The Supreme Diarist?
Though he had died in 1947 I had many of his books of collected theatre criticism, from Buzz Buzz (1914) through Brief Chronicles (1943) to the wonderful evocation of musicals and light comedies, Immoment Toys (1945). It was some time, however, before I came across Ego, his diary, the first volume of which came out in 1932. In the first entry, he says that he started writing it ‘because there seem to be a lot of things I want to say that other writers put into novels and accepted essayists into essays. Because it will be a relief to set down just what I do actually think, and in the first words to hand, instead of pondering what I ought to think and worrying about the words in which to express the hammered-out thought.’ Rebecca West claimed that she would ‘keep these journals as I keep the Goncourt Journals, as records of their time more truly historical than history’, while in an obituary broadcast Alistair Cooke called Agate ‘the supreme diarist’.