…then three come along at once

When I started my deeper research for this biography in 2010, one of the things I did was trawl the Web for manuscripts of George’s that were up for sale. I found only one item, which we bought for the archive. (It was two unpublished letters from George to the editor of the Cambridge Magazine in 1912 following his tumultuous public appearance in Cambridge during the Coal Strike and the tour of his play The Fountain.)

I have regularly searched the Web since, but never found anything. Then, as readers of the blog will know, in March the truly amazing Katy George in Kent found a letter of Kittie’s amongst some items in a charity shop (see Katy’s Comment of 15 March and my post of 23 March). As if that were not enough, at the end of May Katy spotted a copy of George’s 1904 Dwala for sale through Abebooks, inscribed by Kittie and with a letter from her preserved inside it! It arrived from Tasmania only six days later. The book itself is very rare, and turned out to be a gift from Kittie to Frederick O’Brien, an American writer on the South Seas who had sent her two copies of his long, laudatory article on George’s Tahiti in the New York Times Book Review of 5 March 1922. She wrote to thank him for this.

Finally, a fortnight ago, my blogmaster came across this item for sale on a website for theatrical memorabilia:

Christmas 1901 Cartoon

Click image to enlarge.

It is inscribed by Kittie on the back in pencil: A Christmas card drawn by G.C. to try and persuade my mother to come down to Christmas dinner — our first Christmas at Heathland Lodge 1901 Hampstead.

The dog greeting Mrs Hamilton on the red carpet is Jones (see the photograph of Kittie in the Calderonia biographies). The three minions on the left are carrying bowls of punch. The man with large raised right arm and left hand holding a giant glass is George, the woman with an exaggerated bun of hair is Kittie, and the short figure between them is perhaps George’s mother Clara. The couplet bottom right reads:


Mary Hamilton and Kittie

Left: Mary Hamilton in 1891; Right: her daughter Kittie, c. 1910

This cartoon strikes me as one of the funniest George ever drew. Lest anyone think, in the aggrieved manner of 2015, that it is meant to be unkind or satirical, let me assure them at once that it is not. It is genuinely intended as an act of caring and humorous persuasion. Mrs Hamilton (1825-1906) got on extremely well with George, once her daughter was married to him and he had a job. He was the favoured person for lifting her in bed and making her laugh. Her health was very bad for the last five years of her life, and unfortunately she died whilst George was on his way back from Tahiti.

My guess is that this cartoon did persuade Mrs Hamilton to come downstairs for Kittie and George’s first Christmas dinner in their new home — and I’ll never complain about the Internet again!

Next entry: Another Calderon signs up

About Patrick Miles

I am a writer who specialises in Anton Chekhov and is writing a biography of George Calderon.
This entry was posted in George Calderon, Personal Commentary, Timeline and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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