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Sunday, 8 June 2014

War Fair

Thursday, June 8th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Came to London Tuesday morning for the Wounded Allies 'War Fair' at the Caledonian Market. 

The 1916 Mammoth War Fair was organised by the Allies Relief Committee in aid of Belgian refugees and the servicemen injured during the First World War. It was held at the Caledonian Market and opened with a speech from the Lord Mayor of London.

Heavy shower. Great success. I sold books at Marguerite's stall. After 5.30 crowds of young women came to look at books and some to buy. One well-dressed man had never heard of Balzac. Demand for Kipling, Chesterton, Conrad and me. Difficulty of selling autographs. Enthusiasm for Jepson's "Polyooly". Met Pett Ridge and he looked just like an actor. 

Various estimates of profits of two days; but you can see that the men keep estimates lower than their hopes. Thus Mr. Henry - £8,000 to £15,000. Selfridge estimated attendance first day at from 25 to 30,000. I agree. Yet one man in charge of a gate said that through that gate alone he estimated that 30,000 people had passed. And so on. There were not enough goods or stalls. The place looked nearly empty when I arrived, and remained so. It was too big. I did a very good trade in books, but I brought down prices at the end considerably, and autographed favourites were going for 3s. and even 2s. 6d. Habit of women squealing out in ecstasy over name of a book, and then refusing even to consider the purchase of it. Perhaps they were so startled to find that they had recognised a title.

News of Kitchener's drowning came at noon on first day. His sister Mrs. Parker was at Marguerite's stall, but she had left before it came. The rumour in the afternoon that Kitchener was saved roused cheers, again and again .... 

In the icy waters of the North Sea on June 5, 1916, the British cruiser Hampshire strikes a German mine and sinks off the Orkney Islands; among the passengers and crew drowned is Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener, the British secretary of state for war. Kitchener had left London aboard the cruiser Hampshire on a diplomatic mission to Russia, where he was to encourage that volatile ally to continue mounting a stiff resistance to their common enemy, Germany, on the Eastern Front of the war. Journalist Charles Repington wrote in his journal of Kitchener's drowning and its effect on the British population: We hoped against hope, but no doubt now remains. A great figure gone.

The Fair did not agree very well with my advertised descriptions of it but it went excellently despite the weather, and refreshments were fairly well managed. They took £800 in silver alone in car to Bank on first night, and 4 or 5 men were counting hard all day.

Additionally for June 8th., see 'Ideas on women'

Miss Thomasson is a small, slim, dark, effective woman, with large bright eyes and dark eyebrows in striking contrast to a tower of prematurely silver hair. On Sunday, after dinner, we took coffee in the Place Blanche, and talked there till just eleven o'clock, me getting worse and worse. However, I talked all the time, explaining at great length my ideas on women, sometimes making her laugh at what she considered my naive absurdities and then making her suspect that perhaps my absurdities were not so absurd after all. I recently said to Miss Ruck, a very young art student friend of Miss Thomasson's: "Women, my dear girl? I know women inside and outside. I know women as well as I know my own pocket." I wonder what they think of me?

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