Friday, August 19, 2022

Malcolm Saville meets T.S. Eliot

On 3 May 1943 the Daily News reported:

Soho has a Mission to the Intelligentsia

What is described as "a kind of mission centre for the intelligentsia" is to be opened by the Bishop of London in Soho this week. 

Its quarters will be in St. Anne's House. Dean Street, the parish house of the famous church of St. Anne's. Soho. destroyed by enemy action. 

Two wardens. the Rev. Patrick McLaughlin and the Rev. Gilbert Shaw. have been appointed, available for interviews and inquiries. Meetings and discussions with well-known speakers are being arranged, dealing with religion. literature, drama and the arts generally. films. Journalism and broadcasting.

In this work the wardens are being assisted by a committee of the laity. Including Mr. T. S. Eliot. Mr. Maurice Reckitt. Mr. Charles Peake, Mr. Malcolm Saville, Mr Percy Rugg. the Baroness Ravensdale and Miss Helena Charles.

Malcolm Saville and T.S. Eliot? I've not heard of Saville moving in such circles before, though I believe he was a friend of Dorothy L. Sayers. The plot of his The Secret of the Gorge owes a lot to Sayers' The Nine Tailors.

Wikipedia tells us that St Anne's, Soho, was eventually rebuilt and also discusses the St Anne Society, which must be what the Daily News is talking about.

Though Saville does not get a mention there, many other names do besides Eliot. Among them are Charles Williams, Agatha Christie, Arnold Bennett, C.S. Lewis and Rose Macaulay.

The last named, a favourite writer of mine, was a churchwarden of St Anne's. And the website for St Anne's says Sayers was too.

During the war Malcolm Saville combined a day job as author and publicist with night-time duties as a fire warden. His wife and children had been evacuated to Shropshire, which inspired his first children's book Mystery at Witchend.

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