Scarlet Fever in Glasgow and Immigration to South Africa

Early beginnings

My mother was forty-two when I was born in a maternity hospital in Balshagray Road, Knightswood, Glasgow in the middle of World War 2. Some years before I was born my mother gave birth to a son who survived for only a few hours, so.I was an only child. My first home was in Manor Road, Old Drumchapel, a pleasant mock tudor semi, with a fair-sized garden.

Manor Road, Old Drumchapel, Glasgow

I have no memory of  how the war affected me, although my parents shared stories with me as I grew up. Mrs Agnes Woodhead was our neighbour in Old Drumchapel. She had a little girl, Annette who was six years older than me. Mrs Woodhead’s husband and younger brother served in the home guard. On the night of the big German raid on Clydebank both were killed. My parents kept in touch with Agnes for many years, and I was delighted to meet her in 1990, still living in the same house in Manor Road forty-seven years after my birth. She married a Welsh cabinet maker some years after the war and became Agnes Harper. She had a second daughter, Moira who married Sandy. They in turn had two delightful daughters. When I visited them all in Glasgow they made me feel very welcome. After many moves in my life, it was good to think there was a family living in the same place who still remembered my birth and had fond memories of my parents.

Annette Woodhead (Wallace) aged 6.

Annette Woodhead (Wallace) aged 6.

I often wish we had stayed in my home country. I felt at ease there, as though I belonged. For the first five years of my life I had the same accent as everyone else. I was surrounded by loving parents, maternal grandparents, aunts and uncles, who referred to me admiringly as “wee Jean”. We had a player-piano at our home Sunnyhurst, 3 Southview Terrace, Bishopbriggs, and I soon learnt to put the different piano rolls into it and do a fair performance of playing it to the amazement of passers-by who heard the music and thought there was a child genius seated at the piano.

Next door to Sunnyhurst lived a delightful old widow, Mrs Renfrew. I remember visiting her on my own and playing all kinds of games with her. My mother recalled going in to her house to fetch me to find us both jumping from the couch on to cushions on the floor! There was a hard winter in 1947 with bad weather and rigorous food-rationing which continued after the war. I distinctly remember sausages composed of far more bread than meat, and tastier rabbit stews.

My maternal grandparents came to stay with us and we moved to another house called Quarryknowe in Kirkintilloch Road, also in Bishopbriggs. Perhaps it was a bigger house to accommodate my grandparents. Like Sunnyhurst it was a bungalow with a nice garden. My father had smooth white stones known as chuckies put on the path leading to the front door. My father worked as an insurance agent for the Cooperative Insurance company after the war ended. I remember he had a fine oak bureau in one of the rooms at Quarryknowe. He sat long into the night working on his insurance books.

Kirkintilloch Road, Bishopbriggs.

Kirkintilloch Road, Bishopbriggs.

I started school in Bishopbriggs when I was four and was quite happy there for a month or two. There was a scarlet fever epidemic and I had hardly been at school for very long before I caught it. My secure world changed in an instant. I remember the doctor visiting, the ambulance arriving, the ambulance men wrapping me in a rough grey blanket and taking me from the warmth and comfort of my home, parents and grandparents to the isolation of the fever hospital, Ruchill, where I remained for six weeks. Perhaps I was delirious but I can’t remember my mother telling me how long I would have to stay in hospital or that they would not be allowed to visit me for all the time I was there. I have found photographs of Ruchill on the Internet. It was a fine building when I was there, with well-tended grounds. Now it is abandoned and in a state of advanced decay like so many other buildings in Scotland which are no longer in use.

I was placed in an old-fashioned ward with about thirty other children, all of whom must have been in various stages of scarlet fever. The nurses wore starched white uniforms and little starched caps. The senior nurses had long white head-dresses covering the nape of their necks. I was in tears, longing for my mother. A young nurse came to my high bed and tried to console me.

“I want to go home. When can I go home? I want my mummy.”

“You have to stay in hospital so we can make you better,” the young nurse replied brightly.

I must have gone on like this for hours, for eventually she said, perhaps in despair, “If you’re a good wee girl and go to sleep maybe you’ll go home in the morning.”

I must have settled down after that, but I soon found out that she had made a false promise. I was devastated to find out that I wasn’t going to go home tomorrow, nor the next day, nor even the following week.

As we were all infectious nobody except the hospital staff was allowed in the ward, but there was a sort of viewing area, where parents could look through a window and wave at their offspring. My parents didn’t come. They told me later that they thought a visit under such circumstances would upset me. In due course I received toys from them, but these had to be left behind in the toy room of the hospital so that I would not carry the germs back to the outside world.

Every morning each child received a cup of hot strong tea handed round by the children who were recovering from the illness and would soon be returning home. Generally the ward was a cheerful place once we got over the acute symptoms of the fever and our home sickness. I dare say some of the children were very ill. Some may even have died, but I don’t remember anything like that happening. I do remember snatches of the songs we used to sing lustily, something like, “I caught the scarlet fever, they put me in my bed, they wrapped me up in blankets and took me off to Ruchill…” Quite recently, thanks to the wonder of the internet, Morag in Canada sent me the words to the song which has lingered in my memory for such a long time. It goes something like this,

When I had scarlet fever it nearly drove me mad,
They wrapped me up in blankets and put me in the cab,
When I got to Ruchill I was really glad, they only took my temperature,
and said I wasn’t bad.
I go home on Friday morning,
I go home at half past nine,
Say goodbye to the dear old doctor,
Tell him I can stay no longer,
Goodbye doctor, goodbye nurse,
Goodbye all you sulky patients,
Ho ho ho, home I go,
Friday morning home I go!!!

What a pity I don’t remember the tune!  We seemed to remain in bed for a long time. No thoughts of deep vein thrombosis in those days! The first day I was allowed out of bed left me feeling weak and light-headed. I could barely stand. Once I regained my strength I was allowed to go to the toy room and play with some of the other children. I made some protest at having to leave my newly-acquired toys there when it was time to go home.

Ruchill Hospital, now derelict and abandoned – quite unlike the pristine building I remember.

Eventually the day for leaving hospital arrived. I remember going home in the ambulance with a few other children. It was a sunny day. The grounds of the hospital were large and well cultivated. I felt strange and sad at home with my parents, hardly able to tell my mother that I needed to go to the bathroom because I felt so shy. I missed all the cheerful friends I had made in the big ward, the sing-songs and the camaraderie. My mother was horrified to discover that there were nits in my thick brown hair, possibly introduced by the nurse who combed each child’s hair with a communal comb and brush.

My grandma was still a lively handsome woman who enjoyed going out to the pictures and the variety theatres. She had lots of friends and when I look at the photographs of her as a young woman I see that I resembled her more than I ever resembled my small blue-eyed mother, who took after her father, my grandpa, Alec Kyle. He was a gentle kind man with faded blue eyes and a balding head. When he was in his late sixties he died of a heart attack on the tram on the way home after watching a football match. Somehow all this drama was kept from me, although my grandparents were living with us at the time. I can’t remember being told that he had died and I certainly was not allowed to attend his funeral, although I had loved him very much.

After his death my grandmother decided to go to live with a close friend in Dunoon on the Cowal Peninsula of Argyle .After my grandmother moved to Dunoon, my parents decided it was time to leave the UK for warmer climes where food was not in short supply and I could regain my strength after my illness. My father was offered a contract with ISCOR (Iron and Steel Corporation) in Vanderbijlpark, on the Highveld of Transvaal, South Africa. The town centred on ISCOR and was dubbed “the planned industrial city” in the booklet they sent to my parents to help persuade them to settle there.

We went to Southampton and boarded  the Arundel Castle to South Africa. The ship had been used for military purposes during the war and was still fitted out as a troop ship, and still under the supervision of the British government rather than the Union Castle Line. It was only handed back to the Union Castle after a refit in 1949.  Women and children slept in cramped 4-berth cabins, while the men slept in the troop’s communal quarters. I may have been mistaken, but I’m sure I remember hammocks in the men’s quarters. My mother and I shared a cabin with another mother and daughter. The little girl was called Priscilla and was about the same age as me.  Priscilla and her parents were headed for a country to the north of South Africa – possibly Southern or Northern Rhodesia. It was so hot in the tropics that at night many passengers slept up on deck in deck chairs rather than in the stuffy cabins below deck.

Arundel Castle on which we sailed to Cape Town in 1948

On board the Arundel Castle with my friend, Priscilla. (1948)

We berthed in Cape Town and faced the long train journey of two days and a night to Johannesburg. How we reached Vanderbijlpark I do not remember. Perhaps ISCOR sent a bus to collect all the immigrants from the station. At the time they were employing skilled engineering staff from the UK when the country was still under the rule of the United Party, with General Smuts as the prime minister.

But shortly after we arrived an election was held and Smuts’ United Party government was unexpectedly defeated, to be replaced by the Nationalist Party with Doctor D.F. Malan as prime minister. The Nats were a predominantly Afrikaans party with no love for the British. Nearly fifty years after the Anglo-Boer war of 1898-1902 many Afrikaners still harboured bitter resentment against the British. The Afrikaners particularly deplored Britain’s “scorched earth” policy where Boer (farmer) women and children had been taken to concentration camps and had their farms burnt to the ground. These people had lived in isolation on large farms and were susceptible to all the infectious illnesses of the time. They were herded together in these camps, and many died as they had no resistance to these infections.  A significant number of Afrikaners had not wished to take part in World War 2 on the side of the Allies, but had far stronger leanings towards Hitler.

The Nat Government of 1948 opposed the idea of British workers immigrating to South Africa, fearing that they would vote for the predominantly United Party of Jan Smuts rather than the Nationalist Party, and would soon put the UP back in power once again. With this change of policy ISCOR began employing workers from Germany rather than from Britain. Most of the British and German employees at ISCOR had been soldiers in opposing armies only a few years earlier, so one might have imagined that they would not get along together. I don’t think this was the case. On the whole they got on very well on an individual level. It was only when the German émigrés were in a large group of fellow-countrymen and the beer was flowing freely that their wounded national pride rose to the surface and they often sang the Horst Wessel song, the anthem of the Nazi party from 1930 to 1945.

Most of our friends in Vanderbijl were fellow British immigrants. My father had gone to introduce himself to our Afrikaner neighbour in Hallwach Street. The gent had grown a long beard to mark the hundred and tenth anniversary of the Great Trek, and was cock-a-hoop that the Nationalist Party under Dr Malan had come to power at last. He told my father grimly, “Ek praat geen Engels nie,” (I don’t speak English) pouring cold water on my father’s friendly greeting.

Me and my little friend and his father.

Mary and me.

Although I had been at school in Scotland, I was not allowed to go to a government school until I turned six in 1949. My parents enrolled me in Grade 1 at the Holy Rosary Convent in Vanderbijlpark. I have dim memories of this small school, but I do remember the maroon uniform I wore and the very strict nun who marched round our classroom with a ruler in her hand while we recited our tables over and over again. The child who stumbled on an answer was rapped briskly over the knuckles with her ruler. We soon learnt our tables by this austere method and I still remember them  to this day, thanks to that formidable nun. Apparently the Holy Rosary sisters lived in a double-storey house in Faraday Boulevard but moved on to Vereeniging in the fifties. They were replaced by Irish Dominican sisters who built the present convent in Vanderbijl.

Living in Vanderbijlpark was rather like living in a mining community with everyone housed according to their importance in the company. The obsolete verse in “All things bright and beautiful” certainly applied to Vanderbijlpark in the early fifties and probably beyond: “The rich man in his palace, the poor man at his gate, God made them high and lowly and ordered their estate.”

The blue collar workers lived in the town proper in streets like Hallwach Street, Parsons Street, Curie and Faraday Boulevards. The big yins lived to the south of the town near to the Vaal River, down the river or Nobhill, soon to be nicknamed Snobhill by those in the town. Most of the black workers lived in hostels or small houses in the black equivalent of Welwyn Garden City, Bophelong, Apparently Bophelong means ‘clean place’.

The following year my grandmother was taken ill, so my mother and I returned to Scotland, this time on board the Winchester Castle.

Return to Southampton on board the Winchester Castle

We lived in furnished rooms in Dunoon to be near to my granny. I attended yet another school, the Dunoon Grammar School. My grandmother taught me to knit, Scottish style with one knitting needle under my arm, and I remember picking out God Save the King by ear on the piano after hearing that King George VI was very ill. When my father returned to Scotland some months later, we moved to Blairbeth Road, Burnside, Rutherglen, south of Glasgow and I was sent to Burnside Junior School. It was here that I began my first piano lessons with a Miss Wright and where I had my first taste of ice cream – Walls Ice cream – quite delicious. I read Enid Blyton’s Sunny Stories when it came out every week, and played with an older girl called Joan Dickson, one of the neighbour’s children. Her family had a heavy log cabin in their back garden with a heavy thick wooden door. I have a very distinct memory of my so-called friend banging my fingers in this door as she slammed it shut. My nails were black and blue for weeks afterwards.

Perhaps my father had to complete his three year contract with ISCOR for we returned to Vanderbijlpark in 1951, this time on board the Llanstephan Castle.

 

Returning to South Africa on board the Llanstephan Castle (1951)

This ship did not stop at Madeira as the others had done, but took an intermediate route, stopping at Las Palmas in Teneriffe, St Helena and Ascension Island. We settled at 21 Parsons Street and I was sent to yet another school, a parallel medium school called the Hendrik Vanderbijl Primary School not far from our house. I was put into Mrs McFadjean’s Standard One class and faced yet another group of unknown class mates.

Hendrik Vanderbijl Primary School in the 1940s.

 

Jean Collen

Updated 3 December 2015.

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MY PARENTS: MARGARET MCPHAIL KYLE AND DAVID MCINTYRE CAMPBELL

David McIntyre Campbell and Margaret McPhail Kyle

My parents on their engagement.

David McIntyre Campbell and Margaret McPhail Kyle – their engagement photo

Before the First World War, my father David moved from Alexandria in the Vale of Leven to New York City where his widowed mother, Effie (short for Euphemia) was working as a children’s nurse. Her aunt, Jeanie McGregor, had emigrated to the States some years before, so my paternal grandmother had a relative living in New York to support her in her new life. For a time all went well. My father joined the Boys Brigade and started having violin lessons. I have a letter from Effie to her sister, Nellie in Falkirk, saying how much she enjoyed listening to him play.

My paternal grandmother and father

Euphemia McIntyre Campbell and David McIntyre Campbell

Sadly, Effie developed cancer and was in and out of hospital. She died at the early age of 33. My father was twelve years old when he was orphaned and alone in a strange country. Aunt Jeanie was a spinster who had to work for a living, so she could not look after a young boy. It was decided that he should return to Effie’s married sister, Nellie, married to widower, Bob Balfour, who had a number of grown-up children.

Aunt Jeanie accompanied David back to Scotland in April 1915. They were due to sail on board the Lusitania and went to the docks hoping to get a berth at the last minute. There was a big queue of people waiting on the pier, each hoping to get a passage back to Britain. After a long wait there were only a few people ahead of them in the queue so they thought they would be lucky enough to be allotted a berth. To their dismay, they and the others remaining there were turned away because the ship was full. They were told to return the following Friday to sail on the Transylvania.

Sinking of RMS Lusitania.

Sinking of RMS Lusitania.

The Lusitania was sunk by a German torpedo off the coast of Ireland and over a thousand of the two thousand passengers on board, including Van der Bilt, the millionaire, lost their lives. David and Aunt Jeanie were given a berth the following week on the Transylvania. Luckily they had an uneventful voyage home on this ship and when they heard of the Lusitania disaster, they were thankful that they had not been aboard the ship.

I dare say it was an onerous task for Bob Balfour to take his bereaved nephew by marriage into his home. He already had three children of his own older than David, Elizabeth (Bessie), Christine (Chrissie), and John.  Aunt Nellie was younger than Bob and was already in a precarious position as step-mother. Bob’s children had not taken kindly to her taking the place of their late mother, and they took even less kindly to her young nephew being foisted on them. Aunt Nellie probably felt more sympathy and love for David, as her sister’s orphaned son, than for her three resentful step-children, who were not much younger than her, but she treated them all with fairness and deferred to the wishes of her husband. David soon reverted to his original Scots accent to avoid teasing and bullying by his peers and relations over his New York accent.

Nellie and Bob Balfour, and spaniel, about 1918

Nellie and Bob Balfour about 1918
David was an intelligent boy. He was conscientious and applied himself to his studies He was also a good swimmer and keen harrier. There was no money for him to continue violin lessons, but he always enjoyed music and started playing the piano by ear. He could play all the popular tunes of the day after hearing them once or twice. He always played them in the difficult key of D flat, on all the black notes. He won a scholarship to Falkirk High School and it was decided that he would serve articles in a lawyer’s office when he left school. This was too much for the aggrieved children of Bob Balfour. They feared their father’s money would be used up supporting David during his law studies.

Uncle Duncan McIntyre was his mother’s brother, whose son, George, was my father’s cousin. My father had an austere and hard life, while George was well cared for by his indulgent parents.

George McIntyre and his parents, Mary and Duncan

George McIntyre and his parents, Mary and Duncan

My father had a particular friend in Falkirk whose name I have forgotten. Many years later my mother and I visited his friend’s Aunt Minnie who taught music in Falkirk and had played the piano in the local cinema for silent movies. When we were visiting she gave me a demonstration of the music she played at particular junctures of the film. Another friend was Fattie Cowan, whose father had something to do with Cowan’s toffee.

By the time David was fifteen he could take the resentment of his step-cousins no longer. He decided to give up his dream of becoming a lawyer like his late father, rather than depend on Uncle Bob’s charity any longer. David appreciated what Bob and Nellie had done for him, but there always remained a certain coldness between him and Bob’s children. He moved into digs in Springburn. Glasgow and never returned to Falkirk for longer than a few days. Instead of serving articles with a law firm, my father was apprenticed to Cowlairs in Springburn, where great railway engines were built.Cowlairs, Springburn
It was in Springburn where David met Margaret Kyle, a pretty girl with big blue eyes and auburn hair. She too had left school at fifteen to work as a cashier in the Cooperative Society. Being a cashier stood her in good stead. As long as I can remember she could calculate the total of purchases long before the cashier had time to ring them up on the cash register. She was a lively popular girl, with a string of boys in pursuit of her at dances in the neighbourhood. Her parents, Jeanie and Alex Kyle had lived in Springburn most of their married life with Margaret and her younger brother, Bill. Alex was a blacksmith’s hammerman. Jeanie was a lively Glasgow woman, a McGowan, from a big family. I particularly remember her sister, my Great-Aunt Charlotte Reid, who retired to a little cottage in Millport on the Clyde with her husband, Jock. I remember all my mother’s numerous cousins, particularly Cathy Keelan and my second cousin, Jessie Reid, whom we visited periodically when we were in Scotland.

My mother is the pretty young woman towards the right of the photograph.

My mother is the pretty young woman towards the right of the photograph.

Alec was a keen member of the local Labour Party. My mother remembered him coming home from work and talking in revolutionary terms about the class system, workers’ rights, strikes, unusual for a gentle man like him. I remember him as a quiet kindly man with blue eyes. He was always keen on football. I think he might have played for the local team, Petershill, when he was a young man.

My grandparents, Jane and Alec Kyle In Canada in the 1930s

My grandparents, Jane and Alec Kyle In Canada in the 1930s

My mother went to the socialist Sunday School in Springburn, where the hymns were not religious, but about practical things like, “You’ll get pie in the sky when you die,” to music of the hymn, “The sweet bye and bye”. When my mother was a young woman she met some of the Scottish grandees of the Labour party. The name I remember is Jimmy Maxton, with whom she danced at a gathering in the Springburn Hall.

For some reason my mother Margaret and her family suddenly emigrated to Brisbane in Australia in 1921. A branch of the family had already moved there. Aunt Ina Standfast, my mother’s cousin who was to be her bridesmaid at her wedding, and numerous members of her Wilkie family: Tom and his daughter, Marion who lived in Ipswich, a small town near Brisbane.

My father completed his apprenticeship at Cowlairs in 1923 and must have been quite besotted with my mother, for he too decided to emigrate to Australia. He found a job with the railways and was stationed in Ipswich. He and my mother were married in Brisbane from the home of Margaret’s parents, named Bishopbriggs in July 1925. From the photographs it looks as though it was quite an elaborate wedding, complete with bridesmaids carrying shepherds crooks, my mother in a headdress reminsicent of the one worn by Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at her wedding several years earlier.

Parents' wedding in Brisbane 1925.

Parents’ wedding in Brisbane 1925.

Everyone seemed to enjoy living in Australia. My father acquired a piebald pony called Tommy and rode him all over the place. I am not sure why they decided to return to Britain. It was obviously a lot easier to move from country to country then than it is today. They were not long in the UK before they went to Canada in the late twenties, possibly to escape the depression.

My father worked as an insurance agent for the Sun Life of Canada Insurance. He had been offered a job in his trade, but had been told that they expected him to pass on information about the activities of the other employees. My father refused to act as a spy and turned the job down at a time when thousands were pounding the streets in the extremely cold weather, and depended on a meal at a soup-kitchen to keep body and soul together. In Toronto there were more cousins of my mothers, the Mathiesons. There is a picture of Agnes Mathieson, a formidable lady, noted as the producer of a play staged by The Sun Life Dramatic Club.

Agnes Mathieson production for Sun Life of Canada.

Agnes Mathieson, the producer, is standing at the left of the photograph

While they were all living in Canada they attended evening classes and met a number of radical intellectuals with communistic leanings, in a country where there were signs on the doors, No Jews, Scottish or Irish need apply. Once again, the family seemed to be quite happy in Canada. They bought their first car, and there are pictures of my parents, grandparents and friends on a summer holiday standing in front of the car, dressed in fashionable flowing trouser suits.

Mother and friend in Canada.

Mother and friend in Canada (early 1930s).

There is also a photograph of Uncle Bill, my mother’s brother, looking very cold in the thick winter snow.

Uncle Bill Kyle in Canada.

Uncle Bill Kyle in Canada on a snowy day.

When the rest of the family returned to Britain, Bill stayed on in Canada. He came over to Britain on the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary in 1936 before the war and presented my grandmother with a caseful of dirty shirts to be laundered.

RMS Queen Mary

RMS Queen Mary

Not long after he returned to Toronto, he suddenly stopped writing home and, although my mother tried for years to find him again, she never did. My grandparents must have been deeply saddened by his disappearance, and my mother dreamt of making contact with him once again. Was he killed in the war or in a road accident? Had he taken offence with his family and deliberately ended all contact with them? Every attempt to trace my uncle failed, so the only image I have of him is as a pleasant young man, playing a football game in hot Australia, and standing in hat, scarf and overcoat, feeling rather cold outside the door of his Canadian home.

My parents had attended workers’ educational classes in Toronto and continued this practice in Glasgow, where they met Naomi Mitcheson and James Barke. My father took up art when he was about forty and studied part time at the Glasgow School of Art. The teachers gave the part time students a full art training with much attention on anatomy and perspective. He became a very competent part time artist, doing many pencil drawings of friends, colleagues and family, with excellent likenesses. He also cut silhouettes and did a number of woodcarvings and plaster of paris works. He continued sketching people and doing self portraits virtually until the day he died.

Glasgow School of Art.

Glasgow School of Art
When my parents returned from Canada they bought two general shops, selling groceries, sweets and fruit, one in Apsley Street, Partick, where my grandfather worked, the other in Springburn where my parents worked with the help of a girl shop assistant. One of the girls was called Helen and she is pictured in a photograph with my father, showing the produce of the shop, neatly set out on the shelves, with prices marked by my mother in bold figures. As far as I remember the shops were sold shortly before the war, as my father had anticipated the outbreak of war and was planning what he would do when war was declared.

Father and Helen in the shop in Springburn before the war.

Father and Helen in the shop in Springburn before the war.

My father was born in 1902 and tried vainly to volunteer for the navy. The powers that be decided that he should work in a reserved occupation, creating munitions for the war. He worked at night in Barr and Stroud, a place camouflaged as something more innocuous for fear of a bombing raid when a munitions factory would be a prime target. As a small child I imagined that he had worked for a nobleman called Baron Stroud during the war.
 

Good Reads Book Reviews

The Moon And SixpenceThe Moon And Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Apparently Strickland was based on the artist Paul Gauguin, but if this was the case, there is a very loose connection between the two for this in not a novel a clef. The book held my interest while the narrator had personal contact with Strickland and his wife. Almost from the beginning of the novel, before Charles Strickland had appeared, I thought him a thoroughly reprehensible character.

Admittedly his wife was not an imaginative woman and used her established position in society to cultivate the society of writers and artists although she appeared to be devoid of any artistic talent herself. She obviously regarded her "dull" husband as nothing more than a meal-ticket and she had never encouraged his artistic inclinations. It is only after he leaves her to her own devices that she manages to pull herself together, fend for herself and look after her children without being dependent on a man any longer.

The portrait of a completely self-centred, inarticulate Strickland, who does not care about the opinion of others was well-drawn but after the narrator is no longer in personal contact with Strickland and the rest of the story of Strickland's life is related to him by a third person the story is less satisfactory. I have to admit that I did not finish the last fifty pages of the book. Although I like Maugham's work, this was not my favourite Maugham novel.

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