Category Archives: Quotations

In the Words of Arnold Bennett (7): Careless Condescension

Edward_Elgar

Edward Elgar c.1900

‘ “It’s only the Elgar,” he said, with careless condescension, perceiving at once, by the mere virtue of a label, that the music was not fine and not Russian. He really loved music, but he happened to be at that age, from which some people never emerge, at which the judgment depends almost completely on extraneous suggestion.’ (The Roll Call, 1918)

 This quotation is the seventh part of a series dedicated to the work of the great Edwardian writer Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), on whom we will be co-hosting a symposium (‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’) at Keele University on 17th-18th October. More details here.

In the Words of Arnold Bennett (6): On Beauty

Samuel Peploe, 'Interior with a Japanese Print' c.1915 (University of Hull)

Samuel Peploe, ‘Interior with a Japanese Print’ c.1915 (University of Hull)

‘Edwin had never heard the word “beautiful” uttered in quite that tone, except by women, such as Auntie Hamps, about a baby or a valentine or a sermon. But Mr. Orgreave was not a woman; he was a man of the world, he was almost the man of the world; and the subject of his adjective was a window!’ (Clayhanger, 1910)

‘When the smock was finished he examined it intently; then exclaimed with an air of surprise: “By Jove! That’s beautiful! Where did you get this pattern?” He continued to stare at it, smiling in pleasure. He turned over the tattered leaves of the embroidery book with the same naïve, charmed astonishment, and carried the book away to the studio. “I must show it to Swynnerton,” he said. As for her, the epithet “beautiful” seemed a strange epithet to apply to a mere piece of honest stitchery done in a pattern, and a stitch with which she had been familiar all her life. The fact was she understood his “art” less and less. The sole wall decoration of his studio was a Japanese print, which struck her as being entirely preposterous, considered as a picture. She much preferred his own early drawings of moss-roses and picturesque castles – things that he now mercilessly condemned.’ (The Old Wives Tale, 1908)

This quotation is the sixth part of a series dedicated to the work of the great Edwardian writer Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), on whom we will be co-hosting a symposium (‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’) at Keele University on 17th-18th October. More details here.

In the Words of Arnold Bennett (5): Reconsidering Fundamental Opinions

A Melbourne Clog-Dan cer, 1894

A Melbourne Clog-Dancer, 1894

‘Edwin was staggered. The blood swept into his face, a hot tide. He was ravished, but he was also staggered. He did not know what to think of Florence, the champion female clog-dancer. He felt that she was wondrous; he felt that he could have gazed at her all night; but he felt that she had put him under the necessity of reconsidering some of his fundamental opinions.’ (Clayhanger, 1910)

This quotation is the fifth part of a series dedicated to the work of the great Edwardian writer Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), on whom we will be co-hosting a symposium (‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’) at Keele University on 17th-18th October. More details here.

In the Words of Arnold Bennett (4): Industrial Picturesque

'The Yellow Wall, Blackburn,' Charles Holmes

‘The Yellow Wall, Blackburn,’ Charles Holmes

“See here,” said Myners, “isn’t that pretty?” He pointed through the last window to a view of the canal, which could be seen thence in perspective, finishing in a curve. On one side, close to the water’s edge, was a ruined and fragmentary building, its rich browns reflected in the smooth surface of the canal. On the other side were a few grim, grey trees bordering the towpath. Down the vista moved a boat steered by a woman in a large mob-cap.

“Isn’t that picturesque?” he said.

“Very,” Anna assented willingly. “It’s really quite strange, such a scene right in the middle of Bursley.”

“Oh! There are others,” he said. “But I always take a peep at that whenever I come into the warehouse.”

(Anna of the Five Towns, 1902)

This quotation is the fourth part of a series dedicated to the work of the great Edwardian writer Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), on whom we will be co-hosting a symposium (‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’) at Keele University on 17th-18th October. More details here.

In the Words of Arnold Bennett (3): Like Threading a Needle

crinoline2

‘…the assembly, including several urchins, watched with held breath while Aunt Harriet, after having bid majestic good-byes, got on to the step and introduced herself through the doorway of the waggonette into the interior of the vehicle; it was an operation like threading a needle with cotton too thick. Once within, her hoops distended in sudden release, filling the waggonette. Sophia followed, agilely.’ (The Old Wives Tale, 1908)

This quotation is the third part of a series dedicated to the work of the great Edwardian writer Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), on whom we will be co-hosting a symposium (‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’) at Keele University on 17th-18th October. More details here.

In the Words of Arnold Bennett (2): A Singular Dog

A Late Victorian Poodle

A Late Victorian Poodle

‘Presently she saw a singular dog. Other people also saw it. It was of the colour of chocolate; it had a head and shoulders richly covered with hair that hung down in thousands of tufts like the tufts of a modern mop such as is bought in shops. This hair stopped suddenly rather less than halfway along the length of the dog’s body, the remainder of which was naked and as smooth as marble. The effect was to give to the inhabitants of the Five Towns the impression that the dog had forgotten an essential part of its attire and was outraging decency. The ball of hair which had been allowed to grow on the dog’s tail, and the circles of hair which ornamented its ankles, only served to intensify the impression of indecency. A pink ribbon round its neck completed the outrage. The animal had absolutely the air of a decked trollop.’ (The Old Wives Tale, 1908)

This quotation is the second part of a series dedicated to the work of the great Edwardian writer Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), on whom we will be co-hosting a symposium (‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’) at Keele University on 17th-18th October. More details here.

In the Words of Arnold Bennett (1): The Resplendent Egg-Stand

victorian-sterling-silver-six-egg-cup-stand -835-image1_835_1

‘A few days later Constance was arranging the more precious of her wedding presents in the parlour; some had to be wrapped in tissue and in brown paper and then tied with string and labelled; others had special cases of their own, leather without and velvet within. Among the latter was the resplendent egg-stand holding twelve silver-gilt egg-cups and twelve chased spoons to match, presented by Aunt Harriet. In the Five Towns’ phrase, “it must have cost money.” Even if Mr. and Mrs. Povey had ten guests or ten children, and all the twelve of them were simultaneously gripped by a desire to eat eggs at breakfast or tea – even in this remote contingency Aunt Harriet would have been pained to see the egg-stand in use; such treasures are not designed for use.’ (The Old Wives Tale, 1908)

This quotation is the first part of a series dedicated to the work of the great Edwardian writer Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), on whom we will be co-hosting a symposium (‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’) at Keele University on 17th-18th October. More details here.

Edwardian (Horticulture) 12: Dream Gardens

‘Nude in a Garden’ by Frederick Cayley Robinson, c.1895 (National Museums, Liverpool)

‘One of the most exquisite of Mrs. Browning’s poems is The Lost Bower; it is endeared to me because it expresses so fully a childish bereavement of my own, for I have lost a garden. I saw this beautiful garden, filled with radiant blossoms, rich with fruits and berries, set with beehives, rabbit hutches, and a dovecote, and enclosed about with hedges; and through it ran a purling brook – a thing I ever longer for in my home garden. All one happy summer afternoon I played in it, and gathered from its beds and borders at will – and I have never seen it since. When I was still a child I used to ask to return to it, but no one seemed to understand; and when I was grown I asked where it was, describing it in every detail, and the only answer was that it was a dream, I had never seen and played in such a garden’ (Mrs Alice Morse Earle, Old-Time Gardens, 1901).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 10: Malignent Magentas

'The Blue Butterflies' by William Nicholson, 1913 (The National Trust)

‘The Blue Butterflies’ by William Nicholson, 1913 (The National Trust)

‘I am always surprised at the vague, not to say reckless, fashion in which garden folk set to work to describe the colours of flowers, and at the way in which quite wrong colours are attributed to them. […] Nothing is more frequent in plant catalogues than ‘bright golden yellow’, when bright yellow is meant. Gold is not bring yellow. […] Another example of the same slip-slop is the term flame coloured, and it is often preceded by the word gorgeous. This contradictory mixture of terms is generally used to mean bright scarlet. When I look at a flame, whether of fire or candle, I see that the colour is a rather pale yellow, with a reddish tinge about its upper forks, and side wings often a bluish white – no scarlet anywhere. […] crimson is a word to beware of; it covers such a wide extent of ground, and is used to carelessly in plant catalogues, that one cannot know whether it stands for a rich blood colour or for a malignant magenta’ (Gertrude Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 1899).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 9: The Dahlia’s Duty

Adrian Allinson, 'Dahlias' (Salford)

Adrian Allinson, ‘Dahlias’ (Salford)

‘The Dahlia’s first duty in life is to flaunt and to swagger and to carry gorgeous blooms well above its leaves, and on no account to hang its head’ (Gertrude Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 1899).