Michael Holroyd at Beverley Literature Festival. 3-10-08

I really enjoyed listening to Michael Holroyd talk. He is a very kind, open, engaging character and I had loved his book about Ellen Terry and Henry Irving and their families so much that it was a joy to hear little extra crumbs about how he wrote it. He was very ill during a large part of the writing of it and he said that going into another world kept him going. It’s a virtuoso group documentary which only someone of his experience could have written and he is non judgmental even of someone like Edward Gordon Craig, who he admits is probably his villain, letting the facts speak for himself. I would agree with that ( hard not to) but when I asked him about Irving and made my feelings about his dreadful wife Florence known he was a lot kinder towards her than I feel. She behaved appallingly, and he clearly is a very generous man who sees the reasons for what she did and is more forgiving than I am!

The great piece of luck was that when we were in the Beverley arms afterwards having a drink he was there too, and I was able to have a short private chat with him. He was also very sorry for Dorothy and could only think that she had had a very sad life before meeting EGC and however badly he behaved towards her, being involved with his life and work gave hers meaning. He also said what I had thought, that it would make a wonderful film and I had to admit, when asked, that I was not a famous film director.

A really lovely man. I hope that he has many more years of work ahead of him.


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