Thursday, December 16, 2010

Temperamental Authors

I recently acquired an issue of the magazine supplement to the old New York World newspaper of the 1920s.  Specifically, I got this issue, dated 6 February 1927, because it has a journalistic story by Leonard Cline that is completely new to me, but there turned out to be bonus:  an illustrated article headed "Behind the Scenes in Temperamental Authors' Workshops" by Sarah Macdougall.  Basically, the authoress solicited comments from a bunch of authors of the day, ranging from the noted (Sinclair Lewis, Rebecca West, Ellen Glasgow) to the less-known and now forgotten (e.g., Homer Croy, and Lulu Vollmer, the author of "Sun Up" and "The Shame Woman", who "does all of her writing on an ironing-board which fits across the arms of a wing chair in her studio home"). Some of the authors who provided comments are remembered for their fantasy writings:

Irvin S. Cobb was the first to be interviewed, because his day starts at eight in the morning and because the only time to ask him questions is before he leaves his Park Avenue home. "I don't like to work at all," said Mr. Cobb. "I'd never work if I didn't have to. When I do work, which is every day, I sit wherever there is a place to sit, take a pen, a pencil or a typewriter--in the city, in the country, on a train, on a ship, and I work. I have no moods. I don't need to have the light over my left shoulder. The only thing I need is an idea. I am always at work early in the morning. I was raised on an afternoon paper and I do my best work before noon. I never work at night. I do not care who is around while I am working. Ordinary noises of the city do not bother me in the least."

Robert W. Chambers is another man who does not like to work. But few Wall Street men toil such long hours as this author whose fiction has brought him as much wealth as if he were a successful financier. Mr. Chambers does his year's work in the winter months so that he may be free to play all summer. He does most of his writing in New York because he finds fewer interruptions in the city than in the country, and fewer distractions for the author. He finds October and November the best time to work in the country, "because every one else is in town." Mr. Chambers never works at night, and he is always on hand for a dinner party.

Lord Dunsany's plays have been written with quill pens. In Ireland he shoots geese for recreation. He takes the quils to London, and on his desk in his home in Cadogan Square a dozen quills are crowded in a jar. 

 The illustration of Dunsany is reproduced above.  Either the artist was ignorant or misinformed, but no type of goose has a green head.  Presumably the artist was drawing a common mallard, but that's a duck, not a goose. And a duck feather would not be as handy to use as a writing instrument as a goose feather, which is significantly larger.

No comments:

Post a Comment