Wednesday, April 1, 2015

W.N.P. Barbellion / Footnotes/ William Haley

Found- a press cutting of an article from The Times in 1964 by 'Oliver Edwards'. This was a pseudonym for the editor Sir William J. Haley (1901-1987) where he indulged his love of books and book lore. He shared a name with the first rock and roll star Bill Haley but was 2 decades older than the great rocker. Many of his bibliophilic articles are preserved in Talking of Books, Heinemann, London 1957. This  press cutting was found in a copy of W.N.P. Barbellion's Last Diary (Chatto, London 1920) and the first part deals with another of WNPB's books. Barbellion (another pseudonym) died tragically young but had some good things to say about death which are preserved at his Wikipedia entry. The article by Edwards/Haley is good on the subject of footnotes, but seems to come from an era way before the swinging sixties…

Talking of Books

Book Markers by Oliver Edwards

How strangely persistent the instant is that makes one want to fill gaps on one's shelves. Often the missing volume does not matter. Any desire we ever had to ear it has gone. The want is not strong enough to provoke active search. One just keeps one's eyes open on the off chance. Year later one sees the title in some second-hand bookseller's catalogue. Very occasionally it has not already been sold. 

So it was that I obtained from a Somerset bookshop recently - it is almost invariably in the country that these treasures turn up - a copy of W. N. P. Barbellion's 'Enjoying Life, and Other Literary Remains'. I was first drawn to Barbellion by H. G. Well's enthusiasm for 'The Journal of a Disappointed Man'. (It took some time to destroy the public suspicion that Wells himself at written it). I bought the 'Last Diary' when it came out. Later I knew his brother, A. J. Cummings, one of the best political journalists of his time. Barbellion was a pseudonym. 

The D.N.B. puts him among the great diarists.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lady Georgiana Fane---High Society Stalker

It’s a truism that the higher you climb in society or show biz the more you have to lose to blackmailers or stalkers. But this is not a phenomenon of modern times. In a previous Jot it was shown how C. M. Westmacott, a gutter press editor of the Regency period, used his position to extract money from high society offenders. At around the same time the Duke of Wellington—since 1815, the most Famous Living Englishman—was a victim of a determined aristocrat by the name of Lady Georgiana Fane...



Born in 1801, Fane had first met Wellington just after the battle of Waterloo, when at the age of 14, she had danced with him at a ball. In her twenties, she became friendly with Lord Palmerston, who apparently proposed marriage to her. This shedeclined and instead turned her attention once more to the hero of Waterloo. Lady Georgiana, whose beauty was captured in two portraits by Thomas Lawrence, was also highly strung, possibly to the point of neurosis. When she features in the memoirs of her cousin, Lady Arbuthnot, Wellington’s confidante, she is often described as being chronically ‘ill’ and at one point Arbuthnot suspects that her indisposition was ‘almost entirely nervous’.  Nevertheless, Wellington seems to have become very fond of the young aristocrat and despite his marriage their friendship developed into romance,

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I once met… Ian Hamilton

I first encountered Ian Hamilton (1938 – 2001), poet, critic and famously combative editor of The Review, via Geoffrey Grigson. That is, I discovered that he’d once done an interview with Grigson and that this wonderful piece of barbed writing had been reproduced in Grigson’s The Contrary View.

I never expected to meet the man himself. I assumed that he might be difficult to pin down to a time and place, and so I left it at that. After all, I had the printed interview, which was probably all I needed. Then it occurred to me that as he lived in London I could at least write to him and see if he was willing to meet me. I think I got as far as finding his address in Wimbledon. I duly wrote. He replied, but no date was fixed…

Time passed, but around late 1994 I was glancing through the newspaper and I found a photograph of someone ( I forget his name ) who  was the spitting image of Ossie Ardiles, the Argentinian mid-fielder who was then managing  Spurs. A bit of lateral thinking led me to an extraordinary decision. Ian Hamilton was a fanatical Spurs supporter. I would go to his address and present him with this newspaper clipping. It would be an ice-breaker and hopefully might lead to a formal interview.

So, after a few weeks I did just that. I made my way to Hamilton’s rather comfortable Edwardian house in Wimbledon and gazed through the window. There he was, sitting around the dining table with a number of people, including a woman of Asian appearance who I later found out was his second wife, Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian novelist.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Secret Places

Ashdown Forest* 
These are the first two chapter of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. One of those magical walking/ rambling books that appeared in the 1920s and 1930s while, to quote Waugh, 'the going was good' despite ribbon development and the ubiquitous motor car. It was probably aimed at urban and suburban dwellers who got away to the country at weekends or when they could. Foster  was a jobbing journalist who also wrote books on the countryside and how-to-write  books. Most of this book had appeared in the Evening News in the late 1920s. He also wrote detective fiction. Between 1924 and 1936, according to Hubin, he produced 11 mysteries, some featuring a detective called Anthony Ravenhill (The Dark Night, The Missing Gates, The Moat House Murder etc.,) This contemporary review of The Secret Places in The Tablet gives a flavour of the work. There follows the first two chapters…(more to come)

We like The Secret Places. Mr. R. Francis Foster knows where treasure lies hid, and would gladly share his secret with those worthy of the trust.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Domestic Servants and the Law (UK 1930s)

Found -- an old diary that was sold at D. H. Evans department stores--  Ladies' Year Book and Diary for 1932. It had no diary entries and the blotter was unused. There were just a few pencilled notes of domestic use ('tinned meat and fish will keep for 5 years') to add to the many printed practical notes at the front - including this piece mostly on the law relating to servants. At this time this would have been of some use to middle class households as servants were still common. How the servant would go about enforcing the law is not dealt with…did they have a copy at Downton?


Domestic Servants

The terms of employment of domestic and other servants are dependent on their contract of service. 

Unless an agreement has been made to the contrary, domestic servants are engaged on a monthly contract, requiring one month's notice on either side, or a month's wages in lieu of notice. An agreement made at an interview is as binding and enforceable as one made in writing. The only time written evidence is required is where the employment is to continue for more than a year and both employer and employee intend that neither shall give notice to terminate the arrangement within a time.

When a servant has been engaged and refuses to come, or an employer changes her mind about a servant she has engaged, neither is obliged to carry out her contract,

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Trespassers will be Prosecuted (1934)

Militant ramblers will be familiar with the title of this booklet and perhaps with the name of its author, Phil Barnes, even though it is a hard title to find nowadays, and as far as I know, hasn’t been reprinted since it first appeared in 1934. When he decided to publish at his own expense this polemic on the controversial subject of trespass, Barnes had been a self confessed ‘trespasser’ for many years. From his home in Sheffield he had tramped the wild moorland between here and Manchester but was always aware that in seeking out many of the natural beauties, he was legally limited to using only twelve public footpaths. Those, like him, who strayed from these were intimidated by the presence of signs put up by landlords claiming that prosecution would follow if warnings were ignored. Two years earlier he and fellow militant ramblers had taken part in the famous ‘mass trespass‘ of Kinder Scout in the High Peak. In this stand off between ramblers, gamekeepers and the police, physical confrontation was inevitable with the result that many demonstrators, who included the 28 year old Michael Tippett, now generally regarded as the greatest British composer of the twentieth century, were prosecuted and some landed up in jail or were fined.

In the booklet, which was in many ways an analysis of the lessons that had been learned by the trespass,

Friday, March 20, 2015

Frank Podmore---the scandalous private life of a ghost hunter

In his autobiographical Everyman Remembers ( 1931), the litterateur Ernest Rhys recalls his friendship with Frank Podmore, one of the more colourful members of the late nineteenth century Spiritualist community, a co-founder of the Fabian Society and the author of a fat biography of the proto-socialist Robert Owen.

Like Anthony Trollope, the Oxford-educated Podmore, was a writer who held down a day job with the Post Office. But unlike the Victorian novelist, he was, to quote Rhys, ‘unimaginative’ and  ‘practical to a degree, but cultured and full of intellectual curiosity ‘—ideal qualities for a paranormal investigator. But although Rhys touches on his friend’s investigations, he seems more interested in the odd personal lives of Podmore and his wife Eleanor. Here, for instance is his impression of the odd couple in their Hampstead home:

They set up house in Well Walk, and furnished it with extreme taste and a touch of virtuosity.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Arthur Wragg 'These Thy Gods' (1949)

Found in the Jimmy Kanga hoard These Thy Gods (Longman, Green and Co., London, 1949) by William Purcell, illustrated by Arthur Wragg. The artist and illustrator Arthur Wragg is slightly  forgotten, although there was a good art book on him by Judith Brook a former pupil Arthur Wragg: Twentieth-century Prophet and Jester (Sansom 2001). He was collected by Jimmy Kanga and also another eccentric hoarder the great Baron Corvo scholar Donald Weeks. Wragg's style is stark, apocalyptic and symbolic. The frontispiece and d/w image neatly sums up the addictive 'Gods' of the time with a sort of totem pole. It appears to depict - (from the top) -- Television, jet travel (war?) sex/ entertainment/ parties/glamour then gambling, smoking, drinking, money, work (the thumbs?) and drugs and medicine. The 'blurb' on the back panel of the jacket reads:

A struggle for survival now challenges the people of the United Kingdom, a struggle only to be won by stern qualities of personal morale. Are these qualities being produced? Is there a solution to the urgent problems of our uneasy peace? 'These Thy Gods' ruthlessly anatomises life today and points towards a firm and practical Christianity as our final chance. 

Indifference, selfishness, materialism and cynicism are shown here as they actually appear in people's lives. From the man who believes in nothing, the worker who "couldn't care less" to the girl with the film-world's scale of values and the couple lost like babies in the matrimonial wood, the people in this book are all types we know - types in whom we may recognise ourselves.
This book is to help us to judge, and to care while there is yet time.

Some of these short essays with their illustrations were originally published in the magazine 'John Bull', where they attracted considerable attention. The Rev. W. E. Purcell will be known to many for articles written in an easy style, free from pedantry and "pulpit terminology", and he also rites successful short stories under a pseudonym. The brilliant illustrations, designed to add to rather than repeat the text, recall Storm Jameson's remark about Arthur Wragg's earlier drawings for 'Jesus Wept', "I wish every comfortable person in the country had a copy put into their hands". 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Professor C. W. Valentine (Psychology)

From the L.R. Reeve* collection of short sketches of people he had met - this affectionate piece about psychologist C.W. Valentine (1879-1964).  He wrote many books on psychology and was the  editor of  The British Journal of Educational Psychology for its first 25 years. Wikipedia (so far) knows him not..
Reeve saw him lecture several times...


Professor C. W. Valentine

Forty years ago I used to believe that Professor C. W. Valentine was one of the most reliable psychologists in England. Time has never changed my opinion, for on the many occasions when I have listened to him, or read about him he has always left me with the same impression of steadiness and sense of proportion so that one always felt that any declaration from him was the result of an objective mind which had arrived at a conclusion after exhaustive study.
I can, however, express a decided opinion on one of his books: an early volume on intelligence tests.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

May Smith O.B.E. Industrial Psychologist


From the L.R. Reeve* collection of short sketches of people he had met - this affectionate piece about psychologist May Smith O.B.E (1868-1968). There is a very brief entry at Wikipedia but a lot more in an article on early women industrial and experimental psychologists which details sleep privation tests she performed on herself in her study of fatigue amongst workers. Our photo is from the Science Museum and is of a Dotting Machine made by Edgar Schuster. It was used for testing accident-proneness in industrial workers by May Smith and her fellow psychologist Millais Culpin while she was at the Industrial Fatigue Research Board. This was  a body originally set up to study the health of munitions workers during World War I. As often with L.R. Reeve, an assiduous attender of lectures, he evaluates oratorical style - in her case 'compulsive' and '..much more unassuming than she ought to have been.'

May Smith




Mr Alec Rodger M.A., of Birkbeck College, London, has recently contributed, in a Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, a well-deserved tribute to the late Miss May Smith, O.B.E., whom for many years I considered to be among the dozen ablest psychologists in this country; and to this day my opinion has never changed. Moreover, Mr Rodger's survey of her career strengthens my previous conviction of her wide outlook, for although I saw her, heard her unruffled, steady speeches, read accounts of diligent research, such as studying, with Dr Millais Culpin, 1,000 people in all walks of life to find 60 per cent showing some sign of mental ill-health, I never knew of her close knowledge of so many of our eminent pioneers in psychology. I knew that she had been associated with William McDougall, Millais Culpin and Cyril Burt; but the fact that she had been influenced by the eminent Samuel Alexander, Lord D'Abernon, Lord Woolton and the steady, clear-thinking Eric Farmer was news to me;

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Scarecrow Verse

From the extensive archive of Peter Haining, this doggerel by an unknown writer and a snapshot of scarecrow with brolly... These are from a file of research material for his 1988 book The Scarecrow: Fact and Fable. The book has this sympathetic review at Amazon: 'Haining really did a great job with this under researched topic. He examines the Scarecrow from its beginnings to the modern day counterparts. What I liked the most was the strong attention given to the figure of the Scarecrow in Literature and Films. If Scarecrows interest you, then you will love this book.' It was an insubstantial file bulked out with a few copyright movie and television stills (Worzel Gummidge etc.,)


A farmer sat in his chair
When the day's work was done
Birds are taking my peas - said he
I'll scare them with my gun

His wife said "John your time you'll save
If you a scarecrow make
Your old brown coat with odds and ends
Will cause those birds to quake

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Vampire at Greyfriars


From the Peter Haining papers, this typed manuscript outline of a Billy Bunter vampire story by the great researcher and expert on British comics and periodicals W.O.G. Lofts (1923-1997). He wrote a book on the Bunter author Frank Richards and another on Charteris's The Saint. This story project appears not to have been taken up by The Magnet.…Count von Alucard sounds familiar…

To: The Editor (C. M. Down Esq)
The Magnet
Fleetway House
Farringdon Street

The Vampire at Greyfriars. - Rough Sypnosis.

A new boy arrives in the Remove from a titled family in Eastern Europe. He is strange looking with jet black hair in a windows peak, orange eyes, with large incisor teeth that gives him a wolfish look. Dressed in a long black cloak over his school uniform Count Von Alucard is indeed a very lone wolf. When Bunter tries to tap the new boy for a loan he gives him such an evil look that the Fat Owl of the Remove makes a hasty retreat. With his white drained face Alucard is a very strange fellow indeed to be sharing a study with Herbert Vernon-Smith and Redwing.

The Bounder is breaking bounds when he is astonished to see that likewise the new boy's bed is empty, and wonders whether he will see him at the Cross Keys - but there is no sign of him there - except that in returning to Greyfriars early in the morning there seems a sinister atmosphere around the place - he notices that Alucard's bed is still unoccupied.

Richard Nixon v JFK at the 1960 Presidential election—an astrologer’s prediction

In the December 1959 issue of the British magazine Prediction is a remarkable attempt by an astrologer named Katina Theodossiou to predict the political careers of the two contenders for the imminent 1960 Presidential election.

Kennedy

By temperament he will be a pacifist, not a war-monger; but he would not be inclined to veto armaments, nuclear or otherwise, because of this. He has a very realistic streak blended with his well-publicized religious principles. Mr Kennedy will believe that the best way to assure peace is to remain strong.



His capacity for compromise (a Libran trait) would lie in his responding, within limits, to any concessions made by the Communist bloc, but he would not go the whole hog, nor would he initiate concessions…For all his instinctive adaptability, Mr Kennedy’s shrewdness would come badly off if any sudden crisis were precipitated upon him.

L. P. Jacks

From the Reeves* collection, this study of the slightly  neglected writer L.P.Jacks (Lawrence Pearsall Jacks 1860-1955). His best known book was probably Mad Shepherds and Other Human Studies from which the drawing of 'Snarley Bob' comes (below.) There is an excellent article on him in Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography and Gutenberg have the entire text of Mad Shepherds.

L.P. Jacks. A potential distinction was presented unknowingly to the citizens of Nottingham in 1860, the year when the eminent Lawrence Pearsall Jacks was born. I have a notion that he was a delicate child and frequently a trial to his parents; but I am sure that I am one among thousands to whom he has given hours of delight, either in speeches or in his fascinating literature.
Indeed I sometimes feel that he would have been much better known to the general public had he been nothing but a professional journalist, instead of one of the leading Unitarians of his long career; for his reminiscences are so well written and so fascinating that I often pay him the compliment of a second or third reading. I browse among his memoirs as frequently as those of Harold Nicolson's letters and diaries and Frank Swinnerton's autobiographies; for there is a touch of magic and intensity in his recollections which keep many a mesmerized reader fighting against sleep on numerous occasions. His was the vivid phrase, the unmistakable meaning, the frank opinion, the distilled 
'Snarley Bob' (by L. Leslie Brooke)
wisdom of a long life among some of the most brilliant men of his era, and anyone who could claim him for a friend must have been a very privileged adult.


He was rather small in stature but was recompensed by an unusually attractive face and a very intelligent expression. True he was somewhat nervy when making a speech, but his forceful, explicit presentation rarely failed to create the lecturer's great hope: persistent attention.

Few people whom I have met have been so enthusiastic in their appreciation of the great men to be found controlling the destinies of Oxford undergraduates, and Jacks, owing to his long years working with and meeting wardens, professors and dons, probably

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

‘We could, I suppose, fall back on a woman…’

‘We could, I suppose, fall back on a woman…’

The words of John W Carter, scholar, bibliophile, author of the excellent ABC for Book Collectors, and sometime head of Charles Scribner’s Rare Book Department in London. He was discussing with the expert on British theatre, Ifan Kyrle Fletcher, the problem of finding someone eminent enough to open the National Book League’s exhibition on the British Theatre in October 1950 now that John Gielgud had declined the invitation.

From the correspondence that has come to light recently in a file of letters, Carter, having rejected the not very glamorous Ralph Richardson as a candidate, and having dismissed T.S. Eliot out of hand, for some reason, seems indeed to have turned to a woman in the shape of Peggy Ashcroft ( ‘the best actress in England’), who politely declined. Her explanation was that she always hated ‘making speeches‘ and that anyway she was committed to going on tour with the Old Vic on October 16th. Carter then seemingly wrote to the glamorous Fay Compton, who also appears to have said no.