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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.

Monday, 29 October 2012

A great actress

Friday, October 29th., London.

Haidee Wright, Vernon and the Alec Reas, for dinner. Haidee very like the 3rd act of "Milestones", and exactly like the 2nd act. Depressed and captious about the world generally, though much pleased with an alleged renaissance which she has observed in English acting. A strong, 'vibrant' (as they say) personality, always interesting. You can see all the time why Haidee Wright is a great actress. Something is always oozing out of her. She is very shy and nervous and diffident, yet well aware, somewhere within herself, that she is a person of considerable importance in the artistic world.

As Gertrude Rhead in Milestones.

Haidee Wright (13 January 1867 – 29 January 1943), originally Ada Wright, was a London born English character actress. She began acting in plays in 1878 when a small child. She came from a family of actors and had a long career in the UK and the US with much Broadway work with occasional parts in films. Her parents and many siblings were actors.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Marital breakdown

October 23rd., 12B George Street, London.

Today I wrote to my sister as follows:

My dear Tertia,

A great calamity has occurred in this household. I am obliged to arrange for a separation from Marguerite on account of her relations with Legros, whom she absolutely refuses to give up, & with whom she is certainly very much in love. She has several times suggested a separation, and at last, after witnessing their manifestations of passion in my presence, after an episode in Italy where they met (after hoodwinking me as to their intentions until the meeting had taken place), and after certain occurrences at Comarques, I was obliged to take advice, both legal & from friends. I then learnt to my astonishment that I was being regarded by many people as a mari complaisant! The actual rupture occurred through Marguerite insisting on me giving her £1500 a year for her own private use - doubtless so that she might have more money to spend on Legros. She was seldom getting less than £1000 a year from me for her own private use, but that was not enough! The unfortunate creature has simply been carried away. Legros is undoubtedly a scoundrel, but she can't see it & I hear that no-one has been able to make her see it. When the inevitable row occurs there, she will realise (what she now utterly fails to realise) that she has made a most ghastly future for herself. She ingenuously dreams of a career as a French reciter in London. It is pathetic. She has enjoyed enormous prestige, and resents always that she enjoys it as my wife, and she thinks she can continue it apart from me. One of the worst aspects of the affair is that as of course I must see to her financial independence - I am giving her £2000 a year free to tax; she wanted £4000! - she will have money to spend on Legros. She is, I am told by our mutual solicitor, convinced that at the last moment I will ask her to stay. The only thing that worries me is the tragedy she is making for herself. Her increasingly terrible temper is bound in the end to triumph over Legros' love of her money. Not that Legros is not genuinely fond of her - I think he is at present. Precisely the same thing happened to her mother who is the slightest bit cracked, & I fear that Marguerite is too. Various persons have tried to make her see reason. No success. Even her own people,  papa & mama Bion, have each written to her to protest against her relations with Legros & to warn her of the consequences. I should not have heard of these letters, but they so infuriated her that she was obliged to talk to someone about them, & she came & talked to me, though our relations were then practically broken off! I am most acutely distressed by the fact that Marguerite is behaving with the most tragic idiocy and that nobody can stop her. Otherwise, if I thought she was going to be happier, I should be only too pleased at the change, though of course nothing can end my responsibility for her material welfare. (In this latter view my friends scarcely agree with me.) I think I must come down tomorrow Monday night, after dinner.

See also 'The Residue of Love': September 27th.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Famous men

Saturday, October 22nd., London

This is my idea of fame:

At an entertainment on board H.M.S. Majestic, Rudyard Kipling, one of the guests, read "Soldier and Sailor Too", and was encored. He then read "The Flag of England". At the conclusion a body of subalterns swept him off the stage, and chaired him round the quarter-deck, while "For he's a jolly good fellow" was played by the massed bands of the Fleet and sung by 200 officers assembled.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was born in Bombay, but educated in England at the United Services College, Westward Ho, Bideford. In 1882 he returned to India, where he worked for Anglo-Indian newspapers. His literary career began with Departmental Ditties (1886), but subsequently he became chiefly known as a writer of short stories. A prolific writer, he achieved fame quickly. Kipling was the poet of the British Empire and its yeoman, the common soldier, whom he glorified in many of his works, in particular Plain Tales from the Hills(1888) and Soldiers Three (1888), collections of short stories with roughly and affectionately drawn soldier portraits. His Barrack Room Ballads (1892) were written for, as much as about, the common soldier. In 1894 appeared his Jungle Book, which became a children's classic all over the world. Kim (1901), the story of Kimball O'Hara and his adventures in the Himalayas, is perhaps his most felicitous work. Other works include The Second Jungle Book (1895), The Seven Seas (1896), Captains Courageous (1897), The Day's Work (1898), Stalky and Co. (1899), Just So Stories (1902), Trafficks and Discoveries (1904), Puck of Pook's Hill (1906), Actions and Reactions (1909), Debits and Credits (1926), Thy Servant a Dog (1930), and Limits and Renewals (1932). During the First World War Kipling wrote some propaganda books. His collected poems appeared in 1933. Kipling was the recipient of many honorary degrees and other awards. In 1926 he received the Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Literature, which only Scott, Meredith, and Hardy had been awarded before him.

Yesterday I was at Helpston, near Peterborough, the birthplace of John Clare. The cottage where the poet was born has been made into a museum. Walking around the area I tried to get some sense of the inspiration Clare found there, but without success. To me it seems pleasant enough but flat and rather featureless. Perhaps it had a different 'feel' before enclosure? Big skies of course, but yesterday was rather damp, grey, dismal and cold, so I didn't see it at its best! My sensibilities are more attuned to man-made than natural landscapes - beauty may take many forms.

John Clare 1793-1864 , our most remarkable poet of the English countryside, was born in the village of Helpston, Northamptonshire and raised as an agricultural labourer. Clare’s genius was his ability to observe and record the minutiae of English nature and every aspect rural life, at a time when enclosures were transforming the landscape and sweeping away centuries of traditional custom and labour. Following great success with his first published poems (outselling even John Keats) Clare quickly became unfashionable, falling quickly into literary obscurity. The magnitude of Clare’s achievement and poetic genius was not fully appreciated until the recent publication of a first complete edition of his poetry, much of which had remained neglected in manuscript archives for 150 years. Now scholars worldwide regard him as one of our leading poets gradually affording the same status as reputed poet contemporaries such as William Wordsworth and S.T.Coleridge. Clare’s birthplace and family home for many years was acquired by the John Clare Trust in 2005. Its transformation into an education and visiting centre celebrates Clare’s life and inspires visitors to share in his creativity, his passion for nature and the countryside and his environmental engagement. The cottage restoration used traditional building methods and tells the story of Clare’s life and work, recreating a number of rooms as Clare and his family would have known them, while also providing space for workshops and practical activities. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Getting ready to write

Thursday, October 21st., Les Nefliers

I find that if I am to begin my new novel, "Clayhanger", on 1st Jan. 1910, I must make a series of preliminary enquiries. I do this perhaps at the rate of half an hour or an hour a day. I have read "When I was a Child", and all I need of Shaw's "North Staffordshire Potteries", and tonight I re-read the "social and Industrial" section of the Victoria History, which contains a few juicy items that I can use. I work on the plot itself about once a week when I have an hour and feel like it.
Nothing at all occurred today, except that I began the actual transcription for my projected Dictionary of the Literary Ideas of W.S.Landor. I found this rather amusing and not in the least fatiguing. It is the sort of thing one could do whilst recovering from influenza.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

A surprising reaction

Thursday, October 20th., London.

I went up to Manchester by the 11.50 a.m. yesterday, arriving at 3.40 for performance of "Flora" at Rusholme. (See 'The Residue of Love' September 27th.). The Manchester Guardian man came to the hotel, and I gave him tea. Then he took me out to see architecture. Damned little to see. I got a car to drive to Rusholme. Theatre full except two back rows. Theatre quite decent, considering that it was once the stable of the tramways company (in horse days).

Rusholme Theatre, 1915

The Rusholme Theatre, which was situated on the corner of Wilmslow Road and Great Western Street, Rusholme, Manchester, was a conversion from the former Manchester Carriage and Tramways Company terminus and offices. The Theatre was constructed sometime between 1909 and 1913 and the first mention of the Theatre that I have found is from an advertisement carried in the Stage newspaper of May the 1st 1913 (shown above) saying: 'Wanted, May 5th. Frances, the Dancer. Quick Change International Dancer. Six distinct Characters - Rusholme Theatre, Manchester.'

Today I took the 12.5 back to London, which went through the Potteries. The sight of this district gave me a shudder. Why should that be? I have written about it with affection, and have described it as having a unique 'beauty'; it has been the source for most of my work which has received critical acclaim; it has contributed not insignificantly to my material comfort; it is the foundation for who I am.
I am now sixty: that may be the problem!

Monday, 15 October 2012


Thursday, October 19th., New York.

Lunch at Harper's, with chief members of staff including Major Lee, under presidency of Colonel George Harvey. I liked Harvey. Quiet, ruminative, accustomed to power and so on. Good laugh. Good story.

George Brinton McClellan Harvey (1864 - 1928) was anAmerican diplomat, journalist, author, administrator for electric rail construction and owner and editor of several newspapers, all positions that brought him great wealth. Having accumulated a fortune, he purchased the North American Review in 1899. In 1901 he also purchased Harper's Weekly, which he edited until 1913. He was president of Harper and Company until 1915. Despite retiring from Harper's Weekly as editor in 1913, he returned in 1918 to use it as a medium for attacking the policies of  Woodrow Wilson, despite the two having previously been friends. In 1918, he established The North American Review's War Weekly, later called Harvey's Weekly, which bitterly denounced the Wilson administration. Following the election of Warren G. Harding on March 4, 1921, Harvey became the United States ambassador to Great Britain from 1921 until 1923.

T.B.Wells came to fetch me in a taxi. Very heavy rain. We called at Brevoort-Lafayette for Frank Craig who is to illustrate my articles, and for whom Wells had an inordinate admiration. I thought he said: "Clean, wholesome," which is just what Craig is. The clean young governing-class Englishman to perfection. I liked him much; but I doubt his views in art.

Frank Craig 1874–1918 was a painter of genre, of contemporary and medieval historical subjects, and illustrator. Born at Abbey Wood, Kent, he studied at Lambeth School of Art and Cook's School, Fitzroy Street; a pupil of E. A. Abbey at the R.A. Schools 1895–8, and exhibited regularly at the R.A. from 1895 to 1916. Worked as an illustrator for The Graphic from 1895 and for other periodicals. Illustrated the poems of Rudyard Kipling. Member of the R.O.I. and National Portrait Society. Died of tuberculosis at Cintra, near Lisbon, 9 July 1918.

Lunch was at Lawyers Club in a private room thereof. Rex Beach one of the best settlers there. Nice athletic youngish man. Then I was taken to Harper's office - two Elevateds, and shown over it. Old style building for America.
Humorous serial sold for £2000 to Phillips.
Then to Waldorf where a room had been obtained, and to bed for 45 minutes after a bath. Considering I had only 1 hour's sleep at most in night on train, I was doing pretty well.

Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York

Still heavy rain off and on. We drove to Republic Theatre (Belasco) to see "The Woman" by William C. de Mille. Telephone girl play. Melodrama plot. Essentially childish. Nevertheless, in spite of too much talk in 1st act, I was not really bored. It appealed to the child in me.

The director William Churchill de Mille, the older brother of Hollywood legend Cecil B. DeMille was born in Washington, D. C., on July 25, 1878. After graduating from Columbia University, W.C. became a successful Broadway playwright. One of his most successful plays was "The Woman," which opened at the Republic Theatre on September 19, 1911. "The Woman" was a political thriller entailing confrontation, negotiations, calumnies, and double dealing. W.C.'s handling of points of view is unique in that he allows each of the characters' voices to come through clearly, without prejudice, so the audience is not tipped to which ones are right or wrong. He constantly turns the tables on the audience, forcing them to redefine their perceptions of the characters, as no character in the play is innocent, the heroes and villains in politics proving to be one and the same.

Guggenheim pointed out to me at theatre. Looked like a little grocer.

Time to write

Wednesday, October 18th., London.

To-day I made an arrangement with Bayly by which I am only to attend at the office four half days and one whole day in the week. As I never count office work as real work, this means that I can now do five full days of my own work at home, excluding Sunday. It is a great stroke of business, well managed by me, and I feel like a man suddenly enriched who is not quite ready with a scheme for spending. I hope to devote at least three whole days a week to "Anna Tellwright" and to resume this Journal with regularity. I shall cease now to work at such high pressure as I have been driving at during the last six months.

A writer's day

Sunday, October 17th., Cadogan Square, London.

I printed the title page of the MS. of "Riceyman Steps". I have no longer the interest keen enough to do an elaborate title page; but for a simple one the title page I did was not too bad. Then, as Dorothy was in her boudoir writing for her life, it occurred to me that I needed exercise and would go out for a walk. So I walked smartly to Westminster Cathedral, and sat therein for a quarter of an hour while the evening service began.

Westminster Cathedral

I got back at 7.40 and began to write notes.



Saturday, October 16th., Thorpe-le-Soken.

London yesterday. Show of French drawings about the war at Leicester Galleries.

I bought a Hermann Paul for 8 guineas.

René Georges Hermann-Paul was an artist of considerable scope who rose to fame during the Belle Époque. He is notable for satiric characterizations of the foibles of French society. Parisians got to know him as a stalwart defender of Alfred Dreyfus during the trail in which the captain was wrongly accused of treason.

The Forains were very fine indeed. 50 guineas each.

A reader's burden

Thursday, October 15th., London.

The appearance today of the first volume of a new edition of Boswell's "Johnson", edited by Augustine Birrell, reminds me once again that I have read but little of that work. Does there, I wonder, exist a being who has read all, or approximately all, that the person of average culture is supposed to have read, and that not to have read is a social sin? If such a being does exist, surely he is an old, a very old, man, who has read steadily that which he ought to have read sixteen hours a day, from early infancy.

" ... in my early years I read very hard. It is a sad reflection, but a true one, that I knew 
almost as much at eighteen as I know now." James Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791)

I cannot recall a single author of whom I have read everything - even of Jane Austen. I have never seen "Susan" and "The Watsons", one of which I have been told is superlatively good. Then there are large tracts of Shakespeare, Bacon, Spenser, nearly all Chaucer, Congreve, Dryden, Pope, Swift, Sterne, Johnson, Scott, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, Edgeworth, Ferrier, Lamb, Leigh Hunt, Wordsworth (nearly all), Tennyson, Swinburne, the Brontes, George Eliot, William Morris, George Meredith, Thomas Hardy, Savage Landor, Thackeray, Carlyle - in fact every classical author and most good modern authors, which I have never even overlooked. A list of the masterpieces I have not read would fill a volume. With only one author can I call myself familiar, Jane Austen. With Keats and Stevenson I have an acquaintance. So far of English. Of foreign authors I am familiar with de Maupassant and the de Goncourts. I have yet to finish Don Quixote!

There have indeed been minds overlaid by much reading, men who have piled 
such a load of books on their heads, their brains seem to be squashed by them. 
A.W. and J.C. Hare, Guesses at Truth (1827)

Nevertheless I cannot accuse myself of default. I have been extremely fond of reading since I was twenty, and since I was twenty I have read practically nothing ( save professionally as a literary critic) but what was "right". My leisure has been moderate, my desire strong and steady, my taste in selection certainly above the average, and yet in ten years I seem scarcely to have made an impression upon the intolerable multitude of volumes which "everyone is supposed to have read".

A Reader's burden
That I can read and be happy while I am reading is a great blessing. Could I have remembered, 
as some men do, what I read, I should have been able to call myself an educated man. But that 
power I have never possessed. Something is always left, - something dim and inaccurate, - but still something sufficient to preserve the taste for more. I am inclined to think that it is so for most readers. 
Anthony Trollope, An Autobiography (1883)

Essential characteristic of the really great novelist: a Christ-like, all-embracing compassion.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Domestic disturbances

Wednesday, October 14th., London.

D. having been much disturbed by revelations of character during a visit to Brighton with me on Monday, could not go to sleep. She told me that her infant had been subjected for the first time to evil influence and was unhappy and uncomfortable; also that he turned over about 1 a.m. However this experience somehow made her see the relations of good and evil, and how good could creep in when evil had been cast out, etc. Although the whole experience was perhaps an illusion, it was so real to her that it excited her very much, and her account of it was very interesting, - especially with all the detail she always gives.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Arriving in the New World

Friday, October 13th., New York.

Last night. Taking pilot and (?) health officers aboard. But perhaps they were ship's officers. First we saw some coloured lights which we took for something on land. It proved to be a ship, and then it proved of course to be the pilot boat. We had been burning flares.

Lusitania arriving in New York, 1910

Doran and two Press men came into saloon off revenue cutter. Only I didn't know they had come off revenue cutter. I was interviewed by two journalists apparently on behalf of the crowd. This was while ship was manoeuvring into dock. And at last we were on shore, after I had been interviewed by three other people. Irwin Cobb was part of our group.
Called at two hotels (free lunch counter etc.) and had time at the N.Y. Central to go to Hotel Belmont, which was our second hotel. I had had views of Broadway, 14th Street, 5ht Avenue etc. Lots of sky signs. Roads up. Not very many people but a sensation of grandness, immensity, lights , heights. Streets full of holes. Cable cars long and noisy but fewer at that time of night.
We got into a long train, smoker - rather shabby, and exactly at 11.19 left the station. I had a lot of evening papers, a wilderness to me. We crossed the Harlem, saw the old ship canal, and then skirted the Hudson. very blue arc lights. Through the town a regular succession of lightning glimpses of long streets at right angles to the track.
Cobb said you could see N.Y. and get a good idea of it. I said: "But what about the home life of people to learn?" he said: "There is none. It's a half-way house. Constant coming and going and changing of centres and so on. Only one man in three is American born." He indicated a whole vast quarter as we passed - probably several miles - which he described as nothing but apartment houses and bedrooms ... Arrival at Yonkers. Station being reconstructed. All wood stairs etc. A buggy, on remarkably thin wheels, and two horses, brown and white, ill-groomed, waited for us. And we seemed to drive a very long way. Through an Italian quarter. We passed through a district full of the remains of decorations of Christopher Columbus Day. which is today. At last, after sundry hills and dales, into an obviously residential quarter. her all roads interminably winding curves. Then the house.

Friday, 12 October 2012

News from Germany

Saturday, October 12th., Yacht Club, London.

Dinner of 'Writers Group' last night at Reform. At the start of the war, I was one of a group of leading writers called in by the War Propaganda Bureau of the British Government to suggest the best ways to promote Britain's wartime interests, especially in the US. George Bernard Shaw, who knew nothing of the War Propaganda Bureau, launched a fierce assault on what he saw as the jingoistic writing of British authors. It fell to me to defend the writers' group in letters to magazines and newspapers. My literary colleagues included Chesterton, Conan Doyle, Hardy, Kipling and Wells. It was decided to drop our three months' debated Manifesto entirely as being quite absurd in present circumstances. A wise decision, my God!
Spender (see 'Writing for Victory' September 3rd.) spoke about the poverty of Germany, and of a great struggle between inhabitants of 2 room tenements in poorer quarters and the police. The police laid down that it was unsanitary for people to sleep in a room where cooking was done. This of course would have put the whole family into one room to sleep. They could not enforce the decree practically. Then they had kitchens constructed in new tenements, in such a manner, so full of corners, that beds could not be put into them! He also spoke of seeing a highly respectable-looking long row of tenements in Munich, as to which a guide friend said to him: "You see those houses? There isn't a w.c. in the whole row. When the tenants want a w.c. they go to that beer hall there and have a drink in order to use a w.c." Spender, the influential Liberal editor and publicist, is a wonderful, ageing man, so informed and judicious and sagacious and kindly, but with a tendency to bore people, a bit 'grey' in colour; there is a lack of vitality and fun in him. He told me once that he wished he could make enough to live on by writing an article a week. Well he can't and never will, because his really admirable articles are not exciting enough to read!
Ellery Sedgwick, of the Atlantic Monthly, was at the dinner. I talked privately to him afterwards and walked with him back to the Ritz, and gave him my ideas on most of the big political personages. I was just in the humour for being highly indiscreet, and I was indiscreet. He said seriously at the end: "You may like to know that I accept your judgement absolutely." Every now and then in the rain he would stand still in order to put an important question.

Ellery Sedgwick (February 27, 1872 – April 21, 1960) was born in New York City. His ancestors, a leading family of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, established a tradition of literary achievement, including authors Catherine Maria Sedgwick and Henry Dwight Sedgwick III. He graduated from Groton School in 1890 and Harvard University in 1894. He returned to Groton in 1894 and taught Classics there until 1896. Subsequently, he was assistant editor of the Youth's Companion at Boston (1896–1900) and in New York editor of Leslie's Monthly Magazine (1900–05) and the American Magazine (1906–07). In 1909 he returned to Boston to be editor of the Atlantic Monthly and president of the Atlantic Monthly Company. In 1915 he was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. From his pen came The Life of Thomas Paine (1899). When Sedgwick purchased the Atlantic Monthly in 1908, the monthly circulation was 15,000 and the magazine ran an annual deficit of $5000. He worked quickly to reverse the trend and by 1928, he had increased circulation to 137,000. He has been credited with discovering many writers and with being the first American publisher to print the works of Ernest Hemingway. Sedgwick resigned as editor in 1938 and sold the magazine in 1939.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Sincere, artistic ladies

Sunday, October 11th., London.

A week of sluggish liver and disordered kidneys; restless nights; ill-tempered mornings.
An evening of strong contrasts; at eight o'clock I left, the musical, emotional atmosphere of Sharpe's, where Sharpe, Weist Hill, Mrs. Sharpe, Werg and Alcock were playing to a very mixed audience, Cherubini, Saint-Saens, Stanford and Schumann; raced home on my bicycle, rushed out again, took the bus and was having supper with Miss Symonds and her mother at Thurloe Square in exactly half an hour. At Putney, music, loud laughter, undiluted emotionalism, and sincere artistic purpose. At South Kensington, literature, quietude, the restraint of an eighteenth century demeanour, - and sincere artistic purpose , too.

'George Paston' (Emily Morse Symonds) (1860 - 1936) began her writing career as a novelist in the 1890s, but from 1900 turned her attention to writing biographies, histories, and drama, many of which reflect her fascination with the eighteenth century. Several of her works question the legal and social limitations faced by women of all classes, particularly within the institution of marriage. Writing during a time period when writing and publishing was a male-dominated industry, it was not uncommon to see a woman such as Symonds adopt either a gender neutral, or even a male pen name. The Academy noted that Symonds was "one of the many women writers who have succumbed to the mysterious attraction of the name 'George'." It has been speculated that perhaps she assumed the pen name at least partially as a means "to gain an unqualified entrance into the profession." The particular choice of the Christian name "George" has been attributed to a "mysterious attraction" that the name holds, as was George Eliot, the pen name of famed English author, Mary Anne Evans. Another famous female writer who chose George in her pen name was Amantine/Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin, also known as George Sand. Despite her adoption of a masculine pen name, it was no secret that she was, in fact female. The Academy went so far as to question why she even maintained the facade. Ultimately, they simply chalked it up to "a whim."

Miss Symond's is a frank worshipper of the eighteenth century. Her mother, an ample little lady with a quick cheerful laugh, and a most pleasant manner, is ready to enjoy anything. She recalled the pleasure with which, at nineteen, she read "Monte Cristo", and joyfully accepted my offer to lend her the "Vicomte de Bragelonne" so that she might renew the "Dumas sensations".
Miss Symonds, on the whole the most advanced and intellectually fearless woman I have met, stuck to the old formula that a woman should marry a man ten years her senior, "Ten or Fifteen years," she corrected herself. Her reasons: that a woman matures earlier than a man and that at forty a woman is middle-aged, while the man ... etc. The old reasons, which I combated, with cases in point to support my view.
I ventured to mention that I have never learnt to be enthusiastic about the work of her celebrated cousin, John Addington Symonds. To my astonishment, both she and her mother confessed that they had read very little of it, and did not care for it.

John Addington Symonds (5 October 1840 - 19 April 1893) was an English poet and literary critic. Although he married and had a family, he was an early advocate of male love (homosexuality), which he believed could include pederastic as well as egalitarian relationships. He referred to it as l'amour de l'impossible (love of the impossible). A cultural historian, he was known for his work on the Renaissance, as well as numerous biographies about writers and artists. He also wrote much poetry inspired by his homosexual affairs. 

I have noticed several times lately that when young boys run whooping and leaping along the street, from sheer effervescence of animal spirits, they do not ever smile. On the contrary, their faces are sternly set, and have a rapt, intent expression, as though they were thinking out some difficult problem.
I wonder if I have been led to note this particular observation by association from thinking about Symonds' proclivities?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

H.G.'s boom is over

Wednesday, October 10th., Yacht Club, London.

Dined with George Whale at the N.L.C. and in his great, ugly, sitting room took what I wanted from his large collection of notes on war superstitions , for my novel. His notes were extremely interesting.
Wells came in, and slanged the Webbs as usual, and incidentally said: "My boom is over. I've had my boom. I'm yesterday." He said that in air raids he was afraid of going to pieces altogether, so if there was a balcony he stood on it. He had been through several raids at Southend. He said: I get huffy and cross, just as if - " but I can't remember his comparison.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

All at sea

Monday, October 9th., Lusitania at sea.

Our third day at sea.
Strange noises through the night. Tappings. Waiting for the dawn to come, forgetting that there could be no dawn. The dawn was the turning on of the electric lights on the corridor.
Lovely Sunday morning. Rippled sea as we left Ireland.
Going out onto starboard deck (on this floor) I am startled to see it crowded. Steerage passengers. This is their playground. I walked round the forward part of the ship, and saw their dining rooms, kitchens and broad staircases leading to the different sections of berths. I had a glimpse of one berth; it seemed all right. All along deck here and there were entrances to paradises forbidden to them.

3rd. class cabin

Third Class passengers were not meant to feel as if they were visiting their country getaway for the weekend. They had no doubt whatsoever that they were aboard a ship. Accomdations were Spartan and designed for heavy use and easy upkeep. Everywhere the Steerage passnger looked, exposed bulkheads and rivets reminded them that they were not there to enjoy themselves. Stark white walls and brightly lit passages further enhanced the utlitarian atmostphere. Third Class cabins were small and deep within the ship. Four metal bunks looked more like hospital beds than anything. A steel wash basin, a single porthole (on outside cabins) and a small closet were the only other features in a Third Class room. Access to the open decks was restricted to First and Second Class passengers. The Second Class Smoking Room featured benaches and a few swiveling chairs. In the large Third Class Dining Hall, one would be fed a simple but no doubt above average meal. Breakfast typically consisted of oatmeal, porridge and millk, steak and onions, corned beef, curried veal or an omelette. Dinner menus featured items like roast beef or pork, fish or steak with a side or vegetables, rice and bread. Available meals varied by day and season.

A certain natural brazenness about some of them - girls, who would not give and take to me in passing.
Today, ragged sky. Black water all round horizon. Nothing in sight. Moon not set. Full moon.
Inspection of ship with Chief Steward. 3rd Class - men watching girls and girls then watching men. "Having their sweet revenge" said the Chief Steward.

2nd. class public room
The second class was like 1st class on a small scale. Less space. Many obviously well-to-do men in smoke-room. Fine view over stern of the ship.
Forbes Robertson, Knoblock, Burton and me in lounge after dinner. Got talking of theft of Mona Lisa, and then each told tales of thefts.
Bit of wind at 11 p.m. Looking through porthole of hall of E Deck. Waves swishing by. Hopeless position of anyone overboard. Suddenly a wave bangs up against porthole with a smash, and you draw your face away startled.

The construction of the RMS Lusitania was begun in September 1904. She was launched on June 7th, 1906 just fourteen months, three weeks, from the laying of her keel. During the whole period of construction her progress was eagerly watched by all interested in shipping, the vessel having aroused - by reason of her size, her magnificent accommodation, her speed, and turbine engine - worldwide attention. On September 7th, 1907, the Lusitania sailed from Liverpool to New York on her maiden voyage; and it is no exaggeration to say that never before had such widespread interest been taken in the first sailing of any liner. Fully 200,00 people witnessed her departure. The cheering of the vast crowds, supplemented by the steam whistles and sirens of all the shipping in the river at the time, as the leviathan moved from the Stage, and slowly disappeared into the darkness, made this epoch-marking event a most memorable one. From the first, the Lusitania became a great favorite with Atlantic travelers, and no wonder, for in addition to her speed, she was so luxuriously appointed that her passenger accommodation was the acme of comfort, and well merited the description of a ‘floating palace’. Her decorative and architectural features compared with those of the world’s finest hotels - lofty domes, fashioned and painted by expert decorators, panels prepared by skilled workers, handsome tapestries, curtains and carpets. The First Class Dining Saloon was a vision in white and gold. The style was Louis Seize, and the predominating colour was vieux rose. The magnificent mahogany side board, with its gilt metal ornaments, was the admiration of all who saw it, while high above towered the wonderful dome with painted panels after Boucher. The Lounge was decorated in late Georgian period, and the fine inlaid mahogany panels, richly modeled dome ceiling and marble mantelpieces constituted a luxurious ensemble. On her second westbound trip she averaged 24 knots, and reduced the passage between Liverpool and New York to well under 5 days, and logged 617 knots for the highest day’s run, incidentally bringing back to the British mercantile service the ‘Blue Riband of the Atlantic’.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Parisian impressions

Tuesday, October 8th., Les Sablons.

I went to Paris yesterday morning at 7 o'clock. Bad weather. It being Monday morning the train was crowded. I got to the Rue d'Aumale on foot and by omnibus. And in the omnibus I noticed that two of the three horses had sore feet.
The flat was as I expected but less dirty. I changed there into a winter suit.
Lunch at the Davray's (see 'Rumours of War' August 21st.) in their luminous new flat in the narrow Rue Servandoni. Victor Tissot was of the party. Editor of Hachette's "Almanac", of "Mon Dimanche", etc.

Victor Tissot was a man of letters, born 15 August 1845 in Freiburg and died 6 July 1917 in Paris. 
Victor Tissot studied at the Collège Saint-Michel , at Einsiedeln and Sion , and then he attended the law faculties of the University of Freiburg im Breisgau , Tübingen , Leipzig , Vienna and Paris . In Paris, he collaborated in writing the dictionary Larousse. After a year living in Paris, he was appointed in 1867, Professor at the Institute Thudichum, near Geneva. At the same time, he joined the Gazette de Lausanne (1868) launching, in 1871, a weekly literary supplement. He was editor of the Gazette de Lausanne from 1870 to 1873. Later, he returned to Paris (1874) where he edited the Almanach Hachette (1893) and inaugurated in 1891, the new literary supplement of Figaro newspaper, and became editor in chief from 1888 to 1893. He also wrote stories about Switzerland and Germany experiencing considerable success. From 1911 to 1914 he edited the Almanac Chalamala , virulent pamphlet against the authoritarianism of the cantonal government in. With the approach of his death, he decided to bequeath his fortune, his considerable collections and library to the city of Bulle , in the context of the creation of a museum.

What I call a typical Frenchman. Grey, aged between 50 and 60. In neat mourning. Low voice with an air of quiet, resigned, amused, ironic philosophy. Talked well. Talked apparently on a system. He would go from subject to subject, and was careful to 'play fair' between your subjects and his. Travelled a good bit. Spoke of the most awful hotels as mere regrettable incidents in travel, but not worth making a fuss about. The queerest thing he told us was about a hotel at Pau, where he being a monsieur seul, he had been refused a room on the ground that the hotel was a hotel des familles and monsieurs seul were dangerous. He naturally told the landlady that if that was all he could easily find a woman and return with her in a short time.

When I left it was fine. I walked along the Rue de Rivoli, and saw my books on sale, then took the Metro. to the Rue Hamelin for tea. Roy Devereux, just returned from Italy, was unwell and gloomy but resigned.

Roy Devereux is the pseudonym of Margaret Rose Roy Pember-Devereux. She was the author of "The Ascent of Woman" (1896) <http://archive.org/details/ascentwoman00devegoog>

She gave me Elinor Glyn's "Three Weeks" to read, as she wanted my opinion.

Elinor Glyn (17 October 1864 – 23 September 1943), born Elinor Sutherland, was a British novelist and scriptwriter who specialised in risque romantic fiction which was considered scandalous in its time. She popularized the concept of It. Although her works are relatively tame by modern standards, she had tremendous influence on early 20th century popular culture, and perhaps on the careers of notable Hollywood stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, and Clara Bow. Her "Three Weeks", about an exotic Balkan queen who seduces a young British aristocrat, was allegedly inspired by her affair with Lord Alistair Innes Ker, brother of the Duke of Roxburghe, and scandalized Edwardian society.

She said it was vulgar, but she liked it. I read it in the train back. Naive and worthless, utterly. Its naughtiness, which has caused such extraordinary protests in England, is merely childish in its imitative conventionality of viciousness. A rechauffe of "Ouida".
Here is a rather amusing little doggerel:
Would you like to sin
With Elinor Glyn
On a tiger skin?
Or would you prefer
To err
With her
On some other fur

The movie, "The Romance of a Queen" (1924) was based on the novel "Three Weeks". <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0015408/>

Sunday, 7 October 2012

George Sturt and me

October 7th., Trinity Hall Farm

George Sturt wrote to me today as follows:
"If you had read between the lines with any discernment, you'd have been blushingly disowning my implied flattery instead of attacking me with a bludgeon. You have my full permission to go to the Devil."

I fear that my last letter to him may have touched a nerve!

All this arises from a letter he wrote me in September containing his comment and opinion following publication of "Anna". In fairness he did say it was 'good', but then proceeded to find spurious fault which rankled with me. So I replied as follows (extracts only):
"I am glad to be able to praise your article in this month's Cornhill with less reserve than you praise my novel ... Your explanations of the partial failure of my novel are all wrong. The partial failure is not in the novel but in yourself ... I have not studied characters 'as though they were animals at the zoo'; I have studied them as though they were human beings ... what astounds me most is your remark that I refuse to be emotional, that I am unimpassioned. The book is impassioned and emotional from beginning to end ... It is a singular and surprising thing, but your taste in imaginative work is crude and unreliable. I don't believe you have any genuine critical standard."

I suppose that our friendship is an unlikely one. We met in the home of James Conway Brown in Richmond, Surrey. Perhaps, on reflection, I enjoy the association because of my superior vigour; I love to try my ideas out and Sturt is sufficiently unchallenging for my purpose. I suppose that I do most of the work in the relationship because it suits me to do so - I drag a rather querulous, difficult, self-satisfied Sturt behind me. I do like him though, and I intend that we remain friends in spite of this spat.

George Sturt was born in Farnham in 1863 and originally prepared for a career in teaching. On his father’s death in 1884, however, Sturt had to take over the running of the family wheelwright’s business in East Street. Sturt’s true ambition was to become a writer and he found his success in sensitive but unsentimental depictions of rural life in and around the Bourne where he lived. His first success, under the pen name ‘George Bourne’, was The Bettesworth Book (1901) which centered around the character, ‘Bettesworth’ who was his odd-job man and gardener. Other similar books followed. 'The Wheelwright 's Shop' (1923), a vivid account of the work and workmen was an immediate success. George Sturt's final published work was 'A Small Boy in the Sixties' (1927) in which he recorded details of his early life as a boy growing up in Farnham. He died the same year.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

That's entertainment!

Saturday, October 6th., Alhambra.

Richard and I went to see Rastelli, juggler, Italian. Very good. But a shade monotonous in invention.

Enrico Rastelli (1896, in Samara, Russia – 1931, Bergamo, Italy) was an Italian juggler, acrobat and performer. Born in Samara, Russia into a circus family, both his parents were performers and it did not take long before the young Rastelli decided to join the family business. He received rigorous training in a variety of circus disciplines including acrobatics, balancing and aerial skills. His performance debut was at the age of 13 as part of his parents' aerial act, however his passion and talent lay with juggling. He practiced his juggling skills tirelessly and by the age of 19 was performing a solo juggling routine. His earliest performances involved the manipulation of sticks and balls in a typical Japanese style. Many jugglers of Rastelli's day were of the gentleman juggler style. Dressed in formal evening attire, they would juggle everyday objects that you might find at the dinner table, including plates, hat and cane, loaves of bread, bottles and even chairs. Rastelli instead chose to restrict himself to objects more suited to throwing and catching, typically plates, sticks and balls. In doing so, he was able to achieve levels of technical skill far beyond that of his contemporaries. Furthermore, his choice of three simple props is reflected in the props of choice of most modern jugglers, with balls, clubs (replacing sticks) and rings (replacing plates) being used by professional and amateur jugglers alike.

He did some of the Cinquevalli tricks, with a soft ball, not a hard. One of his best was juggling with two balls by his head alone. His finest thing was juggling with eight disks (not for long) while doing something with his head - I forget what.
Griffiths Brothers with a horse now, not a donkey, were side-splitting. So was Potter, a "comedian".
Apathy of audience to all the good things. Applause, but not enough.

This caricature depicts the acrobatic knockabout comedy duo The Griffiths Brothers. They were billed as ‘The Irresistible Humorists’. It is one of the many superb caricatures of Edwardian music hall performers that were drawn by the artist George Cooke when he was based at the Grand Theatre Hanley. He compiled them in a series of albums. The Griffiths Brothers are seen here in their sketch ‘The Motor Car and the Duel’. This was about an Englishman and a Frenchman who argue about their motoring experiences and end up in a wrestling bout, ‘the Frenchman inexpressibly funny in his make-up’. Fred Delaney (1856–1940) and Joe Ridgeway (1852–1901) were the original act. After Joe’s death, Fred was joined by his son Fred Junior, who is seen here on the left, and also occasionally by his daughter Lutie. The act worked the halls for more than 60 years with its famous ‘animal burlesque’ routines, ‘The Blondin Donkey’ and ‘The Performing Horse’.

Beckett v. Carpentier
Slow motion film of Carpentier v. Beckett. Very impressive. Like doom. Sort of inevitability. Beckett slowly falling. The towel floating into the ring etc.

Georges Carpentier (pronounced car-pont-yay) (January 12, 1894 – October 28, 1975) was a French boxer and actor. He fought mainly as a light heavyweight andheavyweight in a career lasting from 1908-26. Nicknamed the "Orchid Man", he stood 5 feet 111⁄2 inches (1.82 m) and his fighting weight ranged from 125 to 175 pounds (57 to 79 kg). Carpentier was known for his speed, his excellent boxing skills and his extremely hard punch.
Joe Beckett was a Hampshire man, he was born in Wickham in 1894 to a family of fairground workers. Joe grew up amongst the boxing booths of country fairs. By the time he was 25 years old Joe was the British & Empire Heavy weight Champion, having beaten Bombardier Billy Wells, and was challenging for the World Championship.

Gloominess of Alhambra and stodginess of audience compared to my recollection of 1889. yet probably no real difference.

When one gets intimate with a woman she generally makes assertions about herself to show that she is not like other women. A man seldom tries to show that he is not like other men.
I have recently been very worried by Dorothy. Yesterday I wrote to her as follows: "Well, I had one and a half hours sleep again last night, despite every effort and precaution. I have now put my play definitely aside, as I cannot even keep my thoughts on it; & pressing contracts will force me to leave it now for two or three months. Which is very disturbing & disappointing - quite apart from the loss of time, time being money. Not that I am worrying about that. But I am still worrying about something else - that you will disobey the doctor's advice to confine yourself to 'a little wine'." Not to beat about the bush, I am anxious that she may be disposed to alcoholism. The consuming nature of my anxiety derives from the fact that I adore her (and have told her so), I am completely wrapped up in her, and I would do anything to ensure her success in life.

Friday, 5 October 2012


Tuesday, October 5th., London.

To wake up at midnight, after an hours sleep, with a headache, slight but certainly indicative of the coming attack; to hear the clock strike, every note drilling a separate hole into your skull; to spend the rest of the night uneasily between sleeping and waking, always turning over the pillow, and tormented intermittently by idiotic nightmares, crowded with action, which fatigue the brain: this is a disturbed liver. Towards morning comes the hope, caused by the irregularity of the pain, that the headache will pass away on getting up. But it never does so. Then one comes downstairs, eyes as it were in red-hot sockets, and gulps some effervescing saline. One rises from breakfast with a mouth full of reminiscences - butter, cocoa, porridge, and the headache remains. One walks to the office in the fresh autumn air; the headache remains. Towards noon, one seeks the last remedy, a draught which weakens the action of the heart. It is effective, and after half an hour's somnolence, one recovers, half-dazed, but without the headache. The impulse to work is alive again, and one accomplishes an hour. But after lunch and dinner one has a consciousness that a new headache is lying in wait, and, one's resolve worn away by the constant sense of fatigue in the eyes and of rapid pulsation round the back of the head, one weakly lapses into idleness, trusting that tomorrow will be different.

I found myself at the Wagner Promenade concert. It seems to me that Henry J. Wood lacks the repose and reticence of a great conductor. He continually endeavours to express the music to his band in curves of the arm, sudden contractions of all the muscles, frowns and smiles. If such procedure is to be effective, it can only be effective at rehearsal. At the performance the conductor, knowing what the band can do, and the band knowing what the conductor desires, gestures should be unnecessary. At the performance the band needs, not an interpretation of the music, but merely control and reminders.

Sir Henry Joseph Wood,  (1869 – 1944) was an English conductor best known for his association with London's annual series of promenade concerts, known as the Proms. He conducted them for nearly half a century, introducing hundreds of new works to British audiences. After his death, the concerts were officially renamed in his honour as the "Henry Wood Promenade Concerts", although they continued to be generally referred to as "the Proms". Born in modest circumstances to parents who encouraged his musical talent, Wood started his career as an organist. During his studies at the Royal Academy of Music, he came under the influence of the voice teacher Manuel Garcia and became his accompanist. After similar work for Richard D'Oyly Carte's opera companies on the works of Arthur Sullivan and others, Wood became the conductor of a small operatic touring company. He was soon engaged by the larger Carl Rosa Opera Company. One notable event in his operatic career was conducting the British premiere of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin in 1892. From the mid-1890s until his death, Wood focused on concert conducting. He was engaged by the impresario Robert Newman to conduct a series of promenade concerts at the Queen's Hall, offering a mixture of classical and popular music at low prices. The series was successful, and Wood conducted annual promenade series until his death in 1944. By the 1920s, Wood had steered the repertoire entirely to classical music. When the Queen's Hall was destroyed by bombing in 1941, the Proms moved to the Royal Albert Hall. He had an enormous influence on the musical life of Britain over his long career: he and Newman greatly improved access to classical music, and Wood raised the standard of orchestral playing and nurtured the taste of the public, presenting a vast repertoire of music spanning four centuries.

Steindl, the pianist aged 6 or 7, played a Schubert Impromptu (No. 4) and Raff's "Fabian". He is not more than 7, and has the pale face and the vast skull of the typical precocious genius. He runs onto the platform, takes his seat, and then stares down at the audience with calm reproachful expression. Then he turns to his father for the signal to begin. He is not lost in his performance, but rather (as it were) preoccupied with something else, seldom looking at the keyboard and constantly directing upon the audience that reproachful stare. During the performance his father exchanged looks of pride and pleasure with members of the orchestra, every man in which followed the child's movements with a sort of paternal wistfulness. At the end, when Steindl stood bowing and bobbing to the applause, my body shook and my eyes filled with tears, in spite of myself.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Parisian views

Sunday, October 4th., Paris.

I walked up to Sacre Coeur, and took the funicular up to the portals of the church. Environs of church: memento shop, image shop, church accessory shop. Tickets for entrance to crypt, belfry, and tower. The horrible unfinished look of the front, with aged hoardings and scaffolding. I was not much impressed by the interior. Mass was just finishing. I noticed a small-boy-acolyte, dressed up and murmuring at the altar. Concentration of lights etc. round about main altar. Sparse congregation. Woman collecting at door, and regularly shaking her bag at two-second intervals. Meanly dressed clerks taking holy water at door and crossing themselves. Curious effect, both interior and exterior, of church being built of large blocks of stone; it looked as if these stones were imitation stones in wallpaper, like the old-fashioned wallpaper in halls of small houses in England. The effect of the dome was goodish, akin to that of St. Paul's, but marred by the new yellowish-cream tint of the masonry.

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica (French: Basilique du Sacré-Cœur), is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris, France. A popular landmark, the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. Sacré-Cœur is a double monument, political and cultural, both a national penance for the supposed excesses of the Second Empire and socialist Paris Commune of 1871, crowning its most rebellious neighborhood, and an embodiment of conservative moral order, publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ. The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919.

I then came out and surveyed Paris from the front. I could distinguish most of the landmarks - Notre Dame, Pantheon, Invalides, Gare de Lyon, St. Sulpice, and Louvre. Never before had I had such a just idea of the immense size of the Louvre. I could also see the Opera, (that centre of Paris qui s'amuse) with its green roof (? copper). And it looked so small and square and ordinary. And I thought of the world-famed boulevards and resorts lying hidden round about there. And I thought: Is that all it is? For a moment it seemed impossible to me that, as a result of a series of complicated conventions merely, that collocation of stones, etc. (paving stones and building stones) could really be what it is - a synonym and symbol for all that is luxurious, frivolous, gay, viscious, and artistic. I thought: "Really, Paris is not Paris after all; it is only a collocation of stones." The idea, though obvious enough, was very striking for a minute or two.

View from Sacre Coeur
In the afternoon Schwob called unexpectedly. We went up to the Moulin de la Galette, which he said was the last genuine bal of the lower classes left in Paris, and even that genuine only on Sunday afternoons.

Renoir: Bal du Moulin de la Galette

The Moulin de la Galette is a windmill and associated businesses situated near the top of the district of Montmartre in Paris. Since the 17th century the windmill has been known for more than just its milling capabilities. Nineteenth century owners and millers, the Debray family, made a brown bread,galette, which became popular and thus the name of the windmill and its businesses, which have included a famous guinguette and restaurant. In the 19th century, Le Moulin de la Galette, represented diversion for Parisians seeking entertainment, a glass of wine and bread made from flour ground by the windmill. Artists, such as Renoir, van Gogh, and Pissarro have immortalized Le Moulin de la Galette.

Schwob said that in the evenings it was the resort of whores like other bals. A tremendous climb (we had a difficulty in getting a driver to take us). Inside: stuffy. All the walls seemed to be covered with trellis work on which creepers grew very sparsely. Crowded dancing hall, with a sort of aisle for drinking on either side. The monde ouvrier was certainly there, dancing clumsily and perspiringly, and colliding with itself. Not nearly so graceful as the Bal Bullier. Band very brassy. Schwob said there were plenty of scoundrels - maquereaux, thieves, apaches, till-robbers etc. but I doubt it. The company looked innocent on the whole, though I thought I saw a few wrong 'uns (men). Afterwards we climbed up into the garden, and I saw the old wooden windmill (with its date 1295) garlanded with electric light apparatus.

A solitary gendarme up there was glad to talk to Schwob. He began by saying that the weather was turning colder; he did not disguise that he was bored, but 'On est tranquille,' he said, shrugging his shoulders. he was a rather cynical philosopher, and referred slightingly to the clients of the moulin, and dashed the respectability of the women with a single grimace. But when the cakewalk began he descended part of the stairs to get a glimpse of it.

Much the same view of Paris here as at Sacre Coeur but better. One could see Mont Valerien, a 'frowning height', and one had also glimpses over the hill of Montmartre to the north - of factory chimneys and then hills.

All this part of Montmartre (north of the boulevard exterieur, that is to say) had a character of its own. It was like a place by itself, a self-contained village. Not many cabs got up into those steep picturesque streets, nor omnibuses. Schwob said it was 'old Paris'.

Montmartre is talked about by Parisians the way New Yorkers talk about the Village: It's not what it used to be, It's like Disneyland, the artists can't afford to live here anymore,too many tourists etc. There is some truth these opinions, but there are two ways of approaching this incredibly unique village within the metropolis. The first is to follow the herd instinct and stampede your way up the famous hill, take a picture of yourself on the steps of the basilica, buy an overpriced crepe at the Place du Tertre, get conned into having your portrait sketched, and walk back down clutching newly bought key-rings, postcards, gaudy T-shirts feeling a little mystified about what all the fuss is about.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Anyone for tennis?

Wednesday, October 3rd., London.

I walked three miles around Battersea Park, forgetting that I had to play tennis in the afternoon, and came home and worked on the penultimate section of my religious booklet.

Battersea park
Preparations for tennis with Gardiner and H.G.Wells in Square. Gardiner came shortly after 3 and Wells a little before the appointed time, 3.30. Both middle aged, grave, jocular, voluble. They changed their clothes up in my room. Our ages, A.G.G 63, H.G.W. 62, and me 61. I beat Gardiner 6-5, and then he thought he should only play one set with me as he had to play Wells. He beat Wells 6-2. He then played Wells again and beat him 6-2. The last was only a fun set. I was told that there was betting at the Club - all against me. I took £1 off Gardiner and Gardiner took £1 off Wells. A man had been sitting on a bench watching us throughout the games. At the end he came up to us. He was a Daily Mail man. In the morning the Mail had telephoned me to allow a photographer to come down and take us at tennis. I said no. I don't know how the news of the great match reached the Mail.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Sunday, October 2nd.

I finished 1st tableau of play yesterday and was fairly well pleased with it. No title yet.
Yesterday I had a goodish large notion for the Hilda book - of portraying the droves of the whole sex, instead of whole masculine droves. I think I can do something with this, showing the multitudinous activities of the whole sex, the point of view of the whole sex, against a mere background of masculinity. I had a sudden vision of it. It has never been done.
Finished Gibbon's "Autobiography." It is a distinguished book, but my feelings about the author are mixed.

A weekend in Norfolk for change of scene and general recuperation. Big skies. Windy and cool, but dry so good walking weather. Huge expanses of salt marsh and reed bed. Sea hardly apparent at low tide. Old-fashioned coastal towns. Cromer is generally attractive and seems to be keeping going in the face of foreign competition - maybe something in the English psyche which appreciates and relishes faded glory.


Similarly at King's Lynn which emphasises its maritime trading heritage but is indistinguishable from a hundred other medium size towns at its commercial heart.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Waiting with style!

Friday, October 1st., Paris.

We dined at the Boeuf a la Mode.

Americans, Americans everywhere.
A dull, good, nice restaurant.  

I gave the waiter my usual 10% which happened to be 70 centimes. He was apparently not content, but politely thanked me. As he carried the plate out with the change on it, he held it the least bit in the world at arm's length, exposing it with scorn to the inspection of the chasseur as he passed him. It was a fine, subtle, gesture, and pleased me as much as it annoyed me.