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Ivor Gurney: Letter to Lionel Briggs

The library is fortunate to own many significant items.

Click below to turn the pages and zoom in to explore a letter Ivor Gurney wrote to his friend and colleague Lionel Briggs, in 1917.

Ivor Gurney: Letter to Lionel Briggs (1 October 1917), MS 9904a

The RCM Library was recently offered a letter by one of the RCM’s best-known World War One combatants, Ivor Gurney (1890-1937).

Written from a military hospital in Edinburgh in 1917, it was addressed to Gurney’s friend and colleague, Lionel Briggs, the great uncle of the donor, Charles Brett.

As befits a man who was both composer and poet, Gurney wrote with a heightened sensibility, as when he described beauty as an ‘achingly real thing and not a dream of impracticable fools’, or commiserated with his friend in France:

What does ‘home’ mean, you poor exile? Only a golden mist, lamplit blinds, the smell of toast, a piano, books – or scorching breaks of agony different in different regrets and longings. Poor devil, even God may take pity on us yet…  

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