chapter  10
22 Pages

The Wilderness Years, 1945–1951

In the post-war years Eric Coates produced little of note and at times it appears that he was drifting in a period of wilderness exacerbated by his return from South America in 1948, which resulted in a major breakdown in his health during the remainder of the decade. For many, 1945-51 was a period of austerity under Atlee’s Labour Government. While Coates had frequently suffered from compositional ‘blank patches’; the post-war years were different, as he had little interest in composition. Coates’ decline in health was not the only factor in a lack of compositions during 1945 and 1951. Coates’ nephew and godson, Francis Freeman, believes that another aspect was that his uncle was paying a large amount of tax and, therefore, was reluctant to compose for fear that if he wrote another major work he would have to pay even more tax.1 The tax rates during the early 1940s were drastically increased to pay for the war, and post-war income tax was nine shillings in the pound.2 As Coffield has pointed out that the postwar rates of tax reached their zenith by 1951 when anyone earning over £5,000 surrendered slightly more than half their income to the government.3 Coates also lost a good deal of money on his royalties from America as a result of income tax on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1945, he informed one newspaper that he received considerably less than 10 per cent of his American royalties owing to taxation.4