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A VISIT TO MISS BRADDON.

A Californian lady, who has been paying a visit to Miss Braddon, the novelist, at her English home, writes to the San Francisco “ Chronicle ” the subjoined interesting account of her interview : Miss Braddon is the daughter of a surgeon, E. A. Braddon, now deceased, and the wife of John Maxwell, publisher of the popular English Magazine “Belgravia.” One day in June, witn tne sun streaming down i: ud dispersing the thick fog which seems • o hang around London like a dismal shroud. I crossed the Victoria bridge and took che train for Richmond, a ride of about half an hour through a lovely country, passing gentlemen’s villas and beautifully laid out grounds, which line almost the whole road on either side. On alighting from the train at the station i was met by an elegant gentleman, who proved to be young Mr Maxwell. He asked mo which I preferred, walking along by the lawn to the house, or going through an alley of trees ? “ Walking I ” said X. “ Vcs ; this is Litchfield House,” pointing directly ahead at an enclosure about fifty yards fr mi the suition. “ Then let us walk, by all means,” I said, and we proceeded along the most beautiful lawa, close shawn, as all English lawns are. Shrubs ami rare old trees, ornamental vases, and bore and there parterre upon parterre of the most brilliaut-hued flowers mot my gaze. The various similes of green under the wide-spreading trees, as the sun shone through the loaves, was a sight which would arrest the attention of anyone. When about half way along the path 1 noticed coming towards us a tall, portly man, the true type of an English gentleman. He came up to us, and my companion introduced me, saying, “ This is my father, Mr Maxwell. ” I shall not try to describe him, except as a hearty, wholesouled gentleman, who welcomed me with both hands, imparting a feeling of pleasure which far exceeded the more polite welcome generally extended to strangers. The different aspects of the place were pointed out to me while going towards the house, and a more beautiful place it has rarely boon my pleasure to see. Litchfield

■ House is a mansion of the Elizabethan ) style modernised—roses clambering on the . walls, over the verandahs, along the sides > of the windows, and in fact wherever there is room for a rose to bloom. No words 1 can describe the gay appearance the roses gave to the very grey house and old ! spacious windows. All looked so bright, , so cheerful, and inviting tliat, with the kindness with which Mr Maxwell had welcomed me, I felt in the best of humors. But what can I say in praise of the very warm manner I was received by the great authoress herself ? I lost sight of all her fame at the very womanly and unaffected manner of my reception. Standing in, or rather leaning against the door, was Miss Braddon, a tall lady, somewhat thin, attired in a ricli black silk dress, with white lace round her throat. A coquettish Dolly Varden cap completed her toilet. What an expressive face is hers ! Grey eyes, sparkling with fun, bright and well opened. lam sure nothing escapes her gaze. But the charm of her whole being

is the thorough, home-like cordiality and unalfectedness of the woman. I was asked into the house, escorted to her own apartment and with her own hands she assisted in divesting me of my outer wraps. Her kin< ness of manner so attracted me that any trepidation that I might have felt in the presence of so famous a personage vanished. I suppose the very unfamiliarity of hearing her addressed as Mrs Maxwell made me forget to whom I was indebted for so much kindness. After many questions about California, I said to her : “Mrs Maxwell, I know you so well through your hooks you must let me call you by the name I am most familiar with—Miss Braddon. ” “ Certainly,” she said, ‘ I frequently have callers on business who never think of addressing mo by any oilier than the name which you prefer ; so you see it will not sound at all strange to mo.” We then went together to the draw-ing-room, where we were met by several other guests who had arrived in the meantime. The drawing-room is on tho east side of the house and contains two large windows—one opening on the lawn, the other on the walk which approaches the front of the house on the oast side of the room. There is a bay window forming an

alcove the whole length of the room, overlooking the magnificent grounds laid out in terraces, and belonging to the famous Star and Garter Inn. The ceiling is frescoed in the modern Italian style, and the oak carvings of the wall, windows, and mantelpieces are very old and very rare. The walls are literally covered with paintings in oil and water colors, most of them genre subjects, which Mins Braddon assures mo were her peculiar fancy. Some of the furniture is old and quaintly carved,

and some rich and of modern design. As in all English households there was a cheerful blaze in the fireplace, although the sun shone warm and pleasantly outside. The sons and daughters all look towards the authoress as the mother who makes the home for her family. Lunch was announced and I was placed on Mr Maxwell’s right. The table looked tempting enough to brighten the veriest malcontent. Mr and Mrs Maxwell have several little children, and the youngest is a boy about four years old. All took their places at the board. The conversation was chatty and lively. The talk was upon ordinary subjects. Among the topics, of course, California was mentioned. Miss Braddon expressed herself favorably regarding our Golden State, as she termed it, and expressed a desire, if it were possible, to visit it, as well as other parts of the United States. She was attracted most, however, to the Yosemile. She assured me that she had at one time been more deeply interested in California, as she had intended to write a novel in which some scenes of California life were to have been laid. In my honor a bottle of sparkling Moselle was opened, remarkable for its ago, having been

in the cellar twenty years. We drank to the good health of our host and hostess. Miss Braddon kindly thanked me, and responded by wishing success to California and Californians. We discussed our mutual friends, and then, as is the custom in England, the ladies, at a sign from the hostess, left the gentlemen to their after dinner cigar, and wo entered the drawing room. What most charmed me with Miss Braddon was her entire freedom from affectation. tier works were not once alluded to by herself. .my questions were asked rrgardii-- . • ■ 'rings she answered in a plain, ..... . L ,..:.... ward

manner. I said : “ Miss Braddon, will you allow me to ask, you about your books ?” “ Why, certainly,” said she, “if that will interest you.” I asked her what part of the day most of her literary work was done in. “At any time,” she answered, “ but I find my brain clearer in early morning. I rise at seven o’clock, walk in the grounds for half an hour, then write for an hour ; by that time I generally feel ready for a good hearty breakfast. During the Jay, if an opportunity occurs, or if I feel in the humor, X write, never longer than an hour, or two at the very most. lam like a great many people, and do not like to commence, although I have thought out my work beforehand. However, I find when I set myself down to real work that my thoughts find vent, and my pen will not write fast enough.” “Does it-not tire you 1” No, I never tire of writing At one time, when I first began, I did not know what I was going to say, but now I learn that, like everything else, thoughts will be more completely expressed by having one’s plan perfected beforehand.” Can you foresee your strongest chapters?” “I seem to know which they will be, and find when I get into the story deeper that I am far more interested in my character then any of my readers can ever be. For the time I see them, hear them ■speak, and not the manner in which they express themselves. In fact, to me they ai'e living, breathing personages, my iamiliar spirits. i{ JBLow do you plan tlm end I ’ “ This seems always the most difficult part of them. Ido not plan them. I follow up my story as if X were reading some one else’s writing. The characters and the manner in which they have figured lead me to the end ; and indeed 1 feci a real regret at being compelled to part with them. ” “ What a pity you let ‘ Cynthia’ die,” said I; “she was a character I admired so much.” “ How could I help it ? She was just meant for that ending. How could Joshua Haggard himself have been brought to confess the murder, except through the sorrow of losing her?’ “You never write stories after the French fashion ?” “No,” was too repry. “ I am an Englishwoman and write about women whose tpye I see around me every day.” One after another the rest of her books were discussed, until tea was announced. Again we entered the dining-room, and I felt that the time was approaching when I must say adieu., I .asked Miss Braddon which one of her books she considered the best, and was answered, “My earliest one, The Trail of the Serpent,’ .as recently revised.” I thanked her for the cordial manner and patience with which, she had answered ray many questions, ’"I and with sincere regret on my side we parted that evening, and I felt that never had I been so agreeably entertained as on that one day X spent with Miss Braddon.

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Bibliographic details

A VISIT TO MISS BRADDON., Ashburton Guardian, 25 October 1879

Word Count
1,681

A VISIT TO MISS BRADDON. Ashburton Guardian, 25 October 1879

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