round, as the correct version is: “Along the cool sequestered vale of life/They kept the noiseless tenor of their way – from ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’ by Thomas Gray (1751).

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations – was first published by the Oxford University Press in 1941.

“if pressed for time, omit Cambridge” – “In Baedeker’s guide book of England, current some years ago, Baedeker recited the beauties of both the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, but, at the end of its section on the latter, added the words: “If pressed for time, omit Cambridge.”: from The Winnipeg Tribune, 12 January 1939.

90 Laura forgets who built Rising Castle – According to The Demon In The House, the 4th Lord Stoke had defended the castle against Cromwell, and “the present earl’s great-great-grandfather had built a comfortable mansion from the stones of the ruins”.

91 Cromwell did a lot of damage in the Civil War – Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) led the anti-royalist Puritans in the English Civil War,1642-51.

91-92, Compare Mrs Morland’s description of baths in her youth with this from Thirkell’s Three Houses:
Nursery bath-time was delicious. The big tin bath was brought in from the brown staircase-landing and Nanny hung towels on the fender to warm while she went downstairs to fetch a huge can of hot water from the pantry boiler. It was so comfortable to sit in the high-backed bath with the hot water surging up round one, and then to get out in front of the blazing fire and be wrapped in a delightfully scorching towel’, followed by Marie or Petit Beurre biscuits.

92 “Echos du temps passé” – song by Jean-Baptiste Weckerlin (1821-1910). Also page 120.

Alphabet biscuits – Tony Morland and Eric Swan perform this feat of cramming the whole alphabet into their mouths in Summer Half.

Albert and the school outing – do we read about this in one of the novels or is it to show that Sylvia remembers him as an individual?

94 Tony’s exploring of the Stokey Hole – recounted in The Demon in the House, chapter 3.

96 “Let ’em all come” – the only song Google suggest for this is that of Millwall football team!

Time travels in divers paces with divers persons – “I’ll tell you who Time ambles withal, who Time trots withal, who Time gallops withal and who he stands still withal”. Rosalind in Shakespeare’s As You Like It Act 3 scene 2.

springs of Helicon – a mountain range in Greece sacred to the Muses.

Others abide our question, Thou art free – sonnet, ‘Shakespeare’ by Matthew Arnold (1822-88).

97 Henry Keith was killed in Cheerfulness Breaks In.

99 all were as silent as the beginning of the second book of the Aeneidthen did Lord Stoke…– Book 2 begins:
“The room fell silent, and all eyes were on him
As Father Aeneas from his high couch began” (Virgil, 70-19 BCE)

101 Peacockian vein – must be like Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866). One of his poems includes the line, “Let the bottle pass freely, don’t shirk it nor spare it.”

sub rosasecretly, privately

The Club or Literary Club – a London dining club founded in February 1764 by the artist Joshua Reynolds and essayist Samuel Johnson.

102 The events Laura describes to Daphne Bond – all occurred in Before Lunch.

one of the inns – The Middle and Inner Temple are two of the four Inns of Court, or Honourable Societies of Barristers.

103 Happy Families – a traditional card game, usually with a specially made set of picture cards, featuring illustrations of fictional families of four, most often based on occupation types.

105 Charles John Huffham Dickens – 1812-70.

Anthony Trollope – 1815-82.

William Makepeace Thackeray – 1811-63.

Charlotte Bronte – published novels under the pseudonym of Currer Bell. See also page 106.

106 Sir Walter Scott – 1731-1832.

spurlos versenkt – This means something like “sunk without trace” and refers to the German U-boat campaign during World War 2.

The Bronte sisters – originally published under pseudonyms, keeping their own initials: Charlotte (1816-55), Emily (1818-48) as Ellis Bell, Anne (1820-49) as Acton Bell. Their father Patrick (1777-1861) changed his birth name from Brunty to Bronte, the reason being difficult to establish. Their mother Maria, née Branwell, (1783-1821) died several months after giving birth to her sixth child, Anne.

The goddess Aphrodite – (Venus to the Romans) was the daughter of Zeus and Dione, held to have sprung from the foam of the sea.

111 the Cheshire Cat’s smile – in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1832-98) the cat fades away, leaving only his grin visible.

“I can’t make plots” – Mrs Morland showing her similarity to Angela Thirkell again!

Chapter 5

116 Anne Hathaway – 1556-1623, wife of William Shakespeare. Of course, nothing is known about her love life.

117 Franco-Prussian war – 1870-71. By coincidence, both names Hamonet and Kessler have been used in the 20th century to describe medical conditions. Kessler is a German occupational surname meaning maker of copper cooking vessels.

119 Laura recalls the events chronicled in High Rising.

120 the Defendant’s song in Trial by Jury – comic opera with libretto by W. S. Gilbert (1836-1911), first produced in 1875. “For nature is constantly changing./The moon in her phases is found,/The time and the wind and the weather,/The months in succession come round.”

“Ye mariners of England!” – ballad by Thomas Campbell (1777-1844).

“our parents took a house somewhere in Sussex” – autobiographical: Rottingdean, on the south coast of Sussex, is described in Thirkell’s Three Houses.

“Echos du temps passé” – see above, page 92.

Bare feet for the young are heaven – Compare “It was one of the worst shocks in my life when I looked at my own feet when I was about fourteen and realised that they were getting grown up”, spoken by George Halliday in Peace Breaks Out.

Isadora Duncan – American dancer, 1878-1927.

Trilby and Little Billee – characters in the novel Trilby by George du Maurier, 1894.


121 Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail. – “There mark what ills the scholar’s life assail,/Toil, envy, want, the patron and the jail.” From ‘The Vanity of Human Wishes’, a poem by Samuel Johnson (1709-84).

The Pickwick, the Owl and the Waverley pen. – “one of those advertisements, much valued by connoisseurs for its rarity in these degenerate days, enamelled on tin with a fine original example of the distich about the Pickwick, the Owl and the Waverley pens.” The old advertising slogan ran: “They come as a boon and a blessing to men,/The Pickwick, the Owl and the Waverley pen.”
a distich – a couplet (a two line stanza) making complete sense.
122 A pogrom – a violent riot aimed at the massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group.

Wamba the Witless, Cedric the Saxon – and his jester are all characters in the novel Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott, 1819.

Edie Ochiltree – a character in Sir Walter Scott’s 1816 novel The Antiquary.

123 the vox humana – (Latin for ‘human voice’) is a short-resonator reed stop on the pipe organ, so named because of its supposed resemblance to the human voice.

le mot juste – “The right word” in French. Coined by 19th-century novelist Gustave Flaubert, who often spent weeks looking for the precise word to use.

124 my good masters – possibly referring to: “A mystery! ay, good, my masters. –
—-there’s mystery
In a moonbeam– in a gnat’s wing–
In the formation of an atom–
An atom! it may be a world–a peopled world–
Canst prove that it is not a world? Go to,
We are all fools. – from ‘The Buccaneer’ by Mrs S. C. Hall, 1833.

126 Shakespeare, Dr Johnson and Nelson – an impossibility to get these three together except in the theatre!

127 spun out of his own entrails, as it were – “if the materials be nothing but Dirt, spun out of your own Entrails (the Guts of Modern Brains) the Edifice will conclude at last in a Cobweb”: from The Battle of the Books by Jonathan Swift, 1697.

Jessica Dean’s performance – of the Argentina Tango at the Northbridge fete is recounted in Private Enterprise, chapter 13.

Voltaire – pseudonym of François Marie Arouet, French writer, 1694-1778. He is reputed to have made this comment about Habbakuk, a prophet in the Hebrew Bible.

129 Cassie Nover – Stoker’s version of Casanova (Giovanni Giacomo Casanova de Seingalt), the Venetian adventurer and seducer.

Orphans of the Storm – a 1921 silent cinema film by D. W. Griffith set in late- 18th-century France.

131 The near-affair at Laverings between Catherine Middleton and Denis Stonor happens (or rather doesn’t) in Before Lunch.

132 Phantastes – an allegorical fantasy by George MacDonald, 1858.

The Hun is at the Gate – “For all we have and are,/For all our children’s fate,/Stand up and take the war./The Hun is at the gate!” From Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘For All We Have And Are’, 1914.

“The old order changeth yielding place to new
And God fulfils Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
– from ‘The Passing of Arthur’ in Morte d’Arthur, by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

133 the depopulation of Hamelin in Brunswick by a rodent exterminator -‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’ – poem by Robert Browning.

the Greyhound Inn and its details – recounted in Thirkell’s Three Houses, Part Two.

Esmond – the protagonist of the novel Henry Esmond by W.M.Thackeray, 1852.

before Queen Anne’s death – in 1714.

The Old Pretender – James Stuart, Anne’s brother, claimed (“pretended to”) the throne of England and Scotland as King James VIII of Scotland and III of England and Ireland. His father James II was deposed in the revolution of 1688, so his son had no constitutional right to the throne, especially as he refused to renounce his Catholic faith.

George I (1660-1727) – was Elector of Hanover and the closest living relative of Queen Anne and was made king of the newly-created Great Britain.

hewers of wood and drawers of water – “Now therefore ye are cursed,and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” Bible, Joshua chapter 9 verse 23.

134 seeking whom it may devour – “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Bible, I Peter chapter 5 verse 8.

134 Young William Adams – is referred to in Close Quarters, but there is no earlier mention of Leslie Adams.

135 Miss Sowerby sold her house – and moved to Worthing in The Old Bank House.

136 her forlorn Hic jacet – “By Ellen’s side the Bruce is laid;
And, for the stone upon his head,
May no rude hand deface it,
And its forlorn Hic jacet!”
 From ‘Ellen Irwin’ by William Wordsworth.

‘The Bishop Orders His Tomb – at Saint Praxed’s Church’, poem by Robert Browning.

Were this wild thing but wedded…” – “When her mother tends her before the laughing mirror,
Tying up her laces, looping up her hair,
Often she thinks, were this wild thing wedded,
More love should I have, and much less care.”
Poem ‘Love in the Valley’ by George Meredith (1828-1909).

137 Brave New World – Words spoken by Miranda at the end of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Also used, ironically, as title of novel by Aldous Huxley, 1932.

138 a kind of Mr Arabin – The Rev. Francis Arabin, who becomes Dean of Barchester, appears in four novels by Anthony Trollope (1815-82).

Canon Fewling – marries Margot Phelps in Close Quarters.

Lord William Harcourt – becomes interested in Edith Graham in A Double Affair and in Love at All Ages they have a baby girl.

not having a daughter ourself – A sad reference to the death of Thirkell’s infant daughter Mary.

139 the charming elegant Victorian gas-lamps in our street to be dismantled – Compare this passage from a letter to Margaret Bird in January 1960:
‘they are removing our pretty gas lamps and replacing them by those awful tall electric lamp posts that shine into all the bedroom windows.’

absit omen – “may what is said not come true” (literally “may omen be absent”)

immortal longing – Cleopatra has immortal longings in Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra Act 5 scene 2.

140 “that out of three sounds he frame…” – a flash of the will that can,
Existent behind all laws, that made them and, lo, they are!
And I know not if, save in this, such gift be allowed to man,
That out of three sounds he frame, not a fourth sound, but a star. … But God has a few of us whom he whispers in the ear;
The rest may reason and welcome; ’tis we musicians know.
From ‘Abt Vogler’ by Robert Browning.

Erato – muse of erotic poetry and hymns.

“de musique tout confit”

140 Great Conservative Rally – in Love Among The Ruins, final chapter.

141 The victoria – see above, page 77.

Chapters 6 onward – of Three Score and Ten were written by C. A. Lejeune.


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