Obituary: Robin Bidwell

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The Independent Online
MAY I correct several errors made by David Boswell in his tribute to Robin Bidwell (30 June)? writes Humphry Berkeley.

It is quite true that Robin helped me in the early stages of the correspondence which H. Rochester Sneath had with headmasters and other prominent people. The Master of Marlborough, however, was not Mr Darcy, as David Boswell states, but Mr F. M. Heywood. Nor was the hoax unmasked because of 'the dead-letter box of Robin's sister'. In all the letters, I stated that Rochester Sneath was staying with his sister, Mrs Harvey-Kelly, at Castle Brae, Chesterton, Cambridge, which was the address of my friend and contemporary Mr Justin Harvey-Kelly. A reporter from the magazine News Review turned up at Castle Brae and, having spoken to Mr Harvey- Kelly, came to see me and wrote an article unmasking me as the author.

I showed all the correspondence, which was in my possession, to the late RA Butler, who gave me my first job when I came down from Cambridge. His father, Sir Montague Butler, was the Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge where I was an undergraduate. Rab advised me to deposit the letters with my bank manager and to publish them in 25 years' time, which I did. When the book was published I dedicated it to Robin in the following words 'To Robin Bidwell, for his help'. I too found Robin a lovable and amusing character and I very much regret that we did not meet again after I left Cambridge in 1948.