In my fourteenth year I had gone up to London for the first time, to see as many of the sights as could be got into a fortnight.
It is right and natural that generous minds while in the twenties should think the books which try to reform the world's wrong the greatest of all.
On that other novels followed: but I still wrote fairy tales and dreamy poems of another world.
I believe absolutely in love being the central motive force of the universe.
My failure, during the first five or six years of my art training, to get set in the right direction, and the disappointment which it caused me, drove me the more persistently into writing as an alternative.
I had never thought of myself as a dramatist, and, for really good technical results, the thought came too late: a man of letters has become too wordy to write economically for the stage.
If nature had arranged that husbands and wives should have children alternatively, there would never be more than three in a family.
It was then, I think, that I discovered that the best way of bringing a medieval subject home to my generation was not to be medieval in its treatment.
Life is the most versatile thing under the sun; and in the pursuit of life and character the author who works in a groove works in blinkers.
The man who bears my name, and who claims to be me, was born on July 15, 1865, the sixth in a family of seven. He was an ugly child, and remained ugly till his eighteenth year, when his looks gradually improved.
It is the sincerest thing I have written, caught by the drama of a soul struggling in the contrary toils of love and religion - death brought them into harmony.
The modern form of things had begun to appeal to me, also (as material for satire) politics, and the lives of the great and little, high up in the social scale.
I still think that if the human race, or even one nation, could only get right about its God the rest would follow.
Though while at South Kensington I took a few prizes in the National Competition, I did not get near to having a style of my own.
But it has also enabled me to find my feet as a lecturer and a reader of my own plays to audiences who like to hear them; and that experience of immediate appreciation gives greater pleasure and more stimulus towards further activity than even the most laudatory of reviews.
Suicide is possible, but not probable; hanging, I trust, is even more unlikely; for I hope that, by the time I die, my countrymen will have become civilised enough to abolish capital punishment.
The mere dates of my existence do not interest me, except in one connection. When the Great War started I was too old to be acceptable as a volunteer; when conscription followed I was too old to be conscripted.
For the last half of my life I have had the doubtful benefit of a brother whose literary reputation is much greater than my own.
My best chance is that, in a happy moment, I hit upon St Francis as the subject for a series of plays. Others might have written them better: but, as I have written them, the advantage will probably remain mine.
I was just then going through a healthy reaction from the orthodoxy of my youth; religion had become for me not so much a possession as an obsession, which I was trying to throw off, and this iconoclastic tale of an imaginary tribe was the result.
I have always been a writer of letters, and of long ones; so, when I first thought of writing a book in the form of letters, I knew that I could do it quickly and easily.
I shall not die young, for I am already near seventy: I may die old.
Two more years were to go by before I knew anything about William Blake. Many years later, when his wife died, my godfather gave me the two books as a remembrance.
Prosecution I have managed to avoid; but I have been arrested, charged in a police court, have refused to be bound over, and thereupon have been unconditionally released - to my great regret; for I have always wanted to know what going to prison was like.
Before the war ended common sense had rescued me from any belief that war could do the human race, or my country, any good whatever.
If I live for another ten years I shall probably have written all that I want to write.
At that time I had no notion that I should ever come to live in Somerset - to live actually within the range of what then lay before me.
My brother used to say that I wrote faster than he could read. He wrote two books - of poems - better than all mine put together.
Father eternal, ruler of creation, Spirit of life, which moved ere form was made Through the thick darkness covering every nation Light to man's blindness, O be Thou our aid.
If I loved all the world as I do you, I shouldn't write books to it: I should only write letters to it, and that would be only a clumsy stage on the way to entire telepathy.
That was luck: I should not then have been a conscientious objector; but I am quite sure that the abominations of war would have made me one, as soon as I got to the front.
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Tristan Bernard - Samuel Beckett - Richard Foreman - Plautus - Neil Simon - John Webster - Graham Greene - George Ade - Derek Walcott - Brendan Francis