Areader from Kotagiri tells me that once Alice Barnes moved into Ilkley , her companions there were two other Quakers, Mary Barr and Marjorie Sykes. Kotagiri apparently called them “the three graces” or “the three witches”, depending on whom you spoke to. After Alice Barnes' death in June 1968, Marjorie Sykes continued to stay on in the Ilkley acreage, for several years, building a house for herself below Ilkley . In those years she edited The Friendly Way , the Quaker magazine that Alice Barnes and Mary Barr had first edited. The three, it is said, felt that Gandhiji's values were very similar to those of the Quakers.
Referring to Alice Barnes' fascination with Gandhi, Joshua Kalapati and Ambrose Jeyasekaran state she also edited a book on Gandhi by a young Danish missionary, Esther Faering who later became Esther Menon. Faering not only spent time at Sabarmati Ashram but also carried on a correspondence with Gandhiji for years. Out of that correspondence was born Letters from M.K.Gandhi to Esther Faering , published in 1951. How that correspondence started and more about Faering I would certainly like to know; I wonder whether the postman will bring me some answers.
Besides editing the book, Alice Barnes wrote its ‘Introduction'. After listing Gandhi's crusades, Barnes writes in her Introduction, “… in a life so crowded with multitudinous business of national and international importance, Gandhiji never forgot the value of the individual. Of this fact the letters in this book are a convincing and moving proof. They are proof too, if proof be needed, of the fine sensitiveness and generosity of his spirit; there is no attempt to influence the ‘child' to who he writes, against the foreign rulers of India, no self-glorification or self-pity, no bitterness or rancour. On the other hand there is, as Dr. Ramachandra Rao has pointed out in his Foreword, a revelation of the motive springs of the whole of Bapuji's life and work, his complete devotion to Truth and Love, his utter surrender to the Will of God.”
Kotagiri, in the days of the Raj, must have had a whale of a time discussing the residents of Ilkley , trying to make sense out of them and their lives.