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

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Friday, 31 January 2014

A sportsman

Thursday, January 31st., Yacht Club, London.

Collecting ideas for my article on the future of the Liberal Party. 

Then to show of the Senefelder Club at the Leicester Galleries. There was a lithograph of Forain, "Conseil Juridique" which put everything else in the show clean off the map. I couldn't think of anything that I had ever seen more perfect. 28 guineas so I didn't buy it. A loud-voiced old man in very sporting costume, and deaf, came in with a fairly young woman, who called him alternatively 'Claudie' and 'Sir Claud'. It was Claud de Crespigny, the sportsman. many of these chaps have very loud voices. He said 2s. 6d. was too high a price for entrance, had never known entrance to a gallery to be more than 1s. He was mollified when he learnt that 2s. 6d. paid for two. He had come to see a painting by Laura Knight of a prize-fighter. As soon as he saw it he shouted: "I think they ought to give you your money back. It's not like --- at all. He hasn't got those muscles on him - never had. And look at his legs. And look at the size of the ring. It's not 8 feet square." However the woman soothed him, and in the end he seemed to be quite a decent sort of chap. 
Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny (1847–1935), military adventurer and sportsman entered the navy at the age of 13, serving as a midshipman in the Warrior in 1862. In 1866 he transferred to the army and in 1867 he won the first of the many steeplechases in a racing career spanning nearly fifty years. Sir Claude considered fighting, whether with fists or pistols, to be a manly occupation, and he engaged in fisticuffs until his seventies. He devoted his life to the maxim: ‘Where there is a daring deed to be done in any part of the world, an Englishman should leap to the front to accomplish it’. In 1870, irked by the restrictions of army life, Sir Claude resigned his commission to embark on the strenuous and dangerous pursuits he was to follow for the rest of his life. His distaste for heavy betting set him apart from other gentleman riders of the time, as did the strenuous physical regimen he followed all his life. In 1882 Sir Claude took up ballooning, and he became the first European to swim the Nile rapids in 1889. In 1914, at the age of sixty-seven, Sir Claude rode in his last steeplechase, and thereafter devoted himself to the more leisurely pursuits, as he saw them, of sailing, swimming, high diving, and long-distance walking. Lean of face and of spare build, he was proud that his weight was still only 10½ stone.

Lunched at Marlborough Club. The first I saw at the Marlborough was the Duke of Marlborough. I like this chap - also he said he was very interested in my articles, and agreed with them. I liked him the first time I saw him. Ex-King Manoel was there, lunching like nobody at all with two military officers. 

Then to Reform Club to meet Wells, who was very angry with the insular commercial machinations of the aeroplane manufacturers, who, he says, are greatly over-represented on the Civil Air Transport Committee of which he is a member. He told me the latest theory is that the first floor of a well-built house is safer than the basement in an air-raid, owing to the new heavy delayed-action bombs which go through everything and burst only when they can't travel any further.

Additionally for January 31st., see 'A weak spirit' -

Having nothing to do yesterday afternoon, and Eden being at work, and two others being out, and the day being wet, I could not resist going over to Monte Carlo in the tram. I lost money at the tables and came home depressed. In the evening I played billiards, practically for the first time, Eden teaching me. Today, bad weather again. I wrote an excellent T.P. article on Monte Carlo. But at present my interest in this journal is not what it was. Monte Carlo and other things have disturbed it.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

A pleasant evening

Saturday, January 30th., Victoria Grove, Chelsea.

Tonight I met the typical respectable Clerk and his wife. The Clerk: a short man with a merry, half-boyish face, and a good moustache; keen in looks and yet every feature disclosing a narrow habit of mind; at first good-naturedly too courteous and deferential, afterwards assuming his natural manner of unaffected pleasantness. His wife: a woman of about 35, apparently older than the clerk, dressed plainly in red and grey; a broad face of peculiar shape, with long censorious lips that came together in a straight line, and remained so; a sensible, sober face, full of what is called character. One felt that while her husband supplied the motive power of their existence, the wife furnished the steadying ballast. She was very restrained till late in the evening when at the sight of some comic drawings she laughed immoderately and long, repeating: "I do think that's funny ... " After this the clerk began to give us his volunteering experiences, and over his quietly vivacious talk I heard a conversation begin between the wife and Gertie Kennerley; "Are you fond of reading?" "Yes," said Gertie. "Read Charlotte Bronte's books? 'Jane Eyre'? 'Villette'? 'Shirley'? - I like 'Shirley' the best. And George Eliot's? And Mrs. Henry wood's? I think ----- is the best of hers." here the clerk broke in to say he hadn't read that: hadn't read anything of Mrs. Henry Wood's. "I don't think you'd care for them," she turned to him. "There isn't much in them you know." So, though clearly the stronger character, she looked up to him, wondering from below to what heights his intellect reached.

Both were skilful, experienced, alive, in the things which lay within their own segment of life's circle, and lost and awed, like babes in the wood, if they happened to stray outside that segment. Example: Though the husband was above Mrs. Henry Wood and read Lamb, and had a distant interest in Stevenson, he asked, "What is this Yellow Book, Mr. Bennett?" as if he were inquiring into the nature of the differential calculus or bimetallism. But both of them know all about latchkeys, burglars, the programmes at the Empire and the Alhambra, and so on. The Clerk was fond of horses. he liked riding because there was "a lot of danger in it - you might get thrown off". Then he explained the difficulties.

The Yellow Book, published in London from 1894 to 1897 by Elkin Mathews and John Lane, later by John Lane alone, was a quarterly literary periodical (priced at 5s.) that lent its name to the "Yellow Nineties". It was a leading journal of the British 1890s; to some degree associated with Aestheticism and Decadence, the magazine contained a wide range of literary and artistic genres, poetry, short stories, essays, book illustrations, portraits, and reproductions of paintings. Aubrey Beardsley was its first art editor, and he has been credited with the idea of the yellow cover, with its association with illicit French fiction of the period. Authors who contributed were: Max Beerbohm, Arnold Bennett, "Baron Corvo", Ernest Dowson, George Gissing, Sir Edmund Gosse, Henry James, Richard Le Gallienne, Charlotte Mew, Arthur Symons, H. G. Wells, William Butler Yeats.

They made several attempts to go, and finally left at 11.5, the clerk with genial smiles and punctilious salutations, the wife rather stiffer, but breaking out into a warm, genuine smile and a "We've had such a pleasant evening," for Mrs. K.

Additionally for January 30th., see 'Courting' -

Several times lately, about 10 p.m., I have noticed a couple that stand under the big tree at the corner next to the pillar box, shielded by the tree-trunk from the lamplight. They stand motionless, with hands nearly meeting around each other's backs, tightly clasped. They were there tonight. The man was holding an umbrella over them. Can't see what sort of people they are. In the first place I don't like to intrude and in the second place the shade is so dark. One day I will include this scene in a novel.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Artistic prestige

Saturday, January 29th., Hotel Savoy, Cortina.

On two occasions in my maturer life have I blushed. The first occasion was when, sitting in the stalls of a theatre, someone lightly touched my shoulder from the row behind, and, turning, I heard a remembered voice say: "You don't know me Mr. Bennett, but I know you." This was Ellen Terry. The second was when, in the coffee room of a club to which we both belonged, a stoutish man accosted me and said: "You won't recall me, I'm Henry James. May I join you upstairs later?" Yes, I did fairly blush - I suppose because I was flattered. Such is the mysterious influence of immense artistic prestige on my blood vessels.

Dame Ellen Terry (1847 – 1928) was an English stage actress who became the leading Shakespearean actress in Britain. Born into a family of actors, Terry began acting as a child in Shakespeare plays and continued as a teen, in London and on tour. She retired from the stage for six years but returned to acting in 1874 and was immediately acclaimed for her portrayal of roles in Shakespeare and other classics. In 1878 she joined Henry Irving's company as his leading lady, and for more than the next two decades she was considered the leading Shakespearean and comic actress in Britain. In 1903 Terry took over management of London's Imperial Theatre, focusing on the plays of George Bernard Shaw and Henrik Ibsen. The venture was a financial failure, and Terry turned to touring and lecturing. She continued to find acting success until 1920, while also appearing in films until 1922. Her career lasted nearly seven decades.

Artistic prestige has an influence not only on my blood vessels but on my critical faculty. It took me years to ascertain that Henry James's work was giving me little pleasure. I first had a glimpse of this distressing fact when "What Maisie Knew" began to appear serially - I could not get on with it. My fault of course. But when I was immovably bogged in the middle of "The Golden Bowl" and again in the middle of "The Ambassadors" I grew bolder with myself. I gave them up. Today I have no recollection whatever of any characters or any events in either novel.

I have come to think that James hadn't actually much to say, in a creative sense, that needed saying. I think that he knew a lot about the life of one sort of people, the sort who are what is called cultured, and who do themselves very well both physically and intellectually, and very little about life in general. I think that in the fastidiousness of his taste he rather repudiated life. Of course my eyes may have a blind-spot for the alleged supreme excellencies of Henry James. But, if so, the eyes of a vast number of other people no plainer than myself are similarly afflicted. I can only say that never shall I set out afresh into the arid desert of "The Golden Bowl".
For more on Henry James see 'Literary Lion' -

I have had an idea for writing a series of souvenirs d'enfance. There is nothing about souvenirs d'enfance in Louis Aragon's "Paysans de Paris", but this book is certainly stimulating me into a fresh creativeness. I must say that, though it is uneven, I should like to write a book like that - I mean about London. Only of course England would never tolerate the belle franchise of this French book. 

Alice Hallagarten Franchetti
While Dorothy was dressing I went out for a walk. I wanted to be alone to think about a short story and two articles and my dimly projected souvenirs, but I came across Baroness Franchetti, acquaintance of the Huxleys. She would walk with me. And when I said I must turn she said she also must turn back. Then she took my photograph twice in the middle of the road, blazing sunshine, screwing up eyes, etc. However she did tell me one interesting thing. She knew Ibsen. She said she spent a whole season in the same hotel with him and his family somewhere. She sat at the next table to the Ibsens. They - father, mother, and boy - never spoke a word during the whole time. Ibsen (said Mdme. Franchetti) would talk freely to Madame Franchetti afterwards. He told her that he wrote all his work four times. Also, that he wrote "The Doll's House" in the open air, in tremendous sunshine, at Sorrento. He loved the greatest possible heat to work in.

Additionally for January 29th., see 'Strolling in Paris' -

I do enjoy these slow walks through Paris on fine winter afternoons: crowded pavements, little curiosity shops, and the continual interest of women. I walked back to the Chatelet station of the Metro. and went to the Concorde and thence walked to the Place de l'Opera, stopping at the Trois Quartier shop, where there are some very nice things.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Woman's suffrage

Saturday, January 28th., Rue de Grenelle, Paris.

 Thoughts on Votes for Women:

1. The most powerful argument for woman's suffrage is the fact that women want it. Undoubtedly a large majority of women who have studied the question feel a strong desire for woman's suffrage. there is and there can be no answer to this argument. To attempt to answer it is in my opinion to be guilty of fatuousness.

2. There is no reasonable prospect of obtaining woman's suffrage in the present Parliament. The Government has no mandate of any kind to deal with it, and its time will be fully occupied by subjects which the electorate considers far more important.

3. Militant methods have, in my opinion, succeeded so far. They would have succeeded more completely if the women who sought martyrdom had played the game when they found martyrdom. Not only their dignity, but their intellectual honesty often gave way under the strain of martyrdom. At the same time it must be admitted that the organisers were frequently badly advised by their more zealous male supporters, who did not always escape the fatuity which masks their opponents. In particular the behaviour of certain husbands of martyrs did much to alienate the sympathies of the lukewarm. No hysterical male antics would in the slightest degree weaken my own convinced support of the cause of woman's suffrage; but then I am not lukewarm, while the electorate as a whole is either lukewarm or indifferent.

4. I can suggest no alternative to militant methods. But I think that if the organisers of militancy were to make a closer and franker study of human nature as it notoriously is, with a view to avoiding in future the rather silly air of being constantly horrified by the spectacle of human nature in activity, the result might be a shortening of the war.

Annie Kenney and
Christabel Pankhurst
Votes for women was part of a gradual improvement in women's rights that had been going on throughout the 19th century. The movement also campaigned for the right to divorce a husband, the right to education, and the right to have a job such as a doctor. Many women, however, saw the vote as the vital achievement that would give them a say in the laws affecting their lives. The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies - the Suffragists - was formed in 1897 and led by Millicent Fawcett. The group was made up of mainly middle-class women and campaigned peacefully. The organisation built up supporters in Parliament, but private members' bills to give women the vote all failed. The Women's Social and Political Union - the Suffragettes - was formed in 1903 and led by Emmeline Pankhurst. Although this group was also middle class, it heckled politicians, held marches, members chained themselves to railings, attacked policemen, broke windows, slashed paintings, set fire to buildings, threw bombs and went on hunger strike when they were sent to prison. One suffragette, Emily Davison, ran out in front of the king's horse during the Derby of 1913 and was killed. The East London Federation of Suffragettes - formed in 1914 by Sylvia Pankhurst - was made up of working-class women. This group concentrated on social reform, and rejected the violence of the WSPU.

Additionally for January 28th., see 'On the power of women' -

The hypnotised audience, crowded tier above tier of the dark theatre, held itself strained and intent in its anxiety not to miss one gyration, one least movement, of the great dancer Adeline Genee - that dancer who had enslaved not only New York and St. Petersburg but Paris itself. Swaying incorporeal, as it were within a fluent dazzling envelope of endless drapery, she revealed to them new and more disturbing visions of beauty in the union of colour and motion. She hid herself in a labyrinth of curves which was also a tremor of strange tints, a tantalising veil, a mist of iridescent light. Gradually her form emerged from the riddle, triumphant, provocative, and for an instant she rested like an incredible living jewel in the deep gloom of the stage. Then she was blotted out, and the defeated eye sought in vain to penetrate the blackness where but now she had been ...

Monday, 27 January 2014

Following the timetable

Wednesday, January 27th., Hotel Belvedere, Vevey.

Finished today the fifth 'deed' of "Denry the Audacious". It is pretty good. probably too good for a serial. Also received a copy of the third edition of "The Old Wives' Tale", and began to cut passages of it so as to make it short enough for Tauchnitz. Not as difficult as I expected it to be, but nevertheless a desolating and unsatisfactory business. Arthur Waugh wrote me that it was 'a sacrilege'.

Although I now do more work, more regularly than I ever did, I feel more tired more definitely and more consciously than I did four or five years ago. I remember when I was writing "Leonora" at the Hotel du Quai Voltaire, I used to go out into the Rue de Rivoli (towards the end of the book) with a sensation as if the top of my head would come off. But I did not recognise it as fatigue, simply as the result of worry, a nuisance. I can now work hard all morning and I feel tired, and I know that if I kept on after lunch I should probably be ill. But by consciously refusing to think of my work, by vegetating, I can be sure that by tea-time I shall be restored, and can work again for a bit without letting myself in for a bilious attack. But I have to menager myself.

On Monday and yesterday afternoons I wrote the first chapter of a book about novel writing and the fiction-reading public, which will appear in pieces over Jacob Tonson's name. I was most enthusiastic over it. I calculate that in twenty weeks it will be done, and a striking book ready to be published. This is an extra. The notion probably came to me from my instinctive hatred of wasting newspaper articles. I hate to think that anything I write is bad enough, or fragmentary enough, to be lost forever in the files of a paper.

I am writing a pretty good lot but I am not doing much else. Not yet at the end of the second volume of "Les Origines" - in two months. No other reading, except newspapers as usual, and bits of Poe. Rather startled by the first-classness of some of Poe's lyrics, such as "The Haunted Palace".

In weather the season continues bad. Two days of fog or mist then one day of splendid sunshine. And so on. No snow on the south face of the mountain. In the mountain, in the protected folds, large quantities of snow. I go walks there, and follow tracks made by an animal alone - I don't know what animal. When there is the least danger of slipping I think: "If I fell and sprained my ankle it would probably mean my death." This is quite exciting, half pleasant, half unpleasant. When venturing up a steep slope to find a possible path, I think: "I ought not to do this." The great danger is certainly that of exposure after an accident.

I am always meaning to write character sketches of people in the hotel - as exercise - but I never do. The fact is that to write a 65,000 word book, full of novel incident, in two months, and a showy travaillee article once a week, leaves one with not much energy. The timetable has to be followed with exactitude, and it is assez juste.

A middle-aged Dutchman instructs me in billiards most evenings.

Additionally for January 27th., see 'A practical philosopher' -

"I've driven these roads for eight-and-twenty year, and the only pal I've found is Cod Liver Oil. From September to March I takes it, and I never has rheumatism and I never has colds nor nothing o' that sort. I give it to my children ever since they was born, and now I'm blest if they don't cry for it."
He finished; he had imparted his wisdom, delivered his message, and with the fine instinct denied to so many literary artists, he knew when to be silent. We asked him to stop, and he did so without a word. "Good night," we said; but he had done with speech for that evening, and gave us no reply. We alighted. The bus rolled away into the mirror-like vista of the street.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

On 'pot-boilers'

Thursday, January 26th., St. Dunstan's Chambers, London.

Regent Street. The shops exhibit luxuries from all the ends of the earth, and, in the fine frosty afternoon, hundreds of people who had more than they needed, walked or drove up and down the fashionable street in search of something, anything, which they did not already possess. It was a beautiful sight for the sandwich men.

Sensational serials. Several people have cast missiles at me for troubling with such things. But why should I not write an exciting serial if I so desire? Exciting fiction is as much a form of art as any other sort of fiction. I finished my serial on Monday and I may say, quite without prejudice, that it is very good - ingenious, full of trepidations, and eloquent: those who begin it will finish it. I have a very good reason for this 'pot-boiling'. It is not my intention all my life to sit here editing a miserable female paper, or any other paper. In fact I have now had as much of editing as I want. My desire is to be moving on and I shall not remain at Woman a moment longer than I can help. But if I leave journalism I must find something else. That something else is fiction. It dawns upon me that fiction is my forte. But if I continued to turn out psychological treatises like "A Man from the North", I might earn some sort of reputation, but I should not, most emphatically, earn a livelihood. Therefore I must do, to begin with, the sort of fiction that will sell. I don't see that sensational fiction is any worse 'pot-boiling' than editing a weekly paper. And I know that I would vastly sooner do the fiction than the editing. It is nearer to my special faculty and I can get real fun out of it. But my great ambition at present is not to be tied to an office, and my efforts are directed to the breaking of theses chains.

Additionally for January 26th., see 'Last of the big gamblers' -

Inside the gaming saloons (4 o'clock) I found a large crowd and many tables in full work. The crowd not so distinguished in appearance as I had (foolishly) expected. I saw few signs at the tables of  suppressed or expressed excitement, though quite a large proportion of the people seemed to be gambling seriously. I had no intention of betting, but after I had watched several tables and grasped the details of roulette (30 and 40 I didn't attempt to grasp) I remained at one table, as if hypnotised; without knowing it I began to finger a 5-franc piece in my pocket, and then I became aware that I was going to bet. I knew I should bet some seconds before I formally decided to. I staked a 5-franc piece on an even chance and won. Like a provincial up from the country, who has heard tales of metropolitan rascality, I stood close to a croupier and kept a careful eye on my coin, and picked up the winnings without an instant's delay. I kept on playing, carefully, and always on even chances, for some time, and stopped when I had made a little money and went and had some tea. I didn't play again.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Full blast

Friday, January 25th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

I am now on the last week of "The Pretty Lady", and really in full blast. The publishers have seen the first half of it and are deeply struck by it. In fact they call it 'tremendous'. It is usually a bad sign when publishers are knocked flat by a novel, but this publisher is a writer himself, so it may be all right. 

It strikes me that this war is rather like an operatic performance ill-rehearsed. It ought by rights to come to a dead stop through some horrible blunder, or ill-will. But it never does. Except in one of my novels, I doubt if any operatic performance ever did come to a stop through stage inefficiency.

The weather in London was marvellously awful last week. Olive (Ledward that was), Marguerite and Captain Mason went with me to see "Sleeping Partners" with Seymour Hicks in it on Tuesday last. I have never cared for Hicks, but the play was most funny and improper and he was simply great in it. I had to go round to make his acquaintance. I thought I could never stand that man, but I liked him and he is lunching with me next week. 
Additionally for Seymour Hicks see 'A little dissipation', January 9th. -

In "Sleeping Partners", an early talkie, a philandering wife plays around with her lover while her equally philandering husband plays with his. When she and her lover decide to get physically involved, he takes her to his flat. Unfortunately, he accidentally gives her sleeping powder and she is forced to spend the night. Suddenly her husband appears to get some advice from the fellow. He has no idea that his wife is there. Romantic mayhem ensues until the married couple has a blissful reconciliation. Originally a successful play, the film was written, directed and starred in by Seymour Hicks.

When we came out of the theatre there was 3 inches of slush on the streets and snow driving in every direction. No taxis of course. Women, equally of course, in satin shoes. I, sensibly, had my snow shoes on and paddled Marguerite back to the flat. 

I have now finished touching-up the last of the eight full-page colour illustrations that I have done for Johnny Atkins's book on the Thames Barge. It will be priced at 10s. 6d. on account of my drawings. At present I give half a day a week to art.

Additionally for January 25th., see 'Winter holiday' -

Today the first full, empty day of the holiday. We met Aldous and Maria Huxley, who had been ski-ing. I stood about till I could risk the cold no longer, and then went for a walk, breaking often into a run. By this time (4p.pm.) all the tracks around here were in shadow. The Aldous Huxleys came for dinner and stayed till 11.55.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Writing well.

Tuesday, January 24th., Fulham Park Gardens, London.

Last night I finished my sensational novel, "The Curse of Love", 50,000 words in exactly three months, with all my other work. The writing of it has enormously increased my facility, and I believe that now I could do a similar novel in a month. It is, of the kind, good stuff, well written and well contrived, and some of the later chapters are really imagined and, in a way, lyrical. I found the business, after I had got fairly into it, easy enough, and I rather enjoyed it. I could comfortably write 2,500 words in half a day. It has only been written once, and on revision I have scarcely touched the original draft. Now I want to do two short sensational stories - and then to my big novel.

I have been reading Balzac's "Old Goriot" in translation (Ellen Marriage). I find the amoral Vautrin to be the most interesting character, much more interesting than Rastignac. I think that I could create a similar sort of 'villain' in one of my novels at some time in the future. The Paris that Balzac writes about is less than 100 years in the past, and is convincingly portrayed, yet it seems impossibly archaic. This reflects the rate of social progress experienced in this century now drawing to a close. It is similar in that sense to Hardy's depictions of a rural world that was already a memory when he wrote about it.

Additionally for January 24th., see 'Layers' -

In becoming acquainted with people you uncover layer after layer. Using the word in my sense, one person may be the most distinguished of a crowd on the first layer, another on the second, and so on. Until after uncovering several layers, you may ultimately come to a person who, down below, is the most distinguished of all - on that layer. The final result may be quite unexpected. I suppose that the inmost layer is the most important, but each has its importance.
I think that I am a very layered person, and am likely to become more so as I get older. I don't think anyone has penetrated far below my surface and, if I am honest, I have no wish that they should.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A fascinating woman

Thursday, January 23rd., Ilchester Gardens, London.

I had tea with Lena Ashwell on Tuesday, her elder sister was there. Beautiful old house arranged with taste. Flashes of common sense and of insight, but a little embittered. This would doubtless pass as intimacy was gained. She told me how Frohman had refused "Leah Kleschna". Reason: because he thought the public would not be interested in a thief. When it had succeeded he paid a premium of £1,000 to get control of it, and then went about buying every play that had a thief in it. This anecdote has the same elements as nearly all the other anecdotes she related. Miss Ashwell is most alluring woman with eyes which stir the blood. 

For Ellen Terry, actress-manager Lena Ashwell (1869-1957) was 'a passionate voice'. From her first appearance on stage in 1891 to the end of her life, Ashwell was determined to make the theatre accessible and relevant to everyone, prompting G.B. Shaw to describe her as possessing an 'awakeningly truthful mind as well as an engaging personality.' An inspiring and strong woman in a rapidly changing world, she was crucial both for the advancement of women in the English theatre and for the formation of the National Theatre. She presented 'new drama' at the Kingsway and Savoy Theatres and was active in the Actresses' Franchise League, as well as being committed to the British Drama League. From the outbreak of World War 1 she initiated and raised money for thousands of concert-party troop entertainments at the Front; when peace was declared, her Lena Ashwell Players set about taking regular theatre performances into local communities throughout London and beyond. Long before educational drama and public subsidy for the arts were realities, she engaged local authorities in the provision of facilities and support for her work.

Also for Lena Ashwell see 'Exhilarating young women', December 15th. -

On the previous night we saw the piece "Irene Wycherley" about which everyone is talking as the best piece in London. Lena mentioned its author and me as signs of a renascence of the drama. A curious mixture of ancient convention and bits of novelty. Exceedingly amateurish, and mostly bad, but pervaded at times by a very distinct feeling for the dramatic.

The rehearsals of "Cupid and Commonsense" now going much better. Only a week ago I went to a rehearsal at Terry's Theatre and was exhausted and very much depressed by it. Nothing seemed to get over the footlights. The players now played too quickly instead of too slowly. Local accent all wrong and certainly incurable. Everything about the place repelled me. But yesterday I began to get quite enthusiastic.
For more about "Cupid and Commonsense" see August 30th. -

Additionally for January 23rd., see 'Other forms of vanity' -

The other day a vendeuse and an essayeuse came up from the Maison de Blanc, with a robe d'interieur for Marguerite and another for Mrs. Selwyn. A porter of the Maison Blanc carried the box. The general tableau; - the two employees, young and agreeable, but certainly not vierges, with soft liquid persuasive voices, speaking chiefly English; the frothy garments lying all about on chairs and in the box, Selwyn, Alcock and me lounging on chairs, and M. and Mrs. S. playing the mannequin, and the porter waiting outside in the dark corridor - this tableau produced a great effect on me. Expensive garments rather, - and I felt that for my own personal tastes, I would as soon earn money in order to have such a tableau at my disposition, as for a lot of other seemingly more important and amusing purposes. A fine sensuality about it.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

An absolutely honest artist

Sunday, January 22nd., Rue de Grenelle, Paris.

Friday night, visit with Chateaubriant to Romain Rolland. Found him in a holland-covered room, disguised bed in one corner. Tea at 9.45. Sister, spinster aged 35. Bright, slightly masculine. Mother, an aged body, proud of children, shrewd, came in later. Romain Rolland, arm in sling; large face, pale, calm, kindly, thoughtful, rather taciturn. Giving a marked impression of an absolutely honest artist, and a fine soul. Considerable resemblance to Marcel Schwob; but bigger and more blond. No particular talk. But an impression of rightness, respectability in every sense, conscientiousness, and protestantism (intellectually).

Romain Rolland (1866 – 1944) was a French dramatist, novelist, essayist, art historian and mystic who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915 "as a tribute to the lofty idealism of his literary production and to the sympathy and love of truth with which he has described different types of human beings". His first book was published in 1902, when he was 36 years old. Through his advocacy for a 'people's theatre', he made a significant contribution towards the democratization of the theatre. As a humanist, he embraced the work of the philosophers of India and was strongly influenced by the Vedanta philosophy.

I wrote 2,000 words of "Hilda" today, to the end of Chapter VI. 15,400 words to date, in 17 days.

How strange memory is. I was awake in the night and for some reason started to think about Greek drama. But I could not remember the name of "Oedipus"; there was some sort of mental block, a wall preventing me from accessing that particular item of information. I could describe the story, remember the name of his wife/mother, and of the blind prophet Tiresias, but not the main character. And I knew the name began with "O". How can this be? Does this say anything about how memory works, or the brain is organised? I don't know, and I don't think anybody else does either. But it is most frustrating. Needless to say, this morning, whilst thinking of something entirely different, the name popped into my head!

Additionally for January 22nd., see 'Feeling reflective' -

I don't know if it is my age, the state of my liver, or the weather (there has been snow on the ground for the best part of a week now) which is causing me to feel more gloomy than usual. Walking does me good, and I like the stillness of a snowy landscape, as well as the magical transformation from a place well-known to somewhere rather mysterious. We are all more or less at the mercy of our body chemistry when it comes to mood, and I am consoled by the thought that Spring will come again.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


Saturday, January 21st., Cadogan Square, London.

I walked to South Kensington Museum, and had a look at the British Water Colours, which I had not examined before as a whole. Well, I think that Cotman is the best of them, easily. Peter de Wint I like less than I did. He gets pretty and his colour is often not ageeable. Brabazon, clumsy and groping, is still the most interesting of the moderns. Indeed I couldn't see anybody else who aroused any emotion in me.

After dinner I read a lot of the sixth series of H. L. Mencken's "Prejudices". This fellow is getting better. He has a general basis of common sense, and really writes very well for a journalist. 

To the Trocadero Grill for the Cabaret show, as the guest of Charles Cochran. Doris Zinkeisen (Mrs. Johnson) and husband, and Tilly Losch (formerly premiere danseuse at the Vienna Opera House) and Mrs. C. B. C. were there. Tilly Losch was very simple and sound and very pretty.She is doing the dances for C. B.'s new Revue. The cabaret show was extremely lively. I had gone specially to see Hayes, the juggler, of whom I had heard fine accounts. He was very skilled, imaginative, and comic; but his turn was too short.

Ottilie Ethel Leopoldine "Tilly" Losch (1903 – 1975) was an Austrian-born dancer, choreographer, actress and painter who lived and worked for most of her life in the United States and United Kingdom. Losch made her London debut in 1928 in Cochran's production of Noël Coward's musical review The Year of Grace, and over the course of the next few years, worked in London and New York as both a dancer and choreographer. In New York she danced in The Band Wagon with Fred and Adele Astaire in 1931. 

Slept for five hours without a break. It is years since I did this great feat!

Like the majority of people I know no Greek. Unlike the majority of people I am continually annoyed and engloomed by my ignorance of Greek. Starting with a prejudice against classical education, due perhaps to the public antics of pedagogic persons whom a classical education had obviously left narrow minded and therefore uncivilised, I gradually came to understand that Greek literature had not been overpraised. And this in spite of obstacles put in my way by translators. Yes, to this day, the Greeks have never been beaten, and very rarely equalled. And I can conceive that if I knew Greek as well as I know French I should be as puffed up about it as any pundit, and as disdainful of literatures and civilisations other than the Greek.

Additionally for January 21st., see 'Yachting and yarning' -

He also told tales of an old illiterate captain whom he took ashore to watch over a flat in Buckingham Street and who in a storm would 'stow' all the crockery etc. affirming that the house was rolling. Also he sat in his room with only a small blue jet of gas-light. Asked why he didn't have it higher, he said because he had noticed that when he blew out the gas at full there was much more smell than when he blew it out from a little point. He had been blowing out the gas nightly for weeks. Old Quinton is 70 odd and was racing in the eighteen-seventies.

Monday, 20 January 2014

After "Hilda"?

Friday, January 20th., 59 Rue de Grenelle, Paris.

I began to write "Hilda Lessways" on January 6th. It has been impossible to keep this journal since when, additionally, I am either going out or receiving, every night and Sunday afternoons. I have in fact written about 14,000 words of "Hilda" in 16 days. The stuff is slowly improving.

I had not been able to even read until I received H. G. Wells's "The New Machiavelli". This book makes a deep impression on me, and even causes me to examine my own career, and to wonder whether I have not arrived at a parting-of-the-ways therein, and what I ought to decide to do after the book - after "Hilda" is finished. London or Paris?

The New Machiavelli is a 1911 novel by H. G. Wells that was serialized in The English Review in 1910. Because its plot notoriously derived from Wells's affair with Amber Reeves and satirized Beatrice and Sidney Webb, it was "the literary scandal of its day." The New Machiavelli purports to be written in the first person by its protagonist, Richard "Dick" Remington, who has a lifelong passion for "statecraft" and who dreams of recasting the social and political form of the English nation. Remington is a brilliant student at Cambridge, writes several books on political themes, marries a wealthy heiress, and enters parliament as a Liberal influenced by the socialism of a couple easily recognizable as the Webbs, only to go over to the Conservatives. Remington undertakes the editing of an influential political weekly and is returned to parliament on a platform advocating the state endowment of mothers, but his career is wrecked by his love affair with a brilliant young Oxford graduate, Isabel Rivers. When rumours of their affair begin to circulate, Remington tries to break it off, but then resolves to abandon wife, career, party, and country and live abroad in Italy, where he writes the apologia pro vita sua that the novel constitutes.

Additionally for January 20th., see 'A family business' -

I called at the bureau de tabac opposite the Opera under the Grand Hotel to buy cigars and cigarettes. The patronne, a stoutish powdered agreeable woman of 50 or so was in charge, with a young girl, apparently her daughter. There is also a patron; quite a family affair. 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Philosophical ideas

Sunday, January 19th., Ilchester Gardens, London.

I have been in correspondence with Pinker regarding money, and asked him to send me £10 if possible. I assured him that my irregular need of money is in no way caused by personal affairs, but is due to my peculiar responsibilities as the head of a large family. Under Marguerite's influence I am now living in the most reasonable way possible. I am spending much less than I used to and the effect of this will soon be apparent. During my absence from Paris I have let the flat there and we live here on £7 a week inclusive. 

Mist yesterday morning; fog this morning. Both days I noticed 'the gigantic ghosts of omnibuses' in the gloom. It is a phrase to use.

I called and saw Vedrenne at the Queen's Theatre yesterday afternoon. Seemed a decent sort of chap, more sincere than the run of them; also he kept his appointment to the minute. He said that in the theatre he thought that "the author was everything". I of course agreed. said he had been paying G. B. Shaw £4,000 a year for four years past. And that he took £1,300 in Dublin in a week with a Shaw play. Also said, speaking generally, that he had lost a lot of money last year. Said he had taken on Waller for five years, and had bought a 'morality' play by Conan Doyle.
Additionally for Vedrenne see 'The writing business' -

Two days after the Queen's opened The Stage newspaper published a review of the building in their 10th of October 1907 edition saying:- 'A two-tier house, the Queen's holds about 1200 persons, representing some £300 in money. The colour scheme of the walls and roof is white and gold, while green is the hue of the carpets, hangings and upholstery, and of the very charming velvet tableau curtain. From a spacious and lofty entrance-hall, with passages leading down into the stalls, one ascends by a handsome marble staircase to the dress circle, which runs out over the pit; and there is a fine and roomy saloon at the top. Mr Vedrenne makes a point that 7/6 will be charged for seats in the first three rows only of the dress circle, while but 5/- will be the price of the remaining eight rows, also unreserved, in which evening dress will be optional. On the second tier of the Queen's, which is in the Old Italian Renaissance style and in the building of which the cantilever principle has been adopted, are the upper circle and the shilling gallery. The auditorium is lighted up agreeably with electric lamps and an electrolier, and ample refreshment room and other accommodation will be found to have been provided.'

My reading is unsatisfactory. I read a bit of the "Prelude" today. I don't seem to get into either Acton or Creevey. But I stick to Marcus Aurelius. I was moved by this, in "Meditations II.17" (Farquharson trans.): "Of man's life, his time is a point, his existence a flux, his sensation clouded, his body's entire composition corruptible, his vital spirit an eddy of breath, his fortune hard to predict, his fame uncertain. Briefly, all things of the body a river; all things of the spirit dream and delirium; his life a warfare and a sojourn in a strange land; his after-fame oblivion. What then can be his escort through life? One thing, and one thing only, Philosophy." Noble words from a noble mind. Of course, like others who think about these things, I sit comfortably in my chair and aspire to such nobility for myself, but then 'life' intrudes and its 'warfare' gives me little or no space for philosophic reflection. No doubt M.A. himself was largely pre-occupied with practical matters; indeed he must have been. One must be content to return to a core belief as and when possible, like a sailor returning to sheltered anchorage from stormy seas.

Additionally for January 19th., see 'On my balcony' -

Breakfast on the balcony again yesterday, while the fishing boats went out one by one straight into the dazzle of the sun, with an extraordinary sentimental effect. A highly dandiacal yacht, with fittings all brass and mahogany apparently, had been at anchor since we came; she was moored by two ropes to the jetty, and by two anchors from the stern. I noticed a detail of actualness which might be brought into a scene with great effect. The yacht swung from side to side on the jetty ropes, lifting first the starboard and then the port rope clear of the water, and as each rope came clear of the still water, the drops from it fell into the water in hundreds for a few seconds making a wonderful pretty pattering sound. On first catching this sound I did not perceive how it was caused.

Saturday, 18 January 2014


Tuesday, January 18th., Royal York Hotel, Brighton.

M.D., une espece de financier, staying here indefinitely and going up to London every day, said the other night during a political discussion that there were "forty chaps" in his office, and that he believed there were forty radicals amongst them. This cheered me somewhat. Reminiscing about Barney Barnato with another old Tory here, he said that though B.B. was utterly uneducated and showed it in ordinary conversation, yet he could make a speech perfectly correctly; also that he could and did recite from memory whole acts of Shakespere without a single false pronunciation or emphasis.

Additionally for Barney Barnato see 'Jubilee atmosphere' -

Since Saturday night, when I stood out in the rain and wind two and three quarter hours to see the election returns on the Daily News lantern screen in the Old Steyne, I have been perfectly obsessed by politics, perhaps to my harm artistically. Today I finished my 3,000 word article on "The Forces behind the Elections" for the next issue of the English Review. I don't think very much of it. It has a certain elegant quality - but it is too vague. It lacks personality. The fact was I hadn't anything particular to say and anyhow wasn't in a state to say even what I had to say.

For more on the 1910 election see 'Terrific productiveness' -

Frightful weather; wind, rain and gloom. And perhaps the chief origin of my existing dissatisfaction with things in general is that on Friday I had to consult an oculist, as I could only explain my headaches by the theory of a strain on my eyes. Yesterday I began to wear glasses. It is no light thing to begin suddenly to see the novel you have started with the naked eye, through a pair of eye-glasses.

Additionally for January 18th., see 'Getting things in perspective' -

With the history of the Brown's fresh in my mind this morning, I was able to estimate at its proper unimportance the circular which the Graphic people have issued about my serial "The Grand Babylon Hotel", to appear in the Golden Penny, which they sent me this morning, and which in a whirl of adjectives describes the thing as "the most original, amusing, and thrilling" serial written this decade - the best thing of the sort since "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab". Fancy writing a story as good as "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab"!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Bad grammar

Tuesday, January 17th., Cadogan Square, London.

Formerly in my life I was always pre-occupied by my insomnia and my digestion. I only rarely think about my digestion now - it is so good - but I am still terribly pre-occupied with my sleeping.

I walked to the Metropole for the Dramatists' Club lunch. Pinero in the chair. Quite a muster of members because Pinero had been ill. Coward and Malleson appeared for the first time - new members. Coward said to me: "Don't leave me, Arnold. I feel so strange here. I'm on the verge of hysteria among all these people." He sat on Pinero's right with Barrie next to him. When Barth was reading the minutes at the end, I said: "Bad grammar, I regret to say." The sin was "None .... were." But Barth couldn't see it, and others couldn't. I think only Barrie saw it. Yet all were authors.

Sir Arthur Wing Pinero (1855 – 1934) was an English actor and later an important dramatist and stage director. In honour of his seventy third birthday he was entertained to luncheon at the Hotel Metropole by the Dramatists' Club, of which he is President. there were no speeches but Sir James Barrie, the Vice President, in proposing Sir Arthur's health said: "Pinero was our leader when we started writing; he is our leader still." Sir Arthur with his immaculate dress and courteous manner is a typical Edwardian. He inhabits the Albany and his quarters are as tidy as his person.

Families. One must make the best of them in spite of their shortcomings. Many people must think, as I do, that only loyalty based on ties of blood can bring them to have anything to do with a person who they find offensive. And if there is no blood tie, then that is the end of the matter. It is my nature to be patient but not tolerant, and once I set my face against someone there is little prospect of reconciliation. This may be a fault. It probably is, but it is a fault that I have come to terms with. In any case, how bland we would be if we had no faults.

Additionally for January 17th., see 'Rehearsal blues' -

I saw all the play. It exhausted and depressed me very much. nothing seemed to get over the footlights. The players now played too quickly instead of too slowly. Local accent all wrong, and certainly incurable. But the other people seemed to be quite cheerful and optimistic. All the surroundings - the manufactory of amusement repelled me. Women cleaning and whispering, etc. Cold. Oil lamps to warm. Smallness of theatre. 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Royal relief

Wednesday, January 16th., Cadogan Square, London.

Lunched yesterday at Thesiger's to meet Princess Marie Louise (daughter of princess Christian). She married a Prince Albert of Anhalt, lived in Germany nine years, then got a separation. A woman of 51, dressed in mourning for her mother. Everyone called her 'ma'am' or 'madam' in every sentence, except me, and the women curtsied to her, and Thesiger said the only thing insisted on was that he should meet her at the door when she came.

Her lady-in-waiting, Miss Hawkes, was thee too. Marie Louise kissed her heartily when they met. Seemed a fairly sensible woman and pretty wise. Said nothing in particular but said it neatly, used of course to deference, which she received in plenty, though Thesiger teased her the whole time. Still, I was glad I had not been effusive when she wrote to me about the Queen's Doll's House twice, as I might have got dragged into St. James's Palace, which I should have hated, I know.

Princess Marie Louise (1872 – 1956) was a member of the British Royal Family, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. On 6 July 1891, Princess Marie Louise married Prince Aribert of Anhalt at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. The marriage, however, was unhappy and childless. (Years after the fact, it was debated that Aribert was homosexual and had been caught in bed with a servant, either by Marie Louise or his father.) In December 1900, her father-in-law used his prerogative as reigning Duke of Anhalt to annul the marriage. After the annulment, Princess Marie Louise devoted herself to charitable organizations and patronage of the arts. She inspired the creation of Queen Mary's Dolls' House to showcase the work of British craftsmen.

Also for Ernest Thesiger see 'Indecent exposure?', April 11th., -

Additionally for January 16th., see 'Death and burial' -

Today I had lunch early in order to go to Hardy's funeral at Westminster Abbey. It was all done very smoothly and calmly. Music good. South transept not full. John Galsworthy as a pall-bearer made a magnificent figure. According to my information Hardy had a pretty good idea that he might have to be buried in the Abbey, even if he did not want to. As to the excision of the heart, I regard that as merely outrageous.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Miraculous colours

Friday, January 15th., Hotel d'Italie, Menton.

Hotel d'Italie by Lessieux
 I woke up this morning just before dawn, and there was a red streak of light along the horizon, and the sea smoke-colour, and the lamps and the riding lights of the vessels just beginning to be ghostly. On either side the hills with their bare rocky tops. Then, when I woke up again, the strong sun was shining brilliantly onto my balcony and almost into my face. There must be a fairly strong off-shore wind blowing, but this place is very sheltered and the sea seems quite calm. However, one can hear the wind. The beauty of the landscape and of the old Italianate town to the right, with its red flat-square conical roofs, and the delicate softness of the air, make a deep impression on one.

Menton by Emile Appay
I took my tea and croissant out on the balcony in the 8.30 a.m. sun, wrapped in my largest overcoat, and in the sunshine. It was tremendous after the bed-breakfasts of a Paris flat. 

Night. The beauty of this place even grows on one. The afternoon and dusk were simply miraculous for colour. Before lunch I went for a walk up on the hill and then down again and along the coast. I walked into Italy in about a quarter of an hour. Most of the morning I spent out on the balcony thinking out Chap. V. and before dinner I wrote 700 words.

Also see 'From my balcony', January 9th., -

Additionally for January 15th., see 'Looking for Elsie' -

Yesterday afternoon I suddenly decided that I couldn't proceed with my story about Elsie until I had been up to Clerkenwell again. So at 4.50 I got a taxi and went up Myddleton Square.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Art and artists

Saturday, January 14th., Cadogan Square, London.

I walked to the Leicester Galleries and on the way thought of a great idea for a modernised version of "Faust". I mean I thought it out in some detail. I had thought of it yesterday. Today I ordered a literal translation of Goethe's "Faust".

At Leicester Galleries a show of drawings and lithographs by Matisse. Compared to the price of his paintings the drawings were very low priced. I bought one drawing, 25 guineas, and two lithographs. 

Established in 1902 off Leicester Square, London, the galleries (Ernest Brown and Phillips Ltd), were directed by Oliver Brown and ran important exhibitions of modern French and British painting from the time of John Lavery to that of Henry Moore, Robert Medley and Mark Gertler. Their summer exhibitions became an important feature of their annual calendar of events. During their long existence over 1,400 exhibitions of paintings, watercolours, drawings, sculpture and prints were staged. Every exhibition was accompanied with a catalogue, many with prefaces by prominent writers. 'Artists of Fame and Promise' a yearly exhibition is particularly remembered as a stepping stone for many an artist who went on the find fame. These included Jacob Epstein, William Roberts, David Bomberg and Christopher Nevinson to name just a few. Such was the fame of the gallery that Camille Pissarro, Picasso and Henri Matisse were all given their first British solo exhibitions at the Galleries.

Also a show of paintings by John Armstrong which are causing some stir. I wasn't quite startled by their excellence. I had a talk with Armstrong, who was looking quite spick and span in relatively new clothes. He said, in reply to my questions, that he had been chiefly influenced by Carpaccio (a Venetian painting of which he had never seen the original) and Signorelli. Also Picasso.

John Armstrong  (1893 - 1973) Painter of imaginative subjects, designer of film and stage sets, mural painter and book illustrator. Studied at St John's College, Oxford, 1912–13, and at St John's Wood School of Art 1913–14. Served in the Royal Field Artillery 1914–19 and returned to St John's Wood School for a short period after the war. First one-man exhibition at the Leicester Galleries 1928. Member of Unit One 1933, and his work then began to be Surrealist in character. Painted murals for the ceiling of Bristol Council Chamber 1956 and Shell Mex House. His theatrical décor includes designs for Riverside Nights, Macbeth and Measure for Measure (Old Vic); Magic Flute (Sadler's Wells Opera Company); the ballet Facade; and films produced by Sir Alexander Korda: Henry VIII, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Rembrandt, etc. Official War Artist 1940–5.

Additionally for January 14th., see 'Heading South' -

But my thoughts were chiefly occupied with the idea of the train, that luxurious complete entity - running through a country and ignoring it. I seldom had the least idea where the train was. Space, as a notion, had vanished for me. I might have been in the void.