14 NOVEMBER 1958, Page 32

Gabble, Gabble

lk Leaf from the Yellow Book: The Correspon- dence of George Egerton. Edited by Terence de Vere White. (Richards, 16s.) AN initial feeling of surprise that anybody could be bothered writing this book quickly changes to respect for the way Mr. de Vere White has done the job. George Egerton, almost entirely forgotten today, was quite celebrated in an age where literary celebrity demanded higher accomplishments than it does today : as novelist and playwright and as one of the contributors to the first Yellow Book, she gained an international reputation. The oblivion which has fallen on her would be surpris- ing, had it not extinguished almost as completely even more famous figures—Hall Caine, for one. But she is worth recalling for other reasons than her transient fame as a writer'—both for her curious private life and for the range of her public acquaintanceship. This collection contains some fascinating letters—notably a few character- istic lectures from GBS, and some wonderfully dotty effusions from Richard Le Gallienne.

Shaw was probably right when he recalled that George Egerton 'talked herself off the stage after she had won her way to the centre of it by her literary talent. It was incessant gabble, gabble, gabble. . . .' Something of this stridency comes out in her letters written in the Thirties to Mr. de Vere White, then a boy growing up in Ireland. Still, what with her encounters with W. B. Yeats, Somerset Maugham, John Lane, Havelock Ellis and many more, the surprising thing is that Mr. de Vere White restrained himself from blow- ing this up into a full-scale biography. Sensibly he has resisted the temptation : reminding us of this remarkable woman, without puffing her