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Farrer, Reginald John
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Farrer written material, box 3; China Kansu expedition with William Purdom

Box 3: 1914-1916; includes letter from William Purdom outlining plans for 1914 China Expedition; correspondence from 1914-15 China expedition; some letters to and from Isaac Bayley Balfour, 1915; correspondence to parents from Japan, [1916?]; various maps of Kansu, China; Farrer's writings about Kansu - published reprints and manuscripts, 1916-18; Farrer's writings about Kansu - not known if published; newspaper cuttings including articles written about the 'White Wolf' of Kansu, c.1914, some written by Farrer; invoices from Kansu expedition; list of slides relating to Kansu expedition compiled in 1985; transcriptions of two photograph albums relating to Kansu expedition [RJF/2/2/3-4]; miscellaneous ephemera.

Farrer Family

Farrer written material, box 5; Burma expedition with Euan Cox

Box 5: 1919-1920; includes correspondence to family and Aubrey Herbert, 1919 - includes references to Frank Kingdon Ward and George Forrest; telegrams from RJF to his mother, 1919; correspondence to family, 1920; letter from Farrer to Sir Francis Younghusband, 13/09/1920; correspondence from Isaac Bayley Balfour and William Wright Smith of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to Farrer and family, 1917-1924; general correspondence, 1920, correspondents include Lionel de Rothschild, Postmaster Gye? J.T.O. Barnard, and William Purdom; folder of ephemera including telegram, ticket to Rangoon, diary entry and Burmese travelling times and Regulations for dealing with tribes; copy of Gardener's Chronicle including article by Farrer, 1921-22; notes written by Farrer's mother regarding instructions and dispatches from Farrer; plant / seed lists, including identifications from Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh; Farrer's supply lists; information relating to E.H.M. Cox, including, copies of few diary pages, maps and letters from Farrer to Cox; and various maps of various dates relating to Farrer's collecting localities.

Farrer Family

Reginald Farrer - correspondence to Ernest Gye

A collection of 13 letters purchased at auction in 2008, written by Reginald Farrer and most likely sent to the British Diplomat Ernest Frederick Gye C.M.G., though Farrer tends to refer to him as his “Poison”, “Viper” or “Venom”.
Gye's mother was the singer Dame Emma Albani and his father was Ernest Gye, the lessee of Covent Garden theatre. Gye entered the Foreign Office in 1903, became Second Secretary in 1908 and Councillor in 1924. He served for some years in Tehran in the earlier part of his career (and where he was when these letters were written) before being appointed Minister and Consul General in Tangier in 1933. Three years later he was made Minister Plenipotentiary in Venezuela, retiring in 1939.
The 13 letters were written in Upper Burma (now Myanmar), mainly from Hpimaw and Nyitadi, and date between May 1919 and September 1920, the last being written only five weeks before his death. The letters are liberally peppered with nicknames and gossip, and the identity of everyone mentioned may never be known; for example, his 1919 travelling companion, fellow plant collector Euan Cox, is often referred to by the name “Jumps”. In amongst intimate information and personal references are descriptions of the country, people met and plants collected.

Gye, Ernest Frederick

letter dated 04/09/1919 from Farrer, Hpimaw Fort, to Ernest Gye

Living in the Fort, having spent a month of really wonderful camp-life in a high alpine valley. Had good weather there and had collected 45 Rhododendrons and will return in October to collect their seeds. Bought a horse, Ma in Chinese, which has got fat and will only carry him, the Master. States how Jumps [Euan H.M. Cox] is highly companionable, shall miss him when he leaves, but looks forward to the Scottish Derrick joining him in the winter. Jumps writing a novel. Recounts scenes of the coolies from the alpine village doing their folk-dances & songs by the camp-fire - views them as the real thing, real art. The Cook has another drunken bout, and R. Farrer administered justice on the verandah, docking some of his wages, the rupees were thrown away and he, R. Farrer almost collapsed in tears. Speaks of letters from home in the aftermath of the War being sad and glad he had decided wisely to get away. Hopes E. Gye will get away, suggests Peking 1921 to attain care-free-ness. Requests him to supervise Mr Bain to send out useful books, seeks two sets of Winchester Edition of the Divine One, for himself and Jumps.
Camp was in a high-alpine valley, in a beautiful open glade, filled with golden Anemones, beside a babbling beck, with gaunt hungry-looking granite peaks aspiring overhead all round. Derrick [Milner] he describes as 10 feet high, and you want a flight of steps to see his large rosy face! From the batches of letters, he gets a uniform impression of utter failure, of fatigue so acute that it can't fine rest, of disappointment, old age, & general failure.

Farrer, Reginald John

letter dated 24/09/1919 from Farrer, Hpimaw Fort, to Ernest Gye

Writes fondly of the past and E. Gye's pet expressions. Of his life, he recounts how a Dep. Comm. from the Indian Government, a Kingdon Ward (a rural botanist), Jumps [Euan H.M. Cox] and he, all played Auction as it rained incessantly outdoors for weeks. Unsettled by the company and pleased to be living just with Jumps again. Jumps still writing his novel which R. Farrer offers many literary comments with candour. Notes kites are being seen flying over India, an immemorial sign that the Monsoon is nearing its end. Plans to go to Chimili to collect seeds of his treasures. He states he has written up about this in the Gardener's Chronicle, read by thousands, he says. Sending Nomocharis pardanthina seeds for E. Gye to grow, hopes that it will open. Initial expedition plans to Putau authorities refused but he has readjusted these and his plans are now accepted to visit the wildernesses of Akhyang. Planning a further one for 1922-3. Writes of the Watsons living at Ingleborough, happy he is planning more travel. Waiting for the main rush of seeds of the Rhododendrons to come. Hopes to go down to Rangoon with Jumps for Christmas, Jumps is then required to return home. Enquires why E. Gye and some chums going to Jamaica. May go to live alone in Mandalay for a while. ‘Nomocharis pardanthina will open the amazed and amusing loveliness of her eyes upon a London fog.’

Farrer, Reginald John

letter dated 26/02/1920 from Farrer, The Oaks, Maymyo, to Ernest Gye

States he disliked Mandalay & its Club - too hot & its many Pagodas, roofs covered with red corrugated iron on the hill dominating the city. Mandalay, a holy place where in awe, he held the mortal remains of Gautama Buddha in his own hands. Writes warmly of his friendship with E. Gye and describes the Oaks being like Ascot but sad as he is living alone. Hopes to go North in 2 days, concerned if mules will be available, states he will be alone without Derrick [Milner] and his money. Long rambling gossipy section regarding different women? friendships and more, of Amelia with E. Gye. Speaks of a fiction book he is writing, he wants E. Gye to make comment. Speaks negatively of Russian literature and Virginia Woolf's first book. Mentions letter written after a good bottle of Hock. ‘Going North, away over the Back of Beyond, out across the last lone edge of Nowhere.’

Farrer, Reginald John

letter dated 11/09/1920 from Farrer, Nyitadi, to Ernest Gye

Responds to Ernest's sense of being slighted, not receiving as many letters as others, saying that his gaps in letter writing due to being in camp and nothing of interest happening. He gives advice regarding Amelia, a possible liason of Ernest's, to forget her. Looks forward to having parties with Ernest, maybe at Ingleborough with him and Jumps [Euan H.M. Cox] unpacking items he's brought from Peking. Although wonders if Ernest may be in Britain as talking of going to Persia. Tells Ernest he has written to Jumps regarding weeds & weather which he is sure he will get to read. Suggests that this country is rather boring and does not generate a creative impulse. Spent one last fortnight in the Alps, seed collecting and now resting for a month in Nyitadi. Rambles about Greek and other characters and of his own writings. Again remonstrates that he has been a regular correspondent to E. Gye as regular as to his Mommer.

Farrer, Reginald John

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