The Diary of a Nobody/Appreciations

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Copy of letter from Lord Rosebery.


August 25th, 1910.

My dear Sir,

You are quite right in thinking that I am devoted to that small classic, "The Diary of a Nobody," and I have, I suspect, purchased and given away more copies than any living man.

To write an appreciation of a book I esteem so highly is, I am afraid, beyond my power; for it is now so familiar to me that the keen edge of my discrimination has worn off. But I regard any bedroom I occupy as unfurnished without a copy of it. And that is an appreciation more sincere than any that I could write.

Yours truly,

Mr. J. W. Arrowsmith.

Copy of letter from
The Rt. Honble. Augustine Birrell, M.P.

The Pightle,


September 23rd, 1910.

My dear Arrowsmith,

I do not remember who first bade me read The Diary of a Nobody, the early version of which in Punch I had strangely overlooked. It must have been done in casual conversation. But what a casualty! I dare not tell you my view of "Charles Pooter." I rank him with Don Quixote. It is a matter of great pride with me and all in this house, that our name is borne by one of the characters in this bit of Immortality—by an illiterate charwoman, it is true, who never touched a book—but what of that? I am there.

I know you think you have published many good things in your day—and I do not doubt it, but you need never worry, for as the publisher of that little book about the home-life of Herbert Spencer (by "Two") and this Diary, your name will be carried far down the River of Time, and may even reach the Sea.

Yours most sincerely,

Augustine Birrell

Extract from essay by
Mr. Hilaire Belloc, M.P., "On People in Books."

"Take, for instance, that immoderately common type, among the most common of God's creatures, which I will call 'the Silent Fool,' the man who hardly ever talks, and when he does says something so overwhelmingly silly that one remembers it all one's life. I can recollect but one Silent Fool in modern letters, but he comes in a book which is one of the half-dozen immortal achievements of our time, a book like a decisive battle, or like the statue of John the Baptist at South Kensington, a glory for us all. I mean The Diary of a Nobody. In that you will find the silent Mr. Padge, who says 'That's right'—and nothing more."