21 April 1915 – Ted to Jane

21 Apr



Dear Jinny

I wonder if you would do something for me- I have taken the liberty of sending your address to a friend of mine Mrs Stack (her husband was a pal of mine in Lansdowne in the 8th Gurkhas, and was killed out here last October, Ben knows her & knew him) because she wrote to me today and asked me if my doctor brother would sing some songs for some soldiers in outlying camps etc just to amuse them. So I have written to say that I thought perhaps you would help her if you could, only she is not to rely on you in any way as you may have lots else to do.

As regards Dick, if he could possibly manage to sing a song or two for her, it would be ripping, but I told her also to put no reliance on his help as he is a busy man etc etc; I mean I haven’t tied either of you down to help her & you can easily say no, but do go if you can.

No news; send along London opinion & a mail occasionally, Tons of love from Ted.

P.S. In case you are put to any expense over this show, I enclose £1. If you don’t go, spend it on what you like.

I feel a certain sympathy for Ted, asking his siblings to do something which he knows will be inconvenient and time consuming for someone they don’t know, for whom he feels sorry and whose situation is pretty grim.

His letters and Ben’s letters in November and December frequently refer to “Poor Mrs Stack”. She was Mary Bagot Stack, known as Mollie, the widow of Captain Edward Hugh Bagot Stack who was killed at the end of October 1914. They had two chilren the eldest of whom had died at birth in 1913 and the second, Prunella, had been born in July 1914 just before war was declared. Mary went to England but her husband was killed before Mary and Prunella landed in Portsmouth. This was dreadful time for the small family. Mary was a remarkable woman who went on to found The Women’s League of Health and Beauty.

While in India, Mary Stack noted the physical differences between the British Imperialists and the Indian women of all castes, who seemed to benefit from yoga, with better posture and greater flexibility. In London she started an exercise class for children and another for women, and in 1925 established the Bagot Stack Health School. Here she taught teachers – among them Prunella, who qualified in 1930, aged 16, already a veteran demonstrator of her mother’s techniques. Mary promoted a philosophy of exercise structured and graded to the needs of all ages and abilities, and taught by trained physicians, through huge public displays.

Although Mary’s health was deteriorating, in an attempt to reach more women she set up the Women’s League of Health and Beauty in 1930 in the YMCA premises on Regent Street in London.

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