Between them, Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards were proficient letter writers, writing often to each other, family, friends and to those connected with their work and even to complaining about mistakes made by the BBC. It’s evident from the letters in the archive that Judith and Mary Stella wrote almost daily to each other, with some letters containing multiple letters over a period of a few days. They started their correspondence in 1920 and wrote letters to each other when apart until Judith’s death in the early 1970s.
Letters between Judith and Mary contain discussions surrounding layouts for paintings; requests for paints, paper and more mundane personal items; relate Mary Stella’s trips to London and work requests or changes to illustration jobs submitted. Most interesting are those letters prior to either sketching holidays and especially trips to the Cabin. These letters detail long lists of provisions, jobs needed doing to make the site habitable and the clearing of work or transference of work to Judith’s studio at Stowford House in Bideford.
“I shall bring as little luggage as I can do with (I think I had better bring no ‘town’ clothes at all? – though I do hanker after showing you my new stuff) – I expect it will be one suitcase (the smaller one) hatbox, portfolio and typewriter.”
Letter from Mary Stella Edwards to Judith Ackland 15th May 1938.
Mary Stella Edwards formulated many long friendships with professional publicists, museum curators and other individuals she sought and often gained work from, via letters. There is an extensive list of letters to and from writers like Gilbert Murray and Dorothy Hartnell among many, many others.