Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)MS298/1/1/1/2
TitleCorrespondence with Lawrence Robson
Extent1 file (27 items)
DescriptionCorrespondence with Lawrence Keith Robson (Dolly), a school boy at Colfes School, South East London, who met Masterman at the Yellow Sands camps. Robson was one of a group of boys befriended by Masterman, a friendship which continued until Masterman's death in 1927 by which time Robson was a student at Guy's Hospital Medical School, but still involved with the annual camps for boys at Yellow Sands. A letter from Robson in 1921 to Masterman indicates that he lived in Eltham, South London. The letters from Masterman are from 46 Gillingham Street unless otherwise stated and all addressed to ' Dear Dolly'. Masterman took a great interest in Lawrence Robson, encouraging him in his football playing and his school work. The two of them had a 'contract' over Robson's school reports under which if they were good Masterman paid him an agreed sum of money.
Letters /22-/25 although undated, the content suggests they were written around 1925 to 1926 as there are references to Lawrence's career and that of his friend, Teddy and also to Lawrence driving an underground train, presumably during the General Strike of 1926. These letters are largely concerned with the future running of the Yellow Sands Camp which Masterman hopes Lawrence will play some part in. Masterman hopes to see the camps continue and to expand but feels the Warden is reluctant to give up any of his control but has not enough time to devote to the project. It is clear from these letters that despite his political commitments, his literary work and failing health he maintained his close connection with the boys from the camps and tried to play an active role in the organisation of activities right up to the year of his death.

/1: 21 January 1920: Glad he enjoyed the holidays; quite a lot of photos to send including ones of them on the beach after bathing in the sea in January; had lunch with H. G. Wells and Arnold Bennett today.

/2: 10 February 1920: Has photos of the holiday and sends Lawrence a souvenir book to put them in; having the boat done up and varnished; invites Lawrence to go out on the river in it when the weather is fine.

/3: 10 April [1920]: Thanks for letter and his school report; would like Lawrence and George (a school friend) to come to stay for a few days before the start of term so they can go out in the boat.

/4: 27 April 1920: Disappointed that the weather was not good enough for the boating trip when Lawrence was staying with them; glad to know he plans to work hard this term.

/5: Yellow Sands, Bembridge, Isle of Wight, 7 June 1920: Looking forward to the next camp and swimming in the open sea; has the photos of their outings on the river and is going to stick them in the 'big book'; if Lawrence comes to stay again before the next camp, he may choose whichever he wants to have copies made; Mrs Masterman has just received Lawrence's letter and sends her love.

/6: Yellow Sands, Bembridge, Isle of Wight, 11 July1920: Hoping for better weather for the next camp opening soon; heard from Geoffrey Simpson who is shooting for Dulwich at Bisley; has been practising some snap shots with a new Brownie camera; hopes Lawrence will be able to come and stay again after camp and before the beginning of term.

/7: Yellow Sands, Bembridge, Isle of Wight, 24 July 1920: Decided to go back to London before going to camp and wonders if Lawrence would like to come over to Gillingham Street and then travel down to Bembridge a day or two early, stay at the Warden's house and help with the preparations.

/8: 26 July 1920: Sorry that Lawrence will have to miss the first week of camp but is still invited up to Gillingham Street before Masterman and Peter leave for Bembridge if he can make it.

/9: 29 September 1920: Glad Lawrence enjoyed his visit and thanks for the photos; must try and get one more excursion together before the boat is put up for the winter.

/10: 14 November [1920]: Glad Lawrence enjoyed the half term holiday with the Mastermans, 'You must come in the Xmas holidays unless I go down to Yellowsands (Where I should like to take you ALSO!).

/11: December [1920]: Is going to spend Christmas at Yellow Sands and is going to take one boy as his guest and wants Lawrence to have first offer although he is sure Lawrence's parents will want him to stay at home for Christmas.

/12: 16 December [1920]: Understands and approves of Lawrence's decision to spend Christmas at home; will take Teddy as he has been ill for some weeks and will benefit from the sea air.

/13: 9 January [1921]: Has been in ill bed for a week but hopes to be better for the reunion; expects to see him there with his report.

/14: 4 March [1921]: Ought to have written but has been very busy and hoped to see Lawrence at the reunion 'but there seems to be no reunion!!!'; as soon as the holidays begin he is invited up for a few days and they can go out on the boat; has not seen him for five months and has not heard from the other boys; asks why [Ramsay] Macdonald did not get in at Woolwich [East] by-election.

/15: Lawrence Robson , 46 Westmount Rd, Eltham S.E.9, 12 March 1921: Letter with envelope: Replying to Masterman's letter of 4 March 1921; answers his questions about how he has changed since he last saw him and also his feeling about the candidates for the Woolwich East by-election.

/16: Yellow Sands, Bembridge, Isle of Wight, 23 March 1921: In reply to Lawrence's letter to Masterman of 12 March; amazed he will soon be fifteen.

/17: 15 April [1921]: Inviting Lawrence to stay at the weekend even if there is a transport strike he could come up by bicycle and they can go out on the river.

/18: 20 September 1921: Had a 'topping time' on Lawrence's last visit; must try and come up for a Sunday during term time or, if that's not possible, during the Christmas holidays; urges Lawrence to work hard and play hard and keep a sunny temper and 'don't have any of the vulgar jokes and talk which some of you young Colfs - and others- think funny'.

/19: 3 October 1921: Thanking him for sending the photographs, 'You are the best photographer in Camp (next to me!) and I must get you a larger camera next year...'; had a day out on the river with three others but were too heavy for the boat and had to bale out but managed to get the boat up past Kingston.

/20: 12 November 1921: Lawrence now in the Second XI football team so cannot spend Saturdays with Masterman, 'I'm awfully glad the footer is going well - I knew that you would make a player under my system of kindness and ferocity.' If he has a Saturday without a match they could go and see a League one if Lawrence could get up to town from school.

/21: 27 December 1921: Has been down to Yellow Sands for the school play and breaking up; they are shutting up the house for Christmas 'else I should take you down to make you break the ice in the sea'; will all meet at the reunion next week and asks Lawrence to bring his report so they can settle their contract.

/22: Yellow Sands, Bembridge, Isle of Wight, 22 May 1922: Has gone down to Bembridge to recover his health; not seen Lawrence since the Christmas holidays; 'Write and tell me all about yourself. You seem to have had a good term for work...It's horrible to think of you leaving this term , it was much better time when you were all kids together, playing for Junior Lions or Tigers.'

/23: [December 1925]: Glad Lawrence is going to Bembridge and urges him to gently suggest to the Warden that he could relieve him of some of the administrative work in organising the camp and recruiting new boys and officers.

/24: Friday 12 [1926]: Thanks for the invitation to 'Suburbia' but is booked up this weekend with Lloyd George; letter from the Warden [of Bembridge School] is disappointing 'he will not give up complete control over camp affairs that he has no time carry out...If you go down to stay with him at Easter...get him to let you take Yellow Sands. Also scheme about privately for officers like McLeish, Frank Taylor etc and as jolly a lot as we had last year.'

/25: [1926]: Letter written in Lucy Masterman's hand; On the subject of the organisation of the Yellow Sands Camp for that year 'I think you have been perfectly splendid in wrangling and stirring up things in a manner fully worthy of the great reputation you have obtained in driving an underground train... We want an officer for every ten boys...So if your pals are of A1 type...write to the Warden at once and book them in as officers.'

/26: [1926]: Difficulties in finding enough officers for the camp and reduced numbers of boys attending , 'I think you and I had better start running a camp together next year, somewhere.'; complains about his left arm which is still no better ten weeks after his being run over by a motor; would like to see Lawrence before camp and also suggests after camp they might get a gang together for a holiday in a cottage or go abroad.

Access StatusOpen
Physical DescriptionLetters /23-/25 have sustained damage and part of the script has been lost.


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