Migration, Memory & Memorial

1913 November to December

3rd November 1913

To Rachel and Jacques from Abraham. Written in English.

47 Cabridge gardens
Notting Hill

Dear wife and son

I arrived safly to London and I found all my friends very well they came all to see me and they are very pleased with me. I will send you a letter to morrow and will tell you everything.

I send my best regards and love to you both.

3rd November 1913, London

To Rachel and Jacques from Abraham. Written in English.

Dear Rachel and Jack,

I think you received my post card in which I told you that I came to Londres. I had no time to write you much as was indered by my family. They came all to see me. It was about 15 persons.

Now I am by myself and I have time to write to you more. Firstly I must tell you that I have found them all very well. They were all pleased to see me and we spoke all time about you. They all want to see you. Theire loging are very nice and comfortable furnished. They all work and earne money.

Its climat we have very nice whether sunshine and worm. But I was told that last Sunday it was a big fog. I can tell you too that on Saturday how it was raining in Paris but after an hour’s ride with train the time became clear and when I arrived in Boulogn the time was superb nice and worm. About the midle of the sea we have had another big rain for about 30 minuts and in Folkestone I found again a very nice whether and it lasted the whole day long.

I cannot tell you anything yet about work. I will know it today. It seems it is very busy in London.

Mr S. is not very well in London, he cannot fined a good place. He earnd 20 shilings last week and 30 shilings this week. He did not sent money for 2 weeks. He wanted to go back to Paris Saturday night but he found another place it seems to be a good one. If he will not earn on this place he will go back on Saturday next.

Now my dear wife and son, I would like you to write to me at once and tell me all about you. How you are going on. How did you spent your Saturday and Sunday. My best wish is that you should be gai and happy and you should not prive yourselves of anything.

6th November 1913, London

To Rachel and Jacques from Abraham. Written in English.

Best regards from all my family. I will send a letter to Mme Bernard myself.

My dear wife and son

I received your letter and am very glad to hear that you are very well. I can tell you that I commended to work on monday tell me wether T. gave you some money. I will send you a letter on saturday. Best love to my dear wife and son

8th November 1913, London

To Rachel and Jacques from Abraham. Written in French.

My dear Rachel and Jacques

I am writing this letter to you in French because, dear Jack, I want you to read it to Rachel, so that she will be able to understand it. Please excuse me if my spelling is not very good. You know very well that spelling is not my forté.

First of all, I would like to tell you that I have been working since Monday afternoon. The husband of Anny L. found jobs for both of us. He is also a cabinetmaker. He specially gave up his previous job for me, so that we could work together and he could bring me up to date about English work. He is a very good fellow. We started work for £3.6s.0d, and we hope to finish it on Monday or Tuesday. This will give us almost 30 shillings a week each. There are places which pay more, and we will change jobs after one or two days.

And now I want to write about my family. When I left London 14 years ago, I left behind only three people – my sister, my brother-in-law and little Anny. Now there are twenty people, some from ancient times, some from the Middle Ages and some from modem times. In other words, people from three generations. They are all very well and earning a good living, but they work very hard.

My mother is also very well, but she is very old. Their living accommodation in London is very good and is very nicely furnished. They have made themselves comfortable, and they have running water, gas and mains drainage.

Where my brother-in-law lives, there are five rooms, two of them overlooking the street—the “front rooms”, each with two windows opening on to a garden. The windows of the other three rooms overlook the back, and you can see half of London from them. They pay 12 shillings a week. They occupy two floors. In general, I like London very much. I particularly like Sunday in London, because it is so peaceful. Everywhere is closed, and one really feels that one is resting.

I do not much like working in London, because one has to work very hard. There are 6 or 7 workers in the workshop where I work. It is a Jewish workshop. That is why I am not working today, and I will have to work tomorrow until 2 o’clock in the afternoon. People who want to earn 2 pounds a week work until 9 o’clock, starting at 8 o’clock in the morning. People who work for small manufacturers are very badly paid.

You asked me whether I had found any changes in London. The only change I have found is in travelling and lighting otherwise, nothing has changed much. I cannot write to you about travelling at the moment, because I have still not been by tube. I go by train every day, because it is cheaper – threepence return. I will write you all about it in my next letter. I have had a good look at the lighting, and I have found it to be much better than before, and certainly much much better than in France. The nicest lighting is in the Bank area. I was really surprised yesterday evening, when I walked past the Bank. I left work yesterday at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, because Shabbat was coming in, and went for a walk round there. Cars, buses and delivery cycles are all mixed up with pedestrians, while big, tall policemen keep the vehicles in order, and newsboys sell their papers. It all looks to me like the big kakapitsa that Rachel sometimes eats. The only difference is that Rachel’s kakapitsa travels in one direction only, and its terminus is her mouth, while the Bank kakapitsa travels in different directions and has to move at a measured pace. The kakapitsa is illuminated by magnificent lighting, consisting of a large electric globe the colour of the sun. In order not to interfere with the traffic in this crowded place, these globes are suspended on wires running from buildings on one side of the road to buildings on the other side at third-storey level. The globes are positioned at the exact centre of the road at approximately 50 metre intervals. If you stand in the middle of the road and look at all the globes, it seems as if it is lit by tens of suns at the same time as the kakapitsa. The lighting is so bright, that you can make out what sort of hairpins the ladies in the buses are wearing. It is really striking to look at.

Now, my dear Jacques and Rachel, I shall end my letter, because I am very tired. I shall send you postcards during the week, and letters every Saturday or Sunday, depending on which day I have off.

I hope that all is well with you, my dears, and that you are not missing me too much, which would be useless anyway. I shall be quieter in my mind if I know that you are not upset.

Write to me, dear Rachel, and let me know if you are still pleased about my being in London. I hope that it will not be for long. While awaiting my return, go for walks with Jack, and go to the cinema or theatre, and do not economise on desserts.

Also, write and tell me if you have enough money. How do you manage with the concierge when she bothers you? I shall not be able to send you any money until next week. I only get my pay on Sunday, but I cannot send you any because I have to buy a number of necessities.

Write and let me know whether Mr T. has given you any money, and if you need any, I will send you some.

I end my letter with many ardent kisses to you, my dear wife Rachel, and my dear Jack, and hope that we shall not be apart for long.

I remain your true husband and loving father


Give my regards to Mr and Mrs T. and all the children. Why don’t they write me a few words? I have sent them two postcards since I’ve been in London. They are staying at No 319 Faubourg St. Antoine aren’t they?

Give my regards to my brother-in-law, Herman, and his family. I have had no answer from them either to the two postcards I sent them.

Please give my regards to Mr and Mrs C. and their children. I sent them some postcards, too, and the reply is always the same.

You must keep all my letters.

Jack, if you can, will you send me one or two 6-sou 1 ties in nice colours, green or another bright colour, in a letter. I have an accessory.

That is all for now. I send you and my dear Rachel my love once more. Don’t be jealous!

Your loving husband and father.


11th November 1913

To Rachel and Jacques from Abraham. Written in English.

Dear wife and son

I received you letter just now and i am sending you this card to tell you that i will send you to morrow 20 shilings. Receive my best love and many kisses from your loving housband and father Blisun

12th November 1913

To Rachel from Abraham. Written in French.

My dear wife

I send you 20 franc for now and next week I will send you more. Regarding the holidays it would be better to wait until you are given some, and, if necessary, you will then leave. I have nothing to write for now.

I kiss you.

You husband who adores you


12th November 1913

To Jacques from Abraham. Written in French.

My dear Jacques, write to me to tell you whether you received the newspaper and the map of London.

I kiss you, your father



To Abraham from Herman and Miryam M. Written in Yiddish.

Birthday card addressed to:
Mr. B.,
c/o M. G.,
47 Cambridge Gardens,
Notting Hall,
London, W.

Dear Brother-in-law,

Please be informed that we are all well and working. With regard to your question about Rachel, she is not sad, but you should know that things are not pleasant for her. We greet and kiss you and the children send you loving greetings.

Herman and Miriam

14th November 1913, Paris

To Abraham from Jacques. Written in French.

My dear Father

I have received your English newspaper. Thank you very much for it. The English newspapers are interesting and not expensive – 20 pages for one sou. It is like the plan of London for six sous – it’s nothing.

The weather in Paris is bad and cold all the time. I am not very well. I have caught flu slightly, but it is nothing serious. Rachel is well and has work. She hopes to see you soon.

I must tell you that your journey has been greatly criticised, not because you have gone to London, certainly, but because you intend to remain there. Some say that work is badly paid there and that there are strikes, while others say that life there is monotonous, that the climate is unhealthy, that one can earn just as much in Paris as in London and that life is jollier here. T. and C. have always been opposed to your trip. They approved of your going to see your family, but criticise you for wanting to live in London where, they say, you will not feel at home and where I will not understand the language and will find it hard to get a job. Rachel is also used to being here and, even though she does not say that she would like you to remain in Paris, she thinks it. Furthermore, I am sure that she would rather visit London for a holiday than live there. As for me, my courage has evaporated in the face of these criticisms, and I do not know what to think any more. Do what you want.

The concierge has given us notice. Please write as soon as you know yourself, whether we should look for somewhere else to live.

We are eating well and having a good time. Only you are missing. Write and tell me whether you have seen your doctor friend in London.

Yesterday, de Kull, the sculptor, came to see us. He sends you his regards. He visited London twice and did not enjoy it, although this does not prevent London from having five million inhabitants!

All your friends ask me to give you their regards. Love to everyone from Rachel and myself. I send you my love with all my heart.

Your loving son

Jacques B.

18th November 1913, New York

To Jacques from Dora. Written in English.

My dear son Jack

I thank you very much for your photo. I was the happiest woman in the world to see you a nice big boy a man and all ways wish I could see you again. I allways think about you my dear son. I heard your father is in London and you will soon be ther to. I will be very glad if you will answer me soon. You should excuse me for keeping you waithing for my answer it was not my folt. I was not well you will soon have my photo and that of Elisa. If it is posible for you to write me before I will be very glad to hear how you are getting on in health. You could write me in French if it is too much bother for you to write in English. I kiss you many and many a time my dear loving boy,

Your mother


23rd November 1913, London

To Rachel and Jacques from Abraham. Written in French.

My dearly beloved Rachel and Jacques

I think you have received the newspapers and the postcard I sent you this week. You already know that I have changed jobs. I cannot tell you yet how much I shall be earning because I have only been working here for two and a half days.

Rates are very bad. A complete piece of furniture for which people had to pay 15 shillings before, has to be made for five shillings. The only difference is that many things are made by machine. I started 12 music cabinets for £3, and I received 15 shillings. If I finish them by Monday, that will be very good.

Now to answer you about what needs to be done about living accommodation. I cannot tell you much. I would very much like you to come to London, because this would please me a great deal. Only work does not please me at least it has not done so up to now. If I could earn at least £2 a week, I would not hesitate to tell you to come, but I am not earning that much yet. I will have to try several workshops during the next few weeks. Only after that will I know whether I will be able to reach £2 a week. From what the workers say, it is very difficult to earn this if you do not want to work overtime.

All I can think of at the moment is that it is more than probable that you will come to London, but this will be after New Year’s Day and towards the end of January. By then, many things will have been arranged the way I want them. First of all, Jacques, you will be earning for another month or two. You can give in your notice after New Year’s Day. Secondly, it will be very expensive for me if you come at the end of December, because there are many places where people do not work from Christmas until after the New Year, and that may well be the case with me. Also, I want to see how things turn out after the New Year, because I have been told that the dead season starts then. Thirdly, I shall have more time and, perhaps, more money, to prepare good, comfortable living accommodation. For all these reasons, I would like you to come a month later.

As far as the place to stay that you need is concerned, I do not think that it will be for long after the 8th two or three weeks during which time I will be able to decide what I am going to do. If l decide to remain in London, you can send me the chest of drawers and the mirror, and then the other things that I find necessary. The rest you can sell or give away and go and stay with Herman for two or three weeks if he has room for you, or you can find somewhere else. If I return to Paris, we shall find somewhere good to live and settle in Paris permanently. Then you can go to London for a holiday at Pentecost. Those are my thoughts at the moment. If there should be any change in my plans, I shall write and let you know. All my family want you to come.

Now I have to tell you, or you will realise, that I have not sent you any money, because I have had an unsettled week. If you are in dire need, write and tell me, and I will borrow some money from my brother-in-law and send it to you.

Write and tell me whether you intend to pay the quarter’s rent at the end of the month and whether you are paying the subscriptions. Write and tell me how you are. I hope with all my heart that you are not feeling sad. I send you my love, my darling Rachel, even more than before, and also to you, Jacques. All the family send you their best regards and wish you well.

I shall send you a newspaper tomorrow. I do not have any need for French newspapers. There is a library next door to where I am living and “Le Journal” and “Le Matin” are available there every day.

I wrote a letter to Mrs Bernard three days ago but have not yet had a reply.

Your husband and father


Best wishes to Mr and Mrs T. and their children. I have not been to see his sister yet, which I am very sorry about, but I have not had time to go there, as it is very far. I have not been to see K. or Doris yet for the same reason. Please give my best regards to Herman and Marie and kiss the children for me.


Postcard dated 29th November 1913

To Rachel and Jacques from Abraham. Written in English.

Dear Wife and Son

I received your letter and am very glad to hear that you are all well. I will send you a letter on Sunday. Don’t you trouble yourself about me. Enjoy yourself as much as you can. Go to the alambra 2 on Sunday and I will be very glad. I kiss you very tenderly your loving husband and father

30th November 1913

To Rachel and Jacques from Abraham. Written in French.

My dear Rachel and Jacques

I have received your letter, and I am very glad that you have regained hope and, with it, peace of mind. I must tell you that I have still not changed anything in the plan I wrote and told you about in my last letter. If l do return, it will be at the end of this month. If you come, it will be at the end of next month. I shall decide in two or three weeks’ time. The only difficulty I might have is with regard to somewhere to live. In the event that you come to London, it will be for three weeks at the most and, since you will not have any furniture, it will be very easy for you to find somewhere to sleep for three weeks. If l come back, I hope to find somewhere to live. We shall not be left in the street.

I would prefer you to come to London, because I like the life here very much. Only work does not please me. The pay is very bad, and one has to work hard to make a living. However, perhaps I shall become used to it in a few weeks and it will not seem so hard. It is only a question of getting used to it, and I hope to earn more, as well. I have already earned 35 shillings this week, which is 43 francs, although it is the equivalent of 50 francs when you take into account the high cost of living in Paris. You can live for a week in London, including the rent, for 35 shillings. If I could be sure of earning that much every week, I would not hesitate to tell you to come. But perhaps I shall earn still more, because this is only the second place I am working at, and I may find another place a little later on, where I shall be better paid and not have to work so hard. Anyway, I still cannot tell you definitely. Do not worry. I am in London and know better than anyone else whether I should stay or leave.

While you are waiting, my dear Rachel, do not pine for me; be happy. The time will pass quickly. You will find that you are better off in London than in Paris, because you will not have to work. As far as you are concerned, Jack, I hope that you will be able to find a job. You may not be able to find one so quickly, because of the language, but it may still be quicker than we hope. There are many French firms looking for young people to work in their offices. Perhaps your boss has some friends in London to whom he could recommend you. Try to find out.

I am not sending you any money this week either, as I know you have enough for this week. I am paying my sister 15 shillings for three weeks. She charges me five shillings a week for breakfast, evening meal and lodging, and I spend a further five shillings for travel and at work, because I eat in the workshop at midday or at a restaurant, so I am well housed and fed for 10 shillings a week.

I am going to end my letter now, because I want to go out for a little while. It is lovely outside. The weather is very dry and warm. I have not felt cold yet this winter. There was a little fog for two or three hours, but it was no thicker than in Paris.

I spent the fourth Sunday at . . . but I am not going to write any more. I shall leave that for the next time. I am going to go to the National Gallery, which is open from 2 to 4 o’clock It is already 1 o’clock, and I have not dressed yet. The gallery is in Trafalgar Square, and I have a long way to go to get there. I want to see if I can get dressed and get there in an hour. Afterwards, I shall go and see Mr T.’s sister and I shall finish my letter this evening if I get back early enough …

Presumed to be Kate A. with Bessie

You ask me how it could be that, having so much time, I have been unable to pay all the visits I should have done. You forget that this is only the fourth Sunday that I have been in London. I spent the first Sunday at my family’s home, and the second with my friend, Harris, whose photograph I have at home. He was my childhood friend, and I spent a very pleasant time at his home. He is a tailor and earns almost £4 a week. He has four children, the eldest of whom is a girl whose photograph we have with her doll or with her mother holding her in her arms. She is the same age as you, a charming girl. She is a shorthand typist, earning 17 shillings a week. The next is a boy, who has just finished school. The third is also a boy, and the youngest is a girl of seven. All four of these children are as handsome as princes and as good as anything. I held the little one in my arms all evening, and she cuddled me as if I were her father. It was as if I were holding Lisa in my arms.

The third Sunday, I went to see another friend, Jacob, from whom I bought the lamp that we have. He, too, has been very successful. He has a shop for cabinet-making tools. He is the one who got me the job where I am working now. He also has four children, the eldest of whom is a ‘boy’ of your age who won a scholarship and goes to secondary school. He does not pay anything at all; they pay him £4 a term. He goes to the same school as K.’s son, for whom K. pays. In London, it is not the same as in Paris; nationality does not come into it. If somebody is capable of learning, he can receive an education. If you had studied in London, I am sure you would have done very well.

I shall make the ending of my letter brief, as it is already Monday evening, and I do not have much time to write during the week I did go to the National Gallery, where I saw many pictures which I admired 15 years ago. It gave me a great deal of pleasure to see them again. Afterwards, I went to look for Mr T’s sister, but could not find her, because the address was wrong. There is no Orde Hall Street in London. Perhaps there is another address that he can send me. I then went to see Doris, but did not find her at home. I received a letter from her today, saying she was sorry not to have seen me. She is coming to see me next Sunday.

That is the end of this letter. You cannot complain that I do not write very much. I send you both much love, and everyone sends their regards. Please give my good wishes to all our friends.

Your very devoted husband and father


Jack, please send me a corn plaster in a letter. You can buy one at the herbalists.

2nd December 1913, Paris

To Abraham from Jacques. Written in French.

My dear Father

As I told you in my card yesterday, I am sending you two letters from America, and I shall, of course, await your reply before writing back.

We also received a visit from Mr. S., who gave us many interesting details about all of you in London. He looks very unhappy, but he intends to return to London just the same. We were delighted to learn that all of you are happy. I have not received the letter you said you had sent. Perhaps it will arrive tomorrow, but I did not want you to have to wait for mine. We are well. The weather is cool and dry, but better than two weeks ago. We are having a pleasant time and want only one thing, to see you again as soon as possible.

I do not see anything else to write to you about. Give everybody our love. I send you my love with all my heart.

Your loving son


Kisses from Rachel

Dora and Elise. Presumed to have been sent with the letter to Abraham.

2nd December 1913, Paris

To Abraham from Elise. Written in English and sent to Abraham with Jacques letter to Abraham.

Dear Father

I thank you for your most welcome letter and I beg you to excuse me for hurting your feelings I don’t know why but mother told me that since we are in New York I must keep my name. Like this I get so used to this name that I have to sign my name about ten times or more in school. When I signed my name in your letter I wrote it without meaning anything. Afterwards when I told my dear mother that I signed the letter with that name she told me that I was wrong to do it. Now, my dear father, I will tell you about my eyes. You shouldn’t worry I have no trouble with my eyes. It isn’t for fancy that I wear them either. Nearly all the school children from New York are compelled to wear them to preserve their eyes while they study and now my dear father please send me your photo. I will send you mine separate.

What is the matter with Jacques we sent him my photo and a letter and he did not answer. I am in good health. I am going on very nicely in school. I am the teacher’s pet. The teacher loves me every morning the teacher tells me to go upstairs every morning. On Christmas I was so surprised the teacher was giving out candy then she called out Elisa, I got frightened because I thought she was going to say stop your talking but what surprised me most was that she said I am going to give Elisa a book named The little girl of old Philadelphia , because she is my faithful pet all term long. It is very nice book and I like it very much. Please answer quickly. With many loving kisses,

Your daughter


4th December 1913, Paris

To Abraham from Jacques. Written in French.

My dear Father

I have received your letter, and it gives me great pleasure to learn that you are passing the time pleasantly. It must be very affecting to see again people one has known for such a long time. I have just received your newspaper, Reynold’s Newspaper 3.

We do not need money. If we do need it, I shall write and tell you. Do not send any beforehand. T. is very generous. We lent him 30 francs this week.

I am sending you a corn plaster, since you asked me to do so. You will also find enclosed in this letter two letters from Rachel’s parents. We have had the letters translated by T.

I am happy that the time seems short to you. For us it is rather long. In Paris, it is raining and cold, and we are going to have snow. I see from your letter that you have no intention whatever of returning to Paris, so let us get busy with finding somewhere new to live. I think it will be fairly easy. I do not think that my boss knows any business people in London, since his commercial connections are mainly with Belgium. However, since he is in touch with big English companies, such as the Vacuum Oil Company, for instance, it is quite possible that he might find me a job there. He is also a shareholder in many banks with branches in England. It is a pity that I could not study there but, who knows, I may be able to do so later on, when I know the language. Your friend the ‘doctor’ studied in Geneva. Perhaps I could also do so.

Write and tell us whether S. has returned to London. Always keep us up to date with your life in London, how you pass the time, the friends you see, because it gives me a great deal of pleasure to learn that you are having a pleasant time.

Give our kindest regards to all your friends and their families. Give our love to grandma and all the family.

Everyone here wishes to be remembered to you. Everybody you know is well, as are we. Send postcards to everyone and do not forget us. I send my love with all my heart.

Your loving son


Kisses from Rachel

6th December 1913

To Rachel and Jacques from Abraham. Written in English.

I have sent you the evening standard … about Mrs Pankhurst.

Dear Rachel and Jacque

I received your letter and thank you very much for it. I have sent a letter to your parents, 3 weeks time I think they recieved it allready. My best love to you all from your houseband Abraham

10th December 1913

To Abraham from Harris and Kate A. Written in English.

191, Browning Road.
Manor Park, E

Dear Abraham,

We were very pleased to hear from you, and we should be very pleased to see you here on Christmas Day with Annie if possible. Please let us know if you can come.

Best regards to Davis, Shaindle and the children.

Our children send their very best love to you.

Yours sincerely,

Harris & Kate A.

15th December 1913, Paris

To Abraham from Jacques. Postcard written in French.

My dear father, I have just received your card and the newspaper. We promised to pay the concierge at the end of the month. We spent a lot of money because you did not send us the letter a week before the end of the month, and then because Rachel bought a corset and some clothes. She works less. We are in good health. Mr. S. has gone to London. He has told us that you are all mad with him. I sent a picture of the Mona Lisa. I send kisses, Jacques

17th December 1913, Paris

To Abraham from Jacques. Written in French.

My dear Father

I have received your letter and the 40 francs it contained. Were you able to send us all that money without borrowing, because 40 francs is a lot of money to save in three weeks?

But I want to answer your questions and, above all, explain to you how we are managing to keep our living accommodation. The concierge gave us notice on the 15th of last month, put our accommodation up for rent and found a tenant for it. A few days later, the concierge came upstairs and asked us to give her the key because the wife of the new tenant had just died and the accommodation was available again. I took advantage of this opportunity to rent it for ourselves again. At the end of the month, we shall pay the October quarter, together with her tip and her Christmas box, and we shall pay her the January quarter’s rent later on, at the end of February, perhaps.

If you change your mind, and we have to come to London about January 8, we will still have the right to remove our furniture, because we have received a notice to quit signed by the landlord from the concierge. Now I know what you are going to say to me: “The concierge can collect the rent for the October quarter and evict you on 8 January, because she, too, has a notice signed by the landlord” True, but what reassures me is that she has not so far asked for the key so that she can show people round, and there is no “To Let” sign on the door. Also, I trust the concierge. However, the rent has been considerably increased, but I have agreed, so that we can stay here for another quarter and not have to move. The rent will be 300 francs a year instead of 250, a 20% increase. Write and tell me whether I have done the right thing, because there will always be time to break off.

I am, or rather, we are, very happy to learn that everything is well with you all, that you are having a pleasant time, and that the weather is so good in London. It is so bad here, in Paris (cold, rainy and as much mud as you like). We are all in good health and are having a good time. On Sundays, we go for a walk. We have also been to the Alhambra to see Fragson 4.

With thanks to the National Portrait Gallery

On Saturday, we are going to the Trocadero for the V. Charpentier’s 5 Grand Concert: 250 performers and artistes from the Opera. We have free tickets from the library. You see, we are enjoying ourselves. Write and tell us whether you go to the theatre or cinema. Here, they are showing The Three Musketeers 6. It is nice. I saw the week’s programme at Covent Garden, in London, in the newspaper. They were presenting the same operas as in Paris. Haven’t you been yet? Also write and tell me whether you saw the great demonstration against armaments last Saturday and where Jaurés 7 was.

Jean Leon Jaurès
French socialist politician
With thanks to the National Portrait Gallery

I read all the newspapers that you send me, and do my best to understand them and manage to do so. Also, in The Suffragette newspaper 8, there was the beginning of Mrs. Pankhurst’s speech in America. I found this very interesting and would very much like to have the rest of her speech. The newspaper, Votes for Women 9, in which you underlined the article: “Dogs, Cats and Licenses”, was also interesting. Here is what I understood : Dogs are men, cats are women , and licenses are rights. The question is: What is the difference between men and women which allows men to have all the rights? Write and tell me if I have understood the article correctly. All the other articles are interesting, too. For instance, “The Baby and the Fire Dog”, “The White Cross”, etc. The big daily newspapers are the same as here, except that they are much more concerned with Rugby Football and Association Football. I have also received the Daily Mirror with the Carpentier-Wells fight. Carpentier was lucky to have won £2200 in 73 seconds. There are punches like that which give a man the upper hand, but not everyone is capable of delivering them.

Votes for Women, 5th December 1913
Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved. With thanks to the British Newspaper Archive.

We went to visit Mr. S., who is casting around everywhere for money so that he can go back to London. He has no work whatsoever here, and his family is worrying him. He complains about his family in London, but he is very pleased with your brother-in-law, who has done a lot for him.

You are surprised not to have had any reply to your postcards, but there is a good reason for this: you regularly forget to put your address at the top.

Herman is having a bad time. He has hardly any work and does not get home until 3 o’clock in the morning. His wife is so thin, it is sad to see her. She told Rachel that, one day, she was so upset that she wanted to kill herself. We have been to visit them a number of times, but have been unable to see Herman because he has always been out with his father. They enjoy themselves together, giving concerts every evening, while she and the children have hardly anything to eat. There is no reasoning with him. I do not know where all this will lead.

Your mirror is still in good condition, and there is no reason why anyone should damage it. If you want me to, I shall send it to you. If you like, I can send you a French newspaper or book. I am reading “On the Subject of Rebellion”, by P. Kropotkin.10 It is all about anarchist doctrine, which I like very much, and makes me want to be an anarchist.

I read all your letters to Rachel and help her to understand them. I still do not know when the booklets clearance sale will take place. Perhaps they are waiting for prices to go up a little before they sell. At the present time, the fall of the Government has adversely affected business activity, and the Stock Exchange has fallen steeply. If we had to sell everything off now, we would lose heavily.

But let us talk about you a little. I hope that you are not feeling too sad without us. I would like you to go to the theatre often. You should not deprive yourself in order to send us money. Besides, there is no need to send us money before we ask for it. I am happy that you are inclined to remain in London, because your family is not giving you a poor welcome like Mr. S.’s and, if everyone lives in the same building, it will be much nicer—and more economical, too. Do not forget to go and see Mr. T.’s sister, whose address I have given you. Mr. T. very much wants you to go and see her, and you ought to do so as well, since it is not right to get up at 10 o’clock and do nothing all day, just because it is Sunday and you are in London. True, you have to work hard the whole week to earn as much as in Paris but, if life is less expensive and your sister can find a house to rent, the rent will be lower. I think it will be possible to manage.

I am going to end by advising you strongly to keep fit, to avoid doing anything careless and catching some illness, and not to pine for us, because we shall not be apart for long.

Keep on sending newspapers, provided that it is no bother to do so. I like English newspapers very much, but they take me longer to read, because I am less used to them.

I will write a card to America, as you want me to do. Do not be upset that Lisa has to wear glasses. Perhaps her eyes get tired at school, but that will pass. Do not be sad; that is what I want to advise you above all.

Give everyone our love. Write and say what you want me to send everyone from Paris as a Christmas present: champagne, sweets, marrons glaces, and I shall do it with pleasure. I send regards from Marcel, Haim T. and his wife and family, and from all your friends. I send my love with all my heart.

Your loving son


A thousand kisses from Rachel

(Please turn over)

PS I have just received your two newspapers, The Clarion 11 and the Socialist newspaper, Justice 12. It is very interesting at this moment, particularly in view of the discussion surrounding the issue of Home Rule and also the unification of the English Socialist Party. I shall not have time to read them this evening, but I shall read them tomorrow and tell you what they inspire in me. Tell me whether you think there is likely to be a postal strike at Christmas. It would be very unpleasant. Do not upset yourself about the spelling mistakes in your letters. They do not prevent anyone from reading them. I keep all your letters and cards.


I am not sending you any ties with this letter, because I have not found any, but I shall certainly send you some on Sunday. Was the corn plaster I sent you all right?

21st December 1913, London

To Jacques and Rachel from Abraham. Written in French.

My dear Rachel and Jacques

I do not want to write much to you today. I have not got anything important to tell you and would only repeat what I have already said.

I am now sending you 20 francs. If you do not need the money, put it aside. It is not necessary to give it to the poor and it is not necessary to get drunk with it. I do not think I shall be able to send you any money next week, since I shall not be working from Wednesday midday until Monday, because of the Christmas holiday. Christmas in London is a big holiday. In some firms, they do not work until New Year’s Day. They resume work then, because the first day of the year is not a holiday at all. I will have time to write you another letter, perhaps a longer one than this, at Christmas, but not the first day, because I have been invited to my friend Harris A.’s home to spend Christmas Eve with them, and I shall spend the entire day there. Write and tell me if you are going to have time off on Christmas Day.

I have received a letter from America, from Rachel’s parents. They were surprised to receive my letter. They are all well. They sent me the address of a cousin of theirs in London. I shall go and see them at Christmas and will write to you about it.

Last Sunday, I went to see Mr. T’s sister. They were very pleased to receive news of Mr. T. and his family, because they know nothing at all about the postcards he sends them. They live very well. They have a piano, which their young daughter plays. She played several pieces very well. They live very close to the British Museum, almost next door, and I took the opportunity to go in there for half an hour, as it was already nearly closing time. They send their best regards to all the Tachnoff family, which I do with pleasure, and join mine to theirs.

It is no excuse that they do not write to me because I have not sent them an address to write to. I have not forgotten, but I do not consider that there is any need to do so, since I know that they visit you very often, and you certainly have my address.

Now let us talk about living accommodation once again. I do not trust the concierge very much, and I am afraid that, as soon as you pay her, she will evict you. I am not bothered about the money, but I am worried about the trouble you may be caused. I very much want you to keep the accommodation and shall be quieter in my mind if you do. But make sure that you do not find yourself on the street as a result of not making any preparations to find another place. Before you pay her, try to get her to say that the accommodation is yours, and tell her that you have received a letter from me saying that I am returning on January 15. That way, she will be more certain that you will remain in the flat.

I am sending you The Suffragette. I could not find the one with the speech in it. It is very interesting. You will see all the torture to which the suffragettes are subjected, especially Mrs. Pankhurst. She does have a hard life! What the mother replies to the child in Cat, Dog and License is true. When the child asks: They will certainly send the police to kill them before giving them licenses, won’t they?, the mother replies: But they will have to kill them nine times before they will be dead. And it is true, a woman, who is the weakest of creatures, has greater power to endure suffering than the strongest of men.

I have received a letter from Mrs. Bernard. She complains all the time about feeling in poor spirits. She asked me to write and tell you to send her a letter or postcard, and I think she is right. You ought to send her a Christmas or New Year card.

I end my letter by sending both of you much love and wishing you a Merry Christmas. If you are not working that day, go out somewhere with Rachel and enjoy yourselves.

All my relatives and friends send their best regards and wishes for a Happy Christmas. My best wishes to everyone who visits our home. I await your letters.

Your husband who is waiting impatiently to see you again and your very loving father


Dear Jack

Write and tell me whether you received the newspaper and the map of London. I send you much love.

Your father

23rd December 1913

To Abraham from Harris A. Written in English.

191 Browning Road,
Manor Pk.

Dear Friend,

We are very pleased to hear that you can come on Thursday. Could you manage to come at 2 o’dock as we shall wait dinner in any case.

With best love,


24th December 1913

To Abraham from Jacques and Rachel. Written in French.

. . . not be dissatisfied with me, because I have written to her a lot. Tell me whether you have seen any other of your old friends. I am happy that you are enjoying Christmas and are not feeling sad. Your friend, Alexandre, must have a very high opinion of you if he invites you to spend Christmas at his home. Have a good time! Have you seen Dr. K.? Rachel still has work, and so do I. We are eating very well and lack for nothing. I would like you to send me the addresses of all your family and all your friends so that I can send each one a postcard with my best wishes for a good and happy year. . .

Tell me if where you are working is a long way from your sister’s and if the work still seems so hard. I shall send you the ties tomorrow for Christmas. I shall find them in the little stalls in the rue de Rivoli. Paris is very merry for Christmas this year. This may be because La Gioconda 13 has been found. She will have had time to have fun during her two-year absence from the Louvre. When she is back in her rightful place, we shall go to see her.

The fall of the Government has brought everything to a standstill. The stock market has fallen appreciably as a result. Our stock has fallen by 11 francs since it was put on the market. The new Government is no better than the old one. They are all the same. After ousting Barthou 14 over stocks and shares, the three years, and proportional representation, Doumergue 15 is putting forward the same programme. It was simply not worth the change. And whichever Government is in power, the workers are still oppressed. But we need to keep hoping that someday soon this will change, and that we shall finally see more justice and equality.

All your friends wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Rachel would very much like to see you again. Tell us when this will be and whether we still have a long time to wait. I finish this letter by wishing you and all your family a good and happy Christmas.

We send our love with all our hearts.

Rachel and Jacques

27th December 1913, London

To Rachel and Jacques from Abraham. Written in French.

Dear Wife and Son

I received your letter this morning, and I am replying straightaway, because I am very happy to learn that you are very well and are enjoying yourselves.

For my part, I can tell you that I, too, am very well. I spent the two days of Christmas very agreeably. I arrived at my friend Harris’s at 2 o’clock and stayed there until Friday evening. We had a pleasant Christmas Eve. He had also invited two families I used to know before leaving London, who have young daughters and a boy of your age. They played the piano, and we danced and sang. They could all play the piano, something which is very common in London, and piano lessons are not expensive. Harris’s daughter plays the piano wonderfully well. She played operas and dances. The boy also plays very well.

The next day, we got up at 10 o’clock, had breakfast and went out to a park or, rather, a forest, half an hour’s journey away. The weather was magnificent. There was a slight wind, but we could not feel anything in the forest. Lots of people were playing football. There are three nice lakes in the forest. It must be lovely there in the summer, and they have already made plans for next summer. If we are still in London, we’ll go to their home on Saturday evening, stay the night, get up early on Sunday morning and go to the forest for the day.

The whole time I was with them, the children clung to me as if I were their father and did not stop kissing me, especially the little ones, a boy of 10 and a girl of seven. One rarely sees children as good as they are. Talking of kissing, I shall tell you about a custom among the English, which provides a pretext for people to kiss each other. There is a plant with flowers on it called “mistletoe”, which they decorate their flats with at Christmastime. This plant has the advantage that you have the right to kiss anyone wearing it. If two people find themselves standing underneath some mistletoe, they also have to kiss. Well, Alexander’s flat was also decorated with mistletoe. What made the situation even more favourable for performing this custom was that the two rooms in the flat were separated by two big curtains, and they had hung mistletoe in the middle of them, at just above head height. Well, every time I went from one room to the other and stood by the door to watch the dancing, the children would run up to me and say: “We are under the mistletoe, I must kiss you!” and this happened very often. Once I did so inadvertently, and another time, on purpose.

I must also tell you that the eldest girl is an ardent suffragette and, since one of the guests was opposed to the suffragette movement, there was a great deal of discussion about the subject. She defended her cause very well. Since I am a supporter of the suffragettes, I sided with her, and she was very pleased.

Now I must answer your letter. I am sending you an authorisation, as requested. I cannot find any stamped paper, but it is not necessary, because the secretary told me before leaving that I can send an authorisation on ordinary paper.

Now to answer your question about whether I am going to remain in London or return to Paris, I do not want to give you a definite answer yet. I will tell you in my next letter. I am more inclined to stay than to return but, as far as you are concerned, I cannot tell you when you will be able to come to London.

After the New Year, I am going to change my place of work, and perhaps I shall earn more. At my present place, I cannot manage to earn more than 30 to 35 shillings a week, because the job is very badly paid and nobody earns more. My sister is constantly on the lookout for a house for us all, but she has not found what she wants yet. I also want to establish myself up in a nice place and to buy some furniture and all the other things one needs for a home, so that everything will be more or less ready when you come. Until it is, though, I cannot tell you when you will be able to come. If you are assured of somewhere to live, I shall be easier in my mind. Much as I wish to see you again soon, I prefer to wait a little longer, so that I can make your arrival in London more pleasant.

Now I am going to end my letter by sending you my love with all my heart and very sincere wishes for a Happy New Year.

Please, Rachel and Jack, do not let the holiday be spoilt for you. Be cheerful, go to the theatre and buy presents for each other. I shall be very happy to hear that you have done so. I would have sent a present from London, my dear Rachel, but it is not worthwhile, because the cost of sending it is more than the cost of the present. That is why I am asking you to buy yourself something you like and think of me. The same applies to you, my dear Jack.

All my family wish you a Happy New Year and await your arrival with impatience. My best wishes for a Happy New Year to all my friends in Paris.

Your ever-faithful and sincere husband and your loving father

29th December 1913

To Abraham from Elise.

29th December 1913, London

To Rachel from Abraham. Written in French.

My dear wife Rachel

I cannot not send you something as a New Year present. I could not send you anything in gold or silver, so I chose the little collar you will find in this letter. I hope you will accept it with pleasure, as if it were a much richer present. Please, dear Rachel, buy something for Jacques on my behalf. I cannot send him anything from London.

Your husband who adores you and wishes you a Happy New Year

Abraham B.

29th December 1913, London

To Jacques from Abraham. Written in French.

My dear Jacques

New Year’s Day is approaching, and I hasten to wish you and Rachel a happy holiday. Have a good time. I have sent you a letter and The Suffragette. I hope you have received them. All my family wish you a Good and Happy New Year.

Your father Blisun


DECEMBER 26, 1913


The following are the more serious attacks on property which have been attributed to Suffragettes during the year 1913.

January 13.—Estimate that women have broken glass worth front to £5,000.
January 28.—Women sentenced for damaging Windsor Castle. Fifty women arrested for window-smashing in West End of London.
January 30.—Windows of Lambeth Palace broken.

February 3. —Case smashed in jewel room at Tower of London.
February 8.—Hundreds of orchids destroyed at Kew Gardens.
February 10.—House building for Mr. Lloyd George blown up at Walton Heath.
February 12.—Kiosk burnt in Regent’s Park: damage £400.
February 16.—Wholesale raid on golf links, many greens being damaged.
February 17.—Great Central Railway carriage fired at Harrow.

March 10.—Saunderton and Crowley Green stations destroyed by fire.
March 11.—Revolver shots and vitriol thrown at Nottingham Suffragette meeting.
March 16.—£2,000 house burnt at Cheam.
March 20.—Lady White’s house, Staines, burnt down ; £3,000 damage.
March 24:—House set on fire at Beckenham
March 27.—House fired at Hampstead: petrol explosion

April 2.—Church fired at Hampstead Garden Suburb.
April 3.—Four houses fired at Hampstead Garden Suburb.
April 4.—Mansion near Chorley Wood destroyed by fire; bomb explosion at Oxted Station; empty train wrecked by bomb explosion at Devonport; famous pictures damaged at Manchester.
April 5.—Ayr racecourse stand burnt: £3.000 damage; attempt to destroy Kelso racecourse grandstand.
April 6.—House fired at Potter’s Bar; mansion destroyed at Norwich.
April 8.—Plot to destroy Crystal Palace stands before the Football Cup tie.
April 8.—Explosion in grounds of Dudley Castle; bomb found in heavily-laden Kingston train at Queen’s Road, Battersea.
April 11.—Tunbridge Wells cricket pavilion destroyed.
April 12.—Council schools, Gateshead set on fire
April 15.—Mansion fired at St. Leonard’s: damage £9,000; Home Office order prohibits Suffragette meetings.
April 19.—Attempt to wreck Smeaton’s famous Eddystone Lighthouse on Plymouth Hoe.
April 20.—Attempt to blow up offices of “York Herald,” York, with a bomb.
April 23.—Attempt to burn Minster Church, Isle of Thanet.
April 24.—Bomb explodes at County Council offices, Newcastle.
April 26.—Railway carriage destroyed by fire at Teddington.
April 30.—Boathouse burned at Hampton Court: £3,500 damage; Suffragettes headquarters seized by police, five leaders arrested.

May 1.—Buildings burned at Hendon.
May 3.—Amazing Suffragette plots disclosed at Bow Street.
May 6.—Woman Suffrage Bill defeated in Commons: St. Catherine’s Church, Hatcham, burned down.
May 7.—Bomb found in St. Paul’s Cathedral; two bungalows damaged near Bexhill; bowling-green chalet, Bishop’s Park, Fulham, destroyed.
May 9.—Oaklea, near Barrow, fired.
May 10.—Farringdon Hall, Dundee, destroyed: damage £10,000; private house, Beckenham, fired.
May 12.—Boathouse on the Trent destroyed : damage nearly £2,000.
May 13.—Private house, Hendon, badly destroyed.
May 14.—Private house. Folkestone, fired: damage from £700 to £1,000; Penn Church damaged.
May 15.—St. Anne’s Church, Eastbourne, damaged.
May 18.—Parish Rooms, St. Anne’s, Eastbourne, damaged by fire; private house, Cambridge, destroyed by fire damage between £700 to £1,000; buildings belonging to University, Cambridge, damaged.
May 21.—Bomb explosion, Blackford Observatory, Edinburgh: serious damage.
May 22.—Trinity Wesleyan Church, Stamford, burned; stables, Stamford Hotel, damaged.
May 23.— South Bromley Station damaged by fire.
May 28.—Good’s Yard. G.C. Railway Station, Nottingham, timber stacks destroyed.
May 31.—Shields Road Station, Glasgow-, damaged.

June 3.—Rough’s boathouse, Oxford, destroyed: damage Westwood Manor, Trowbridge, destroyed by fire: damage £13,000.
June 7.—North Middlesex Cricket Club pavilion destroyed by fire: business premises at Bradford destroyed: damage £80,000.
June 8.—Boathouse, Hollow Pond, Whipp’s Cross, destroyed.
June 11.—Private house, East Lothian, destroyed: damage £7,000.
June 12.—Assembly Rooms and Pier Hotel, Withernsea, destroyed.
June 13.—Eden Park Station damaged; three further outbreaks in Bradford.
June 18.—Rowley Regis Church, near Dudley. destroyed; damage £6,000

June 19.—Private house, Olton destroyed.
June 21.—Getty Marine Laboratory, St. Andrew’s University, partially destroyed.
June 25.-Hazlewell Railway Station damaged.
June 30.—Ballikinian Castle, Stirlingshire, destroyed: damage £70,000; Lencross Railway Station destroyed: damage £2,000.

July 4.—Private house, South Coldfields, destroyed: damage £4,000.
July 8.—Sir W. Lever’s bungalow destroyed.
July 21.—Private house, Perry Bar, damaged.

August 4.—Private house, Woldingham, damaged.
August 5.—Holiday House, Lyton, destroyed: damage £10,000; motor car burned.
August 8.—School, Sutton-in-Ashfield, damaged; private house, Finchley: damage £500: hayricks fired, Abergavenny: damage £50.
August 13.—Laxey Glen Pavilion, Isle of Man, destroyed: damage £5,000.
August 14.—Carnarvon School House damaged.
August 15.—Haystacks burned near Liverpool: damage £350; Willesden Park pavilion destroyed: damage £250.
August 16.—Private house, Bangor, damaged.
August 19.—Bedford Timber Yard damage £200.
August 22—Private house, Edinburgh: damage £100; Fettes Edinburgh, damaged.
August 23.—Haystacks burned Littlemore, Burnham Beeches, and Maltby : damage about £300; motor cars burned at Hunsworth, Birmingham.

September 1.—Bomb found in Cheltenham Town Hall; house fired at Newcastle: school fired at Oldbury: International Correspondence Schools fired at Finchley.
September 5.—Fire at Dulwich College: damage £300.
September 11.—Stanstead House, Seaton, fired: damage £500.
September 13.—Kenton Station gutted: damage £1,000.
September 16.—Wheat rick destroyed at Berkhamsted; Penshurst Place burnt.
September 19.—House fired at Finchley; house fired at Liverpool.
September 23.—Seafield House, Derby. completely gutted: damage £80,000.
September 22. Withernsea Town Hall gutted; The Cedars, Waltham Cross, destroyed by fire; fire at Warren Hill, Loughton.
September 27.—Fire at timber yards, Yarmouth: damage £40,000.
September 28.—Fire at Frensham Hall, Farnham; Football Ground stand at Plumstead destroyed by fire: damage £1,000; hayricks fired near Oldbury: damage £200.

October 2.—Hayricks and farm fired at Willesden.
October 4.—The Elms, Hampton-on- Thames, burnt out: damage £3,000.
October 7.—Two houses fired at Bedford
October 10.—Yarmouth Pier fired.
October 12.—Wrighley Head Mill, Failsworth, fired
October 19.—Red House, Loughborough, fired.
October 22. Two stations in Birmingham fired.
October 23.—Bristol Line Athletic Ground destroyed by fire: damage £2,200.
October 26.—Brooklands, Farnham Royal, destroyed by fire.
October 28.—Shirley Minor, Wyke, completely destroyed by fire: damage £5,000: Mill House, Bramshill, destroyed by fire; Station fired at Oldbury.

November 2.—Streatham Station fired.
November 8.—Stockton Grand Stand fired.
November 11.—Bomb explosion in Cactus House, Alexandra Park, Manchester: damage to glass alone £200; Begbrook, Bristol, fired: damage £3,000; Bowling Green Club pavilion at Catford burned to ground: damage £1,500.
November 15.—Bomb found in Palm House, Sefton Park, Liverpool.
November 16.—The Priory, Sandown Park, Liverpool, fired : three floors and roof destroyed.
November 17.—Newton Road Station, Birmingham, fired.
November 20.—Mill at Ashton-under- Lyne fired: damage £200; fire at timber yard, Oxford: damage £3,000
November 22.—Football Stand, Blackburn. fired.
November 23.—Bristol boathouse burned: damage £300.
November 24.—Castle Bromwich Station fired.
November 24.—Hurristfield, hayricks burned: damage £2,000.
November 27.—Caerleon Training College, Newport, fired: damage £40,000.

December 5.—Kelly House, Wemyss Bay. fired: damage £60,000.
December 6.—Rusholme Exhibition, Manchester, fired: damage £12,000; Liverpool Exhibition fired.
December 13.—Scottish Mansion (Ardgare) fired: damage £10,000.
December 15.—Devonport timber yards fired, more than £2,000 damage: Bristol mansion burnt.
December 16.—Liverpool church fired.
December 18.—Explosion at Holloway Prison

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