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

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Thursday, 27 September 2012

The residue of love

Saturday, September 27th., London.

Max Beaverbrook rang me up on Thursday and again last night.

Marguerite Bennett
On Thursday he said: "Arnold, I want to tell you. The Daily Express has been offered a biography of you written by Mrs. A.B. They wanted to make it a condition that we treat the offer as confidential, secret; but I absolutely refused to do any such thing. So I'm telling you. Our man has read it all through and likes it. Says he wouldn't mind anyone saying of him in his lifetime what is said of you in the book.  If you have any objection, I won't buy it; but if you haven't, I'd like to." I reasoned that if the Express or any other paper refused it, M. would put the refusal down to me and would be accordingly resentful. She would never understand the awful bad taste of the whole thing, whether accurate or inaccurate, praising or blaming, etc. It is bound to be published somewhere; it is bound to make people think that I am partner in the bad taste. But if it to be published I would sooner it be published by someone who is very friendly and will take care that nothing offensive appears in it.

Introduction to M.'s biography

Last night he rang again about M.'s life of me. He said he had now read it all through, and it was unadulterated praise. The parts describing me at work were good and interesting: the literary criticism dull. He said he would certainly put a prefatory note at the beginning, to say that she had been separated from me for some years.

Without that (said he) the thing would be "intolerable", as anyone not in the know would think that I had been conspiring with her to make some advertisement for myself.

Yesterday, after some hesitations, I began the final writing of the 1st. Act of "The Dance Club". I went to Brompton Oratory in the morning to get some colour for the opening. I sat there about fifteen minutes and got one idea, and suddenly saw that I could start. So I came back home and from 12 to 1 wrote my reminiscence from my 1907 journal, so that I should be quite free in the afternoon. After lunch I went to bed and began to work at 3.30 only. I did the two opening scenes, up to the opening of the first big scene between Lucien and Flora, so I was very content, because I worked very conscientiously.

This play was eventually published as "Flora" in 1927. The original title was "Dance Club". It was rejected by several West End managements and was finally produced at the Rusholme Theatre in Manchester on 17 October 1927. A.S. Wallace in The Manchester Guardian found it 'trivial'. The Times said 'it is just possible that a better performance would have given the impression that Bennett had written a better play'; it was 'a rather mechanical and shoddy piece of theatricality'. The play was produced again in October 1935 at the experimental theatre of The Covent Garden Club, and The Times said, 'structurally unsound and weak in that it lacks tension and drama, it is astonishingly successful in its revelation of character'.

I saw it on October 19th. 1927 at Rusholme. I was pleased on the whole with the play. It certainly has holding power, and this power survived even the acting.

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