Memorandum from the Central Office for Refugees Medical Department to Yvonne Kapp (MYK 3/1/32)
Memorandum from the Central Office for Refugees Medical Department to Yvonne Kapp (MYK 3/1/32)

Margaret Mynatt was born in Vienna, in 1907, the daughter of a British musician, John Charles Mynatt (who was known professionally as Giovanni Carlo Minotti). She moved to Berlin in 1929 and joined the Communist Party. She was also involved with Bertolt Brecht and his circle, assisting in the creation of St Joan of the Stockyards and other plays. Mynatt left Germany in 1933, following the Reichstag fire, and settled in London. She was Head of Tribunals for the Czech Refugee Trust Fund, 1938-1941, and was dismissed (with Yvonne Kapp) by the Foreign Office in 1941: they subsequently published the pamphlet British Policy and the Refugees. Mynatt was Head of Reuters Soviet Monitor (1951-1951), Manager of Central Books (1951-1966), and a director at the publishers Lawrence and Wishart (1966-1977). At the time of her death in February 1977, she was editor-in-chief of the Collected Works of Marx and Engels.

Yvonne Kapp was born Yvonne Mayer in 1903 and educated at King's College London. She married the artist, Edmond Kapp in 1922, and joined Communist Party of Great Britain in 1936, following a visit to the Soviet Union. After working with Basque and Jewish refugees in 1937-1938, she was appointed Assistant to the director of the British Committee to Refugees from Czechoslovakia, which shortly afterwards (in 1939) became the Czech Refugee Trust Fund. She was dismissed from her post by the Home Office in 1940 because of allegations that she was a member of the Communist Party, though she denied this at the time. Following her dismissal, she wrote, together with her friend and former colleague at the Trust Fund, Margaret Mynatt, the pamphlet British Policy and the Refugees, 1941. Kapp worked as Research Officer for the Amalgamated Engineering Union from 1941 to 1946 and for the Medical Research Council between 1947 and 1953, undertaking field work in the East End of London. She was an editor and translator for Lawrence and Wishart (publishers) between 1953 and 1957, and also published four novels under the pseudonym Yvonne Cloud, including Nobody Asked You in 1932 and The Houses in Between in 1938. Her biography of Eleanor Marx (2 vols: 1972, 1976) was hailed as a masterpiece by historian Eric Hobsbawm. She died in 1999.

The Papers

Joint papers of Margaret Mynatt and Yvonne Kapp, comprising articles, mainly by or about Bertolt Brecht (1952-1982), with associated correspondence; Margaret Mynatt's correspondence with Walter Benjamin [photocopies]; Yvonne Kapp's correspondence with Helene Brecht-Weigel and the Bertolt Brecht-Archiv, Berlin; correspondence of Mynatt and Kapp with Phyllis Rosner, Elisabeth Hauptmann and Ilse Warnber [sister of Elisabeth Hauptmann].

Papers of Margaret Mynatt including correspondence with Emmy Koenen; obituary of Wilhelm Koenen (1963); correspondence and papers on the death of Elisabeth Hauptmann (1973); photographs of Elisabeth Hauptmann;  papers relating to Mynatt's father, John Charles Mynatt (Giovanni Minotti) (1903-1966); photographs of Bertolt Brecht and Helene Weigel; theatre and concert programmes from the Berliner Ensemble (1955-1967), and for productions of Brecht's works in London (1963-1989).

Papers of Yvonne Kapp, including minutes and papers of the Czech Refugee Trust Fund (1938-1940); correspondence, including letters written under the pseudonym Yvonne Cloud (1939-1941); hand-written copies of poems on the Communist Party; refugee papers selected by Dr Charmian Brinson (1997); 3 volumes of press cuttings on the 'Internment Crisis' (July-September 1940); obituaries of Kapp from The IndependentThe Times and The Guardian (1999).

Archival Arrangement

MYK/1 Joint Correspondence of Yvonne Knapp and Margaret Mynatt
MYK/2 Papers of Margaret Mynatt
MYK/3 Papers of Yvonne Kapp
MYK/4 Photographic Material
MYK/5 Translations of Works by Bertolt Brecht and Related Records
MYK/6 Talks, Articles and Other Material on Bertolt Brecht and his Work
MYK/7 Publications containing Work by Bertolt Brecht
MYK/8 Theatre and Concert Programmes

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