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Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 5 April, 2020 12:21PM

Let's use this thread as a place to post anecdotes of such people (artists, writers, editors, collectors...) as seem appropriate. The model is The Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes edited by James Sutherland. Please provide a brief identification of the principal person involved, which, in the case of the most well-known people, might need to be nothing but their names and perhaps dates of birth and death. Please note the source of your anecdote -- this is important.

The anecdotes may be funny or poignant, curious or characteristic -- you be the judge of what's appropriate.

With regard to Lovecraft, examples that occur to me off the top of my head: he visited E. Hoffman Price, who made chili, and Lovecraft wanted it to be as spicy as possible; Lovecraft visited an ice cream parlor and he and a friend worked their way through all the flavors; Lovecraft had a cat on his lap when his host went to bed, and in the morning was still in his chair with the cat, not having wanted to disturb the sleeping animal -- and so on. The thing is, I don't have much of a collection, so someone else perhaps could transcribe the anecdote from the sources and note what they are. With regard to Robert E. Howard, I seem to remember something about him walking down the street shadow-boxing, and another anecdote about him referring to being on guard against his "enemies," etc. I don't know Smith's life well enough to suggest anything offhand.

With regard to other authors, I seem to remember that William Hope Hodgson was a physical fitness trainer who had a stunt involving riding a bicycle down steep stairs at a beachfront site, Lord Dunsany picking up a copy of The King of Elfland's Daughter at Hazel Littlefield's house in California and saying "I shall never write so well again," and so on --

You get the idea.

None of the above is sufficient as an anecdote. Here's one that will show the format I suggest.


[Author of the famous Gothic novel The Monk]

Lewis at Oatlands was observed one morning to have his eyes red, and his air sentimental. Being asked why, he replied, "that when people said anything kind to him, it affected him deeply; and just now the Duchess [of York] had said something so kind to me that...." Here tears began to flow again. "Never mind, Lewis," said Colonel Armstrong to him, "never mind, don't cry. She could not mean it."

--James Sutherland, ed. The Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes, p. 176.

Here's another example, about a different Lewis:

C. S. "JACK" LEWIS (1898-1963)

His own clothes were a matter of complete indifference to him: he had an extraordinary knack of making a new suit look shabby the second time he wore it. ...It is said that Jack once took a guest for an early-morning walk round Addison's Walk [on the Magdalen College grounds] after a very wet night. Presently the guest brought his attention to a curious lump of cloth hanging on a bush. "That looks like my hat!" said Jack; then, joyfully, "It is my hat," and, clapping the sodden mass on to his head, he continued his walk.

--W. H. Lewis, "Memoir of C. S. Lewis" in Letters of C. S. Lewis, p. 15.

One more example & then I'll stop adding to this posting.

J. R. R. TOLKIEN (1892-193)

He was overwhelmed by his fan mail and would-be visitors. It was wonderful to have at long last plenty of money, more than he knew what to do with. He once began a meeting with me by saying: "I've been a poor man all my life, but now for the first time I've a lot of money. Would you like some?"

--George Sayer (a schoolmaster), "Recollections of J. R. R. Tolkien," in Tolkien: A Celebration, ed. by Joseph Pierce, p. 15.

Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 5 Apr 20 | 01:15PM by Dale Nelson.

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