Welcome to our blog!

It's better than a bat in the eye with a burnt stick!

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.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Busy day

Saturday, December 31st., Cadogan Square, London.

I am actively engaged in correspondence with Mrs. Patrick Campbell about my play "Flora". She has indicated that she would like to take it on and is, as I understand it, seeking capital for the purpose. However, I have received an offer from the U.S.A. which seems more likely to come to fruition, but necessitates assigning the English rights as well. My theatrical experience, now extensive, suggests to me to accept the firm offer, but I did more or less give Mrs. P.C. the first option. This will necessitate some delicate letter writing by me.

Goodish night. I have now got my weight down again. So long as it keeps at 11 or under I am content. A month ago it was 11 st. 2 lb. 

I walked to the Army and Navy and back to get some clean pocket note-books. I got six - 1d. each.

I read in Sartor's "Introduction to the History of Science", Vol. 1, and decided to write an article on it for the Evening Standard

At 10.40 I went off to the Gargoyle Club, where we entertained A. P. Herbert and wife at supper.  I drove up there in snow and sleet. We danced but little. I was in bed at 2.35 and slept in all nearly six hours, which was an excellent introduction to the New Year, considering that I had eaten quite a hearty supper and drunk quite enough champagne - preceded by a cocktail.

Dancing at the Gargoyle
In 1928, the socialite aristocrat David Tennant founded the Gargoyle club on the top floors of number 69 Dean Street, a socially radical club and well-known hangout of politicians, cosmopolitan intellectuals and artists. Consisting of a vast ballroom, bar, coffee 
room and drawing room, the Gargoyle dripped with decadence and lavish interiors, some by Henri Matisse. It was the most celebrated night-club of its era. Tennant claimed he just wanted a congenial place to dance with his girl-friend (Hermione Baddeley, who he married in 1928).It attracted artists,intellectuals, writers and young socialites in equal measure. With a membership that included almost everyone associated with London Bohemia, it remained a key location for thirty years and anecdotes about the club appear in almost every reminiscence of cosmopolitan cultural life of the period.

Additionally for December 31st., see 'A quiet year?' -

A material year. Largely occupied with intestinal failure and worldly success. By Chetham Strode's direct treatment of massage and vibration I am now almost cured of intestinal caprices, but I shall ever be feeble in that quarter.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Being polite

Thursday, December 30th., George Street, London.

In spite of much fatigue after Xmas night, when I gave a dinner at Claridge's, I did some work on my novel in the afternoon. 

Yesterday I lunched (alone) and dined at home and wrote 2,100 words, also of my novel.

After dinner I went out to the Royalty Theatre to be polite to the members of the "Milestones" company. Dennis Eadie was very gloomy. Stella Jessie, Ada Barton and two others were the gayest. Stella asked me whether I could tell her what old gentlemen with long beards did  with their beards when they took a bath.

The front-of-the-house manager displayed the usual illogical optimism in face of a poor house. The night was awful and the audience thin and chilly (according to Eadie). Perhaps that accounted for the atmosphere of the dressing rooms. I think that Harben was the only realist in the assembly.

Additionally for December 30th., see 'Back to Burslem' -

Walking through Burslem yesterday I saw two childs' funerals exactly of the same kind; a procession of five or six pairs of women in black with white trimmings; two pairs carried the small oak coffin which was covered with wreaths and which they held by white cords over their shoulders. Immediately behind the coffin, the chief mourners, in one case a man and a woman. The coffin occurred about the middle of the procession. These little forlorn, smug processions ambling towards the cemetery were very curious.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Splendid health

Thursday, December 29th., Cadogan Square, London.

Splendid health. I have now cut my breakfast down to four or five kinds of fruit (raisins, orange, apple, lemon, prunes) plus two cups of tea and two pieces of rye bread. And little or no meat for lunch.

After chores, I saw Dorothy, apropos chiefly of a cable from Estelle Winwood asking for American rights of "Flora". 

I then walked along the Embankment to the next bridge West, and down along King's Road, and then wrote 750 words of my "Millionaire" article in one and a quarter hours at most. Then by bus to Piccadilly.

Lunch at Reform Club with Gardiner and Tudor Walters. I like Tudor more and more. Sir John Brunner and Vivian Phillipps joined us in the smoking-room. Talk about our own defects, and about the characters of politicians. I came to the conclusion that what Liberal statesmen lacked is courage. This applies to Walter Runciman, Herbert Samuel, and Asquith, and John Burns.

Sir John Tudor Walters PC (1868 – 1933), was a British architect, surveyor and Liberal politician. He served as Paymaster-General under David Lloyd George from 1919 to 1922 and once again briefly in 1931 under Ramsay MacDonald.

Additionally for December 29th., see 'Bugger Bournemouth' -

After seeing this and the town I decided absolutely against Bournemouth. It was symbolic that I couldn't even get China tea there. Six hours in train. I got back to the hotel at 7.30.
I had spent a day and a pound in discovering that Bournemouth was impossible.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Chief guest

Friday, December 28th., Cadogan Square, London.

Dinner given by V. C. at the Farmers' Club. A sort of official world. Lionel Earle, an Irish judge, a fellow named Blair at American Embassy (who had carefully lost all his American accent, and who remembers a description of mine of the 20th Century Ltd. train in "Your United States"), a new M.P. (Name forgotten), etc. Admirable meal. Oysters Mornay to start with. Roederer 1906; a fine brandy. Most of them drank more than was quite necessary to sustain life. I was the chief guest. On my right, S. L., who praised much Lady C. said she had not got a shallow mind. usual sign of being in love. Said she had had eleven children, many dead. I said her husband ought to be ashamed, and asked if he was a Catholic? "Oh, no. Quite the reverse. He was very angry with me because I took her to a midnight mass ... I said he might call me out if he liked." Evidently serious then.

The Farmers' Club was founded in 1842 by the agricultural writer William Shaw, who invited the founder members from the newly formed Royal Agricultural Society of England, and the Smithfield Club. Shaw's letter set out that the club would be "a gathering place for farmers which could also serve as a platform, from which would go out to England news of all that was good in farming, with reports of any discussions about those things that needed to be done." The club frequently moved premises in its first 60 years. Its inaugural meeting on 9 December 1842 was held in a pub, the Hereford Arms, in King Street, Covent Garden. After several moves, the club settled on some rooms at 2 Whitehall Court, which it occupied between 1904 and 1942.

Additionally for December 28th., see 'An Architectural experience' -

Yesterday morning I went over the Wesleyan Westminster building with Rickards. He is now gradually getting hold of me again as a great artist.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Becoming cheerful

Thursday, December 27th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Dinner last night at 2/1st London R.G.A. at Bentley Huts. Caffery came and fetched us in a Ford car. About 30 people. Goodish dinner. I did nothing all evening except sit in front of the stove. Solo whist and bridge partners and much noisy dancing. After midnight the Ford car could not be started, and it never was started, though six men spent pretty nearly two hours on it, with blowpipes and things. Marguerite and Olive slept at Steel and Caffery's lodgings. I came home in a G.S. waggon with 2 horses and 2 men, easy chair in waggon, rugs, eiderdown, and a rug like an extinguisher all over my head and face. Freezing hard but I was quite warm. This journey took about one and a half hours. I made the two men happy, and then had a hot bath, and must have gone to sleep about 4.40. I slept till 8. I was thoroughly bored until it was discovered that the car wouldn't start. Thenceforward I was quite cheerful.

Additionally for December 27th., see 'A fateful interest' -

Then we went behind to Dorothy Cheston's room, and heard about things. At first they said "We'll just run through it." But D. said "A.B.'s in the house." "That'ssomeone to play to anyway," said Viola Tree.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

A low-key Christmas

Wednesday, December 26th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Only seven sat down to dinner last night, owing to difficulties of transport and engagements of officers for mess dinners. This is the smallest Xmas dinner we have had in this house. 

Soldiers were noisy outside during the day. Mason came for lunch and stayed till after nightfall. He rode off in falling snow, having made Richard a present of all the chemical reagents which he had ordered for him.

I read a lot, all I shall read, of Saintsbury's "History of the French Novel". Very prolix, and bursting with subordinate clauses and clauses, but containing plenty of useful information; also it shows that he does understand something of the craft of novel-writing. His tracing of the development of the technique of the novel in the 17th cent. is interesting, and, to me, quite new. The amount of this old man's reading is staggering.

Much bad music after dinner.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013


Saturday, December 25th., George Street, London.

Two thoroughly bad nights, full of the church clock. Still I wrote over 4,000 words of my novel in 3 days, with lots of preoccupations, almost all to do with my wife. 

I shall have to have it out with her soon. She likes to pretend that I am jealous of Legros. It flatters her to think so. But it is not true. I am incapable of being jealous, probably because I should regard a woman capable of doing anything deserving jealousy as not worth being jealous about. As for presents, it seems that she does not agree with me that present-giving should be not a duty but a pleasure. To give to one whose behaviour is constantly wounding, as Marguerite's is to me, is not a very keen pleasure. When she realises what is due to me, and acts accordingly, she will not go short of presents.

Yesterday I wrote to George Moore to tell him that it was the first chapters of "A Mummer's Wife" which opened my eyes to the romantic nature of the district that I had blindly inhabited for over twenty years. He is indeed the father of all my Five Towns books.

Additionally for December 25th., see 'Tea and poetry' -

War. Only about half a pint of methylated spirits left in the house. Marguerite decided to keep this in stock for an emergency of illness etc. Wise. So I can no longer make my own perfect tea at what hour I like in the morning. And this morning I had poor servant-made tea. However there is a hope of me getting some other heating apparatus.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013


Thursday, December 24th., Hotel Belvedere, Vevey.

Our Anglo-Indian is a major in the army. I only learnt this last night. It probably accounts for his excellent stupidity which inspires respect. His wife, at first very rebarbative, grows more likeable every day.
Also see 'Indian ideas', December 17th., -

Some of them began talking about Suffragettes last night after I had said to the Major, seeing him reading The Times, "So Christabel is out it seems." A Yorkshire young woman asked Mrs. Major if she was a sympathiser. "On the contrary", said Mrs. Major "I am very much ashamed of them". The usual rot was talked. However Mrs. Major said that she thought women ought to be on certain committees. The young Yorkshire lass said she thought woman's place was in the home. (It is incredible how people still talk) I then burst out impatiently: "Yes, and what about the millions of them that have to leave home every day to earn a living? What about the mill girls and the typists?" This quite unsettled them. They then agreed that unmarried women ought to have the vote. But their whole talk and the phrases they used were too marvellously stupid.

Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst with Flora Drummond
in the dock at Bow Street Magistrates.
On the 13th October, 1908 the WSPU held a large demonstration in London and then tried to enter the House of Commons. There were violent clashes with the police and 24 women were arrested, including Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, who were sentenced to three months in prison. After her release Christabel Pankhurst recorded a speech to promote Suffragist ideas. This an interesting example of very early recorded speech. It’s extremely rare – very few speeches were recorded before the First World War. And in fact it would be unusual for Pankhurst to be making a recording like this. She would have been much more used, as a leading feminist fighting for women’s right to the vote, to be outside in the open air on a street corner. This was a really important period for street corner oratory, long before radio and television began to have an impact. She would have been used to talking to huge crowds. What we have in this recording is a slightly disappointing, rather scripted speech. There’s something of the message there but it lacks the vigour and spontaneity that you would expect from an outdoor speech of that particular time.

Additionally for December 24th., see 'Five Towns people' -

I came to Burslem yesterday afternoon with Tertia and William and a headache.
Went out this morning and saw numbers of people.
Walking to Hanley this afternoon I was struck by the orange-apple cold Christmas smell of grocers shops.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Overindulgence in oatcakes

Monday, December 23rd., Cadogan Square, London.

I am already getting a bit tired of Xmas. There is a whole cupboard full of parcels for Virginia, waiting. And I have already opened some of her parcels. 

It takes me so long to keep level with my mail that I can't begin to work till heaven knows what time. However I did a lot of work yesterday and Saturday. The weather however suits me not. I'm glad we aren't going away for Christmas. That's something anyway.

I am experiencing a surfeit of mince tarts. Tertia and Margaret brought a load on Friday and their mince tarts are unsurpassed in my experience - indeed unequalled! This means mince tarts at every meal. I can only get along by eating no meat, especially as I have had a lot of oatcakes given me: which monopolise my breakfasts. I adore oatcakes: yet was I glad to have eaten the last one this morning.

I lunched with two statesmen at my political club recently. One of them told us a story about a man who had seen a suicide hanging. The man was asked by my first political friend: "But why didn't you cut him down?" The reply was: "Because he wasn't dead." My first political friend applied this story as a parable to the Tory party. He said he didn't want to cut it down until it was dead. My second political friend agreed with much fervour. I remarked to both of them that they might have to wait quite some time. I did not go so far as to tell them that in my opinion the Tory party will easily survive all other parties in this cautious and compromising country. All political parties in all countries disappear sooner or later, except the Conservative, and the Conservative is immortal because it is never for long divided against itself. How many times in Britain has the Liberal Party split? The first and most powerful instinct of Tories is self-preservation. They do not really want anything but the status quo. They are deeply aware that united they stand - not otherwise. And every Briton is at heart a Tory - especially every British Liberal.

Additionally for December 23rd., see 'Eating companions' -

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.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Loose end

Sunday, December 22nd., Waterloo Road, Burslem.

We came down to the Potteries yesterday afternoon. Seemed to have better ideas as to the scientific causes of provincialism.

Hanley Road, Sneyd Green 1910
I went for a walk this morning up Sneyd Green. Untidiness; things left at loose-end. Broken walls, deserted entrances to what had been spacious gardens. Everything very misty. Curious enclosed 'ash-court' place, with an iron device in the middle. Pit shafts - one only fenced in, another with a wall 12 or 15 feet high, and a low wooden door in it. Men in bright neckties sallying forth, rather suspicious, defiant, meanly-shrewd look. Mean stunted boy crouching along smoking a pipe which he hid in his hand while holding it in his mouth. Complete waste of Sunday: deserted goalposts in gloomy mist. Mild wind. Cold, chilly, clammy. Idea: public baths never bring in great profits to relief of rates like gas ... I was forgetting to note the sound of hymns from chapels and schools. People going into Catholic chapel. Kids waiting outside school-room door (Sneyd Green), evidently while first prayer was being said.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Ceasing to struggle

Wednesday, December 21st., Cadogan Square, London.

Nothing doing this morning with my short story. So that before breakfast I had already come to the decision that I would leave it for today, and write my next week's Evening Standard article instead. Which I did. Then at 3.30 Saville, together with a scenario writer, came to discuss a scenario for "The Pretty Lady". I made it absolutely clear that Christine must remain absolutely a prostitute.

Victor Saville (1895 – 1979) An art dealer's son, Victor Saville was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School in Birmingham. He served in the British Army during World War I, was wounded at the Battle of Loos in 1915 and invalided out the following year. His first involvement with the film business was as manager of a small theater in Coventry, where he worked during the evenings. In the daytime, he was employed in a film distribution office. From 1917, Saville worked in the Features and Newsreels Department of the Pathé organisation in London. Just two years later, he co-founded Victory Pictures in conjunction with Michael Balcon. Between 1926 and 1927, he produced feature films for Gaumont, based at their Lime Grove Studios in Shepherd's Bush.

As my Standard article will be the last this year I have made it a general one, about reading and readers.

You simply can't help the tyro to choose what to read. The choice is vast and he must let his fancy choose. He may make mistakes. In fact, he will. But it is his business to make mistakes. The tyro is like a homing pigeon first released from its basket, rising and surveying all the earth within its range of vision. All one can urge him (or her) to do is to keep a cool head in coming to the full realisation of the vast and varied mass of really fine literature which English writers have produced in the last 600 years. Nobody can read everything, or the hundredth part of everything. And the person who sets out to read everything will know nothing worth knowing, because his task will have cut him off from life itself.

For myself, at the end of half a century of struggle, I have given up the appalling enterprise of 'keeping abreast'. And not just in books. I have run till I am breathless after music, and after painting, and after architecture. So I take holidays from being in the movement. During which holidays, which sometimes continue for months at a stretch, I totally refuse to go to concerts, or I refuse to go to picture galleries, or I refuse to look at buildings. I just lie down and, glancing up now and then from a book, sardonically watch the strugglers struggling.

It is essential in my view to have frequent adventures in the foolish, wise, vain invaluable world. Most of these adventures are unprofitable, or not directly profitable. However I have had them, and none has been utterly futile because they have saved me from feeling 'apart'. When I look back at the literature of this or any year I discover that not much of it has stuck in my mind. Nevertheless, if I had the year to live again I would not in this respect live it differently. I have had contacts. I have been among the things that are. That will be my New Year thought.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Family matters

Monday, December 20th., Cadogan Square, London.

I swore to write 365,000 words this year, and today I have reached the number. But of course I shall write still more.

Richard informs me of more problems in Rochdale where his father, my sad, alcoholic brother, lives. What can I say to him? It seems there is some prospect of a new job for Frank and I hope it will be fixed up, but the important thing is for them to keep expenditure within income - whatever the latter is. I can see no point in trying to help them financially, & I certainly do not want to do so. I have given a great deal of help in the past, but as far as I can judge it did little but harm. I said in the most solemn manner that I would never do it again, & I have a most strong desire not to go back on my word. This does not mean that I don't sympathise very much with Frank. I do.

Speaking of family, I had a letter yesterday from a cousin I have not seen for about forty years. She has had no contact with anybody in the family for at least the last twenty. She is more than ten years older than me and was of course a woman, and married, when I was still a child, so we didn't see much of each other. But I remember her fondly. She was unique in the family at that time in having 'done well' at school, and qualified as a teacher. The letter has unsettled me a bit and I find that I am rehearsing possible responses in my mind. She suggests possibly meeting and I am attracted by the idea, though a little apprehensive as well. We certainly will have some 'catching-up' to do. 

Additionally for December 20th., see 'Haig & Co.' -

Cheering in distance. Handkerchiefs taken out. One or two mounted policemen on fine horses. Then a sort of herald in a long hat. Handkerchief waving, cheering, louder and louder. Then the four carriages, 3 in first carriage and 4 each in the other 3. Generals wore no overcoats. One or two bowed and smiled. Gone in a moment and we all jumped down and turned away. Such was the welcome to Haig and Co.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Feeling gloomy

Wednesday, December 19th., Yacht Club, London.

Yarned at Reform Club with Harold Massingham (who asked why Squire had become such a Jingo!) and others. Then finished Sardonyx article, and then saw Gardiner, who said the 'Thugs' were after him now.
Also for Massingham see 'A curious mixture', March 15th., -
And for Gardiner see 'The writing business', January 4th., -
And for Squire see 'Understanding life', April 4th., -

Then to Turkish Baths. Masterman and Squire. Politics of war. In short a complete farce.

Nevill's Turkish Bath for Gentlemen

At one time or another the Nevill family owned nine Turkish baths, all of them in London. The pair in Northumberland Avenue were, from the bathers' point of view, quite separate and had individual entrances, of which the women's was round the corner in Northumberland Passage. There seems to have been no external indication, visible from Northumberland Avenue, that there was a Turkish bath delightfully decorated in Moorish style within the building. The Turkish baths occupied the whole of the first floor, ground floor, and basement. One of the outstanding decorative features was the use of ceramic and stained-glass ornamentation. The floors of the hot rooms were of marble mosaic and the ceilings were clad with enamelled iron panels. With upholstered couches, marble seats, and an elegant fountain, the ambience of the public areas ensured that these baths were among the most comfortable to be found. The gentlemen's entrance was at the rounded corner with its imposing columns. Bathers paid their entrance fee at the cash desk just inside the door, leaving their shoes in the boot room and their valuables in individual lockers. They then passed into a large domed two storey high cooling-room with a gallery at first floor level supported by columns, gilded above, rich Pompeian red below. At the far end of the decorated ceiling, stained-glass panes covered the underside of an octagonal dome. This was not merely decorative but also the means of ventilation, a fine ornamental grille at the top carrying off the heated air, while ducted fresh air entered through openings in each of the window ledges. 

I was wakened out of my after-bath sleep by news of impending air-raid. This news merely made me feel gloomy. I didn't mind missing dinner at flat, or anything - I was merely gloomy. As soon as I got out into Northumberland Avenue I heard guns. Motors and people rushing. Then guns very close. I began to run. I headed for Reform Club, and abandoned idea of reaching the flat. Everybody ran. Girls ran.

However I found that after the Turkish bath I couldn't run much in a heavy overcoat. So I walked. It seemed a long way. Guns momentarily ceased. So I didn't hurry and felt relieved. But still prodigiously gloomy. I reached the Club. Hall in darkness. No girls in coffee room. The menservants manfully tackled the few diners. Nothing could be had out of kitchen as kitchen under glass and deserted.

All clear at about 9.30.

Additionally for December 19th., see 'Long repressed instincts' -

My grandfather, it appears, at the age of seventy and odd, and after having been a long time a widower, began to pursue servant girls upon the outskirts of Burslem; and not all the shocked remonstrances of his daughters could bring him back to the narrow path. He never succeeded in enchanting any of these girls, but the intention was, I was told, only too obvious. It is curious that at such a time of life, the long-repressed instincts of a man who had lived as a strict Wesleyan-Methodist, should at last have become unmanageable.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Sunday, December 18th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

I finished the last act of "An Angel Unawares" this morning. 

Tea at Mrs. Devereux's on Friday to go on to a concert with Mesdames Debraux and Cornillier. The former looked more beautiful then ever I have seen her. It was a concert given by a music mistress in a rez-de-chausee; full of women and girls; too hot with a salamandre in full blast. Not bad as a concert but too long. 

Madame Cornillier took me to meet Madame Debraux two weeks ago, right at the other end of Paris. Immediately she began to talk I saw how wonderful she was. There was a young poet there who was pessimistic and disillusioned to the point of being rude, but a good fellow fundamentally. Madame Debraux wiped the floor with him in argument.

I asked Mme Debraux to dine with us on Sunday night, but she had another engagement. However, she said she would try to break that. I called on her yesterday afternoon to know what she would do, and after we had talked half an hour on books and music, she said: "Eh, bien, je vous donnerai la reponse - Oui." I should have been desolated if she had said No. I went to Laperouse on Friday night and dined there and ordered the dinner for Sunday.

On Friday Raphael came to lunch with me. He is the Paris correspondent of the Referee and the Sketch. He has a profoundly Jewish face. Very pleasant and polite. I first met him at Schwob's on Thursday, when we went in Moreno's car to the Bouffes to see du Bois's "Rabelais". Afterwards, we sat in a cafe in the Place Blanche till 12.30 talking about London journalism and serialising. He did the reporting of the Dreyfus case at Rennes for the Daily Mail, while G. W. Steevens did the descriptive stuff. He astounded me by saying that Steevens, after arriving at Rennes with a perfectly open mind, came at length firmly to believe that Dreyfus was guilty.

Additionally for December 18th., see 'Fine young men' -

To lunch at the Reform Club, where I joined Robert Ross who had two young poets, Robert Graves and Philip ---- (I forget his name and am not even sure if he is a poet). I was very pleased with both these youths. Lately I am more and more struck by the certainty, strength, and unconscious self-confidence of young men, so different from my middle-aged uncertainty and also my lack of physical confidence in my own body.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Bearing up in Burslem

Friday, December 17th., Waterloo Road, Burslem.

After failing to stick to any novels, I have read "The Study of Sociology" all week.

"The Study of Sociology" was Spencer's popular account of his leading sociological doctrines. Published in 1873 it marked the emergence of Spencer as the popular philosopher of the Victorian age. It was a highly influential work in terms of the impetus it gave to the academic pursuit of the new science of sociology and it also played an important role in shaping the outlook of many thoughtful lay persons in the Victorian reading public.

Tea at Florence's with about twelve.

S.B. came here after supper, and I slanged him for his attitude towards honest musical criticism, and for other things. Then Edward came. Then Florence. Then R., fairly full of etchings and whisky.

Marguerite better. I have kept up very well so far, but I could not stand much more of this life. I walked up through the park to Burslem Cemetery and came back down Moorland Road. I like the change of atmosphere which is apparent immediately on entering the cemetery. It is peaceful, tranquil, almost inviting! Perhaps I will go into the ground here one day. I could do worse.

Burslem Cemetery opened in 1879 and covers approximately 11.4 hectares. It contains several large monuments which are historically important to local families.

Additionally for December 17th., see 'Indian ideas' -

He talked about the mistake of regarding India as one nation, and about the difficulties caused by religion and caste. He agreed that the partition of Bengal was a mistake. He did not say what he thought of Macdonnell's speech advising the reintegration of Bengal. 'Pretty good man, Macdonnell, isn't he?' I said. He hesitated a long time and then reluctantly said 'Yes'. He said Macdonnell was very good in India, but was not liked. He surprised me by saying that Lord Curzon had a tendency in any dispute between an Englishman and a native to take the side of the native. He - it seemed to me - condemned this as one of Lord C's gravest mistakes.

Monday, 16 December 2013

To Switzerland

Wednesday, December 16th., Hotel Belvedere, Mont Pelerin sur Vevey, Switzerland.

We left Fontainebleau on Monday and arrived at Dijon for dinner. Hotel de Bourgogne. Excellent steam-heated room 7 francs. Otherwise hotel not too well kept. It rained from the time of our advent till nearly 9 a.m. next morning. I walked out at night and saw a chemist make me a cachet of pyramidon. Mystery of cachets, for me, is now forever gone. genuine effect in the main street, of a town consisting chiefly of confectioners and ginger-bread makers.  Trams floating about rumblingly and ramblingly all the time. Witnessed an encounter between a young and attractive grue and a young man. They knew each other. After standing for a time under the glass marquise of the principal drapery shop, she shut up her own umbrella and they went off together under his. I got as far as the portals of an 'Alcazar' music-hall - all placards, and then came back to the hotel, and tried to read Huxley in bed. Couldn't.

Pyramidon was the registered trade name for an analgesic, aminopyrine, first prepared by Stolz in Hoechst in 1893.

It is only at night, when there is little of it, comparatively, that you appreciate how much light there is when there is supposed to be none. At 3 a.m. you can discover traces of it everywhere, and it has a very beautiful quality.

All very well to say that only a really strong nature can say "I was wrong", and that the inability to say it is proof of weakness. Most people who say it say it impulsively, and are undoubtedly not only weak but capricious also in their judgements. It has got to be said very rarely, and with complete absence of theatricality.

Our train for Switzerland was the Paris-Simplon day express. Very English. Chiefly Englishwomen. Their lack of charm was astounding, absolutely astounding. And their aristocratic self-absorbed voices made me laugh. The English consciousness of superiority is sublime in its profound instructiveness.

Vevey (quite dry rain everywhere else). A different climate. Mild, sec. I bought a Swiss cigar, and we got into a tiny Swiss tram. Had the Swiss feeling. feeling much intensified when, in the waiting room of the funicular, we found a vast musical box, which I caused to play for 10 centimes. Really rather a good device, especially when you have 45 minutes to wait.

I was so anxious to see the panorama this morning that I slept badly. I thought it wonderful, but I was disappointed because it seemed so small. I had expected something much bigger. Well, it has been "growing on" me all day. I thought the highest mountains on the opposite side of the lake were about 3,000 or 4,000 feet high. I found the Dent du Midi was about 10,000 feet high. I thought this Dent was 8 or 10 miles off. I found it was 24 miles off (38 kilometres). My opinion of the panorama is going up every minute. I can understand that it is one of the finest in Suisse. Sloppy snow everywhere underfoot. Not cold enough they say. Below us, cloud effects on lake continually changing. Really the scene is enchantingly beautiful. We see Vevey as though from a balloon. At night its lights are fairy-like - I wish there was another word. Can't find one instantly.

Additionally for December 16th., see 'Clayhanger's footsteps' -

Yesterday morning I did part of the walk that Clayhanger must do as he comes finally home form school in the first chapter of "Clayhanger".

Sunday, 15 December 2013

By the river

Sunday, December 15th., Victoria Grove, Chelsea.

Last night, reception and musical evening given in our honour here at Marriott's.
Also, for Marriott, see 'Bicycling in France', August 26th., -

Why "The Devout Lover", a conventional rotten song, become utterly coventionalised and as hard as a pebble, a thing now accepted without examination.

Lots Road, Chelsea
I walked along Lots Road this morning. River fine, but a horrible neighbourhood. There is one row of houses with a most extraordinary mask, of a man with Dundreary moustaches, on the keystone of the arch of every front door. Awful colour the buildings. Smashed panes, mended with paper. I came across the huge generating station of the Electric Tubes, and saw in it my article on London. Singular clinging constructions of wood at either end. Whole thing enormous. Continuous roaring sound. Cheerful for neighbouring houses.

Lots Road Power Station (Also known as the Chelsea monster) is a disused coal and later oil-fired power station on the River Thames at Lots Road in Chelsea which supplied electricity to the London Underground system. The station was built end-on to the Thames, on the north bank of the tidal Chelsea Creek. Construction started in 1902 and was completed in December 1904, the station becoming operational in February 1905. The station burned 700 tonnes of coal a day and had a generating capacity of 50,000 kW. At the time it was claimed to be the largest power station ever built, and it eventually powered most of the railways and tramways in the Underground Group.

Scores of seagulls sitting in orderly rows on the railings of an unused pier; and one on top of a lantern.

Additionally for December 15th., see 'Exhilarating young women' -

Vast effect of femininity. A general exhilarating effect. The young women badged as messengers, standing in two lines in outer entrance hall, earnest, eager, braced, made a specially characteristic feminine effect. One stopped me at once as I entered, and asked me if she could do anything for me, and then if I was A.B.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

A writers' dinner

Saturday, December 14th., Yacht Club, London.

Interview with Lillah McCarthy and Drinkwater at Adelphi Terrace at 12.45. I promised to write "Judith" by the end of January, and they promised to produce "Don Juan" also. In the afternoon Captain Basil Dean came to see me about his London theatrical scheme. He said he could get and control £20,000. I definitely promised to write a play for him, too. This with Goodall's, Vedrenne's and Lillah's makes 4 plays!
Also see 'Indecent exposure', April 11th. -

Ada Galsworthy
We dined at the Galsworthy's, Grove Lodge, Hampstead, and the Masefields were there. Mrs. M. and I got on excellently. Masefield gloomyish, and very precise in diction. Fine voice. diction of a public speaker. Galsworthy very nice. Ada Galsworthy adorable. Speaking of Masefield, there was a time when people desirous of being in the movement could not neglect their contemporary poetry. That time has passed. Then, conscientious persons, after accepting an invitation to dinner, if they had not read the latest poetry, would run out and buy it. Masefield's first long narrative poems made people ignore the fish at dinner. Not now. The reason in my opinion is that modern poetry has been revolutionary. The old material was scrapped and the old forms stretched until they snapped like elastic bands. The British public is not partial to revolutions. It believes that your revolutionary, be he a poet or a socialist, is most effectively dealt with by leaving him alone.

John Galsworthy OM (1867 – 1933) was an English novelist and playwright. Notable works include The Forsyte Saga (1906–1921) and its sequels, A Modern Comedy and End of the Chapter. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932.

John Edward Masefield, (1878 - 1967), was an English poet and writer, and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 until his death in 1967. He is remembered as the author of the classic children's novels The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights, and poems, including "The Everlasting Mercy" and "Sea-Fever".

Additionally for December 14th., see 'A little decadence' -

Davaray told me that to have de Regnier dangling his legs from a corner of a table and talking obscenities in his calm exquisitely polished way, was a delightful experience.

Friday, 13 December 2013

A cogitating day

Sunday, December 13th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

After buying papers and tea yesterday I lunched at the little creamery in the Place de la Trinite. Then I came home and read various papers and periodicals and "Casanova", and fell asleep, sleeping uncomfortably. Then I tried seriously to find the ideas for Chapter II of new novel; I had been more or less asking for them all morning; no success. 

Then I went out for a walk, and felt tired even in starting. I walked through the St. Lazare quarter to the Madeleine and turned along the Grand Boulevard to the Grand Cafe. I like the interior of this cafe. it is as much like the respectable ugliness of an English club as anything in Paris. I ordered a cup of chocolate because I felt empty. I thought steadily for one hour over this chocolate and I seemed to leave the cafe with one or two germs of ideas. 

I walked home, cogitating. When I arrived there was a telegram from Whitten requiring my weekly article two days earlier than usual. This upset my plans somewhat. I felt so tired - I had taken a chill - that I lay down under the eiderdown on the bed and went to sleep again, reading "Casanova".

When I awoke it was dark. I made tea and felt better. A leading notion for the chapter had now formed itself. I went to the Comedie Mondaine to book a seat for Brieux's "Berceau" and then to the Duval to dine, where I read Le Temps all through. Then I bought a cigar and had coffee in the Place Clichy. I cogitated at the cafe for an hour, and then I had the whole chapter clearly outlined in my head. This is a fair specimen of one of my cogitating days.

Additionally for December 13th., see 'Military manoeuvres' -

He told me how he had been sent to some golf links with a big mobile gun, and had put gun into a good spot where it interfered with play on first hole, the officially indicated position being a bad one. The affair was urgent as a raid was expected that night. He successfully repulsed various complainants from golf club; but next morning an Infantry officer came specially down from War Office, with instructions (positive orders) that gun must be moved. 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Brutish behaviour

Thursday, December 12th., Cadogan Square, London.

If a set of young men from the East End or from some provincial centre of Association football had gone in mass formation to Twickenham Football ground last Monday and by force and rowdyism rendered impossible the playing of the inter-Varsity match, there would have been a loud outcry in the newspapers, and in all polite circles, against their ill-mannered lawlessness; the police courts would have been densely populated next morning, and the non-payment of fines imposed would have ended in many doses of imprisonment.

Yet such conduct would have been no worse than the conduct, on that same day, of undergraduates from our ancient universities, which conduct began with processions on the tops of dining tables in fashionable restaurants and ended in the breaking up of a performance in at least one West End theatre; and which conduct occupied only a few inches of space in the papers and was forgotten by the enlightened public in less than twenty-four hours. It was generally understood that university rowdyism in London had been finished for ever by certain outrageous, destructive antics last year. Not so. 

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If years of education at public schools and universities result in exhibitions of loutish violence which have no equal in Great Britain, what are we to think of the real value of such education? Whatever young men are taught at universities, they are not effectively taught either decency, or good manners, or self-control, or self-respect for the elementary social rights of others. They are taught to behave like savages - and to be proud of it. The immediate cause of these disgraces is, of course, simple drunkenness, senseless and brutish indulgence in alcohol. The excuse offered for the youths is that they are young. Which plainly implies a theory that we ought not to expect citizens to be decent, civilised and law-abiding until they have reached the age of at least twenty-one. Is this a tenable theory?

Additionally for December 12th., see 'On modern poetry' -

T.S. Eliot is arguably the most influential of the 'modern' poets, though I have never been able to understand why. I have read I don't know how many times his celebrated poem, The Waste Land, at the mention of which every younger poet bows the head in awe, and I simply cannot see its beauty. I don't say it has no beauty: I say merely that I can't see its beauty. I once asked Eliot whether his explanatory notes to The Waste Land were not a pulling of the public leg? I seriously thought they were. He seriously assured me that they were not. I bowed the head!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A national responsibility.

Saturday, December 11th., London.

Yesterday lunch with Thomas Vaughan, partner in god knows how many theatres, Marguerite and Gilbert Miller also. This lunch must have cost Tommy £10. The beefsteak was a failure.

Last night a dinner, organised by Albert Rutherston to Nigel Playfair, to mark his departure to U.S.A. to produce "The Beggar's Opera" there. Milne was in the chair, and made a brilliant sort of speech full of jokes proposing Nigel's health. The speeches were too few, and too short, and after them there was an anticlimax.

This morning at 12.30 I finished the writing of my first film. I have temporarily called it "The Wedding Dress". It has taken 25 days, out of which I was ill on 7 days and did nothing whatever. I should estimate that the MS. is about 10,000 words.

Arnold Bennett’s daughter discovered the manuscript of "The Wedding Dress" in a drawer at her Paris home in 1984. This lost work has now been published for the first time. Bennett wrote "The Wedding Dress" in 1920 as a film scenario, for a major American film company, but it never went into production. It is a sparkling tale of the romantic entanglements of four lovers, set amidst a grand country house and its grounds, a departmental store, hotels and hospital wards in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. Bennett uses all his characteristic wit and inventiveness to tell the tale of how the confused lovers come to realise their true feelings. Whilst lively and vastly entertaining, "The Wedding Dress" does not neglect the post-War social scene and some of the harsh economic realities of the time.

I have for some time been concerned about the plight of disabled soldiers. In 1917 I wrote a pamphlet entitled "A National Responsibility". It was apparent to me then that every day disabled and otherwise unfit men were being discharged from the army, and thrown on the world, not because the state had done all it could and ought to do for them, but because the army had no further use for them. After being called heroes in the newspapers they were dismissed from the service of the state while the nation was still in their debt. And the nation is still in their debt. I am seeking to interest Lord Rothermere in this issue as it is vital for the success of any scheme to aid ex-service people that a powerful daily be involved, and the Mirror is indicated.

Additionally for December 11th., see 'Potteries politics' -

Having been occupied with politics more or less for two days, I quite forgot to take current notes. I pulled myself together and began again this morning.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

On being drunk

Saturday, December 10th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

X----- described the general sensations of being well drunk as magnificent, splendid, "But", he says, "you mustn't set out to get drunk. It must take you unawares." He told me that when sober he frequently lost umbrellas, but when drunk never. He made a special point of retaining his umbrella then in his hand; it became his chief concern in life. Once he got badly drunk at Maxim's. He just had sense enough to take a cab to the rooms of a mistress he had then. She received him and undressed him and put him to bed. But he would not 'leave go' of his umbrella during the process. He passed it from hand to hand as she divested him of his coat, waistcoat and shirt, and he took it to bed. And he said: "She became very angry with that umbrella."

I was extremely pleased with what I did yesterday of "S. and P. L." but when I read part of it this morning my enthusiasm was a little dampened.

I have been invited to visit the Phillpottses again, and hope to get there by the 30th., or 31st., though I would like to arrive on the 29th., if at all possible. However my movements at this time of year depend on the caprices of about 153 blood relatives. Emily writes that they intend to close Eltham and to "wander abroad". I am distressed by this news in the sense that Eltham is the most perfectly appointed house I have ever stayed in. But, if they wander I may see more of them because they cannot wander without touching Paris, and I will regard it as an unfriendly act if they do not then come to visit me.
Also see 'In the West Country', September 21st., -

I am looking forward to going down to Les Sablons tomorrow.

Additionally for December 10th., see 'Ideas and arrangements' -

This morning I walked 5 or 6 miles through Roehampton and Barnes. Impressed by the cleanliness, order and sober luxury of all the dwellings I saw.
I found most of the plot for a humorous novel; I hope to find the remaining part of the plot tomorrow.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Interesting people

Sunday, December 9th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Better arrangements must be made for keeping this damned journal! 

On Thursday last I made my debut at the Other Club, to which I was elected without my knowledge. I sat next to F. E. Smith, who is a live companion, inclined to recount his achievements, but interesting and informed. Duke of Marlborough in the chair - merely to propose the royal health. An irritating anachronism, but people dislike change, even for the better.
Also see 'Storm in a political teacup', November 23rd., -

F. E. Smith and Winston Churchill
Churchill, who in 1910 was Liberal Home Secretary, and barrister and Conservative MP F. E. Smith had not been invited to join the venerable political dining club known just as The Club. Although both had friends in it, the members thought Churchill and Smith too controversial. So they established their own club, to be called by contrast "The Other Club". The first dinner was on 18 May 1911. Twelve rules were written for the club, mostly by F. E. Smith, and they were, and are still, read aloud at each dinner. Churchill claimed to have contributed the last,12. "Nothing in the rules or intercourse of the Club shall interfere with the rancour or asperity of party politics."  Election to the club depended on Smith and Churchill believing members to be "men with whom it was agreeable to dine". 

Sir Mark Sykes seemed the most interesting man there. He did a very original caricature of F. E. Smith and me. I heard he was the best amateur actor in England. He certainly has brains, and political brains. Lutyens amiably played the amusing fool. I greatly enjoyed the affair.

Colonel Sir Mark Sykes, 6th Baronet (1879 – 1919) was an English traveller, Conservative Party politician and diplomatic adviser, particularly about matters respecting the Middle East at the time of the First World War. He is associated with the Sykes-Picot Agreement, drawn up while the war was in progress, regarding the apportionment of postwar spheres of interest in the Ottoman Empire to Britain, France and Russia. Sykes was in Paris in connection with peace negotiations in 1919. At the conference, a junior diplomat present, Harold Nicolson, described Sykes' effect: "It was due to his endless push and perseverance, to his enthusiasm and faith, that Arab nationalism and Zionism became two of the most successful of our war causes." He died in his room at the Hotel Lotti near the Tuileries Garden on 16 February 1919, aged 39, a victim of the Spanish flu pandemic.

Turkish baths and a little dissipation have lately improved my health and greatly improved my capacity for finding ideas and working.

Additionally for December 9th., see -

Instinctively, and all the time, I was comparing it with my own, and in particular comparing Margaret Ogilvy and J.M. Barrie with my mother and myself. Again and again, I had to acknowledge inferiority - inferiority of essential 'character', apart from inessential talent - a lack of bigness, and a presence of certain littlenesses. yet at the same time, I found us sturdy enough not to be ashamed of shortcomings. What we are, we are! "I exist as I am, that is enough." To hold such a creed religiously is in one way to be great.
A proud and self-unconscious self-esteem; that is what few people have. If at times it deserts me and mine, it always returns the stronger for having retreated. We are of the North, outwardly brusque, stoical, undemonstrative, scornful of the impulsive; inwardly all sentiment and crushed tenderness. We are of the North, incredibly, ruthlessly independent; and eager to say "Damn you" to all the deities at the least hint of condescension.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Getting information

Wednesday, December 8th., Waterloo Road, Burslem.

Dawson and dentist yesterday morning. I have been spending time with Joseph Dawson this week acquiring stuff for "Clayhanger". I have made real progress in getting information from him. 

After dinner I went to the Grand Theatre, 9.15 p.m. I was profoundly struck by all sorts of things. In particular by the significance of clog-dancing, which had never occurred to me before. I saw a 'short study' for the Nation in this. Towards the end I came across Warwick Savage and walked home with him. this was a pity because I had got into an extraordinary vein of 'second sight'. I perceived whole chapters. Of all the stuff I made sufficient notes.

The Grand Theatre (Trinity Street/Foundry Street) opened on 22 August 1898, at a cost of £25,000: £5,000 for the site, and £20,000 for the building. The building was constructed from brick, with stone facings and ornaments. The ornamental frontage was built in Renaissance style with a dome surmounting the entrance, and verandah of iron and glass. The principal entrance was at the corner of Trinity Street and Foundry Street, with the upper circle and pit entrances in Trinity Street. The vestibule had marble columns and a floor laid with encaustic tiles, the walls tiled shoulder height. The auditorium had three tiers - dress circle with four rows of chairs; upper circle of seven rows; and the gallery with twelve rows and a promenade. The rear of the grand circle was in line with the front of the upper circle, and the gallery was supported on four iron columns. To the sides of the balconies were four boxes surmounted with domes. The theatre had a sliding roof, and was lit by electricity. The stage could be converted for use as a circus with the removal of the stage and orchestra pit. There were busts of Shakespeare and Goethe.

Additionally for December 8th., see 'Heavyweight literature' -

The Bradenham edition is handsome and imposing. It is too imposing. It is almost exactly the size of a volume of the Dictionary of National Biography. Why should a novel be as unwieldy as a work of reference? This book cannot be held in one hand for reading. It could not be read in bed without employing a system of cranes. Why do publishers insist on ignoring the important fact that a book exists to be read in comfort, not merely to be beheld with pride on a shelf?