The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 21st

Another no-show so today let’s raise a glass for Eugenie (Evgenia) Souline, for whom I can find no dates. Eugenie was a Russian born nurse, who had a relationship with Radclyffe Hall, living in an uncomfortable three-way relationship with Una Troubridge for the last nine years of Radclyffe Hall’s life.

On her deathbed, Hall revoked a previous will that had provided Souline with an income, and instead left everything to Una, asking Una to “make such provision for our friend Eugenie Souline as in her absolute discretion she may consider right”.

Una provided Eugenie with a small allowance and burned her  letters to Radclyffe Hall. However RH’s letters to Eugenie survive

My Dearest

A torment of tenderness, of yearning over you, of longing to take you in  my arms and comfort you innocently and most gently as I would comfort a little child, whispering to you all sorts of foolish words of love that have nothing to do  with the body. My spirit cries our to you Souline, and it tells you that love is never a sin, that the flesh may be weak but the spirit is strong. Yesterday it was my spirit that saved you. Must I always save you. God help me I ought not to write like this but I love you. I love you.

Eugenie died in 1958.

The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 11th

Una Troubridge

Una Troubridge painted by Romaine Brooks

No particular birthday today, so going back to that 8th March that was choc-a-bloc, lets share cake with Una Troubridge 8 March 1887 – 24 September 1963.

At the tender age of ten Una lost her heart to a

splendaciously ample and properly upholstered principal boy… whose sex was never for a moment ambiguous … I sat in silent worship before the well filled silken tights … the dominant gait … the clustering curls … of this peerless wonder.

Una passed the entrance exam for art college at the age of 13 and was an accomplished sculptor. She married Admiral Troubridge and they had a daughter Andrea, who lived with Una when not at boarding school after their (acrimonious) separation.

Una met Radclyffe Hall (known as John, but more on her later) in 1915 while Una’s cousin  Mabel Batten (aka Ladye) was John’s lover.  Mabel died the following year, and Una and John moved in a year later.Una described her relationship with John as the first time she had known sexual rapture.

The couple had a wide circle of lesbian friends and thought that it was their duty to be visible, have no time for closeted lesbians (or gay men) who were financially independent and answerable to no one.

They had a lot of fun, partying with their friends, showing daschunds at Crufts and so on. On one occasion during a bicycling craze, John bought Una a bicycle which was christened Clara. Una insisted on a ‘loud and aggressive’ bell which she rang a great deal until John asked her to spare the neighbours.

Neither of them could be described as feminists, and Una saw her role as to make it as easy as possible for John to write, although she also wrote herself.  She took on everything to do with the house, including supervising, with every sign of enjoyment, drainage works on their house in Rye, for which she dressed in a boiler suit.

They lived together until John died, in her arms, in 1943.

Una of John:

I could not, having come to know her, imagine life without her.

Una had John’s suits altered after her death and wore them herself.

Una died in 1963 in Rome, she had wanted to be buried with John and Mabel in Highgate cemetery but her instructions were not found until too late.

her tombstone describes her as

The friend of Radclyffe Hall