FOLLOWING ON from my recent article, Love in a Warm Climate I was pleased to receive this email from Nicholas Drake after he read my whimsical remarks about his great aunt Edith Drake gate-crashing General Franco’s lunch party at the Hotel Taoro.
I was delighted to have chanced upon your piece about my great aunt Edith Drake and her husband, the Rev Arthur Humphries. Edith’s brother, Aylmer Mackworth Drake, was my grandfather. She was evidently a great letter writer and made multiple copies of the ones she considered important. I have page four of the letter you quote from, which I will include at the end of this letter, although I fear there are more pages still to be transcribed!
More importantly, I have a copy of another letter written to Carmen Polo – Franco’s wife – which was clearly written shortly after the incident with Franco on October23, 1950. The letter explains, I think, why she rushed up to Franco in the way described by Annette Reid.
It appears that in 1936 the British Consul in Santa Cruz, a Mr Peterson, approached Edith and eventually persuaded her to act as a propaganda agent in England on behalf of Franco’s campaign against ‘anti-God Communism and Anarchism’. Clearly Edith became obsessed by this cause and went to great effort to lobby members of the House of Lords and Northern MPs, visiting England in 1937 and 1939 for this purpose. On the latter occasion she was caught up in the war and remained in the UK until after the duration, but carried on relentlessly with her mission to persuade anyone and everyone of Franco’s merits.
Although seemingly eccentric in her fanaticism towards the end of her life, she remained in total awe of Franco and saw his visit in 1950 as her only chance to tell him about her efforts on his behalf; she describes her encounter with him in her letter (attached) as “His Excellency’s kindness in giving me the honour of an interview.”
OK, she was backing the wrong horse, but with benefit of hindsight, I think we should give due credit for her tenacity!
Thank you again for your excellent photo and for filling many gaps about both Edith and Arthur. Some years ago I wrote to the current clergy in La Orotava asking for information but nothing came of it.
In my reply I asked Nicholas if he had any photos of his great-aunt and, luckily, he had.
Many thanks for your email. I am attaching the only worthwhile photo I have of Edith (bottom left) with her mother Georgina (née Wethered, top right) and fellow siblings: Aylmer (my grandfather, top left), Herbert and sister Evelyn.
Her clergy father the Rev Charles Mackworth Drake had died at an early age when Edith, the eldest, was five.
Unfortunately, that’s about all I know of Edith other than what I have read on your website and in her letters, from which I had assumed that she had met Arthur in Tenerife and that he had died there.
Likewise, if I discover anything further I will let you know.