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This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

Two Recollections Eric Walter White

I did not meet Edgell Rickword until 1956 when as Assistant Secretary of the Arts Council of Great Britain one of my responsibilities was to help carry out the Council's tentative policies for aiding writers and literature. These included a plan to encourage national libraries to acquire manuscripts of contemporary British writers. The British Library was particularly interested in this scheme; and as the result of a suggestion by David Holbrook I approached Edgell to see if he had any material to offer. He had; and one afternoon he brought a batch of manuscripts, including several old notebooks, which seemed to me just what we were looking for. I examined the papers carefully and asked him if he were prepared to sell and, if so, whether he had a price in mind or whether he wanted a valuation to be made by an accredited firm. He sat quietly by my desk, reflected for a moment, and then said, 'I'd be prepared to sell for £150.' In my turn, I reflected for a moment, and as it seemed to me the figure he'd mentioned was too modest, I decided to feign deafness. So I said: 'I beg your pardon-I'm afraid I didn't catch what you said.' At this he looked surprised and somewhat puzzled. There was another silence; and then he said: 'Would £200 be a fair price?' 'Thank you,' I said. 'I heard you that time.' And £200 was the figure I reported to the committee at its next ...


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