Among all the personalities who came to Carter Lane the most frequent visitor was C. K. Ogden, valued by many as the last of along line of English eccentrics. In my first years hardly a week passed without a call from him. The high domed forehead, the deep-set serious eyes behind their spectacles, the thin mouth, the prominent chin, gave him a slightly vinegary look, and he could be sharp and tetchy when annoyed which was not unusual since his relations with my Master were somewhat up-and-down. . . .Warburg goes on to describe the inception and the success of the "Today and Tomorrow" series, which began with J. B. S. Haldane's Daedalus, or Science and the Future.
The value of Ogden to Kegan Paul was immense. He put them among the most important publishers of the day in the wide fields of psychology, theoretical and practical, philosophy, ethics, psychopathology, educational theory, and scientific method. He persuaded with ease and celerity most of the greatest academic minds of the period to contribute to his library. ...
Such was Ogden's contribution to the prestige and prosperity of Kegan Paul. But, in return he exacted a price, a small overriding royalty, in addition to the author's, on every copy of every book introduced by him to the firm. As the years passed, the amount earned by him in .this way mounted, and the Ogden commission account, as we called it, reached quite a substantial figure by the second half of the nineteen-twenties. This perhaps constituted at least in part the missing income which has puzzled so many. The mystery which Ogden spread over all his affairs probably covered the commission account as well. ...
It was C. K. Ogden, with his numerous acquaintances in academic circles, who brought it in to Mr Stallybrass and suggested that it might be printed as a sixpenny pamphlet. My Master read it and thought it interesting, and so did I, indeed I thought it in many ways the most sensational thing I had ever read. I therefore pressed for its appearance as a book rather than a pamphlet, bound in cloth or paper boards, at the comparatively high price of half-a-crown.In all, Warburg says, over 20,000 copies of this little book were sold.
Of course we at Routledge and the shrewd C. K. Ogden had as yet no idea of the extent of the market we had unwittingly tapped. But we realised without delay that a follow-up to Daedalus was called for, and soon. Ogden found one. He induced no less a person than Bertrand Russell to write a companion volume, which appeared within weeks . . . Icarus sold well, too. ...I have quoted at some length from Fredric Warburg because his knowledge of publishing and C.K. is unique. At the time when C.K. first assumed that I was going to write a book for him, I had little idea that he was serious; but when I remember that he kept on referring to a book which I would write called "Something or Other, or the Future of Us Girls" -- something, I gathered, in the mood of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes which had recently been published by Anita Loos -- I am sure now that he was serious. How serious he was in suggesting that I should be "the original Basic English Girl", I really don't know. He kept referring to it and he used to ring me up at Tottenham Labour Exchange to talk about it as well as about the projected book -- his project, not mine. But, quite apart from my tenor of being in trouble with the supervisor for having private calls in office hours (a dreadful thing for young clerks to do in those days !), I could never really work up much enthusiasm for Basic English. I think it was about two years later when Basic English was properly launched that he told me about a great party at which Bernard Shaw had been pleasant about Basic. "You could have been there, too," C.K. scolded me, "if you had been a good girl and learned Basic " (But, by then, I was struggling through a University and, what with Matric and Intermediate B.A. to be tackled simultaneously, I was at one time reading eleven different subjects at once, most of them -- all, I suppose, except English -- entirely new to me who had left school nine years before.)
Paul Robeson sang "Water Boy" and "Go down, Moses" and there we squatted on the floor with records all round us until, at last, it was somewhere about three o'clock and we both went to bed. I slept in the room where the gramophones were : I never knew where C.K. slept in either house, or even if he slept at all. For, as everyone who ever knew him found out, too, C.K. never went to bed until it was daylight. Regretfully, in London, I often had to leave him, standing alone in his pale Burberry at the top of St James's Street (this was when he lived at the Royal Societies Club) wondering, no doubt where next he could go, because I, after all, had to get up at seven o'clock in the morning and go to work. Sometimes, at Fitzroy Square, the bell would go at midnight just as I was on the point of going to bed, and there would be C.K., strolling round London, as was his habit, looking up at windows to see who among his friends was still awake, and then dropping in to chat with his fabulous erudition and so enchantingly that it seemed a miserable act to turn him out again.
What have we got chairs for ?... oh, you know, I know, everything's made for love, sweet lo-ove !
What are the back stairs for ?
Dear Blackie,Hardly a brilliant letter writer as far as I was concerned, but the letter served its purpose, I suppose. I looked with less jaded eyes on my surroundings and wrote him the highly stepped-up accounts that he would like. At least I had the assurance that I was not forgotten. Nor could I feel forgotten when great parcels of books arrived several times a term. Volume after volume from the International Library, most of them far beyond my understanding but containing a little slip which said "With C.K.O's compliments". After the "Psyche Miniatures" began to appear there were literally dozens of these. And nearly all the little green and buff books on and in Basic.
How goes it all ? I have bad 'flu but am now up again. Send
me all news of Hull.
|Cambridge 1909-1919 and its Aftermath P. Sargant Florence||13|
|A Voice of Reason in the First World War Martin and Eva Kolinsky||56|
|"My Friend Ogden" Dora Russell||82|
|Co-Author of the "Meaning of Meaning" I. A. Richards||96|
|An Improbable Friendship Marjory Todd||110|
|Talent Scout and Editor Lord Zuckerman||122|