Letter from Nan Rothwell


I first met Rosemary in February 1969, when I was nineteen and she was 46. 
Rosemary's son Richard and I were friends at Harvard.  When I left Harvard 
with plans to travel in England and Europe, Richard gave me his parents' 
names and address, urging me to visit them.  I arranged to ride out to Dairy 
Cottage, the Zorza's house in Buckinghamshire, England, with Richard's sister 
Jane.  The two of us arrived late in the evening, and as Jane had lost her 
key, she boosted me through a window into the front hall.  Our clatter woke 
Rosemary, who once she understood that the house wasn't being burgled, was 
quick to make me feel welcome.  That visit, originally scheduled to last a 
day or two, was the beginning of a whole new life for me. 

Rosemary was a potter.  She invited me into her potting shed during my first 
afternoon at Dairy Cottage.  Except for one break of several years, I've been 
making pots since that first day in Rosemary's studio.  Rosemary taught me to 
throw.  Once she saw how committed I was to potting, she introduced me to 
Mick Casson, who helped me find further training at the Harrow School of Art. 
Rosemary and Victor moved to my hometown, Washington, DC, while I was 
studying in England.  When I moved back to the US, she helped me meet potters 
and make clay connections.  The two of us did numerous joint shows and 
exhibitions together and worked in each others' studios. 

Rosemary's influence in my life went beyond that introduction to pottery. 
Rosemary was not only an important teacher in my life, she was one of my 
dearest friends.  From early in our friendship, we knew we could count on 
each other.  We'd call each other when things got hard.  She'd listen to my 
discouragement as I struggled to become a potter.  I could whine about my 
personal life or about my family.  She called on me during the big crises in 
her life her daughter Jane's battle with cancer, her health problems and 
failing marriage to Victor Zorza.  Once Rosemary returned to England 
permanently, our contact grew less frequent.  But despite that distance, she 
remained an ally someone I always counted on and trusted. 

I hate the jargon phrase "role model."  But in truth, Rosemary was a strong 
role model for me.  Ever since we met, I've always wanted to be like her. 
Rosemary had a flair for life.  She lived aware of beauty and balance.  She 
appreciated plants in flower, a well-placed handle on a mug, the exact right 
word or phrase in a poem.  She reveled in the music of Brahms and the colors 
of an oriental carpet.  She could indulge Dairy Cottage was the first place 
I ever ate trifle and champagne for brunch.  But she was rarely 
self-indulgent.  A realist, Rosemary could point out the folly of modern life 
or rail against prejudice and injustice.  But she didn't lose her belief in 
an individual's ability to grow and change.  She was a wonderful mother
both to her own children and to the youngsters, myself included, who flocked 
to her wherever she lived.  She listened.  She treated children and young 
people with respect.  She recognized and encouraged their potential 
strengths.  That quality in her drew me to Rosemary from the start and more 
than anything else, it is what I hope to emulate in my own life.