It’s always revealing to learn which books were the favourites of certain writers—and which books or writers were reviled. We know what Wyndham Lewis felt about the Bloomsbury set. It’s all in The Apes of God. It’s not a secret that Martin Amis worships Nabokov and Saul Bellow or that Kingsley Amis was a Janeite. The likes and dislikes of pre-modernist writers, however, tend to be less well known today, so it’s good to find someone expressing their secret admiration for a certain writer or a certain passage of prose or poetry.
The Irish novelist George Moore is rather forgotten today, although academic interest in his work persists for some reason or other. We personally are not drawn to his books, but Moore was certainly a fan of Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall,as he admitted to his friend Edmund Gosse in a letter dated 28thApril, 1920, a typewritten copy of which we found interleaved in Evan Charteris’ Life and Letters.
After gladly accepting an invitation to dinner from Mrs Gosse, Moore declares that he is very excited at re-reading the novel he had first read at the age of twelve:
‘ never losing sight of it for half a century and more; it is the only book I read in my infancy that I remember; it fixed itself in my childish imagination, and my mature judgement has no hesitation in declaring it to be the cream of English fiction…the first half has all the merits that Miss Austin has and other merits besides…’
We will forgive Mr Moore the misspelling of Jane Austen’s name, but what follows comes as a greater surprise. Continue reading