ON 20 July 1928 we motored to Epsom Downs not to see the Derby, but for a purpose more exciting. It was to take lunch with Sir Anthony and Lady Hawkins. Many years before I had heard Anthony Hope give a public reading in New Haven; and ever since the publication of The Prisoner of Zenda and The Dolly Dialogues in 1894, I had been eager to meet their author. My eagerness was strengthened by two quite different facts; one was the publication of his autobiography and the other was Lady Hawkins, not only because she was Lady Hawkins, but because she was a sister of Lewis Sheldon, a Yale pupil of mine in the class of 1896.
They lived in a beautiful old house with a charming garden close to the immense heath. They made the day memorable with their delightful hospitality and with stimulating conversation. They read aloud to us important letters from Barrie, Lord Charnwood, Thomas Hardy, and many other contemporaries.
I had reviewed his autobiography, expressing my admiration for the book and its author; but I said that as a public reader of his works he was ineffective. I had heard he had said that when he was reading aloud on the stage he was usually thinking of something else; to which I mentally added 'So is the audience.'
On this visit we discussed that matter with considerable earnestness; for he believed he read aloud very well, and Lady Hawkins assured me that everyone was delighted