Martha Kingdon Ward – Diary for 1946 – up to 11th Jan

N.B. Any text of which I am uncertain I have denoted with a series of ? or with the words in [square brackets – sometimes with an explanatory note]

I have added a few footnotes here and there.

Martha’s Dairies


Sepia toned photo of Martha Kingdon-Ward aged approx 15 - 20Martha would have turned eighteen in this year. Since she can’t have been far off that age when this photo was taken (single image from polyfoto sheet) I am including it here.


Perhaps years later I shall look back upon this difficult year with compassion – I hope so. Not self-pity, that’s entirely different. I mean an understanding of ones own faults and failings, a comprehension also of pain constantly suffered – that comprehension which is so strange, as though coming from the outside, from a totally different angle. When I was vaguely trying to disclaim the fact that I love him, while I was faintly trying to disbelieve, I don’t know that I was any happier than during the awful months that followed – while Eve died & we went for a happy holiday, and I knew for a certainty that he loved someone else and would marry her. It’s at these times that the world’s real values seem to stand out so clearly: you realise that you cannot make a fuss, cannot cause a public scene – you also realise so strongly that other people’s happiness matters – that girls and the family’s at home. Which is why I have never talked ??? yet to a single soul. Why make them as unhappy as that?

I wish I could explain just how numb, how sick, how hopeless I feel. I am afraid just now I am horribly selfish. Yesterday up in the train, travelling so smartly and comfortably on my darling Great Western that every minute was taking me further away from him, I felt that everything was quite mean indeed. Trees, pylons, houses, and fields raced by, but they seemed unconnected, useless, meaningless. And then, as now, and before, there was one great long pain in my heart because he is going to be married he hopes in September. I don’t — to hate her – I’m sure he wouldn’t marry someone horrid. I just don’t feel anything but sick now and a kind of ?????. Everything passes out of my mind sometimes, but Cardiff[?] ??? and things that remind me of him. And he is very dear.

When Miss Iveston heard I might not play in Iolanthe she exclaimed, “Of dear – but can’t you?”

“Well, he says I probably won’t be good enough, and I think he’s right.”

“Who said that – Bruce?”

“Mr Henderson? Yes”

“I’ll tell him what I think of him! … Anyway, who would they get instead of you?”

“I haven’t the faintest idea. Of course they might get Ann?”

Miss Weston attended hard to her reed. “might they?” she said.

“It would be rather amusing.” I added faintly.

She looked at me and said nothing – but one had no need to say it!

“I’ve rarely seen a more lovable face than that young man” said B.H. seriously of Marius Goring[1], and I knew naturally that she meant it, and wasn’t playing our little comedy. “It’s a fine, sensitive face, well-bred and highly intelligent. And he has beautiful hands. I feel you could trust him.”

“Yes I think you could.” I agreed a little tritely, because I didn’t want to interrupt her flow of thoughts, since really however tender-hearted she might be about Marius Goring her real thoughts were naturally centred on someone else.

“He’s a fine actor, in fact a brilliant actor. He’s always been given extremely difficult roles. You told me he was terrifyingly brilliant as ????[2] at the beginning of the war and remember hearing about it, although alas too young to understand.”

I remember hearing about it too. But it’s a nice face all the same, and a nice lad …”

(B.H. always does go charmingly sentimental)

So I picked up my notes and put my pen into my pad and wrote. But I knew her blue eyes were dancing with a secret pleasure and, out of respect for her own far away secrets, I would not ask her to tell. You cannot paint some pictures even for your best friends.

Tuesday 1st January

I started the New Year most seasonably by feeling extremely ill. In fact, I was a sick little hippo all day, and most depressed about it. Still, I had to put up a good show, as two naval officers P. and Mummy had met last night came upon me. They were asked to lunch but Mummy proved so attractive that they stayed until a quarter to one the next morning!!

We took them out to “I Live in Grosvenor Square”[3] which was a better film than most critics would have you believe. Anna Neagle was sadly miscast, sadly, but Rex Harrison was superb as David Bruce, which required excellent handling. Somehow though, I felt faint and ill. I struggled to entertain Cass [?or Caps?] and Barney – who were really ??? and interesting. Mummy was admirable and though P. [Pleione] seemed a little forced and injudicious in her speech, she made a gallant effort. I at last had to stagger up at about 10:20 and I went shivering to bed feeling just ghastly. Jolly New-Year opening – what? And it was so cold!!

[There follows a list of names and other words which are difficult to decipher – possibly
“Ryan is ??? Red Berkeley, Major Derby, Keith, Ranisas, & Fairfax”]

Wednesday 2nd January

I still felt like a groggy hippo when I was awakened by our pleasant chamber-maid. We had our last meal sadly, packed, and left on the 10:30 GWR. The journey back was as empty as coming. We did the Tel X-word.[4] I didn’t get the clues.

“What’s another word for ill?” urged P.

“Sick hippo” I responded wearily, and they looked most sympathetic.

Though it was sunny, and the Somerset views were again exquisite, the train kept stopping ‘in the middle of nowhere’  and Mummy said “The engine driver seems to have got hold of our crossword.”

Mummy left us for London at Swindon. We had a long wait at Didcot. We went for a walk but the town is so dull and it was so cold we returned and had a nice cup of tea with a charming waitress at the station. [sic – I presume that the waitress was charming but not that they all sat down with said waitress for the tea as the wording implies] At Goring we waited fifty minutes for a cab and came home frozen. Mrs E.[5] was angelic, and E.[6] was glad to see us back. Eve[7] wasn’t bad either. Doggo jumped about! To bed early.

Thursday 3rd January

It was good to wake and be at home. We breakfasted at about 8:30 and listened to badly chosen Mozarts in “This Week’s Composer”[8] It was terribly cold, and I practiced at intervals trying not to stick the keys with my frozen fingers! The scales progressed sufficiently for me not to damn mankind more than usual – good clarinettists in particular, of course! We played [it looks like “Dafters”] quite a bit, and got playfully furious when the other one collected huge rent moneys. At 3 or so, we went out onto the ice, which was v. thin, however, so we slid about it for an inch or so, before plunging into little holes made by our hooves. Altogether we galumphed acres before going in to quite a hearty tea. Hippo wasn’t too well today, but better than yesterday, which is a mercy! Of course Mozart accompanied [Dafters] – [str?is of] Ks.207[9] and darling 453. Wrote in the evening and sat with Mummy. Susan in trouble with C. Wilde etc. “Rex” & Lilli P. came today [looks like – & Jas Mason. Newc: wasn’t Newc: but now is.] Isn’t that plain?

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??D, Blake??s & Helendon all poisoned – by whom?! Keith – a new man – came. He’s been dumped on them by [Gregory Peck?] Why? They don’t know and they suspect a mystery.

Friday 4th January

Certainly quite a leisurely day, we listened to M’s instrumental music through breakfast. As usual it was a bad selection – parts of “hunt” 407[10] & 581[11]and all of 526[12] not bad – but all things we can hear moderately easily. Then I gave the room a thorough do, after which we seemed to think ourselves so good that we needn’t do any more work for a bit. But actually, of course, it was being so cold, the room being so icy too. We settled down quietly and, Dafters, which, not a bit aided by the interfering puppy, we played quite a lot, and enjoyed somewhat. We went on the ice after lunch and slid about inelegantly. Mummy was awfully cross with us and we had an awful set to because she said I was too selfish or, at any rate, inconsiderate. Well, she’s quite right, but what on Earth am I to do? Because I know she’s right, up to a certain extent, but she certainly overdid it a bit.

Practiced hard at more scales.

Saturday 5th Jan

We had ??? at last this morning, as we all went to Reading on the 11:00, and I had some work to do first. Mummy got cross with me because she thought me unkind to refuse lunch with Cozzie and Eve to help on P. But I knew better – know that it wouldn’t help. If I went with Eve, so at last she understood and was less annoyed. And bless her she stayed with the dogs while we went to “The 7th Veil”[13] with Mrs Ellis. This excellent film is a Sydney Box production, directed by Compton Bennett. Watch him. I’ve seen it before, of course, but I thrilled once more to the compelling melancholy of Ann Todd’s voice and face with the acting ability of James Mason, Hugh McDermott, and especially Albert Lieven are strong supporters, while Yvonne Owen as Susan was brilliant. The cinema soon became crowded out, but we were pleased to see an enclosure queue when we came out – not nastily pleased but pleased for British pictures. E. enjoyed the film very much indeed.

Practiced assiduously when I  got home and wrote. The scales are beginning to look up a little, dare I hope?

(A new young man, Jonathan Hope, played Dafters[?] with M??, ???, ??? & ???

Bla??? Left Newcastle House ??? because he ???)

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[Five very closely packed lines. These are a continuation of the entry for 6th Jan.]

Sunday 6th January

The days roll by – and do I get any better at clarinetting? Well, when I practiced today it seemed to my sickened ears that I really was a little better. I went through E and Ab major, and their minors, and did C, F, etc. a little faster. Well, there really seemed to be a little more synchronisation. Every now and then, when I forgot about it, I would squeak over either break. I’m still inclined to be imperfect with the sidekeys, and I squeak alright[?] but it is – I’m sure it is – getting better. Otherwise, there was the usual onrush of breakfast and lunch, washing up, etc. and I took the dog out to the p??? as I had to go for Mummy. We played Dafter in the evening after I’d practiced, and I wrote a little. (Hope met his fiancée Clari??? Derby, and learned that C Wilde had phoned her. He vowed revenge so imagine his consternation on finding out that Hamilton was ??? Wilde while C?a?e is Chesterfield. Hope gave Clarissa and his friend Jacqueline Go?den dinner. Chesterfield kissed her, and Hope angrily hit him Wilde and Hope don’t get on at all, though W. doesn’t know that. Hope loves the ??? he ???

Monday 7th January

  1. started work at the RCM[14] so I had the day to myself. Not that I did much good. I did this room and mummy’s v. thoroughly and I tidied a little. Mrs T. [or I?] gave me an early lunch as she was off to the cinema. I washed up, let the dogs out and had a jolly good practice. At last, it was a thorough hard going one. I worked away at Ab, E, and again at the earlier ones, faster. Something seems to be happening to them – I hope it’s all to the good! I also hada severe go at tonguing. Tonguing is the bane of my life. Mr Clarke does it well, and I don’t – isn’t that a pity? I skipped tea and P. came in before Mrs E., so that when dinner came I was really quite hungry. Mrs E. saw “? Frenchman” and loved it. All day I worked at Hunca Munca’s ?. and did so much to it that it was completed by about 10pm.

(Hope, Anita Louise, and C. Wilde didn’t hit it off too well. C.W. hates Hope violently because H. said unguarded things of A.L. before he met her.)

Tuesday 8th January

  1. didn’t have to go [up/in?], so life went on in much the same old way. I made a frantic effort at tidying which didn’t much work, and I fancy she did the same. I practiced for nearly an hour before lunch and again in the evening, so that went quite well. We both ??? did the Telegraph crossword in the afternoon, and I wrote a rather controversial letter to Verity. I just hate Picasso and Bartók and all they stand for, and I am sick of being told I ought to like them. I don’t argue that they are not great (though I don’t think so!). People always say, “You’ll be proved wrong later!” But I won’t because what I say is I don’t like Bartók & co. – and I don’t say that without first having listened, or seen, or whatever it is, and found out that I don’t. Ah well – why worry? Nothing can stop what I feel … (Miss Louise now apparently loves Hope!! Hope and Wilde had a sort of quarrel … H. wrote to Clarissa Derby Martin Bright angry with George Blakeney who insulted him. He left, tearing up the photograph of ??? D. had given him. D. left too.)

Wednesday 9th January

Wild and windy, but a lovely day for me. P. was off at 7, so I got up early and spent a long time doing the room hard, making the beds, and tidying. I got it looking nearly normal and then did the bathroom. That done, I at once practiced for a good hour. I do think my fingers are getting more supple – more used to the holes and keys they automatically have to find. I went to the Cozens’ after a hurried lunch, and walked up reviving old memories. Felix and Cozzie were delightful all the afternoon. We talked much of course, but pleasantly and interestingly. Felicity played to me with delightful ease and charm, and not a bit shy or difficult. Col. Cozens came in time for tea and the party went even better. In spite of Eve being as difficult as possible and saying the Cozens always found me trying, we got on as beautifully as ever – though if Eve had had her way I’d never have been there! Cozzie played me lovely K333[15] after tea, with its adorable cadenza. Home in rain, but very happy. It had been a good day. (?.?. forced to pretend he’s a girl, and ?? ???? is in love with him! He walked home extolling ‘her’girlish features, to ‘her’ annoyance!! ??? proposed (|) and Phil knows ‘she’ll’ [have to close] Wilde forced to read Hope’s letters.

Thursday 10th January

  1. was off early again and I was left to do the beds, the room, and mummy’s room, also tidy up for both. Well, I did all of it exceedingly well, I thought. Then I bethought me of more work and hopefully had a go at the Mozart book. I can’t let all that work go west, I thought, so I settled down and nearly completed January by the end of the day. There was quite a nice concert including K407, which is a landmark of horn history,[16] and Dvořák’s sextet in A which failed to give me much pleasure. I listened to many records, mostly 414 & 449, and played the piano after tea. Then came a serious practice of over an hour, with scales and plenty of tonging; also a bit of DW:229 II for fun. After dinner I wrote to billy and again to Dorothy as P’s been so remiss[17], and to Dr Lofthouse[18]. (??bel and Phillipa “eloped” and Phil is feeling very worried. Hope was very ill and delirious. His C/O Major [Darcy Thanet] is very worried.

Friday 11th January

Life was quite good to me today. Though P. had to go, and went off early at that, mummy stayed here all day! So we both of us did our cleaning work assiduously, and then I brought my work in with [me] by the fire and we had the most enjoyable day. All my things were carefully arranged, and I worked at the Mozart album all day, practically. We made toast for tea and had a really happy time together. I washed up the lunch things with Mrs E. which took rather a long time, but she was very pleased to have me help her. I practiced as hard as ever in the evening and scales like E and A-flat major began to lose some of their terrors. You wait! – I’ll go downhill alright soon. This is just too good to last and I’m sure Mr Clarke will find something very wrong. I wrote to Ann CR and sent her some reeds which I did up marvellously. (Aren’t I dreadful?)!  Read more of M?W’s marvellous Mozart book.

(Phil met his “bridesmaid” – A/! – in leiber’s gloomy and ghost infested house. Phil is worried to death. Hope was deliriously ill, and Hele??? Who’s nursing him is very worried. Wilde to stay with the M???


[1] Marius Goring, Actor, b. 1912 d. 1998 film credits from 1925 – 1990 he played Conductor 71 in Stairway to Heaven and Frederick Jannings in Night Boat to Dublin, both in 1946.

[2] The word looks possibly like Hitler but Goring never played him. It may be that it refers to his role as Lieutenant Felix Schuster, a German U-Boat officer in “The Spy in Black” 1939. The story was set in 1917. The word doesn’t look like Schuster or anything that makes sense, but perhaps, as they had not properly seen the film there was some confusion?

[3] A.K.A. “A Yank in London” 1945. It starred Anna Neagle, Rex Harrison, and Dean Jagger.

[4] Obviously the Telegraph Crossword.

[5] Mrs Ellis

[6] Mr Ellis

[7] Eve Hadfield

[8] Now called “Composer of the Week” it was first broadcast 2nd August 1943 on the BBC Home Service. Source Wikipedia.

[9] Violin Concerto No. 1

[10] Horn quintet in E flat

[11] Clarinet quintet

[12] Violin sonata in A major

[13] The 7th Veil 1945 starring James Mason, Ann Todd, and Hebert Lom

[14] Royal College of Music. Pleione decided fairly soon after this to abandon any thoughts of a career in music after the enormity of what went on in Germany had sunk in. She felt that she was never going to be a truly great musician – unlike Martha – and that her future lay in the field of Speech Therapy.

[15] Piano Sonata No. 13 in B-flat major,

[16] You may recall that on Jan 4th she lists this among what she refers to as a bad selection. I suspect that she felt the selection was insufficiently esoteric for the programme, rather than that any of the music itself was bad.

[17] This rings true!

[18] Charles Thornton Lofthouse (1895-1974) who was the head of music at Reading University until some time after the second world war.

Martha Kingdon-Ward Diaries

As some will know and many will be unaware, I am the grandson of the explorer Frank Kingdon-Ward (also known as Francis Kingdon Ward, and Capt F.K. Ward) author, explorer, and plant collector.

I am also the nephew of a very talented musician, my Aunt Martha, who sadly died last year at the age of 93. She was a clarinettist of considerable renown who formed a number of musical groups best know of which was/is Sweet Harmony.

She was a devoted fan of Mozart and did a huge amount of reaserch into his works.

I just got back from a celebration of her life with many of her muscial friends. I must confess, for complicated reasons that I don’t want to bore you, or embarrass myself, with I only ever met her once. Nevertheless, I have been entrusted with her diaries which, although they do not cover the entirety of her life, are nevertheless extensive consisting of 40+ books, each one filled with fairly close-packed writing. They date from the 1970s until fairly recently. There is also one from 1946 which I am working through now.

I will share bits from these dairies for all, although I anticipate the main interest will be exclusively among her immediate friends and family, it will be worth the effort for them alone.