FLINT, Sir William Russell, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts



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FLINT, Sir William Russell (1880-1969). Painter and illustrator.
Series of 27 Autograph Letters Signed, in his 'swishy handwriting' to the songwriter and composer Vivian Ellis and his sister Hermione, 36 pages 4to & oblong 8vo. Mostly signed 'Willie', on headed paper of Peel Cottage, Campden Hill [London], with 26 original autograph envelopes, 8 october 1952 to 23 April 1969.

Discussing, for example, a reproduction of one of his drawings in Ellis's autobiography; his birthday ('80! Isn't it awful!'); invitations to various parties; his and his wife's health; a trip to South Africa; his granddaughter ('Sarah used to be (I'm told) rather awed by her grandfather but, certainly, she is not now!'); and Hermione's many gifts to him.

'... Am I really going to be in the same book as you? Well, I was trained as a lithographic printer but as that was art with a very small 'A' it cannot very well be called another profession. ...'

'... I've been enjoying my peaceful studio, not painting all the time but thoroughly enjoying myself writing & arranging a little book without any illustrations at all. "In due course" Hermione & Vivian Ellis will receive a copy of it & equally "in due course", I'll await, trembling, their verdict upon it. ...'

'... What a lovely visit - for ME. I hope I didn't exhaust you. You, by some magic, made me chatter, me, the dumb object usually! ...'

'... I can imagine you working away at your autobiography in country quiet. It should be an unusual & interesting book. (I'll keep the secret). ...'

'... You, Vivian, gave me real pleasure with your "Brighton Belles" in, I think, "Courier". I have also greatly enjoyed "Uproarious Devon" - quite delightful. ...'

'... Your pale "daffadowndillies", Hermione, were a joy. I had them in a perfect jug & their paleness & beauty against the white walls of my room gave me real conscious pleasure. ...'

Vivian Ellis (1903-1996) was the most prolific composer of British musicals in the 1930s and after the war, in collaboration with A.P. Herbert, wrote a series of successful light operas, the most enduring of which was Bless The Bride. One of his most famous songs, 'Spread a Little Happiness' enjoyed a revival in 1982 when it was recorded by Sting. Ellis never married, and lived with his sister Hermione for many years. His autobiography, I'm on a See-Saw (1953, reprinted 1974) contains a reference to the picture mentioned by Flint in these letters: 'In my London flat hangs a picture by that past master of English water-colour painting, Sir William Russell Flint. The subject is Eileen Lush as Sue, the little girl in the Cromwellian cap who played Pepys's maid and sang the treble line in the madrigal, "Gaze not on Swans"' (p. 255).

Also included is an autograph letter by Flint's son, Francis Russell Flint (2 pages oblong 8vo, Jesmond Dene, Burgess Hill, 12 January 1970, with autograph envelope), thanking Vivian and Hermione Ellis for writing to him on the death of his father: '... I have a hard task ahead, but am determined to try to carry on his tradition in Water Colour, a task I hope will be easier, as I have inherited his paintbox. ...'
[No: 25506]


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