Friday, August 31st, 2012...9:30 am

You’ve Got Mail: “A lot of marvellous things, and an ocean of rubbish too.”

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Lady Diana Cooper in The Miracle. TCS 28 (Manners, Diana)The letters of Duff and Diana Cooper were selected and edited by her granddaughter, Artemis Cooper, and published in 1984 as A Durable Fire. She was a daughter of the Duke of Rutland and an actress; he was a Foreign Office diplomat. From 1923 through 1926 she toured America from November to March each year playing the Madonna in Max Reinhardt’s production of The Miracle], a mime play with music, pageantry and dance. In the play a young nun is lured from her vocation by the devil and flees the convent with the image of the Christ Child held in the arms of the Madonna; the Madonna comes alive and descends from her niche and takes on the duties of the nun. The play was an enormous success and was seen by well over 120,000 people in Boston alone.

In November 1925 Diana Cooper was in Boston and wrote to her husband on 25 November 1925 from the Hotel Lennox.

Dear one.
I spent a funny day visiting Harvard thoroughly. First with a dreary professor over the main buildings, halls, and library. We paused too long perhaps in the theatrical collection, and I was horrified to see the ghastly photographs of myself due to go into their shelves. Wonderful prints of plays and actors, and extraordinarily hideous photographs of poor Ellen Terry and Sarah [Bernhardt] at their best. A lot of marvellous things, and an ocean of rubbish too. The best things that I struck were original love letters from Edmund Kean to Mrs. Cox, most beginning ‘my dear, dear little bitch’. It read so gracefully on the old paper in pale ink.

Photographs of Diana Cooper, Ellen Terry and Sarah Bernhardt are indeed in the Harvard Theatre Collection. And so are the love letters from Edmund Kean to Mrs. Cox which will be the subject of another post in the “You’ve Got Mail” series.

This post is part of a weekly feature on the Houghton Library blog, “You’ve Got Mail,” based on letters in Houghton Library. Every Friday this year a Houghton staff member will select a letter from the diverse collections in the Library and put that letter into context. All posts associated with this series may be viewed by clicking on the You’veGotMail tag.

[Thanks to William Stoneman, Florence Fearrington Librarian of Houghton Library, for contributing this post.]

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