Walter Besant

English novelist and historian (1836–1901)

Sir Walter Besant (August 14, 1836 - June 9, 1881) was an English novelist and historian.

Picture of Walter Besant

Quotes edit

  • Many a young fellow has found himself in a similar predicament, but I doubt whether anyone ever became so desperately hungry as I did on that day. I recollect that, having rashly eaten up my sausage before eight o'clock, I felt a sinking towards twelve; it was aggravated by the savoury smell of roast meat which steamed from the cookshops and dining-rooms as I walked along the streets. About one o'clock I gazed with malignant envy on the happy clerks who could go in and order platefuls of the roast and boiled which smoked in the windows, and threw a perfume more delicious than the sweetest strains of music into the streets where I lingered and looked. And at two I observed the diners come out again, walking more slowly, but with an upright and satisfied air, while I -- the sinking had been succeeded by a dull gnawing pain -- was slowly doubling up. At half-past two I felt as if I could bear it no longer. I had been walking about, trying different offices for a clerkship. I might as well have asked for a partnership. But I could walk no more.
  • This work fascinates me more than anything else I have ever done. I've been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day.
    • October 2, 1897: To-Day, "An Interview with Sir Walter Besant" [2], p. 262
  • I lay it down as one of the distinctive characteristics of a good story that it pleases--or rather, seizes--every period of life; that the child, and his elder brother, and his father, and his grandfather, may read it with like enjoyment.
    • June, 1898: The Literary News, "Some Novels Loved of Novelists" [3]
  • The procession from Newgate to Tyburn used to pass along Broad Street, and halt at the great gate of the hospital, in order that the condemned man might take his last draught of ale on earth.
  • Great and Little Wild Streets are called respectively Old and New Weld Streets by Strype. Weld House stood on the site of the present Wild Court, and was during the reign of James II occupied by the Spanish Embassy. In Great Wild Street Benjamin Franklin worked as a journeyman printer.

Quotes about Besant edit

  • Sir Walter Besant's work--his novels, records of fact, and, not least, the keen business instinct which led to the incorporation of the Society of Authors--is so widely known and appreciated that it would seem impertinent even to summarise it.
    • October 2, 1897: To-Day, An Interview with Sir Walter Besant [6] p. 262
  • Sir Walter Besant was a short, stout, thick-set man. His hair was iron-gray, he wore a full beard and had a ruddy face. His large, clear eyes looked at you through gold-rimmed spectacles. His manner was simple and sincere; his words were direct and to the point. He was a type of the John Bull whom we all love...Whether his talk was founded on fact or fancy, it was essentially worth while. As the physical Walter Besant gave the impression of "heart of oak," so did his conversation; there was not a "cranky," morbid, or meaningless thing about it.
    • July, 1901: New Outlook, The Founder of the People's Palace [7] p. 571
  • Other writers, such as Benjamin Disraeli, contended that an unbridgeable gap existed between the English rich and poor, but Besant claimed that individuals possessed the ability to advance socially if they received philanthropic assistance.
    • 2003: Stade et al, Encyclopedia of British Writers, 19th Century p. 25

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