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J M Barrie to John Llewelyn Davies - 1906

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Letter from Barrie to Arthur's father, the Rev John Llewelyn Davies, giving news of Arthur following the operation on his jaw. 9 June 1906


2-L Portman Mansions, W
Sat 12 a.m. [9 June 1906]

Dear Mr Davies
I add a line to my telegram as I understand you cannot have a telegram tomorrow. The surgeon's precise words just now were "He is getting on very well - very well indeed." I have been with him since eight & Sylvia is there now, & I expect Crompton will be seeing him today some time. There is nothing ag[ain]st any one's seeing him so long as they don't excite him. It is quite easy to follow what he says but it is best for today & tomorrow that he sh[oul]d not speak at all but write. He wrote today to me what things he was thinking of most and among them are "Kirkby view across valley" & "Buttermere."
In appearance he looks lying there like a wounded soldier but this of course is temporary or at least mostly temporary & it may be that no one not familiar with his face & voice w[oul]d see any difference. All this is in the future as the plate in mouth can't be put in for three months or so. He may be able to walk or drive out in a week.
I don't think the surgeons can say at all at present whether there is any likelihood of its recurring. I gathered from Mr Butlin*, the great specialist on sarcoma, that they can't well say as to this for a year or two.
I need say nothing of how Arthur has borne this. He talked it all over beforehand & he is certainly a splendid man.
Yours sincerely
J M Barrie

Peter's comments:

A decidedly fact facing letter. Later the same day (5.22 pm) Crompton telegraphed to John Ll.D. to much the same affect, ending “face hardly changed.“
I have a good many of the little pieces of paper, with pencilled remarks on them in Arthur's handwriting, which record his thoughts and his part in conversations when he was unable to speak. Most of them belong to later times – some very near the end. It is sometimes difficult to assign dates to them, but the following obviously belongs here:

Among the things I think about:

Michael going to school.
Porthgwarra and S's blue dress.
Burpham from garden.
Kirkby view across valley.
Jack bathing.
Peter answering chaff.
Nicholas in the garden.
George always.

Porthgwarra: in Cornwall, where Arthur and Sylvia went for their honeymoon.
Burpham: A village by the river near Arundel, where we had spent a summer holiday in 1900, in an enchanting little house with a walled garden. There is a photograph of the family taken there, with Arthur seated in the middle, holding Michael on his lap, and Sylvia behind looking out of the window.
Buttemere: in the Lake District. I don’t remember what the associations with it were.

[AB: *Butlin = Sir Henry Trentham Butlin, 1st Baronet FRCS (1845-1912) a British surgeon considered to be the "father of British head and neck surgery".]


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