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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Eating companions

Thursday, December 23rd., London.

Tuesday night Rickards dined with me, we went to "The Blue Bird" at the Haymarket, and then to Gambrinus, where he ate an enormous sandwich and drank stout. He talked about himself the whole time, except when the curtain was up, from 6.40 to 12.15. Of course this exasperated egoism was painful as a disease to witness, but his talk was exceedingly good and original. Artistically and intellectually I don't think he has gone off.

E. A. Rickards (1872 - 1920). Born in Chelsea, London, he was apprenticed to architect J Lovell at the age of 15. After studying at the RA Schools he worked for a number of architects, including Leonard Stokes and George Sherrin and William Flockhart for whom he designed the lantern on the dome of the Brompton Oratory, London (1894). In partnership with H V Lanchester and James Stewart , he won the competition for Cardiff City Hall and Lawcourts (1899-1903), one of several of the firm's huge Neo-Baroque buildings. A frequent designer of public monuments he collaborated with Harry Bates on the Lord Roberts Monument, Calcutta (1894-8) and, after visiting Vienna, published The Art of the Monument (The Builder, 28 May, 1910). He collaborated with Poole again on public sculpture at Bristol, a public fountain (1907) and a statue of King Edward VII (1913), for which Rickards designed the pedestal, and the Lord Roberts Memorial, Glasgow (1916), which was a copy of the Roberts Monument in Calcutta on which Poole had assisted Harry Bates . They also produced the monument to World War I air ace Captain Albert Ball VC at Nottingham (1918). Rickards volunteered for service in World War I but was invalided back to England in 1916. His final architectural work was done for the war effort and included the Army Transport Depot, Slough (1918-19).

I originally met Rickards through the Marriotts at a musical evening. He is four years younger than me but precocious! Like Wells and myself he has had to struggle for his education and professional training. Rickard's impact on me has been powerful, and can be traced in many of my novels. He opened my eyes to the world around me, and fostered my passion for construction, my fascination with the way things are done. He is a real architect, with public buildings to his credit, and a respect for art as well as business. Like me he is something of a showman! Rickards accompanied me on my first trip to Paris and proved an excellent guide. The only problem is that he keeps me up talking into the early hours of the morning when I would really prefer to be asleep.

To lunch at Wells's. He and I talked his scandal from12.15 to lunch time. Robert Ross, the Sidney Lows, Mrs. Garnett, Archer and the young Nesbit girl who was mad on the stage. I liked Ross at once. I got on fairly well with Archer. He bluntly asked me why I had said in print that he and Walkley were the upas-trees of the modern drama. So I told him, less bluntly. I consider that he has no real original ideas of his own. I mean to cultivate Ross.

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