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

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Monday, 5 May 2014


Wednesday, May 5th., George Street, London.

I went for weekend to Beaverbrook's on Saturday and returned on Monday. Max has now two crazes - playing tennis all day - and sleeping at night in the garden. He gave me the full history of his relations with his father, as material for my next 'big' novel. (But I am afraid that I shall have to write a little one first) he also promise to tell me stories of 'deals' as material for short stories. Especially Strathcona's life in England.
For more on Beaverbrook see 'A visit to Berlin' and 'Leading the high life'

He had a series of Mutt and Jeff cartoons in which Ll. George and Bonar Law were Mutt and Jeff, and Ll. George was always playing tricks on B. Law. Ll. George expressed curiosity earnestly to see these things, and so Max asked him and Mrs. Ll. George to come to Cherkley to see them on his private screen. It was an ordeal. practically the whole Bonar Law family came down in batches while I was there. All perfectly delightful - papa, two girls and two boys.

Monday night: "Mary Rose", Barrie's new play at the Haymarket. Tedious. The papers for the most part hailed this work as a great masterpiece.

Mary Rose is a play by J.M. Barrie, who is best known for Peter Pan. It first played in London in April 1920. It tells the fictional story of a girl who vanishes twice. As a child, Mary Rose's father takes her to a remote Scottish island. While she is briefly out of her father's sight, Mary Rose vanishes. The entire island is searched exhaustively. Twenty-one days later, Mary Rose reappears as mysteriously as she disappeared ... but she shows no effects of having been gone for three weeks, and she has no knowledge of any gap or missing time. Years later, as a young wife and mother, the adult Mary Rose persuades her husband to take her to the same island. Again she vanishes: this time for a period of decades. When she is found again, she is not a single day older and has no awareness of the passage of time. In the interim, her son has grown to adulthood and is now physically older than his mother. Barrie, who normally wrote with his right hand, wrote Mary Rose with his left hand due to a "writer's cramp".

Last night "The Skin Game", Galsworthy's new play at the St. Martin's. This play may be a melodrama, but it is a very good one indeed and it holds you absolutely. It is very well acted. It is a tale, an incident, whose effect depends on coincidence, and it has no general significance. The writing and the observation are excellent.

The Skin Game is a play by John Galsworthy. It was first performed at the St Martins Theatre, London in 1920. It was included in Burns Mantle's The Best Plays of 1920-1921. The plot tells the story of the interaction between two very different families in rural England just after the end of the First World War. One, the Hillcrists is “old money”, although their finances are at a bit of low ebb. The other family is the “nouveau riche” Hornblowers, headed by the single-minded and rich industrialist Hornblower who plans to surround the Hillcrist’s rural estate with factories.

Lillah McCarthy

After this show we went to Lillah and Fred Keeble's reception after their marriage. Lillah most beautiful. Lady Wyndham was there; aged. I thought: "Lillah will be like that one day." But perhaps she never will be like that. And how do I appear to others? Do I look my age, or older, or younger? The mirror fails to enlighten me on this important subject. 
For more on Lillah McCarthy see 'Indecent exposure?'

The usual crowd.

Additionally for May 5th., see 'The noble savage'

I have been reading some Rider Haggard. Though a popular and sensational writer there are good thing in his work. He can certainly tell a tale. "King Solomon's Mines", for example, carries the reader inexorably forward and is hard to put down. He is at his best when writing of the Zulus. Though he retains some of the prejudice towards 'natives' which characterise the white man, he is clearly an admirer of the Zulus. There is real poetry in some of his descriptive passages and my sense is that this derives from his knowledge of Zulu language and culture. Women are incidental to the story. Even "Nada the Lily" for example is about the hero Umslopogaas, not about Nada, and he is prone to idealise white women. Overall not to be sniffed at;  a useful relief from 'literature'!

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