Kittie

It should be clear from my posts of 18 and 27 August that Kittie Calderon felt deeply frustrated by her husband’s ‘finality’, as she called it, about going to the Front when no-one was asking him to enlist at the age of forty-five.

Since they married in November 1900 they had become a very close couple indeed, almost symbiotic (Kittie was also his literary agent).  The thought that George might actually get killed was, I believe, terrifying to her.

But she had always claimed to take the view that a man must do what a man must do. During the London Dock Strike of 1912 she fretted that he was risking his life, and he was. Nevertheless she wrote that there would have been ‘no smallest use’ in her saying ‘is it fair to me that you should risk your life?’, because ‘it was his job — he saw it — he had to do it’.

When Calderon went on recuperative cruises, or on a six-month anthropological quest to Tahiti, she did not accompany him, because she felt ‘Adventure was essential for George — and a man can’t have completeness of adventure if he has got a woman with him’.

One of the biggest difficulties of understanding a past and writing the biography of someone who lived in it, is that people used words which still exist in our language but now carry a completely different weight.  For the Edwardians, ‘staunch’, or ‘stalwart’, or ‘gallant’ (of an officer), or ‘charming’ (of literature) embodied very important values that we have lost.  Kittie Calderon was ‘staunch’ and ‘stalwart’.

Her friends, however, were appalled at what George was doing.  Kittie had lived with her mother Mary Hamilton all her life, even when married, but her mother had died in 1906, and because of a geographical split in her father John Hamilton’s large family Kittie was left with hardly any relations in mainland Britain.

Next entry: 30 August 1914

 

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About Patrick Miles

I am a writer who specialises in Anton Chekhov and is writing a biography of George Calderon.
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