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Henley Telegraph (1921) - Fedora

"Fedora" is a short article written by Alfred Hitchcock and originally published in the Henley Telegraph, March 1921.


A play of a year or two back provided a situation of a little man seeking the goal of worldly greatness. In order that we should return home with a feeling of satisfaction, the author allowed the hero to attain his object, but not without the usual obstacles experienced by all great men. His earliest efforts included self-education, and I can clearly remember his model line for an exercise in handwriting. It was, "Great things grow from small." I believe this obvious aphorism was the pivot of the whole plot, and also of all our plots. Because every person has a plot (I don't mean allotment) and every plot is the same.

I don't know if you have ever seen a puny young nanny goat alone in a field in a rainstorm. If so, you have seen Fedora. Fedora is the heroine of this disquisition. She is small, simple, unassuming, and noiseless, yet she commands profound attention on all sides. People stop to observe her, and I believe it to be on record that one of the policemen on point duty at the Bank has held up the traffic — all for Fedora. You suggest she is beautiful — no, not definitely — I say not definitely, because I hold out hopes. Her appearance:— "Starting with the top," as the guide book says, there is an abundance of dark brown hair, under which peeps out a tiny perky face consisting of two greeny brown eyes, an aquiline nose (usual in these cases), and a faded, rose-bud lipped mouth. Her figure is small, possessing some of that buoyance of youth when walking with the aid of a pair of unassuming legs or, shall I say, to get away from the suggestion of artificiality, inconspicuously regular.

"Great woman labour leader hits out..." Can that be? I had hoped for better, but no worse. Perhaps an actress ? I can see a storm of emotion exploding in the face of a helpless, juvenile lead... the fury of a woman scorned. Then the vociferous applause from all, except her victim. What will be his feeling? Perhaps he will be overcome by her dazzling personality. Dare he ask her to be his... wait, if our Fedora is to marry, surely she shall be a real wife, a worthy figure of womanly charm and grace — this, of course, depends upon the realisation of my hopes. Let me suggest the wife of the Mayor. Shall I put it, as it were, the power behind the chair. "My dear George the tram service lately has been disgusting, you must see that..."

"Yes, my dear, I will mention..." At functions she will be the recipient of bouquets from the daughter of the local contractor.

Sometimes, I imagine, she will write brilliant novels, profound essays and learned works. But it is all mere conjecture on my part. Whatever may be... but I am no prophet, neither is she. Time will tell.