Bennett on Sussex

In the 1920s Ireland was a frequent visitor to Sussex, as were many others, one of whom was Arnold Bennett. In May 1926 Bennett was staying in Amberley, of which he wrote: ‘Lovely weather. I walked up on to the Downs in the middle of the morning. Sun. Prospects. Three teams of horses rolling a field. Hawthorn everywhere, a little red, all the rest white. The most insistent phenomenon, however, is the song of birds. You hear that everywhere and practically all the time’ (22 May 1926). During the next few days Bennett explored Arundel, Bury, Storrington, then Rustington, Angmering and Littlehampton. He was in Sussex for several weeks, often waxing lyrical over the weather and the countryside: ‘I had a most marvellous walk on the Downs. The weather was warm, sunshiny, and dappled with sky-changes of large light clouds. The landscapes astounding. The turf very easy to walk on’ ( 7 June 1926). While there he was visited by John Cowper Powys and Aldous Huxley. It wasn’t always perfect though. A walk to North Stoke was undertaken in ‘rotten, very windy weather’ (10 June 1926). It’s enticing to think that Ireland may have been walking the same paths at this time – though there is no mention of the composer in Bennett’s diaries.   Source: The Journals of Arnold Bennett 1921-1928 (1933), edited  Newman Flower, London, Cassell.

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