Letters from Hannah

12th March 2019

Sydney Chaplin, Charlie’s brother, carefully preserved some (undated) letters from Hannah to her sons from her time in psychiatric care in London at Peckham House Nursing Home:

Dear Children
Just a line thanking you for the “wire” on my birthday. Many thanks for remembering me. Trusting you are both in the Best of Health and that you will send as soon as possible to fetch me so that I shall be able to get some good times after all I have gone through.
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My dear children. Your letter to hand. You are very kind to give me such a long letter now the only request I make is do not let Mother die anywhere - try and let it be otherwise than the present address. You can manage it between the 2 of you I feel sure - try as soon as you can. Best Love Mother


[Letter 1905 to Sydney Chaplin and Charles Chaplin / Hannah Chaplin] - ECCI00008368


My dearest Boy

So very pleased to receive the note on Tuesday but was very sad again to think it will be so long before I see you. Do alter your fickle mind and make it tomorrow - now every day try and think it may be my last on earth so hoping to get a wire as soon as you get this or as soon as possible after you get. I will not weary you more heaps of love and kisses for my thoughtless but one of the Best. Yours to a cinder Mother

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Aubrey Chaplin, Hannah’s nephew, visited her and sent regular reports to his cousins in the USA, and in 1921 Charlie and Sydney were at last able to bring their mother to California.

David Robinson writes: Tom Harrington was sent to England to bring her back. Hannah was astonished and delighted when Harrington, with the help of Aubrey Chaplin and his wife, spent more than £100 on a new wardrobe for her, including hats, coats, a dressing gown and a toilet case. On the journey she behaved quite normally, but on arrival in New York there was a slight contretemps when she mistook an immigration official for Jesus Christ. Harrington smoothed over the incident. Hannah was settled in South Hollywood with a Mr and Mrs Carey to look after her. (..) She enjoyed sewing, and playing draughts – which she always won. She also liked to go out in her car on shopping expeditions. Konrad Bercovici recounted how, on one such spree, she came back with hundreds of yards of coloured silk, costing some thousands of dollars. Chaplin was about to send the silk back, but suddenly said “Let her have all that and more, and all that she wants of the frippery. The poor soul has been longing for such things all her life.” Hannah occasionally visited the Chaplin studios and on one occasion told Charlie that he needed a new suit, not understanding that he was in his tramp costume. She died in 1927.