The Performance Builds: Sayers’s Architectural Imagination

  • Crystal Downing


The performances which most exhilarated Sayers during her years at Oxford were those of Hugh Percy Allen (1869–1946), organist at New College and conductor of the Oxford Bach Choir, which Sayers joined soon after she entered Somerville College. After attending Dr. Allen’s Orchestra Concert in October of 1912, she wrote her first letter home, exclaiming that she was “fearfully in love” with Debussy and “enraptured” with Schubert (Ltrs 1. 66). Before long it became clear that she was also fearfully infatuated with Allen. Sayers named one of her hatpins “Hugh Percy” and a fur stole “Pcrcival,” easily associating the name “Percy” with “Pcrcival” since her great-unde, Pcrcival Leigh, was called “Unde Percy.” For Somerville’s 1915 going-down play, the enraptured Dorothy impersonated, with apparent histrionic bravado, Dr. Allen and his conducting style (figures 2.3 and 3.1).1


Sacred Space Detective Story Poetic Romance Writing Performance Counter Language 
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© Crystal Downing 2004

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  • Crystal Downing

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