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

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Monday, 24 September 2012

French excursion

Friday, September 24th., Les Nefliers,

Lee Mathews came on Wednesday night.

   William Lee-Mathews (1862-1931), a business executive, was from 1905 (succeeding Shaw) chairman of the Incorporated Stage Society Producing Committee.

Thursday morning Lee M. and I walked in the forest. He said that he had got Tree to come to his flat, and his wife read to Tree the scenario of my "Don Juan", and Tree said he was afraid he hadn't enough dash to carry it off. He took the MS away with him, and Lee M. has heard nothing since.

Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree (17 December 1852 – 2 July 1917) was an English actor and theatre manager. He began performing in the 1870s. By 1887, he was managing the Haymarket Theatre, winning praise for adventurous programming and lavish productions, and starring in many of its productions. In 1899, he helped fund the rebuilding, and became manager, of His Majesty's Theatre. Again, he promoted a mix of Shakespeare and classic plays with new works and adaptations of popular novels, giving them spectacular productions in this large house, and often playing leading roles. His wife, actress Helen Maud Holt, often played opposite him and assisted him with management of the theatres. Although Tree was regarded as a versatile and skilled actor, particularly in character roles, by his later years, his technique was seen as mannered and old fashioned. He founded the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1904 and was knighted, for his contributions to theatre, in 1909. 

In the afternoon Mathews and I went to Moret by train, and walked down to St. Mammes and up the Loing to Moret town. Beautiful hot day, with sailing architectural clouds. A great population of barges. We saw a Flemish barge, with white sculpture work on the doors of its cabin, all painted very nattily, with little imitations of the deck of a ship; very clean; a few plants in pots, including a peach tree in full fruit, loaded, in fact; also embroidered lace curtains at the little cabin windows. A delightful object. You never see a French barge like this.

Alfred Sisley: Moret-sur-Loing

Moret-sur-Loing, a medieval town in the Seine-et-Marne, with a little over 4500 inhabitants, has an outstanding location on the edge of the forest of Fontainebleau. By the banks of the Loing, which empties into the Seine a short way downstream, this medieval town has an indisputable charm, drawing visitors both to its fortress and many monuments and its natural surroundings.

Its lively past has bequeathed a rich and varied heritage to the present day: Roman and medieval constructions, pages of the history of the Kings of France, visits from the Impressionists, the unparalleled location on the banks of the Loing... The artist Alfred Sisley, one of the great names in the Impressionist movement, lived in Moret from 1889 to 1899 A friend of Monet, Manet, Renoir and Pissarro in particular, Sisley had a difficult life and his work only gained real recognition after his death. His life story reflects a continual struggle to be recognised in the artistic circles of the time.

On getting home I found a letter saying that Pinker had sold "What the Public Wants" as a serial to McClures for £100. The U.S.A. is certainly a very strange market indeed.

What The Public Wants is Arnold Bennett's sly satire on tabloid journalism -- a lively look at life behind the headlines and proof that the more things change, the more they stay the same. This clever 1909 comedy charts the efforts of media mogul Sir Charles Worgan to boost circulation as well as his social standing. He owns forty different publications and claims to have "revolutionized journalism." He employs over a thousand people and is worth millions -- and yet he wants more -- he wants respect from the "superior people" who look down their noses at him. But is he willing to pay the price?

Yesterday I finished a story "The Heroism of Thomas Chadwick". This makes the third in about a fortnight. One of them, "Hot Potatoes", is just twice too long for the amount of material in it.

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