School of Literary Art

Florence Marryat established her School of Literary Art at 26 Abercorn Place in London.  There is little evidence to indicate whether it was successful, but the prospectus still exists in the British Library.

Francis Gribble in his memoirs, Seen in Passing, relates the following (possibly apocryphal) anecdote:

She is said to have addresed her first pupil–a very shy and timorous youth–as follows:
“Are you in love? No? Have you ever been in love? No? Then go away and fall in love at once, and when you have done so, come back and tell me about it.  No one can possibly write fiction until he has fallen in love”.
And the blushing youth is said to have run away from the school, sacrificing his fees, and never dared to return to it.

Gissing might have been referring to the School when he mentioned in The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft “an astonishing fact”: “I heard not long ago, of an eminent lawyer, who had paid a couple of hundred per annum for his son’s instruction in the art of fiction–yea, the art of fiction–by a not very brilliant professor of that art”.  He no doubt considered himself a far superior “professor of that art”, but would have made a Faustian pact to enjoy Marryat’s sales figures.

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