'When I grew into a youth and read everything I got my hands on, from Penny Dreadfuls to the Holy Scriptures, I came across phrases that puzzled me, such as "sans-culotte", "shiftless rabble", "dregs of humanity", "ignorant masses". I wondered where all these worthless people lived. I could only think it must be London or some such place outside my ken. Then one day it dawned on me, these scornful and superior writers were writing about me, and the people who lived in our street. It knocked me sideways for a little time, till the temperament I had inherited from my mother pulled me straight again... The latest I have come across is Richard Church, for whom, as a poet and novelist, I have full respect...'