Table 11 “A Curious Chemistry”


Four contrasting characters where the possible chemistry is a bit tricky to fathom: Richard Ellis-Roberts, 54, had just been appointed Literary Editor of Time and Tide, but Lady Rhondda was not sure about him, and in the not-very-long run he left. Shortly afterwards he upped sticks to the US for the rest of his life. His American born wife Harriet Ide Keen, 47, wrote for Time and Tide, and published at least one book in the UK before returning to the US – and in many ways has been one of my most memorable “discoveries” at this dinner. More straightforward is the presence of the by-now well-established children’s writer Eleanor Farjeon, 52, was was regularly published in Time and Tide. Perhaps this was a good opportunity for Richard to get to know her better. And fourthly the youngest on the table, Barbara Hayes, 22, the secretary of the distinguished Sir Norman Angell, who went on to spend her life travelling with him as his “niece”(unrelated) in an assumed platonic relationship.

On balance this is probably Richard’s table, accompanied by his writing wife Harriet, joined by his senior Time and Tide colleague Eleanor and ensuring the young Barbara Hayes could enjoy herself amongst this powerful company. To remind you of the chemistry, a newly appointed Literary Editor who had the reputation for falling out with colleagues, his literary wife who I feel could be appreciative of character, a writer who put everyone at ease, and the youngest of all, rather unsure of herself.