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Paul Rassam

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Two page t.l.s to Penelope Chetwode, East Hagbourne, February 22nd 1934, with typescript carbon copy of an amusing six-stanza poem, ‘Hymn for Saint John Betjeman’s Day’, inscribed at tail, ‘With respect, F.E. 26-3-34.’

ETCHELLS, Frederick. Artist and architect, Frederick Etchells had worked at the Omega Workshops, and contributed to Wyndham Lewis's 'Blast', before translating Le Corbusier's 'Vers une Architecture' into English in 1927. He became both mentor and close friend to John Betjeman, as well as playing Batty Langley to Betjeman's Lord Ongley, in the correspondence between a modish eighteenth-century architect and his patron, in 'Ghastly Good Taste'. His wife, Hester Sainsbury, was a fellow artist, and book illustrator. Etchell's letter to Betjeman's wife discusses delays in making various alterations to their house, Garrard's Farm, which he was overseeing. In a closing paragraph, he writes: 'You might make a very good Vicar's wife; in fact a better Vicaress than John a Vicar! How is his job going on? I expect he adores it really, but won't ever admit it! Give him my love, and Hester sends you both hers.' Betjeman had just begun writing film reviews for the 'Evening Standard', a job that forms the subject of Etchell's 'hymn', which ends: Yet all his efforts useless are -- He is not writing for the "Star"; A hopeless highbrow he appears To Beaverbrook and his compeers! So shortly John will get the sack And be no more a Fleet Street hack; The Film from off his eyes he'll shed, And write of Arshitects instead! Betjeman managed slightly better than Etchells' prediction, lasting a year before being sacked.
  • $482