[Sir Edward Seymour Hicks, actor-manager, to theatre historian W. J. MacQueen-Pope.] Autograph Letter Signed and Airgraph letter, both long and gossipy, expressing dissatisfaction with South Africa. With copy of letter to Hicks from MacQueen-Pope.

Seymour Hicks [Sir Edward Seymour Hicks] (1871-1949), actor-manager who built the Aldwych and Hicks theatres in London [W. J. MacQueen-Pope [Walter James MacQueen-Pope] (1888-1960), theatre historian]
Publication details: 
ALS: undated, but with Capetown postmark of 6 July 1942. Airgraph: 25 November 1942. Both letters c/o Barclays Bank, Cape Town, South Africa. MacQueen-Pope's copy letter: 23 September 1942; Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, WC2 [London].
SKU: 23230

The three items in good condition, lightly aged. An entertaining and characteristic exchange, with MacQueen-Pope's letter (Item Three) dating from between Hicks's two. ONE: ALS from 'Seymour H.' to 'My dear old Poppie'. Undated, with envelope with Capetown postmark dated 6 July 1942, addressed to 'McQueen Pope Ere. | Drury Lane Theatre | Drury Lane | London | W. C. 1 | From Sir Seymour Hicks'. 2pp, 8vo. 79 lines of closely-written text, headed 'Private & Confidential'. The letter begins: 'A million thanks for your witty & newsy letter - It was a godsend - & do do write me again - You cant think what it is like here - all one gets is the Radio & no [?] information of any kind'. He responds to MP's gossip concerning 'B. D.', i.e. Basil Dean (1888-1978), whose ENSA was based in Drury Lane during the war: 'It is a sad pity B. D. doesnt try & make people happy. Life is not very long - I dont think I could face another dose of Drury Lane - for the Jewels that the show fires lose - I got a long letter from Frank Collins & Kenneth sends me a line sometimes for which I am more than thankful'. He criticises South Africa as 'a large country with small people who have nothing to talk about but parochial affairs [...] In discussing Painting the other day I happened to say I possessed a Whistler & the lady I was talking to said Yes I have a brother who plays the mouth organ - If one lived here long enough one would become a very intelligent [mummy?] - I pine to get home - but Ella is still ill & has been so for months now'. He gives more personal news. 'I feel desperate at this & feel am quite forgotten - What is it? I did 110 performances in 4 months & have travelled 20 thousand miles by air & sea since I left home'. He has pasted a newspaper cutting of an advertisement for 'Basil Dean's Health Clinic' at the foot of the first page to give MP 'a laugh', commenting: 'I knew B. D. was a hard worker but he never told me he was also a chiropodist'. He comments on Eric Barker and Peter Page, before returning to his dissatisfaction with South Africa: 'There is no possibility of any work. There is not one theatre [...] all cinemas'. He asks if MP thinks he 'could stand a chance of getting into Parliament on my return - or being allowed to act again - I get depressed by sad words - being so far away from you all - Living on capital is anything but capital'. He discusses the wartime situation: 'The impression here is that we shall soon be attacked by the Japanese. Its lucky I know the Mikado by heart'. He ends in despair: 'I wish I could give you some amusing news - but there is nothing amusing here - of any kind - [...] Think of me & of me & advise me what to do - my remembrances to Sir Herbert - I am glad to hear he is well again - My kindest wishes to Mr Harold Conway - & any one who remembers I am alive - Im not sure that I am - I have forgotten what laughter sounds like - and I am [?] to get home | Keep well & safe old man & let us pray this damn war will end this year | Yours always - | Seymour H.' TWO: Airgraph letter from 'Seymour' to 'My dear old Popie', replying to Item Three below. Reproducing a 31-line one-page ALS on the customary small piece of paper. Resuming his criticism, he finds South Africa 'a country with as many laughs in it as are to be found in a writ'; makes a joke about Hitler being punished by being made 'an under waiter in a Jewish restaurant'; sends regards to 'Swaff'; notes that 'Broome has left the Palace of fun & games'; asks MP to remember to tell 'Sir Herbert D. that I must be made the Labour member for Barking Creek'; wishes he could write an amusing letter, but doubts 'Napoleon was feeling very funny at St. Helena'; praises MP's 'D[rury] Lane broadcasts', adding 'I know you will pop in a word about me when you can or I shall be as forgotten as a film star ought to be'; has 'a new book coming out next month Vintage Years Cassells'. THREE: Unsigned carbon copy of TLS from MP to Hicks. 2pp, folio. A very long single-spaced letter (to which Item Two is a reply). He begins with comments on Item One: 'You may say you are depressed, and I dont doubt that conditions make you, but the old Seymour keeps peeping out all over the place and handing me big laughs.' He has spoken to Peter Page on the phone and 'had him in fits' about two of Hicks's jokes. He refers to Brome's departure: 'The old Knightly John the Baptist has turned out to be a real snake in the grass'. Regarding Drury Lane, he laments that 'Our Director [Basil Dean] is now quite impossible. We are so administrated that we cannot move. [...] We are playing at Civil Service so well that the real ones look like a pack of amateurs.' Other topics include his resignation as 'Programme Director of Broadcasts because I wasn't allowed to do any directing, but I keep my overseas programme (now in its 88th week) and when I go, that goes with me'; his health and that of 'Harold'; his family situation; a 'living anthology on the steps of St Pauls - with Coventry to follow and other number one dates in pencil'; the details of the extension of his 'broadcasting activity'; regards to Hicks from various parties. One paragraph discusses how 'The theatre booms here', with reference to Emile Littler and 'the Stoll outfit', Evelyn Laye, 'the curious Macbeth of Mr Gielgud', Bill O'Bryen, Jack Hylton and Tom Arnold, George Black, and 'a new girl called Pamela Browne, who is plain and who limps but who can act like the blazes'.