( extracted from Fun with the Famous by H. Cecil Hunt (1928)
Sir James Barrie
When asked to give his recipe for successful writing, his reply was typical of the man, and, of course, it was scribbled on a crumpled sheet of tobacco wrapping:
Journalism: 2 pipes = 1 hour
2 hours = 1 idea
1 idea = 3 paragraphs
3 pars = I leader.
Fiction: 8 pipes = 1 ounce
7 ounces = 1 week
2 weeks = 1 chapter
20 chapters = 1 nib
2 nibs = I novel
Winston Churchill (the novelist)
Mr Churchill has a namesake, an American novelist who is his senior by a few years. It is said that when the American writer first published a novel he received a notes from the British Winston Churchill protesting against the unwarranted use of his distinguished and uncommon name. To this protest came this amusing reply:
“Dear Sir, How interesting ! Is there really another Winston Churchill ? Yours truly, Winston Churchill.”
Dr Samuel Johnson
A characteristic but little known Johnson story must be included, because Johnson means so much in British humour. At a dinner party in London the little man held the table by his brilliant talk and ready wit. During a pause in the conversation he took a rather generous mouthful of hot potato, which he rapidly returned to his plate by the quickest, if not the most polite method. Without a moment’s hesitation he looked round at the circle of somewhat startled countenances, and said quite calmly:
With the 50th anniversary of Churchill's death in 2015 there will be celebrations and (possibly) an exhibition of his paintings. Churchill, while not leading the free world, was something of an amateur painter. His paintings have become valuable.
He wrote a book called Painting as a Pastime (Odhams, London 1948) of which his daughter Mary (Soames) said: "it is pure enchantment to read, throbbing as it does with enthusiasm and encouragement to others to seize brush and canvas and have a go, as Winston himself had done before, when, under the flail of misfortune, he had discovered in painting a companion with whom he was to walk for the greater part of the long years which remained to him." This quotation from his book is not about painting but about books:
If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them – peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.
Churchill's own books are heavily collected and he obviously had a good working library. He probably did not have time for book collecting but certainly he had the right attitude about books.