A selection from the Jurnal of Arnold Bennett will shortly be available on-line.
Monday, March 12, 2018
Arnld Bennett's journal - Wednesday, June 18th, 1919, London, Yacht Club. – Basil Dean (theatre producer) came to tea here and I was very pleased with him and his general attitude. He told a good rehearsal story. He said that they rehearsed Shaw’s Pygmalion for 9 weeks at His Majesty’s and that in the middle Mrs Pat Campbell went away for two weeks on her honeymoon. When she returned she merely said by way of explanation, ‘George (her new husband) is a golden man.’ There was some trouble about her rendering. When she had altered it, she said to Shaw, ‘Is that better?’ Shaw said, ‘No, it isn’t. I don’t want any of your flamboyant creatures, I want a simple human ordinary creation such as I have drawn.’ He was getting shirty. Mrs P.C. was taken aback. She replied, however, ‘You are a terrible man, Mr Shaw. One day you’ll eat a beefsteak, and then God help all women.’ It is said that Shaw blushed.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Arnold Bennett's Journals - Thursday, November 12th, 1918, London. Yacht Club. – In Sunday’s papers we saw the abdication of the Kaiser. Returned to London yesterday morning. In Lower Regent Street the first news that armistice was signed – a paperboy calling out in a subdued tone. 10.45. Maroons went off at 11, and excited the populace.
A laree portion of the ministry staff got very excited. Buchan came in to shake hands. Girls very excited. I had to calm them. Lunch at Wellington Club. We had driven through large crowds part way up the Mall and were then turned off from Buckingham Palace,
Raining now. An excellent thing to damp hysteria and Bolshevism. Great struggling to cross Piccadilly Circus twice. No buses. (It was rumoured that tubes stopped. I believe they were stopped for a time.) It stopped raining Then cold mire in the streets. Vehicles passed, festooned with shouting human beings. Others dark, with only one or two occupants. Much light in Piccadilly up to Ritz corner, and in Piccadilly Circus. It seemed most brilliant. Some theatres had lights on their facades too. The enterprising Trocadero had hung a light of temporary lights under one side of its porticoes. Shouting. But nothing terrible or memorable. Yet this morning Brayley, my valet, said to me the usual phrases: ‘You wondered where the people came from. You could walk on their heads at Charing Cross, and you couldn’t cross Picc. Circus at all.’ When he came in with my tea, I said, ‘Well, Brayley, it’s all over.’ He smiled and said something. That was all our conversation about the end of the war. Characteristic.
Last night I thought of lonely soldiers in that crowd. N one to talk to. But fear of death lifted from them.
Thursday, November 14th London, Yacht Club – I dined at flat Tuesday night (Pinker [his literary agent]) there and slept there; so I didn’t see anything of the ‘doings’. But there was a bonfire in Piccadilly Circus, kept alive by theatre boards and boards off motor-buses. Swinnerton told me that the staidest girl they had suddenly put on a soldier’s hat and overcoat and went promenading in them.
Wad told that the scene at the Carlton on Monday night was remarkable. Any quantity of broken glass, tables overturned, and people standing on tables, and fashionable females with their hair down. On Tuesday night I noticed that all the principal restaurants had commissionaires in front of doors scrutinizing people who wished to enter and keeping out (apparently) all who had not reserved tables. Last night a cabby told me he would go westwards but not towards Piccadilly. Friday, November 15th,
Circus, as he did not know what would happen to him The feature of last night was girls with bunches of streamers which they flicked in your face as you passed.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Arnold Bennett's Journal, Sunday, October 27th 1918. London, Yacht Cub. – The sensual appeal is now really very marked everywhere, in both speech and action, on the stage. Adultery everywhere pictured as desirable, and copulation generally ditto. Actresses play courtesan parts (small ones, often without words but with gestures) with gusto.
Sunday, March 4, 2018
Arnold Bennett's journals - Saturday, February 9th 1918 - London, Yacht Club – Lady Buchanan [wife of Sir George Buchanan, British Ambassador at Petrograd] told more and more astounding stories of Petrograd. After a debauch, heaps of dead, wounded and drunk lying together – literally in heaps. In order to get some people out of a mixed lot in a cellar, the cellar was flooded. No result, except that the water froze, and will remain frozen till the spring. Two regiments of women and one of young men alone defended the Winter Palace. Ehen it was taken the women were captured, tortured, and raped. Some killed themselves; none escaped to tell. Massingham said that a friend of his had seen men burned alive in kerosene tubs on the Nevsky Prospect.
Sunday, February 25, 2018
Arnold Bennett's war diary - Friday, January 11th 1918 Comarques – Marguerite bought a pig at the end of the year. It was a small one. , but we have been eating this damned animal ever since, in all forms except ham, which has not yet arrived. Brawn every morning for breakfast. Yesterday I struck at a pig’s feet for lunch and had mutton instead; they are neither satisfying nor digestible, and one of the biggest frauds that ever came out of kitchens. All this is a war measure, and justifiable. I now no longer care whether I have sugar in my tea or not. We each have our receptacle containing the week’s sugar, and use it how we like. It follows us about, wherever we happen to be taking anything that is likely to need sugar. My natural prudence makes me more sparing of mine than I need to be. Another effect of war is that there is difficulty in getting stamped envelopes at the P.O. The other day the postmaster, by a great effort and as a proof of his goodwill, got me £1 worth, which won’t go far.
It occurred to me how the war must affect men of 70, who have nothing to look forward to. The war has ruined their end, and they cannot have much hope.
Saturday, February 24, 2018
Arnold Bennett's war diary - Sunday, December 23rd 1917 Comarques. – Captain Hill and wife came last night. He related how after a long period (several weeks) of ‘special vigilance’ he was sleeping in a blanket on the floor of the gardener’s cottage at Thorpe Hall when a dispatch rider burst in just like a stage dispatch rider, at 3 a.m. The dispatch contained one word, which for Hill had no meaning. The rider couldn’t tell him anything and only insisted on a signature in receipt, which of course Hill gave. Hill then got up and went to see another C.O. near. This C.O. had received the same message and also had not the least idea what it meant. Other C.O.s were found to be in the same case.
Hill asked another C.O to ring up the staff. C.O. said he daren’t. So Hill did himself. He asked the telephone clerk what the message meant. The clerk replied that he knew but he daren’t tell. Hill then told him to summon the brigade major. Clark said he positively dare not. Hill insisted and took responsibility on himself. Brigade major came to telephone, using terrible language. It then appeared that the incomprehensible word was a code word signifying that the period of vigilance was over. Only no C.O. of unit had been previously informed of the significance of the word. The whole episode, with its middle-of-the-night business, absurd secrecy, etc., was thoroughly characteristic.