Arthur Ransome

Arthur Ransome: “free to live for all the things that seemed then to matter more than life itself”.

“I placed a packing-case chair by the open window, and dipped through a volume of poetry, and anthology of English ballads, that had been marked at ninepence on an open bookstall in the Charing Cross Road.

“But I did not read much. The sweet summer air, cool in the evening, seemed to blow a kiss of promise on my forehead.

“The light was dying. I listened for the hoot of steamer on the river, or the bells of London churches; I heard with elation the feet of passengers, whom I could see but dimly, beating on the pavement far below. A rough voice was scolding in the room under mine, and some one was singing a song.

“Now and again I looked at the poetry, though it was really too dark to see, and a thousand hopes and fears flitting across the carried me out of myself, but not so far that I did not know that this was my first night of freedom, that for the first time in my life I was alone in a room of my own, free to live for poetry, for philosophy, for all the things that seemed then to matter more than life itself…

“… Brave dreams flooded my mind, and I sat content long after it was dusk and smoked and sent with infinite enjoyment puffs of pale smoke out into the night. I did not go to bed at all, but fell asleep leaning on the window-sill.”

Arthur Ransome, 1907