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[Manuscript Poem] “To Mother: Christmas 1920”

  1. 00018534_0001
  2. 00018534_0002

Mary Webb. “To Mother / Christmas 1920.” Manuscript poem, one leaf, 7⅞″ x 4¾″, on off-white ruled wove paper, fourteen lines, pencil. Webb’s mother, Alice Meredith, maintained a stiff, brusque Victorian reserve towards her children. As a teenager, Webb had cared for her younger siblings, not only by entertaining them with stories, games and outings, but also by taking over the household during a period of five years when her mother was an invalid. Webb’s relationship with her mother was never close and loving. This poem, written when Webb was nearing forty and her mother almost seventy, recalls a scene witnessed while Webb was staying with her mother in Chester prior to moving to London. Webb sees that “childish presents, bought with grave delight” held lasting sentimental value for her mother, and she recognizes (in a somewhat melancholy tone) Alice’s love for her children.