Tuesday 18 January 2011

In the presence of...

I do like it when bloggers share little snippets from books they've read, or are reading, especially when these excerpts are anecdotal in nature. And so I thought I'd share something I read years ago in A.A. Milne's (brilliant) autobgioraphy, and which has stayed with me:
[J.M.] Barrie told me of an occasion when he was present at a gathering of young authors all very busy talking about style. An older man sitting aloof in a corner, but listening intently, was asked to contribute to the discussion. He confessed uncomfortably that he had never thought about the subject: he would rather listen and learn what he could: he really would have nothing to say of any value: they all knew much more than he did. Fearing to be drawn more deeply into the argument, he added that he had to go now, and slipped out. "Who was that?" Barrie was asked. Barrie, who had brought him there, explained that it was Thomas Hardy.


  1. I know I've read that story before, but not in AA Milne ... now it'll torment me all night wondering where!

  2. What a lovely story. Now I feel even more guilty for not particularly liking Hardy's novels.

  3. I love this kind of story -- it was little snippits like this in Howard's End is on the Landing that kept me so intrigued all along the way. I reread it recently and liked it just as much the second time around.

  4. You won't be surprised Simon that I believe that TH has style - it may be dark, it might at times be dense (but is usually chronological)and he tells a good yarn.

  5. As I grow older I listen much more than I did when I was young and wished to hear the sound of my own voice.

  6. Mary - sorry to unwittingly be the cause of angst! It was quoted in Ann Thwaite's biography of Milne, if that helps... otherwise, I hope you remember - let me know if you do!

    Claire - He sounds like he wouldn't have minded much ;)

    Susan - I reread it last year too, and loved it again - I imagine it's something I'll reread many times. I wish she'd write another, but perhaps she's said all she wanted to.

    Dad - I think AAM probably thought that too :) And you had me until chronological and yarn!

    DP - One does wonder who the young writers were, and whether we would still know their names...

  7. What a lovely story to share on his birthday--and how amazing, too. My partner who hates Hardy will be quite amused.

  8. Thats such a beautiful story !Thanks for sharing


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