Ireland’s books: Patience Ross

This is the first of what will be a longer project, surveying what Ireland read and why. The information will be drawn from letters in which he discusses literature, from a list of books in his ownership, and from evidence in the music.

I’m going to start by looking at Patience Ross’s collection of poems, Black Bread (1929). This young woman dedicated the volume to the composer, thus its appearance on Ireland’s bookshelves.

Ross was the daughter of Arthur Reed Ropes (1859–1933), better known under the pseudonym Adrian Ross (hence Patience’s adoption of this name). He began his career as a Cambridge University don, teaching history and poetry. However, he is much better known as a writer of popular lyrics, contributing songs to British musical comedies at the Gaiety, Daly’s, the Adelphi,  and other London theatres.

In 1901 he married actress Ethel Wood, moving to 31 Addison Road, Kensington, living in a house close to the one shown, with four servants. As an aside, this road is now one of the most expensive residential streets in the world. At the time Ross lived there, other residents included Chaim Weizmann and John Galsworthy.

So why the dedication to Ireland? Patience Henrietta May Ropes (b. 1906) was a piano pupil of the composer at the same time as Helen Perkin, thus her first book of poems brings together her musical and literary lives. A second volume, The Glass Rose, followed in 1930, and in 1934 she wrote the libretto for The Captive: A Romany operetta, with music by Edgar Moy (1893–73), a pianist and organist who wrote a mixture of light music and organ works as heard here: A Little Suite.

After this date there is no further trace of Patience Ross, so we are fortunate that her slim volume of verse survived on Ireland’s bookshelves.

Nor friend nor lover; each way unfulfilled

But now the rose is rent, the music stilled.

Withdraw your hands, that would not curse or bless,

Since all their gifts are turned to emptiness.

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7 comments on “Ireland’s books: Patience Ross

  1. michelacalderaro says:

    Good evening, I’m a researcher from Italy and I love Patience Ross’s poems (I have both “Black Bread” and “The Glass Rose”). I am actually completing a book on one of Patience Ross’s lover, Eliot Bliss.
    I would like very much to know more about Patience, I think she is a very interesting poet and an important figure of 1930s London. Would you please help me to find out more info about her? There’s so little… and I think she should deserve more attention.
    Best regards.
    Michela Calderaro
    michela@rialto.com

    • FR says:

      That sounds fascinating. I don’t know of any primary sources on Patience Ross, but this book (which you probably know) has a few bits and pieces on her: Jane Frame, An Angel At My Table: The Complete Autobiography

      • michelacalderaro says:

        Thank you for your answer.
        Unfortunately… yes, I know Frame’s book, but there’s not much on Patience, just passing references.
        Thank you anyway, you’ve been very nice.
        Regards.
        Michela Calderaro

  2. Kris says:

    As a child I knew Miss Ropes, she lived near me in West Sussex. She shard a house with an American lady, Miss Porter. I visited them every Saturday morning and treated to Coca Cola, and was taken to church by them on Sunday’s. Miss Ropes died around 1988, having developed dementia. I kept in contact with her until the end of her life.

    • FR says:

      How very interesting. Whereabouts in Sussex? Ireland retired to Washington, so I wonder whether Miss Ropes lived nearby?

  3. michelacalderaro says:

    Interesting indeed! I knew she had left to live with Ms Porter, but had no idea where they went. I wonder if there’s is any relative still alive or whether there is anybody I can write to. Kris, would you mind to share some info about Miss Ropes? I have a WordPress page, you can write there if you like. I would be most grateful. Michela Calderaro (www.michelacalderaro.com)

  4. michelacalderaro says:

    Fiona Richards, did you find out where in Sussex Miss Ropes was living? Thank you so much for your site, it is a treasure trove….

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