17 December 1920

17 December 1920

Villa Isola Bella, Menton, France

First - about Violet. I think you are very wise not to attempt a journey while she has a temperature. This climate, as you know better than do I, is the very devil for a temperature. It is divine, but its changeable. L'autre jour the thermometer in my room dropped 10 degrees in 24 hours. Il faut avoir de la force to combat that. But it is an adorable climate when its radiant. Yesterday and today have been supremely beautiful. I think, like one of those mythological ladies Im really married to the sun...
Im sorry about Ludovici's book: it didn't come my way. Im tired of extinguishing Benson, especially as he shines as bright as ever the moment after. Plague take these books. If it wasnt a question of money - what wouldn't I give to leave them alone & only do my own work. Its an awful wrench to turn from ones work & take up Stacpoole or Pett Ridge (what names the fellows have, too!) However - Squire has taken my last long story for the Mercury. I don't know when it will appear. Its a study of a man and a woman. People won't like it.

[To Sydney Schiff in Collected Letters, 1 December 1920]

Mr Benson is a writer to whom, one imagines, everything comes in useful. He is a collector of scraps, snippets, patches, tid-bits, oddments, which give him such a great deal of pleasure that it is with the utmost confidence he displays his little collection to all the other guests in this immense rambling, very noisy and overcrowded hotel. He knows himself to be - his behaviour is that of - a favourite guest. ‘Mr E. F. Benson is so popular - so entertaining.' And so in his easy, effortless way out comes another book. Here, he even explains, you've got cats, cranks, spiritualist seances, blackmailers - choose whichever you like; there's something for everybody. So down drops the knitting; the cards are put away; the picture paper is concealed behind a cushion for another time, and The Countess of Lowndes Square is no doubt discovered to be just like Mr Benson -most entertaining this time.
[KM's review of The Countess of Lowndes Square and Other Stories by E. F. Benson; Just open by W. Pett Ridge; A Man of the Islands, by H. de Vere Stacpoole, in the Athenaeum, 26 November 1920.]