Tressell Song At Hastings Conference: Listen Now

Letter To Kathleen Demo by alunparry

Robert Tressell, the author of Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, died in Liverpool a hundred years ago.

This song, Letter To Kathleen, is my response to an email I received from Kate Richardson.

Kate is Vice President and human dynamo of the Manchester Trades Council.

Her email contained Robert’s last letter to his daughter Kathleen, which I’ve copied at the foot of this post.

Robert raised Kathleen alone and they were especially close. When Robert had to leave her with her aunt while he attempted to raise the money in Liverpool for two tickets to Canada, it caused him great pain to be parted from Kathleen.

Neither of them knew the parting would be forever.

Kate recently contacted me asking me for a more usable version of the song as she is addressing a Tressell conference in his home town of Hastings on 20 September. She only had the live version that I sung at Stuart Borthwick’s lecture on Tressell in April and the sound quality was iffy.

So I’ve done a rough demo of Letter To Kathleen and I thought I’d let you have a listen too.

And now the letter itself:

August 1910

I feel so unhappy being away from you and miss you more than I can say. It makes me very miserable to think of all you used to do for me and of how unkind and irritable I often was in return and although I know that you always made allowances for the worry that caused me to be like that, I cannot forgive myself and try in vain to comfort myself with the thought that you know I never meant to be unkind and that you know I love you more than anything else in the world.

I have thought of nothing but you since I lost sight of you on the platform and the world seems a dreary place to me because you are not here. I cannot write down here all that I feel and want to say to you but if it were true that circumstances compelled us to live apart from each other permanently – then I would much prefer not to continue to live at all….

Je vous aime toujours


Letter To Kathleen Demo by alunparry

#alun parry#demo#hastings#kathleen#ragged trousered philanthropists#robert tressell


  1. Janet Mears - September 14, 2011 @ 9:19 am


  2.">John Couzin - September 14, 2011 @ 9:24 am

    I always believe that we have to record our heroes, our history, so thanks for doing an excellent job. John.

  3. Mick Bailey - September 14, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

    really special Al, I love this.

  4.">Dave Eatock - September 15, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

    Excellent Alun, it carry’s the emotions beautifully without being too sentimental, if you know what I mean

  5. Helen Parker - September 17, 2011 @ 6:33 am

    Lovely song Alun, but I was a bit disappointed after reading about ‘The Tressel Song’ – I expected it to be about him, or his book – or his politics….
    It’s the second time in two months that I’ve heard about this book, because it’s mentioned in The ‘Fall of the Giants’ by Ken Follet, and I was explaining to my son what it’s about and how I read it over 20 years ago. So I suppose it’s still fresh in my mind. I advised him to read it – and said that I hoped it was still available.
    It’s a good song,and accurately reflects the sentiments expressed in the letter, but it could be anyone writing to their daughter. All great songs have this kind of universal appeal!
    Thank-you for the opportunity to listen to the demo.

  6. alunparry - September 19, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

    Thanks for all your messages. I’m going to do a non demo recording of it which should sound better again so look out for that when it’s ready.

    Helen, the book is defo still available. It’s a torch that’s passed through the generations.

    I wanted to try to get a different angle on Tressell than the one we all know about him, and his relationship with his daughter Kathleen shone some light in a less well lit corner.

    The book has inspired a couple of other songs though. One of them recorded, one not. The one that is recorded is called The Ship Song and is inspired by the early speech of Frank Owen who questions the innate value of money and uses the context of being shipwrecked on a desert island to make his point.

    I took that inspiration and created just such a story. You can check it out here 10 – The Ship Song by alunparry

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