“Laissez lire, et laissez danser; ces deux amusements ne feront jamais de mal au monde.”*

Pictured: Old Town of Auray, Morbihan.

*”Let people read, and let them dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.” in: “Liberty of the Press,” Dictionnaire philosophique (1785-1789), by François-Marie Arouet (1694 – 1778), most famous under his pen name Voltaire.

From: Penelope Fitzgerald: Charlotte Mew and Her Friends (1984) Chapter Seven – Nunhead and St Gildas:

…Her friends watched her changes of mood anxiously, though, to do her justice, she never asked them to, and was often taken aback by their kindness. In the June of 1901 they got together a party for a seaside holiday in Brittany. The convent of St Gildas de Rhuys, on the gulf of Morbihan, took in summer visitors, and they booked rooms there.

According to Charlotte’s account the party consisted of “six unmated females”, all thirtyish, and all old school friends – a Botanist, a Zoologist, a Bacteriologist, a Vocalist, a Humorist and a Dilettante. The English party presented “a bold unchaperoned front” although a very different one from The Yellow Book Women as they swooped untamed into Harland’s villa in Dieppe. They had sixteen pieces of luggage between them. The Botanist was Edith Oliver, who had helped her father revise his official handbook to the Kew Gardens Museum. The Zoologist was Maggie Browne, the Vocalist was Florence Hughes, daughter of the painter Arthur Hughes, the Bacteriologist was Margaret Chick, the Dilettante was Anne (a painter without a studio), and Charlotte was, as she always had been at the Gower Street School, the Humorist. In the days when they had walked from Hampstead to Bloomsbury and back, she had “carried on” and made the way seem short. Now, as they started out, she seemed in excellent spirits. Although they had a bad crossing she danced a can-can for them in the cabin, in her boots and silk directoire knickers. And no-one could dance as well as Charlotte, when she felt like it.

Charlotte’s Notes in a Brittany Convent appeared in Temple Bar (October 1901)…”

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