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

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Friday, 23 May 2014


Sunday, May23rd., Amberley, Sussex.

I wrote 1,100 words of "The Vanguard" in the dining room during the morning, after various short strolls. I meant to write another 900 words but somehow couldn't begin. The fact is that my heart isn't in this book. I get a few ideas when I am walking about. Enough to go on, but I need some way to liven the darned thing up a bit.

Dreiser's "An American Tragedy". I have already read 150 pages of this novel. The mere writing is simply bloody-careless, clumsy, terrible. But there is power, and he holds you, because his big construction is good. The book quite woke me up last night, just as I was going off to sleep.

This house belongs to an artist, name of Stratton. His pictures abound and they are the filthiest you ever saw.

Fred Stratton. Horse and Cart in a Lanscape. 1923
Fred Stratton was born in Lincolnshire, the son of a farmer. It is not known where he studied but by the 1890s he had a studio in London. By 1900 he had moved to Amberley in Sussex where he worked with Edward Stott who had settled there in 1889 and established an artists' community in the village. Stratton exhibited widely in London and the provinces, specializing in evening summer idylls and evening subjects. However, it was as a portrait painter that he made his living and for that reason left Amberley to set up a studio in Chelsea in the late 1920s. At the outbreak of World War II Stratton was living in Peru where he remained until his death in 1960.

I have had neuralgia since we arrived here and it is not improving, which may account somewhat for my rather negative view of things at present.

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