Tag Archives: Max Beerbohm

Max’s study

I recently came across a photo of Max (Beerbohm) that I hadn’t seen.  Given his age and that the room seems tailored to Max’s interests (including at least one of his own caricatures – hard to make out whether some of the other pictures are his as well), I assume this is in Rapallo.

max beerbohm photo

The bowtie is no surprise – Max remained a dandy from his Oxford days onwards.  The hat also fits in with Max’s style, although it is not the “stiff straw hat set at a rakish angle” in which S.N. Behrman first met him, on the eve of Max’s eightieth birthday.

I dearly wish I could make out the titles of the books encircling his head.  Does anyone know whether Max’s library was catalogued anywhere?  Actually, as I type this inquiry, I recall that Behrman may provide a partial answer.  On his third visit, he describes a conversation on Max’s terrace at the Villino, before moving back inside to Max’s study, which had some of his caricatures (check).  “Three of the walls were lined, halfway up, with plain white-painted wooden bookshelves.” (check).  On Behrman’s further snooping (and who wouldn’t?), he reports that the books were “mostly presentation copies of books by Max’s contemporaries – George Moore, Arnold Bennett, Oscar Wilde, F.S. Street, George Meredith, Herbert Trench, Edmund Gosse, Siegfried Sassoon, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, G.M. Trevelyan, Henry Arthur Jones, Richard Le Gallienne, Stephen Phillips.”  Hmm, hardly my cup of reading tea, except maybe Wilde.  Too earnest, too dated.

However, according to Behrman, “[f]or many of these books, Max had amused himself by drawing what he called Misleading Frontispieces.  They are mostly in color, and they do mislead you.  If you believed, for example, Max’s title page for George Moore’s Memoirs of My Dead Life, you would think you were in for the reminiscences of a hero of the cricket field.”  There’s the Max we know – always mischievous.  Behrman goes on to describe his inspection of  More Leaves from the Journal of a Life in the Highlands by Queen Victoria, which included “Max’s forgeries, scattered all through the book in the Queen’s handwriting.”  Max also forged on the flyleaf the Queen copying out “Some Opinions of the Press” on her book, including this one:

“Not a book to leave lying about on the drawing-room table nor one to place indiscriminately in the hands of young men and maidens. . . Will be engrossing to those of mature years. – Spectator.”

Oh Max.

For more such entertaining reminiscenes of Max, including a captivating insight into his two favorite photos (p. 69-70), please do read S.N. Behrman’s Portrait of Max.  It is harder to find these days, but delightful and superb, and includes many of Max’s caricatures and a wonderful photo of Max.

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See what Fresno hath wrought?!

On my umpteenth work trip to the lovely burg of Fresno, I was looking for a way to procrastinate in my hotel room.  So, I investigated starting a blog and here I am, inflicting my jottings and thoughts upon any innocent reader that happens to get sucked in via a search engine (presuming this is how people start reading new blogs?)

If you were directed here because of your interest in Max Beerbohm (who authored a collection of essays titled “And Even Now”), then I hope you may find a kindred spirit.  I named the blog in honor of Max because his prose demonstrates a level of grace, humor, and playfulness of which I can only hope to achieve.  Max was also a bit backward-looking, as am I, which is why, if you return to this page, you’ll probably find me relishing the discovery of a “new” forgotten book, trying some defunct cultural tradition around the holidays, or forcing my husband to watch British comedy series from the early 90’s like “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” or “Absolutely Fabulous.”

By now, I assume no one is left reading this post, so I don’t mind providing “spoilers” for some later discussions which I may post on the newest of these “new” finds.  In no particular order, and whenever I find the time to do so between finally writing Christmas cards (proof that I hang onto now-extinct holiday traditions), I may see fit to wax poetic about the following:

1.  “The Little Visiters”[sic] – a novella of Victorian romance and social climbing, authored by Daisy Ashford, a self-satisfied nine year old girl (see below).  It was later found when she was grown and published just as she wrote it, with no spelling or punctuation corrections, but with the addition of a charming Preface by J.M. Barrie.  Along with the amusing mix of childish assumptions regarding adult life, Daisy shares my distaste of unnecessary toilette preparations, as her heroine happily accepts a proposal to go boating with the exclamation of ‘Oh Hurrah shouted Ethel I shall soon be ready as I had my bath last night so wont wash very much now.’

 

2.  “Told After Supper” by Jerome K. Jerome – in searching for traditional British Christmas ghost stories, I somehow discovered a Jerome piece of which I was unaware [hopefully you are all aware of the hilariousness that is “Three Men in a Boat,” as well as “Three Men on a Bummel” – to say nothing of the dog].  A mere pittance bought me an 1891 copy of “Told After Supper” with “96 or 97 illustrations.”  The entire little book is printed in royal blue ink and I cannot wait to page through it.

3.  “Mrs. Caudle’s Curtain Lectures” by Douglas Jerrold – one of the first popular series in Punch magazine in mid-century 1800s London, it “records” Mr. Caudle’s recollections of his wife’s opportunistic nightly nagging, once he was cornered in bed and couldn’t get up.  Her breathless stream of complaints and retorts to his reasonable rejoinders will have all wives guiltily chuckling.  It’s also interesting for the details on middle-class housekeeping at the time – apparently, everyone made their own “good and healthy” ale, but of course, offensively used by Mrs. Caudle as a reason why her husband should stay home to drink instead of going out.

In any event, this is about as much as I can muster from a hotel room in Fresno, so I now relinquish any claim I may have had upon your attention.  “Au reservoir.”

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