Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Ursula Wood

Letter No.: 
Aug 19th [1944]

From R. Vaughan Williams,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Dear Ursula

Thank you for shewing me your film script - your part is excellent and often beautiful. But the whole is, to my mind, entirely spoilt by the additions made, I understand, by your colleague in which he seems deliberately to have distorted history to fit in with his political bias.1
I notice in particular four points:
(1) It is I believe contrary to the known facts to suggest that all the lords were devils and all the villeins angels.
(2) The account of the death of Wat Tyler is I think pure invention, manufactured so as to make it an act of treachery which it was not.
(3) There is, I feel sure, no justification for the suggestion Richard’s famous “I will be your leader” was a deliberate trick and not, as is generally supposed, the impulsive speech  of a generous hearted boy, who was afterwards over persuaded by his counsellors who perhaps even acted without consulting him.
(4) The worst historical falsification to my mind is the scene where Richard leads a slaughtering party against the Peasants. This is I believe historically impossible even if it were not psychologically false.
Please, as a writer of repute, disassociate yourself absolutely from this attempt to back up a weak case by dishonest means.
Pick out your own excellent sections and offer them to some honest film-maker - the rest will I hope & believe go where it deserves, the waste paper basket.

R. Vaughan Williams

1. The letter is assigned the year 1944 on the assumption that the question of the film on the Peasants' Revolt and Richard II was in the air following VW's completion of incidental music for a radio performance of Richard II (Catalogue of Works 1944/3) in the first part of the year, which in the end was not used. UVW does not mention this film project in her book Paradise Remembered: an autobiography (London, 2002).


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 1714/2/1/1, ff. 43-45
Cobbe 435
Original database number: