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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

And make sure to visit The Arnold Bennett Society for expert information and comment on all aspects of the life and work of AB.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Revisiting Riceyman

Sunday, June 21st., Chiltern Court, London.

Midsummer's day. Felt a bit 'down' this morning and went out to try to cheer myself up. Worked!

Riceyman Steps
Coming down from the Pentonville region into Clerkenwell I was reflecting in the back-parlour of my mind on 'convention' and 'revolt' in literature. Convention was on the slopes. He that knoweth not Percy Circus (distant view of the romantic towers of St Pancras) should know it. It is a hundred times more conventional than Piccadilly Circus. Also Great Percy Street should be known. Also the Norman arches of Baker Street (W.C.1 not W.1). Also Helena Street, with its antique woodwork all painted verdant green and its ruined chapel. Also Lloyd Square, the most withdrawn square in London. Also Riceymen Steps, formerly Plum Pudding Steps, where was performed a feat of transport surpassing anything ever done in that line in USA, namely the moving of an entire bookseller's shop with all its books and dust from a south coast port to the foot of the Steps. So I descended to King's Cross Road and the new factories and warehouses. It is the latter which represent Revolt. The latest industrial perpendicular style of architecture contrasts uncompromisingly with the conventional blocks of dark "dwellings" which it hems in.

The object of my excursion was to visit and ransack the book-barrows. With a vengeance do they represent Convention. I have known them for over forty years, and instead of advancing they have receded. To begin with, the majority of them were shut-up and sheeted down in their black tarpaulins. This at four o'clock on Saturday afternoon! Influence no doubt of the sinister weekend habit invented by the book-reading classes! And those that were still "open" might be divided into two classes: barrows stocked with too-excited literature, arcane publications and works by obscure authors; barrows heaped pell-mell with books in a disorder so acute that you could not possibly examine more than ten percent of them without employing a housebreaking and demolition firm. I did, in fact, detect one or two pleasing items but to prove the sincerity of my remarks to the barrow-man I refused to buy any of them - he didn't care! The book-barrow trade ought to look to itself, and if I do my duty I shall write to the Secretary of the National Union of associations of Book-barrow Dealers. Half an hour in Farringdon Road has served to raise my opinion of shop-based booksellers!

I have had the opportunity to see the film "Piccadilly", for which I wrote the screenplay last year, and was pleased with it. Dupont has done an excellent job in bringing the story to life on the screen and the advertising poster is superb. The quality of the acting was, I thought, good. There was considerable use of close-up shots of the actors' faces and they were generally successful in conveying their emotions with subtle changes of expression. This surprised me. A surprisingly large amount of the dialogue is discoverable by lip-reading the actors. Dupont seems to have managed to locate and use a large number of characterful extras which added to the authenticity of the film, as did the use of scenes shot in the streets of London.  The contrast between the privileged world of the wealthy and that of the working-classes was brought out excellently: the audience in the Piccadilly Club seemed bland, homogeneous and uninteresting in comparison with the denizens of the Limehouse public house who were diverse, colourful and full of life, with a barely veiled edge of violence and sexuality. Anna May Wong was excellent in the role of Shosho, though her Chinese dance didn't seem likely to have excited male appetites to the extent implied by the story-line. Jameson Thomas as Valentine Wilmot was suitably sinister. I was pleased that all the characters I created retained their flaws in transition from paper to the silver screen. The film is no great work of art, but it is decidedly watchable.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Take the money.

Sunday, March 15th., George Street, London.

I had thought of going to Vienna and had told several friends as much, but I have changed my mind. On mature reflection I have realised that there must be more than music to a place for it to be worth visiting. In any case I intend to start preparations for the yachting season next week. The anticipation of time on the water is invigorating and how much more I will enjoy it now that I am quite free of domestic responsibilities.

John Lloyd Stephens - Incidents of Travel in Central ...This morning I spent an hour or so with John Lloyd Stevens as he set out on his journey to Central America. He writes well and would I think have been a highly agreeable travelling companion. Like many Americans in my experience he has an unfortunate attitude of superiority to black people; even when he admits that they display civilised qualities and manners he adopts a tone which suggests they are still not quite up to the standards of a white person. Skin colour was, and remains, a matter of great significance for Americans. I wonder if his attitude will moderate at all as his adventure proceeds?

My play "The Love Match" is the greatest failure that ever was. The first night audience received the last two acts in silence; the whole of the press was frankly hostile, and th public is sedulously staying away. The financial loss is running at about £100 a night and the play is to be withdrawn at once. This beats my previous record for shortness of run which was 36 nights.

On the plus side Cassells have informed me that they are enthusiastic about my new novel "Lilian" but wish me to modify two sentences in it for serial use:
a) 'I am going to have a baby'
b) 'I am seven months gone'.
What a world! Shall I stand on principle and refuse? No, I will take the money.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Perennially discontented

Tuesday, March 10th., Cadogan Square, London.

It feels so cold here, and grey, and I feel gloomy.

To think that only a few days ago, at this same time, I was strolling about, shirt-sleeved, with a light jacket slung casually over one shoulder, savouring the warm evening air and the sound of the sea. Was it a dream? Why did I return? When may I go back? Ah, well ... I know that this ennui will pass and I will settle to my work once more, and feel contented. Strange to say that before I set off to come home I felt myself ready to return and was positively looking forward to being surrounded by the old familiar things. I had grown tired, or so I thought, of the unbroken blue of the sky and hoped for a few (just a few!) scattered clouds. 

The message is there of course which has been stated so often that it should not surprise me: humans are, by nature it seems, perennially discontented creatures. Speaking only for myself I find that an act of will is wholly insufficient to alter my mood. Only time will make the change. In the meantime the most I can hope for is not to inflict my gloomy sentiments onto others. Solitary walking is the answer. I shall go out where the darkness sets me free.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

AB is still away

Sunday, March 1st., Canary Islands

Warm and sunny - lovely!

Back next week .... perhaps!

In the meantime:

 Arnold bennett famous quotes 5 - Collection Of Inspiring ...

Sunday, 23 February 2020

AB is away

Sunday, February 23rd., Chiltern Court, London.

AB has unexpectedly gone off on holday to the Canary Islands.

It is not known whether, or if, he will return. 

In the meantime:
  Arnold Bennett Quotes at StatusMind.com

Saturday, 22 February 2020

What I want

Wednesday, February 22nd., Fulham Park Gardens, London.

Citaten.net - Citaten en Wijsheden in de categorie ...
Eden Phillpotts
On Friday I went down to Torquay to spend the weekend with Eden Phillpotts.

I found him settled in a decently large house (with several rooms about 20 feet square), with a charming wife and two children, with whom he must play every evening in the nursery from 6 to 7, inventing new games etc. Mrs. P. is a rather attractive woman, if a little older than me, and it was a pleasure to be entertained by her whilst Eden was upstairs. We were quickly on friendly terms and she was particularly interested in my life in Paris. Once or twice she have me a 'knowing' look when I referred (obliquely) to the pleasures to be had there.

On Saturday Eden and I went for a walk in the February mist. Very mild down here. Both he and his brother ask nothing better than to potter about garden and greenhouse, diagnosing the case of every plant, noting minute changes, and discussing methods of treatment. For two days a rumour that a camellia was growing in the hedge of a certain garden in a certain street excited them until they proved to themselves satisfactorily that the rumour was wrong and the camellia only a rhododendron.

Today Tillotsons offered me £60 for the serial rights of "For Love and Life". I have asked them for £80, but £60 was the price I had myself thought of.

I left Phillpotts full of desire to live in the country in a large house with plenty of servants, as he does, not working too hard, but working how and when one likes, at good rates. And an attractive wife would be good as well! It can only be done by means of fiction. Perhaps the sale of this my first serial may be considered as a step in the desired direction.

Now I am packing to go away again, somewhere warm and sunny. I feel the need for some rest and recuperation.

Friday, 21 February 2020


Friday, February 21st., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

I have been up to my neck in the mud of work, especially proof-correcting. But I have at least got my improper novel entirely off my mind and don't want to hear anything more about it except highly favourable reviews and immense cheques. 

There was a bomb on St. Pancras Hotel on Sunday night and on Chelsea Hospital on Saturday night. No official casualty figures as far as I have heard. Yesterday there was a fog. We now like fogs and rain - except on moonless nights.

Lunch with Rosher to meet Kennedy Jones at Thatched House Club. He is a Glasgow man, aged 52, with pale eyes, and when talking he screws them up a little, and looks far away as if cogitating on the most difficult and interesting aspects of what he is discussing. Largely affectation I think. He struck me as a powerful and ruthless man, but I wouldn't have any of his ruthlessness. When he was firm, I was firmer. In spite of the superior knowledge of which he boasts he has already lost two bets to Rosher about the war. I wouldn't like to be one of his 'men', but he was interesting enough to meet.