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date: 02 December 2023


see also Poets
  1. Shaw's plays are the price we pay for Shaw's prefaces.
    James Agate 1877–1947 English drama critic and novelist: diary, 10 March 1933
  2. Sophocles said that he drew men as they ought to be, whereas Euripides drew them as they are.
    Aristotle 384–322 bc Greek philosopher: Poetics ch. 25, 1460b 33–4
  3. What should I do with your strong, manly, spirited sketches, full of variety and glow?—How could I possibly join them on to the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces little effect after much labour?
    Jane Austen 1775–1817 English novelist: letter to J. Edward Austen, 16 December 1816
  4. He describes London like a special correspondent for posterity.
    Walter Bagehot 1826–77 English economist and essayist: in National Review 7 October 1858 ‘Charles Dickens’
  5. Thou large-brained woman and large-hearted man.
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806–61 English poet: ‘To George Sand—A Desire’ (1844)
  6. Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was stabbed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman's name out of a satire; then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to be a writer—and if so, why?
    Bennett Cerf 1898–1971 American humorist: Shake Well Before Using (1948)
  7. Hardy went down to botanize in the swamp, while Meredith climbed towards the sun. Meredith became, at his best, a sort of daintily dressed Walt Whitman: Hardy became a sort of village atheist brooding and blaspheming over the village idiot.
    G. K. Chesterton 1874–1936 English essayist, novelist, and poet: The Victorian Age in Literature (1912)
  8. He could not blow his nose without moralising on the state of the handkerchief industry.
    of George Orwell
    Cyril Connolly 1903–74 English writer: in Sunday Times 29 September 1968
  9. The mama of dada.
    of Gertrude Stein
    Clifton Fadiman 1904–99 American critic: Party of One (1955)
  10. A dogged attempt to cover the universe with mud, an inverted Victorianism, an attempt to make crossness and dirt succeed where sweetness and light failed.
    of James Joyce's Ulysses
    E. M. Forster 1879–1970 English novelist: Aspects of the Novel (1927) ch. 6
  11. The work of Henry James has always seemed divisible by a simple dynastic arrangement into three reigns: James I, James II, and the Old Pretender.
    Philip Guedalla 1889–1944 English historian and biographer: Supers and Supermen (1920)
  12. A good man fallen among Fabians.
    of George Bernard Shaw
    Lenin 1870–1924 Russian revolutionary: Arthur Ransome Six Weeks in Russia in 1919 (1919) ‘Notes of Conversations with Lenin’
  13. He seemed at ease and to have the look of the last gentleman in Europe.
    of Oscar Wilde
    Ada Leverson 1865–1936 English novelist: Letters to the Sphinx (1930)
  14. E. M. Forster never gets any further than warming the teapot. He's a rare fine hand at that. Feel this teapot. Is it not beautifully warm? Yes, but there ain't going to be no tea.
    Katherine Mansfield 1888–1923 New Zealand-born short-story writer: diary, May 1917
  15. English literature's performing flea.
    of P. G. Wodehouse
    Sean O'Casey 1880–1964 Irish dramatist: P. G. Wodehouse Performing Flea (1953)
  16. For years a secret shame destroyed my peace—
    I'd not read Eliot, Auden or MacNeice.
    But then I had a thought that brought me hope—
    Neither had Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope.
    Justin Richardson 1900–75 British poet: ‘Take Heart, Illiterates’ (1966)
  17. The Big Bow-Wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me.
    on Jane Austen
    Sir Walter Scott 1771–1832 Scottish novelist and poet: W. E. K. Anderson (ed.) Journals of Sir Walter Scott (1972) 14 March 1826; see Pembroke
  18. I enjoyed talking to her, but thought nothing of her writing. I considered her ‘a beautiful little knitter’.
    of Virginia Woolf
    Edith Sitwell 1887–1964 English poet and critic: letter to Geoffrey Singleton, 11 July 1955
  19. It is leviathan retrieving pebbles. It is a magnificent but painful hippopotamus resolved at any cost, even at the cost of its dignity, upon picking up a pea which has got into a corner of its den.
    of Henry James
    H. G. Wells 1866–1946 English novelist: Boon (1915)
  20. Meredith's a prose Browning, and so is Browning.
    Oscar Wilde 1854–1900 Irish dramatist and poet: Intentions (1891) ‘The Critic as Artist’ pt.1
  21. The scratching of pimples on the body of the bootboy at Claridges.
    of James Joyce's Ulysses
    Virginia Woolf 1882–1941 English novelist: letter to Lytton Strachey, 24 April 1922
  22. She is so odd a blend of Little Nell and Lady Macbeth. It is not so much the familiar phenomenon of a hand of steel in a velvet glove as a lacy sleeve with a bottle of vitriol concealed in its folds.
    of Dorothy Parker
    Alexander Woollcott 1887–1943 American writer: While Rome Burns (1934)