Copyright ©2003 Elsa Scammell

Elsa Scammell's Home Page

Mrs. Elsa Scammell, M.A., (Elizabeth)
Cats' Cradle, 102 Jubilee Road,
Waterlooville, Hants. PO7 7RE UK
Tel: 02392-250180

Elsa Scammell died on Monday 29th September 2003.

Although she had become quite frail recently, and told her friends that did not have long left, she has been saying things like that for 20 years and we had come to feel that she would go on for ever. So her death has come as a great shock. She died quietly at home, in the evening.

Although she had been virtually housebound for many years, she stayed in touch with her many friends through the net and the phone. She continued to work on her interests in early music and current politics right up to the end. She was very relieved a few months ago when she had found someone to continue her book if she could not finish it herself. In what we now know was her last week, she was struggling with yet another new computer, and was excited about the Liberal Democrat win in the Brent East by-election.

Dr. Peter Giles has already been told of her death and will be finishing 'Angel Voices' as described below.

This web site will be kept on the net in her memory.

David Wright October 2003

Introducing myself

I am Elsa Mary Marie-Therese Scammell. Now a widow, after nearly 40 years of happy marriage.
Born 11.01.1925; which makes me old.
My background and origin are largely unknown to me; no relatives, nothing. No children, because of my condition.

I have various qualifications; Inter Ll.B., many years ago; in a just post-war situation, law books were very difficult to obtain, so I gave up the law and did a B.A. in English; studied Latin to near degree standard; M.A. Scottish Chaucerians.

Languages: mostly my own efforts on the linguistic side; French, Latin, German, Italian.

English Teacher and head of a large department for many years.


Music (of course); antiques; books; topography; criminology; Russia before the Revolution; underground rivers; virtually, the history of anything and anywhere; especially: steep hills, wind and watermills; railways of all kinds; fords and ferries and books pertaining thereto.

And I like cats. The pictures on the right show my cats Tosca and Jasper, the survivers of a once larger tribe. Tosca was born in March 1978 so is now a very old cat; Jasper was born in September 1987. The two cats are half-siblings.

And then...politics!

Tosca Jasper

The Castrati

I had begun on a study of the church Castrati in 1977 on hearing the centenary broadcast regarding Thomas Edison in that year.
Then I heard Alessandro Moreschi, the last castrato, for the first time!

I did some broadcasts, particularly on Radio 3, and was asked to write a book on the church and operatic castrati, which my late husband christened "Angel Voices". This was for Duckworth's. Pavilion Records asked me to write the greater part of the booklet to go with the Opal CD: "The Last Castrato: Alessandro Moreschi". Despite continued ill-health, I gathered material from all over the world (no Internet then); but progress has been slow.

However, with regard to "Angel Voices", my deteriorating health has greatly impeded me, as I cannot travel and can barely walk; and that's enough about that! So, I made arrangements with Duckworth's and Dr. Peter Giles (History and Technique of the Countertenor: 1981 and 1995) for him to finish the book on my behalf, if matters worsen, as you will have observed in the Links section of the Castrati Pages.

Peter, a former lay vicar choral of Canterbury Cathedral, is an expert in his field; he found he had to write 2 versions of his book, the second in which I feature. I am virtually doing the same thing, as the vast explosion of knowledge concerning the castrati, in various languages on the Internet, radically changed my conception of my book; which might otherwise have been merely a re-writing of already known facts with just a small injection of some new information. But all is very different now; I have learned so much more, and seem to have become a kind of guru in my subject. I have offers to write and broadcast still, but I cannot tackle outside work now.


I learned organisational skills in pre-computer days; must have used one of the first electric typewriters, then ditto electronic, after that!

I like new technology, but it does not always like me. Things have a habit of going wrong in my house ... and occasionally the cats did not help.

I then bought my first "real" computer in 1995; went on to the then somewhat slow Internet; changed computers and made considerable advances; have now graduated to Windows Me and my 4th computer, which, although bought new, was discovered to have major hardware faults. I have had to learn a lot, very quickly, and so my knowledge of computers is a bit of a curate's egg.


Booklet for Opal CD 9823 (Pavilion Records) "The Last Castrato"
Broadcast, references: to be added
Book coming: "Angel Voices", Duckworth's, about 

There have been delays due to my illness, which will affect the date of publication of: "Angel Voices" - see above.


Member, former Chair and now and Life President of Harlow Liberal Democrats.

So this is my web site. Last updated: October 2003. Acknowledgments in the Links;

Award: Golden Cords Award Golden Cords Awardon 5th September 2000

Welcome to my (odd) world.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish."