Tag Archives: Library

Diary entries which mention books and other publications read by Arthur Linfoot. See also Arthur Linfoot’s Library.

The Passionate Friends

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The Passionate Friends is a 1913 novel by H. G. Wells.

It takes the form of a letter to the his son by Stephen Stratton in which he sets out the story of his relationship with Lady Mary Christian, later Lady Mary Justin, with whom he had had a lifelong, on-again, off-again affair, although they had never married.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had ‘Commenced to read “The Passionate Friends”’ on 10 June 1918, shortly after arriving at Pierry, just south of Epernay.

26 May 1918; Sunday

Up about 7 o’clock. Not much to do all day. Stayed in until last thing but when I had a short walk with Willie Truman. Fine day. Wrote letter to Mr Inwood and one to Charlie and did a little French, besides reading through a book by Foottit† entitled “The Guard”1.


  1. Foottit’s “The Guard”: Author and book not yet identified. Other books are listed in Arthur Linfoot’s Library

3 April 1918; Wednesday

Up about 7.30. Read all morning “Mr Britling Sees It Through”1. Received orders first thing after dinner to proceed to the new camp outside Bailleul with Billy Truman and Harman. Went by car. Had tea with Australians and had chips at night. Slept well. Rest of ambulance to follow in the morning.


  1. Mr Britling Sees it Through: Very popular novel by HG Wells about an ordinary man’s war, published in 1916 and described in David C. Smith’s 1986 biography of Wells (H.G. Wells: Desperately Mortal: A Biography) as Wells’ “masterpiece of the wartime experience in England”. We (ALL’s offspring) had a copy (and read it) during WWII. See also Mr. Britling Sees it Through and Arthur Linfoot’s Library

Mr Britling Sees It Through

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Mr. Britling Sees It Through is H.G. Wells‘ “masterpiece of the wartime experience in England”1. The novel was published in September 1916.

The book  tells the story of a writer, Mr. Britling, who lives  in the fictional village of Matching’s Easy, Essex. The novel is divided into three parts. Book the First, entitled “Matching’s Easy At Ease”; Book the Second, “Matching’s Easy at War”; and Book the Third, “The Testament of Matching’s Easy”.

This book appears to have had a lasting appeal to Arthur Linfoot; a copy remained at his home in Sunderland and was read during WW2 by ALL’s own offspring.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had started to read this book on 3 April 1918, while stationed near Bailleul in Northern France.


  1. According to David C. Smith, writing in “H.G. Wells: Desperately Mortal: A Biography”. 

12 January 1918; Saturday

Up about 7.30. On parade at 9 and fatigues all day. Read article by A G G1 on the war and the churches and also a sermon on “Providence” by J Fort Newton2.


  1. AGG would be A G Gardiner (1865 – 1946), editor of the Daily News 1902 – 1919 and popular writer. ALL had previously mentioned a book by A G Gardiner. Prophets, Priests and Kings, which he had read while on holiday in St Andrews in 1915. See Arthur Linfoot’s Library

  2. J Fort Newton: See note on 6 January

21 November 1917; Wednesday

Up at 7 o’clock. On parade in the morning. Wet day. I played the part of wounded man and was carried on a stretcher for the first time in my life. Football match in the afternoon between our team and the King’s Own1, first round in the cup tie – and we won 6 – 0. Received papers from home and “Everyman”2 published my letter in reply to Roderick Random. Received letter from Charlie written on the 28th October.


  1. The 7th battalion of the King’s Own Regiment was in the 56th Brigade, 19th (Western) Division. 

  2. The text of ALL’s published letter is reproduced here. See all diary entries tagged “Everyman” and also Everyman from the Arthur Linfoot’s library page. 

Roderick Random and Teetotalers

The following text is the letter written by ALL, referred to in the diary entry for 21 November 1917   and published in “Everyman”, November 1917. This letter, over the pseudonym B.E.F. (presumably for British Expeditionary Force), which is preserved in a correspondence book of ALL’s, was written on 31 October in Folkestone while ALL was waiting there to be taken across the Channel on his return to France from home leave.

Cutting from "Everyman"
Cutting from “Everyman” November 1917 – click or tap to enlarge.

SIR. – I have been very much amused and occasionally just a little annoyed by the neat little gibes which “Roderick Random” so often makes at teetotalers. In the last copy which I had the pleasure of reading he said something (I haven’t EVERYMAN by me) about “before men grew teetotal and flabby.” Permit me, modestly and with cap in hand, to state my own case. I am one of a third generation of most bigoted teetotalers, and neither I nor my fathers are – or were – particularly flabby. We can boast fairly healthy carcases, tolerably clear minds, and maybe a seasoning of humour. In the realm of hard knocks we hold our own whether they be the playful little taps of circumstance or the more energetic blows given by fragments of high-explosive shell. I am just winding up ten days’ leave after twenty months’ active service, and have had the honour – scarcely a pleasure – of being in every stunt in that period with the exception of Vimy Ridge – and never condescended to indulge in a rum ration. I am not by any means the only total abstainer on active service. They are as plentiful as German whizzbangs and as hard as Army biscuits. I venture to assert that you will find more flabbiness of body and mind amongst topers than amongst abstainers.

Pardon scrawl and a hastily written letter. I am at rest camp waiting for the cross-Channel boat. In a few more hours I shall be wending my way to the battle-line and will face Fritz – without a rum ration.

B.E.F.
Continue reading Roderick Random and Teetotalers

20 November 1917; Tuesday

Up at 7 o’clock. Double1 before breakfast and usual morning’s work. Spent afternoon on French and reading “Old St Paul’s”2. Had walk at night with Holman and Harvey and discussed music and a few odd things.


  1. Double march, or run. See all diary entries tagged “double“. 

  2. Old Saint Paul’s: William Harrison Ainsworth’s novel, about the Great Fire. See also Old St. Paul’s and  Arthur Linfoot’s library