Dear Reader

Dear Reader #191

Dear Reader,

For my forthcoming novel, Sunshine, I’m researching the Air Transport Auxiliary. The ATA was a British civilian organisation set up at the start of the Second World War to ferry aircraft between factories and active service squadrons. 

Ten percent, 168, of its pilots were women. They ferried all types of planes, from Lancasters to Spitfires, sometimes as many as six different types of planes a day, familiarising themselves with the controls on the spot.

The ATA’s call sign, after D-Day, was “Ferdinand the Bull”, while their unofficial motto was “Anything to Anywhere”.

📸 First Officer Maureen Dunlop on the cover of Picture Post

Clara Bow’s thirtieth movie was Two Can Play, another low-budget affair that was beneath Clara’s talent. The movie was released on February 21, 1926, disappeared on the daily-change circuit and is now presumed lost.

After thirty movies, Clara had certainly served her apprenticeship. All she needed was the right script, and the right lifestyle guidance, to propel her to superstardom. The script arrived with her thirty-first movie, Dancing Mothers. Whether the lifestyle guidance ever arrived is a matter for debate.

After the bright lights of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights and the critical disaster of Girls Demand Excitement, Virginia Cherrill made two more movies in 1931, The Brat and Delicious.

In The Brat, a comedy directed by John Ford and starring Sally O’Neil, Virginia played Angela, a support character. She also had a supporting role in Delicious, a musical romantic comedy starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. 

Career-wise, Virginia was slotting into support roles. However, her profile remained high in Hollywood, and she was a regular at parties hosted by William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, Marion Davies. 

Engagements to eligible bachelors were announced in the press, but they amounted to nothing. After the distressing experience of a brief first marriage and divorce, Virginia was understandably cautious.

Latest results in our Mastodon Mega Movie Poll, Round Three

The Wizard of Oz 59% v 41% The Bridge on the River Kwai

Vertigo 76% v 24% Spartacus

Singin’ in the Rain 67% v 33% Modern Times

It’s a Wonderful Life 47% v 53% Some Like it Hot

On the Waterfront 47% v 53% The Grapes of Wrath

The General 39% v 61% To Kill a Mockingbird

The Manchurian Candidate 47% v 53% His Girl Friday

I’ve discovered this portrait, by an unknown artist, of my ancestor David Papillon (1581-1659). An oil on canvas, it depicts David at the age of 73.

David was an architect and military engineer. Born in Paris, he arrived in Britain in 1588 as a refugee. His mother died when their ship was wrecked. David and his two sisters were saved.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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2 replies on “Dear Reader #191”

Thank you. The ATA will be a part of my character, Sunshine’s, flying experiences. The novel, also called Sunshine, combines Hollywood and the Second World War.


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