Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)
From Literary Anecdotes About 19th Century Authors Born After 1829

I [Rothenstein] DELIGHTED in Bennett. He was so human in his enjoyment of life, of his own success. He was generous both as host and guest, and was, moreover, something of a patron of the arts. On his walls were paintings by Bonnard, Sickert and Conder; there was a portrait of Andre Gide by Fry, and there were all sorts of amusing oddities and Victorian bric-a-brac about the rooms. He rather fancied himself as a man of taste, and gave much thought to his dress. Dining with us one night he attacked the placing of the pictures in the National Gallery, not realizing that W. G. Constable, who was dining too, was Assistant Director there. Constable challenged him to name any picture that was badly hung, and Bennett, in a difficulty, admitted he had not been at the Gallery for three years. He tried, however, to describe a particular painting, finally saying he thought there was a good deal of red in it! After dinner he confided to my son John that he had made a fool of himself. `Made a fool of himself!' was Max's comment on the incident.

Sir William Rothenstein, Since Fifty (1939), pp. 157-158.

Disraeli once said that the author who talks about his books is as bad as the mother who talks about her children, but Walpole and Bennett had either not come across this dictum or had mutually agreed to ignore it.

`It would be affectation to say that the Clayhanger trilogy is not good,' said Bennett, among a great number of other things. `Either I'm a good writer or I have been deceiving myself as well as trying to deceive the public. I place it upon record frankly — the Clayhanger trilogy is good.'

Hugh Walpole was starting to say something about the Herries series, of which his previous conversation had shown that he approved, but Bennett rolled over him like a placid steam-roller.

`The scene, for instance, where Darius Clayhanger dies that lingering death could scarcely be bettered . . . And why?' said Bennett. `Because I took infinite pains over it. All the time my father was dying, I was at the bedside making copious notes. You can't just slap these things down. You have to take trouble.'

P. G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton, Bring on The Girls. 207-208

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