Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity

ISBN 978-1-84976-391-2

Henry Moore Letter to Raymond Coxon and Edna Ginesi [Peacham & Gin] 7 January 1941

This was the first letter Moore sent to his friends Raymond Coxon and Edna Ginesi from his new home, Hogland, in Hertfordshire. Written in January 1941, Moore explains how he and his wife (Irena or ‘Nitchka’) came to purchase the cottage in 1940 and invites them to come and visit.
The letter is noteworthy for Moore’s description of the London Blitz and the evolution of his Shelter Drawings: ‘I found, without wanting it to happen, that the devastation scenes & people sheltering in the underground set me off wanting to do drawings based on them. (Perhaps because I’d never seen in real life so many reclining figures about – apart from the human side of it all.)’

Transcript

[Handwritten:]
Tuesday Jan 7th 1941.
                                             Hoglands
                                             Perry Green
                                             Much Hadham
                                             Herts
Dear old Peacham and Gin,
 It’s been on mind to write to you both for ages now – I have rung up once or twice when I’ve been in London (but not lately) but struck unlucky times and got no answer.
 Well how are you both? I got news of you when I called in at Chelsea once or twice before it closed down, and when Harold came and spent two or three nights here. We heard what a hero Gin was being and what good and tough work she was doing. We hope the times aren’t too hectic now, and wonder whether it’s possible to take a weekend off and both come and spend it here with us.
 After 7 Mall studios was unusable for living in and working in, – through friends in this village we found and rented half a house here – and are now quite comfortably settled – and since Harold was here we have bought an extra bed. It wasn’t very comfortable when he was here, but now the extra sleeping accommodation is alright. I find for one reason or another I have to come up to London about once a week, and sometimes when the petrol is available I come by car. So if you could come here for a [end of p.1]weekend sometime soon, perhaps I could have some petrol in hand one Friday and come and bring you by car. Anyhow its only 27 miles from London.
Have you Ray been able to get much painting done? (For Gin to have done any of course has been out of the question). I heard you got a teaching job, at Kingston isn’t it (and that you were asked not to spoil the painting exams students’ chances of passing by teaching them how to paint!) I’ve been going on, but no sculpture, only drawings. From the bit of the Blighty we saw before we came here, and odd days and nights spent in London since, I found, without wanting it to happen, that the devastation scenes and people sheltering in the underground set me off wanting to do drawings based on them – (perhaps because I’d never seen in real life, so many reclining figures about – apart from the human side of it all.)
 We’ve had my sister Mary and her little girl and my mother staying here with us, quite a lot. They had a bad shaking where they live in Burnham-on-Crouch, and Mary’s heart has always been a bit wonky, but Mary and my niece have gone back to Burnham now – and just before Christmas I took mother to my eldest sister’s in Manchester where she’s going to stay for a while until Mary is feeling better. I arrived with mother in Manchester in the middle [end of p.2] of their two days intensive air-raids. Until then Manchester hadn’t really had much, so the town was surprised and a good deal disorganised when it came. And I’m very glad I went with mother, for she’d never have been met by my sister at the station and couldn’t have found her way from there to my sister’s house alone, – She’s now 85 I think, and though she keeps wonderfully well, it’s really no longer safe for her to go about alone even in normal times.
 Well let’s have a line when you’ve a few minutes to spare, and tell us any of your news, and whether you think you can manage to come and have a weekend here with us – it would be grand if you can.
We both send our love to you both and all the best of luck and hopes for 1941.
            Henry (and Nitchka).
P.S. We hear that a Miss Norton lives in an outlying part of this village and from descriptions we think it must be Lucy – But we haven’t seen her yet!

How to cite

Henry Moore, Letter to Raymond Coxon and Edna Ginesi [Peacham & Gin], 7 January 1941, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/henry-moore/henry-moore-letter-to-raymond-coxon-and-edna-ginesi-peacham-amp-gin-r1145421, accessed 20 April 2019.