By MICHAEL CAINES
July 2, 1938 saw the writer Richard Aldington puzzling over a question. Was there such a thing, he asked in a TLS essay called "Knowledge and the Novelist", as "novelist's knowledge" about life? Could it be distinguished from the special knowledge of "the historian, the biographer, the good journalist, the old woman at the fireside and the village liar"?
Aldington, himself a novelist, couldn't be sure that there was any such thing. To his mind, "any intelligent Fleet Street journalist" knew more about "what goes on in the world" (which is what he meant when he talked about "knowledge of life") than the "most up-stage novelist".
And, with this suspicion in mind, he revealed how he had amused himself by devising something utterly sadistic: a "general knowledge paper for novelists", which you can now try for yourself . . . .