John, in fact and in truth, is the only one of them all, poets and painters, gifted or pretentious, idle or dedicated, who is safe. When – years on from this evening in early summer, while Nell and Robert Lyddington are sitting in Oscar’s cellar looking at the arguers and the dancers – the door of an unspeakable room is opened; and people go in, and later on someone reluctantly, hesitatingly, opens the worn, filthy suitcase that for years, now, has been almost John’s sole possession, the manuscript will be found.

It will be seamed and crossed and criss-crossed with long delicate lines of writing like flights of birds, and corrections in coloured inks; starred, blotted, patiently re-done; then re-done; and done yet again. It will look almost more like a map than a thing written; and in one sense it will be: a map of London, carved in pouring molten crystal words, that have set in massive splendour for ever. John is safe: he is with the immortals.”

Stella Gibbons, Here Be Dragons, 1956


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