Old Friends: Personal Recollections

Old Friends: Personal Recollections

Old Friends: Personal Recollections

Old Friends: Personal Recollections

Excerpt

This is not a collection of magazine articles, though at first sight it may look like one. Some years ago a publishing house--not Chatto and Windus--suggested tactfully, through a friend, that 'though not clean past my youth' I 'had yet some smack of age in me, some relish of the saltness of time', and that, to speak like a publisher rather than Sir John Falstaff, I had better begin to think about writing my memoirs. The word 'memoirs', with its hint of Saint-Simon and the great autobiographers, frightened me: flattered, I declined. But later it occurred to me that even I might be able to amuse a small public by giving some account of the odd and eminent people I had known; that I might reasonably attempt some modest appreciations mingled with small talk even at the risk of hearing them called memoirs. Indeed, I suppose these are memoirs of a sort. Anyhow, the proposal put an idea into my head, and I sat down to describe Walter Sickert as I knew him. That was to be the first chapter of a volume, the middle and end of which I foresaw as clearly as authors are apt to foresee such things.

I reckoned without the proverbial vanity of my trade. No sooner was the thing written than I hankered after seeing it in print. I wondered whether my friend Mr. Peter Quenell would publish it in The Cornhill . . .

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