Learning Spanish

By late September 1937 it seems that Elizabeth’s plans to go to Spain were becoming ever more concrete and she was on the search for a Spanish teacher to improve her language skills. Letters from the previous month between Elizabeth, her sisters, and Edward Cadbury make it clear that she had wanted to sell the property she had inherited in order to put the money towards relief work in Spain; having had this plan blocked (legal action was taken against her in the Scottish courts) it looks like Elizabeth quickly decided to go to Spain herself instead.

Janet Perry (1884-1958), the writer of this letter, was a lecturer in Spanish at King’s College, London. She went to Spain twice, with Quaker-organised relief units – and this again makes me wonder if Elizabeth also organised her travel and work in Spain through the Quakers (perhaps aided by Edward Cadbury). She had grown up with a number of Quaker family friends (including the Cadburys), and Dorothy Thompson (mentioned in this letter as the link between Elizabeth and Janet Perry) was Assistant Secretary to the Spain Committee of the (British) Friends Service Committee. Farah Mendlesohn writes in detail about Quaker relief efforts in the Spanish Civil War in her book, Quaker Relief Work in the Spanish Civil War – in which she mentions both Janet Perry and Dorothy Thompson. Alfred Jacob, who was mentioned in the security report on Frank, is a central figure in Mendlesohn’s book – again confirming the importance of the Quaker presence in Spain to both Frank and Elizabeth’s time there. Mendlesohn also briefly mentions Puigcerdà, explaining that it was initially set up (in 1937) as a “Quaker children’s colony” (the first of these in Spain); no doubt I will come across more Quaker links as I go through the boxes, but one day it would also be interesting to look at some of the archives explored by Mendlesohn (especially material relating the the Birmingham Quaker community).

Here is the letter, with transcript below:

1937-9-28-janet-perry-learning-spanish-re-1

1937-9-28-janet-perry-learning-spanish-re-2

79, South End Road,
Hampstead Heath, N. W. 3.

Sept 28th. 1937

Dear Miss Aytoun

Miss Dorothy Thompson has asked me to recommend a Spanish teacher for you.

One of my former students Miss Franco is an excellent teacher. She and her partner Miss Freeston do regular teaching at 50 Westminster Palace Gardens S. W. (near Artillery Mans. in Victoria St.) Phone. VIC. 2976.

When writing will you mention my name?

I should also be delighted if you would care to join the Spanish Circle at King’s College in the Strand. We have a tea on Tuesdays at 5’clock and often have Spanish friends. This would give you an opportunity of arranging exchanging exchange of conversation or conversation classes with Spaniards if you wished to do so to supplement the lessons.

I can thoroughly recommend Miss Franco as a good teacher and a charming person.

Yours sincerely

Janet H. Perry

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redthirties

if you have any thoughts, questions, suggestions - or (even better!) further information - about any of the topics covered on Red Thirties, then please either leave a comment or e-mail me at: redthirties@gmail.com. Thanks for reading, Anna

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