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Violet sick in bed

Taken November 20, 1930 in Nikolsk.

Throughout their time in the Soviet Union, Violet was plagued with illnesses, while Harry also experienced many bouts of sickness. In the photograph to the left, Violet is smiling for the camera while sick in bed; On the back of the picture, it is written: "[...] my girl was real sick this day. taken in Our Room at Hotel."

The first time Harry makes mention of sickness is in May 1930, when he notes that the director, and his companion Jack, are ill. By June 7, Violet too becomes sick, and Harry falls sick himself a month later. The doctors they consult attribute Violet's illness to black bread, while Harry's severe stomachache is suspected to be from a fly bite on the tongue.


got Poisoned and sent for Dr. twice, got shot in arm. oh my poor stomach. such cramps. Can't Live Long.

— July 17, 1930Harry's diary entyr

Less than a month later, Harry has a fever and is worried he may be poisoned again.

Sick in bed on the account of stink. was burning up with fever. was afraid of being poison again. asked Dr. to take temperature.

— August 6, 1930Harry's diary entry

By November, it is Violet again who is sick.

Dr told me my girl has an effected lung, and Should leave the far East, not working But waiting for Violie to travel.

— November 27, 1930Harry's diary entry

Only by March of the next year do the couple finally manage to get a scan of Violet's lungs. Not long afterward, Harry is again struck with fever, which the doctor suspects is malaria or pneumonia.

more tubes, & high fever. Still 40°. almost Crazy. taking white Powders. 4 more new Doctors, girls, going to Hospital.

— April 28, 1931Harry's diary entry

Dr. don't know if its malariea [i.e. malaria] or pneumona [i.e. pneumonia].- fever down to 38.5. Same noise. & can not get clean change of linen or pajamas.

— May 5, 1931Harry's diary entry

Violet on the other hand, finds by late May that she cannot move the facial muscles on half of her face:

V. face paralyised [i.e. paralyzed] on right. Side. eye pulled down + lid won't close no [crossed out: plan] pain. in Cheek But Back of Neck hurts. I am worried, eye twitched

— May 22, 1931Harry's diary entry

The doctors that the couple consult suggest that it may have been ear or nerve issues causing the condition. Under Harry's instructions, Violet begins whistling to exercise her facial muscles. In the ensuing entries, Harry writes about her slow but eventual recovery.

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