A charming letter for the Eleventh Hour this time. John Herbert Sprott (1897 -1971), known as Sebastian, was a member of the Bloomsbury Set. Sprott studied the moral sciences at Cambridge, and would ultimately become a distinguished professor of Philosophy and Psychology at Nottingham University, writing influential works on sociology. He is now perhaps chiefly remembered as one of John Maynard Keynes’ lovers, maintaining a friendship with Keynes and keeping his links with the Bloomsbury group, particularly E.M. Forster, even after his departure for Nottingham.
In 1919 Sprott was a young man who attended an exhibition in Brighton of the works of the Croatian sculptor and architect Ivan Meštrović, and was almost completely over-awed to meet the artist himself. Sprott gathered his nerve to write this piece of fan mail that survives as part of the Mitrinović Archive. Mitrinović and Meštrović were good friends, and on occasion Mitrinović lectured on his friend’s art, although it’s not entirely clear why or how this letter came to be in Mitrinović’s possession.
Sebastian Sprott wrote in what feels to me like very correct schoolboy French, telling Meštrović that meeting him was one of the proudest moments of his life. He asked the artist for an autograph, saying that his work had “un effet extraordinaire” on him. Sprott even threw in a Serbian proverb, “Nema smrti bez sudjena dana” (“There is no death except on the destined day”), perhaps to try and impress Meštrović with his knowledge of Southern Slav culture, and express his belief that all the big things in life are governed by Fate.
Sprott isn’t Mitrinović’s only connection to Bloomsbury. Mitrinović lived in the area for many years, and his followers and various groups had their headquarters at 42 and 55 Gower Street, close to the British Museum. As an avid scholar, Mitrinović made good use of the Reading Room. I am hoping to uncover further connections as I catalogue, as it seems so likely that there could have been overlaps between these educated, intellectual circles operating in the same small corner of London at the same time. If you know of any, please do get in touch and let us know! Otherwise, watch this space.