Aerated Bread Co.

“For years before Ditchling took hold of him completely, London stayed (Eric Gill’s) main place of entertainment and experiment, providing the intellectual stimulus Gill needed…

…(A R) Orage, himself a powerful and generous literary critic, was a great collector-in of other writers of any and every political persuasion, so long as they were good. These were halcyon days. As Augustus John once said: “The literary generation of his time owes much to Orage. Under his editorship the New Age became the best and liveliest weekly.” This was partly because he cultivated conversation with his contributors – Clifford Sharp, G K and Cecil Chesterton, Dr Eder, H G Wells – who would gather in the Smoking Room of the ABC restaurant in Chancery Lane either after lunch or around tea-time. Gill, being naturally disputatious, found the New Age ambience greatly to his liking. Although Gill was a solitary, and made much of it, he needed to be seen to be alone in public, and he much enjoyed the talking-shop, the social centre. He was capable of arguing until the cows came home.”.

Fiona MacCarthy: Eric Gill (1989) Chapter Seven: Ditchling Village 1907-13

“On Mondays, in the late afternoon, the editor of a weekly journal, with some of his regular contributors and one or two aspiring writers, was to be found in the basement room of the ABC restaurant in Chancery Lane. The ostensible purpose of the gathering was to read proofs of that week’s issue: the assembled company had tea, they talked and they argued, before moving on to dinner at another inexpensive restaurant, then perhaps to the Holborn Empire (“it removed from us any taint of undue intellectualism which might have been left over from the conclave at the ABC”, according to one of the literary aspirants who was to become in time a regular contributor), before ending the evening at the Cafe Royal, then very much a cafe.”

Stefan Collini: Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain (2006)

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