Swinnerton: An Autobiography

By Frank Swinnerton | Go to book overview

IX
H. G. WELLS

Autobiographies; Mr Wells's conversation; Weekend parties; the Ball Game; Charades; Mrs Wells; a final sketch of Mr Wells.

UNLESS THEY ARE GIFTED with second sight, readers of Mr Wells "Experiment in Autobiography" would gain from that book no impression of the author as he is seen by his friends. Out of various confidential passages in his works-- from "Mr Polly" and "Tono-Bungay" and "A Modern Utopia", for example--they might compose what a friend of mine calls a "mosiac" from which Mr Wells's features could be recognised; but from the "Experiment" a different, a sterner portrait emerges, and high lights, smudges, and humours are all missed or painted out. This does not mean that I think the "Experiment" anything but an extraordinary work and a document of the first importance in relation to Mr Wells and the modern world. It means only that autobiographers, in pursuing the truth, fail to catch the likeness.

Perhaps the best of them so fail. I have often thought, to instance one of these, that Rousseau may have had rather more charm than he allows himself; and as for Casanova, unless one reads him as an historian of his times, one must be disingenuous indeed to pretend that the "Memoirs" offer much more than the picture of a dirty rat. Cellini, I grant, has a sense of himself as a picturesque figure, and Aksakov, who

-156-

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Swinnerton: An Autobiography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • By Frank Swinnerton *
  • Title Page *
  • Three Quotations by Way of Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • I - I Am Born 1
  • II - Early Days 23
  • III - From Fleet Street to the West End 40
  • IV - Six Years of Growth 53
  • V - Miracles 86
  • VI - My First Acquaintance with Authors 108
  • VII - Adventures in Publishing 122
  • VII - Arnold Bennett 135
  • IX - H. G. Wells 156
  • X - "Crucical" Years 173
  • XI - Some of My Elders 191
  • XII - Melange 227
  • XIV - Some of My Contemporaries 265
  • XV - The United States 315
  • XVI - What I Think About Life 339
  • Index 351
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