‘Mrs Alice’s eye-refreshing flowers’

Word was spreading in literary London and beyond that George was back, wounded, from Ypres. One of his closest friends when the Rothensteins lived in Hampstead was the painter William Rothenstein (1872-1945). The Rothenstein family now lived at Far Oakridge, near Stroud in Gloucestershire. Alice came up to London and went to Sussex Lodge Hospital hoping to see George. However, she was able only to leave a bunch of flowers for him. As George wrote Will Rothenstein from hospital some days later, he was ‘not easy enough in limb’ then to do more than send a ‘message’ of thanks to her.

There is something slightly odd about this statement. We know that his wound must have made it difficult, or even impossible, for him to walk, but could Alice Rothenstein not have come and sat by his bed? Perhaps visitors were not received on the wards, but in a special area? The phrase ‘not easy in limb’ sounds fluid, too. Was it a euphemism for not wanting to see visitors; or for being in too emotional a state to receive them?

Next entry: 5 November 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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