To say Hetta Epson lead an interesting life is an understatement. Her artist’s lifestyle took her around the world and gave her much material for her work. Hetta, Lady Empson (1915-1996) Hester Henrietta Crouse was born in the Orange Free State, South Africa, in 1915. She studied art in Germany and became a sculptor. She was involved in leftwing politics and the trade union movement in South Africa, but emigrated to Europe with her then fiancé René Graetz just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Hetta joined the BBC as a propagandist in Afrikaans, where she met her future husband, the poet and academic William Empson. In 1947, she and her husband and their two sons, Mogador and Jacob, travelled to China, where William Empson returned to his pre-war post as professor of English literature at Peking National University. They lived through the civil war and Communist revolution in China, before returning to England in 1952. Thereafter Hetta lived in London, at their home, The Studio House, in Hampstead, where she entertained a wide social circle of artists, writers and politicians. During her marriage, Hetta had a number of other relationships, including with Peter Duval Smith, with whom she had a son, Simon. She spent 1957-58 travelling with Duval Smith in the Far East. Her correspondence comprises: letters written before she met William Empson, 1938-43; correspondence with Walter Brown, David Jones and others, 1947-82; letters written whilst in China, 1947-52; letters to William Empson, 1948-72; correspondence with Walter Brown, 1950-96; and miscellaneous correspondence, 1946-95