Post-war Blues and Critical Encounters
At Sheerness T. H. Jones taught English and history. He was one of a team of five whose work included play-readings and discussion groups. Another member was Madeleine Scott, formerly a transport driver in the WRNS, who taught craftwork and French conversation. Madeleine was to become the true ‘grand passion’ of his life.
Her father, William McDonald Scott, had been born in 1884 at Bandaw, on the shores of Lake Nyasa in Central Africa, the eldest of the ten children of a medical missionary. William was sent to Edinburgh University to study divinity, but switched to medicine. After graduating with first-class honours in 1905, he chose pathology as his specialism and spent the next three years working with leading pathologists at Edinburgh, Munich and Paris. There he met Madeleine’s mother, Alice Mollard, whose family came from Franche Comte but had moved to the capital when her father, Antoine, Radical depute for the town of Dole in the Jura mountains, became a senator. Alice was highly educated for a French woman of her time: she studied German and English at Besancon and the Sorbonne. They were married in 1914, and she abandoned without regret the political high life of Paris for a cottage in a small village near Cambridge, where her husband had obtained a university post. Madeleine was one of eight children.
In William’s family, as in that of Antoine, daughters and sons were given equal opportunity of higher education. Six of his children chose medicine; his eldest daughter took a degree in English at Cambridge. Madeleine, the odd one out, would choose art school, but by that time her father, who Madeleine is certain would have disapproved,1 was dead, a victim in 1941 of the Blitz.
Socially and intellectually the gap between the Jones and Scott families could hardly have been wider. ‘It was a wonderful