11th June 1983
Dear Mr Jager
It was truly delightful to receive your letter, and I thank you very much for your appreciative comments. It was really remarkable to hear from someone who knew Mr Lowry all those years ago at the very commencement of his success. Also that you were a neighbour in Pendlebury Road at the time of his mother's death... I found that enormously interesting. For so long, it was claimed that her death affected him to such an extent that he became a hermit from then on - which as we knew, was not the case - but then years had elapsed before we came to know him. And of course, one cannot but wish one had known him as a younger man. It was also very perceptive of you to feel that Mrs Rohde's book and mine were complementary because originally she came to us to ask if we would assist her in the writing of a Lowry biography. We agreed instantly and gave her an introduction to Carol. Unfortunately - as we thought - she then decided she wished to be sole biographer, It had previously been arranged that my husband would write the art side with her as she confessed that would be beyond her. However she decided to cover that in another way. But personally I have always felt that with her research and our first hand knowledge only one book was required and that it could have been a better one than either hers or mine was individually. Facts from both sources, when combined, might have produced a more important psychological study of the artist.
However that was not to be. Nevertheless it was to our regret. When Collins were good enough to show me proof pages where Miss Rohde's writing concerned ourselves, there were a considerable number of errors, despite the facts we had given her. It was then I felt it necessary to write with exactitude, keeping so far as possible to events where others were present besides family. And needless to say, there was much which could not be written for many years as it would be hurtful to certain people. It was also regrettable that one was unable to give facts about certain fake paintings owing to threatened litigation - because, when it comes to the history of art, those facts are important.
One thing I would very much like to ask you. Did Mr Lowry ever give you to understand that his mother had discouraged him from painting? Mrs Rohde implies that she had no use for his work. But he never failed to tell us that she was the one person who always said: 'Carry on. You never know, some day someone may like them.' Now because he told us that constantly, does not necessarily mean that it was so! On the other hand I could not understand where Mrs Rohde got her infomation from, as Mr Lowry's cousin May also maintained that his mother had encouraged him. And this has puzzled me. So to hear from you, who knew Mr Lowry at what many people would consider to be at such a vital time in his life, is very interesting. I wonder whether you can threw any light on that point?
If you do manage to visit Newcastle it would be a great delight to us all to meet you if you could find the time to look into the gallery. And yes, thank you, the family is well, and we have much to be thankful for, as my husband had his first, but very serious motoring accident, in January, when the car skidded on black ice, caught fire, was completely burned out, but he fortunately escaped too serious injury, and is now well on the way to recovery.
I should like to apologise for typing this letter, when I would have preferred to write longhand - but I lost the sight of one eye, and am only partially sighted in the other these days. I was stung by wasps ten years to the day when Mr Lowry didn't fancy parting with his wasp sting cure! Not, bless his heart, that it would have made any difference I am sure! But I never did run that cure to earth - and never having been allergic to wasps myself - wouldn't have supposed I'd have been requiring it! With many thanks again for your interesting and welcome letter.