This letter was written by Phyllis Gardner to Maitland Radford after the death of their mutual friend, and Phyllis’s lover, Rupert Brooke. It expresses her pain at this loss and her frustration at the war as well as her need to distract herself from painful thoughts. The letter also shows how the war has led her to question her ideas about life and death.
Phyllis Gardner was an artist and graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art. She met Rupert Brooke in 1911 and their relationship was both passionate and volatile, mainly due to their differing opinions on monogamy.
Gardner was part of Maitland’s circle of artistic friends and she wrote to him throughout his time in France during the First World War. Her letters tell of her frustration at not being able to fight and she frequently mentions her desire to be useful. She also laments the effect the war is having on her career as an artist, leading her to take a job designing toys for children.