Poets as plagiarists

 

clouston-pic-001The plagiarist today runs the risk of being sued by an artist, whether novelist, poet, composer or dramatist –or by the artist’s estate. However, in the case of poetry, it has always struck me how easy it must be for anyone entering a poetry competition to filch some particularly impressive lines from a forgotten slim volume or a short-lived little magazine. If the victim of the theft is dead there is only the slimmest possibility that the estate would discover it .

But when the theft is made from a comparatively obscure literary work many hundreds of years old and in another language the chances of the thief being detected in his or her lifetime are very thin indeed. Most literary thieves of this type are exposed many years after their own deaths. The whole issue is discussed in Literary Coincidences ( 1901) by W. A. Clouston, a folklorist and expert on oriental literature well qualified to address this matter.

One of the worst offenders seems to have been Lord Byron. In his Hebrew Melodies we find this first verse of ‘To a Lady Weeping ‘

‘I saw thee weep—the big bright tear

Came over that eye of blue;

And then methought it did appear

A violet dropping dew;’ Continue reading

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Edward Thomas on Nietzsche

 

600px-edward_thomas_memorial_stone

Edward Thomas Memorial Stone near Steep

Found in the June 1909 issue of Bookman is a generally favourable review of M.A.Mugge’s Nietzsche: his life and work together with translations of the philologer-turned- philosopher’s various works.

Rather surprisingly, perhaps, the reviewer is the poet and miscellaneous writer, Edward Thomas, not known ( at least in his own writing ) as an admirer of the anti-Christian proponent of the ubermensch philosophy, though he was undoubtably, like Nietzsche, an anti-Nihilist.

Nietzsche’s distrust of historicism, and delight in the ‘ moment’ is echoed by Thomas, who sees the philosopher more as an ‘exquisitely sensitive  poet and man of culture ‘ than as a rationalist. When Nietzsche declares that “ one who cannot leave himself behind on the threshold of the moment and forget the past, who cannot stand on a single point, like a goddess of victory, without fear or giddiness, will never know what happiness is ‘, Thomas adds ‘ nor wisdom, nor beauty’.

Thomas goes on to say that when Nietzsche set up the Greeks as a model, he was choosing ‘ an utterly unhistoric people, knowing no tongue but their own ; and not only the Greek, but every man who achieves a great thought or act, he calls ‘unhistorical’, because in the power and the glory of the creative moment he forgets all that he knows, just as a beautiful living thing forgets all that makes it so in a beautiful attitude or gesture ‘. [RR]

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Food and Dress on a U.F.O.

img_2634Found – a pamphlet by George King  a writer on UFOs and spiritual matters. It is called The Flying Saucers.  A report on the flying saucers their crews and their mission to earth (Aetherius Society London 1964). It deals partly  with practicalities like their monetary system (they don’t have one: ‘Every living thing has what it needs’) and their mode of dress (basically a perpetual ‘onesie’) and diet.

DRESS. The reason for the “seamless one-piece suit” which all observers of these people have remarked about, is now clear. When the Martian or Venusian comes to Earth, it is not the actual physical properties of our atmosphere of which they have to be careful. They are all adept in correct breathing methods. They could not be as advanced as they are unless this were the case. All enlightened men, either on Earth or from the other Planets, have several things in common. One of the most pronounced is the knowledge and ability to exert conscious control over the flow of the Universal Life Force through their nervous systems and subtle bodies by correct breathing. (See (See “Your Higher Self through Yoga”) It is the bacteria in our atmospheric belt against which the Space Visitors have to take precautions. The “seamless one-piece suits” protect them from the harmful effect of this bacteria. These suits are so designed as to give off a particular musical note, which drives away all bacteria from a certain area around themselves. The note or sound vibration, is quite inaudible to the human ear, possibly because of its high frequency. The benefit gained by the adoption of such a protective measure is easily understood. A Space Visitor could stand on Earth and hold a conversation with an inhabitant and be fully protected -9- from, what could be to him, foreign bacteria, without interfering  with the bacteria which is necessary to the other. It has been said by the Master Aetherius that it is possible to bring into being a similar kind of “seamless one-piece suit” which would protect the wearer while surveying the bottom of the ocean. The properties deemed necessary to afford such protective measures can be incorporated into the suit at the time of manufacture. Some of these suits are materialized by thought by their wearers. In other words, this type of dress undoubtedly forms a kind of personal protective screen around the wearer. (See Cosmic Voice) Continue reading

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Dr Marx would not have approved

services_rr_624x304bThe removal of the British Library from Bloomsbury to St Pancras seems to have ushered in a new, more relaxed, attitude towards the rules governing who can acquire a reader’s card, according to a Guardian article of 2005. In it the Reading Room is described as being crowded with undergraduates, anxious, no doubt, to obtain an advantage over their peers. Under the rules prevailing in 1938, and which are contained in a Guide to the Use of the Reading Room, a copy of which we found recently in a box of ephemera, restrictions which perhaps Karl Marx might have recognised, were doubtless drawn up to limit the number of readers using the famous Rotunda. There is a distinctly schoolmasterly tone to the following advice:

The Reading Room is in fact, as well as in theory, a literary workshop and not a place for recreation, self improvement or reference to books which are obtainable elsewhere…

No person will be admitted for the purpose of preparing for examination, of writing prize essays, or of competing for prizes, unless on special reason being shown; or for the purpose of consulting current directories, racing systems, lists of unclaimed moneys , or similar publications.

‘Racing systems’ and ‘lists of unclaimed moneys’. How redolent of the seedy world of Brighton Rock, which appeared a year later.

There is also a touch of ‘Greeneland’ about the advice offered to those prospective Readers seeking a testimony :

The Trustees cannot accept the recommendations of hotel-keepers or of boarding- house or lodging-house keepers in favour of their lodgers… [R.R.]

 

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How should an escort conduct himself?

young-lady-in-1938-ukSome advice taken from Real Life Problems and their Solution by R. Edynbry, published in 1938 by Odhams Press.

I have recently made the acquaintance of a very refined young lady who, I feel, is vastly superior to myself in many ways. I must confess, I am more than a little in love with her, and I should be awfully sorry to do anything which should lower me in her estimation. I believe, if I asked her, she would consent to walk out with me; but before taking this step I should like to know some of those little courtesies which every man is supposed to know. Not that I am entirely ignorant, but I am aware some of these things have to be learned, and that mistakes are easily made.

‘There are a few rules which should be observed when walking with a lady in a public thoroughfare. Don’t allow your companion to walk on the outside of the path next to the gutter; always take that position yourself. If you want to smoke ask her permission first, but, better still, wait until she suggests it to you. When raising your hat in a salute, remove your pipe or cigarette from your mouth, and lift your hat off your head. If you happen to meet a funeral, also raise your hat. If you take a bus or a taxi, allow the lady to get in first, but you must be ready to help her step down at the end of a journey. When meeting her by chance in the street, don’t keep her standing, but accompany her in the direction she wishes to go.

Should this young lady invite you to meet her people, don’t remain seated while a lady or elderly person is standing. If you have been asked to tea do not stay on until supper- time unless you have been specifically asked. Take off your hat in a private lift if ladies are present, but retain it you wish in a shop or office lift. Dress neatly and never wear anything gaudy or likely to attract attention. Don’t mix the colour of coat and trousers from different suits. A last tip. Don’t do all the talking yourself. By proving yourself a good listener, and by asking intelligent questions, you should easily keep your place in her esteem. ‘

 

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Beresford Egan on Beardsley

baudelaire-illustration

          ‘Fleurs du Mal’ (1927)

Found in Beresford Egan’s Epitaph, a Double-Bedside Book for Singular People (Fortune Press 1943) this piece by him on Aubrey Beardsley. Beresford Egan was always compared to Beardsley and was probably a little fed up with it. In appearance and temperament he was nothing like the 1890s aesthete. His technique was also somewhat different, as he explains. Apart  from his illustrations and books he also worked as a film actor and he can be glimpsed in Powell and Pressberger’s masterpiece A Canterbury Tale.

Beresford writes:

But poor, dear Aubrey! What of him? His shadow has overcast my life, as it has overcast the lives of others in the realm of black and white. Aubrey Beardsley died in the “arms of the church” and fell into the claws of the literary vultures. His bones have been picked bare, but his legendary spirit will continue to haunt us, until a critic is born who can see further than ‘The Yellow Book’.

Beardsley – that name has become a critical cliche. Who, among the black ink brotherhood, has not been compared with him? – except, of course, the followers of the “crosshatch” school still performing in ‘Punch’. There appears to be no overshadowing master of this technique: not even Tenniel, Charles Keene, nor Lindley Sambourne. The “crosshatchers” are never charged with plagiarism, although I have seen many an exponent whom one might justifiably accuse of being cast in the Harry Furniss (forgive the pun). Continue reading

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World War 1 – the last hours

image1This short piece was sent in by by an anonymous jotwatcher, for which much thanks.  It shows a typed military communique about the end of hostilities in World War 1 that was kept by his  great, great grandfather and handed down through the family. It reads:

After telling the troops, my great great grandfather folded up this piece of paper and put it in his pocket nearly 100 years ago. It’s been handed down since. It marks the end of the First World War:

Translation:
1) Hostilities shall cease along the entire front at 1100 hrs on November 11th (French time)
2) Until further orders, troops shall not move forward of the line seized by this hour and date. Report exactly the position of the line. 
3) All communication with the enemy is forbidden until receipt of instructions by the army commander.

A real piece of history! Now raising a massive gin and tonic to those who gave their tomorrow for me to enjoy my today and I’m surrounded by people I love. Don’t forget to remember. 

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‘The Morons’ Dining Club

moron-advert-001Found in the ‘Eating Places’ column in the May 1927 issue of the highly regarded American left-wing literary magazine, The New Masses, is this advert for a club called ‘The Morons’. According to the SOED (1965) the term moron comes from the Greek for foolish and was coined in 1913, presumably by a psychologist, to describe a person whose ‘intellectual development’ had been arrested.

In medical textbooks the term, along with ‘cretin’ and ‘idiot’, was still applied to a category of the mentally deficient up to the 1960s, after which time such nomenclature became otiose. It is difficult to say when exactly the word moron was freed from its scientific meaning to become the slang term so familiar to us today. It may have already been assigned slang status by 1927, when hostess Winnifred Harper Cooley, placed her advert. It is possible that the dining club borrowed the word from a derogatory reference to suffragists as ‘morons’.

The Net has nothing to tell us regarding the foundation of The Morons, but from the advert we can perhaps guess that the fortnightly meetings of this ‘ most brilliant dining club ‘ took place using a rota system in the homes of members, or even permanently at Cooley’s own New York City home. It is unlikely that any restaurant would have tolerated the raised voices and table-banging that might accompany the airing of ‘radical subjects’. Continue reading

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Book prices in 1909 and 2016

It is interesting to see how the values of certain books have risenpeel-somaliland
—sometimes amazingly—or fallen— in real terms (taking inflation into account)over a long period. The following twelve titles, advertised for sale at a discount in a full page advert taken out by Edward Baker’s Great Bookshop in John Bright Street, Birmingham, in an issue of the Bookman for June 1909, represent a selection of some of those works that have risen most in value by today’s standards.
Because the bookseller of 1909 describes them as ‘ in new condition’, the retail values sampled from Abebooks today are for those books graded as being in very good or excellent condition. In all cases the 1909 discounted prices are recorded side-by-side with those taken from Abebooks.

Inigo Triggs, Art of Garden Design in Italy (1906)       21s.                                £480

Rev. J.M.Bacon, The Dominion of the Air (1902)        2s.                                    £92

Edward Clodd, Tom Tit Tot (1898)                               2s.                                     £87

Complete Works of Edward Fitzgerald                     £3 3s.                                 £100

Octave Uzanne, Fashions in Paris (1901)                   6s.6d.                             £180

R.N.Hall, Great Zimbabwe (1905)                             6s.6d.                               £150

Morrison’s Lonely Summer in Kashmir (1904)         4s 6d                               £167

A.E.Waite(ed), Hermetic and Alchemical Writings   21s.                                  £1,046

of Paracelsus the Great (1894)

C.V.A Peel, Somaliland (1900)                                   4s                                     £2,092

Pitt-Rivers, Antique Works of Art from Benin (1900) 5s.                                         £95

Sweet and Knox, On an Mexican Mustang through Texas (1905) 3s.                  £125

Schilling, In Wildest Africa (1907)                             12s.                                    £343

[R.M.Healey]

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A Guide to Zeta Energy

img_2531Found – A Plain Man’s Guide to Zeta by John Maddox (Manchester Guardian, 1958). It was in a collection of pamphlets from the library of the late political cartoonist David Low which surfaced in Cambridge. The cover and a few illustrations in its 14 pages are by him. Zeta was a British thermo-nuclear machine, proclaimed here as a ‘sun on earth.’  It was a project from Metropolitan Vickers at the Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment that ultimately failed because they could not achieve fusion. There is much on it at Wikipedia, ZETA stood for ‘Zero Energy Thermo-Nuclear Assembly.’ Deuterium from the ocean was a key element according to the pamphlet:

The oceans contain some 330 million cubic miles of water. If we were to extract all the deuterium from this mass of water, and then to burn it as a thermo-nuclear fuel, the energy we should win would be equivalent to 500000000000000000000000 tons of coal. This would last the wold, at its present rate of consumption of all fuels, for about a hundred million million years. This interval of time, it will be noticed, is about thirty thousand times as great as the estimated age of the solar system. Clearly, there is no conceivable way in which we could use up deuterium in a thermo-nuclear furnace in such a way that we could make a perceptible difference to the world’s stock of it.

These facts point to the main significance of deuterium as a fuel. It is so abundant that we cannot conceivably have to worry about supplies of it. 

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A.M.Low: the professor who wasn’t a professor

a-m-lowDiscovered in a July 1930 issue of Armchair Science, an article by the magazine’s ‘technical advisor’ A. M. Low entitled ‘Little Things and Big Minds’. In it Professor Low argues that we shouldn’t be impressed by large things—whether they are exaggerated claims for some patent medicine, or some mechanical apparatus, such as a typewriter. Machines are made from small parts, just as matter is composed of atoms and molecules; and big phenomena, such as broadcasting is powered by electricity, which is a flow of electrons. Small is beautiful, in other words.

This homily is a preface to the contents of the rest of the magazine, which is mainly devoted to broadcasting, the electron and diatoms. In addition, however, there are fascinating features on the newly invented saccharine, the proto-helicopter known as the autogyro, and tinned food. There is also a double-page spread entitled ‘On My Travels’ by Low, who looks about thirty (he was 42). Continue reading

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Rubaiyat of a Rhode Island Red

rhodeislandred-web-2Found — a  handwritten poem in a reprint of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, a parody on the theme of chickens. It probably dates from the 1920s. There are  1000s of such tribute/ parodies, many published. This appears completely unknown …

Rubaiyat of a Rhode Island Red

Awake, for morning through the roosting shed

Has stained the dusty windows gold and red;

The weary toiler of a thousand fields

Will soon be climbing from his downy bed!

Awake! The silver buckets of the day

Are clanking and the corn is on the way – 

The early worm creeps but a laggard inch,

And lo! The bird espies her prey.

‘Neath that inverted box they call a coop 

There sits the broody with her little troop:

For them what fortune calls – the plucking shed,

The Palace – or the haying test – or Roup?

(The Palace = a famous poultry show – Roup = a disease) Continue reading

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A note on Brunsdon Yapp

img_2508Found in The Biology of Space Travel (London, 1961)— a typed note on the biologist Brunsdon Yapp. It was dated 2005 and initially refers to Yapp’s bookplate. There is a short entry for him at Wikipedia but this fills out the existing info on this excellent human being.

Brunsdon Yapp’s father came from Hereford to Bristol for the sake of his family’s education, and his two daughters went to Bristol University. William Brunsdon Yapp went to Bristol Grammar School before going to Downing. Christened William and known at home as Billy, he preferred as an undergraduate to be called Brunsdon, inviting friends to call him Brunny. Brunsdon was his mother’s maiden name, but I think his choice was dictated more by a desire to be different than by any desire to give particular credit to his mother. He read Natural Sciences, taking biological options. He went on to teach at Haileybury and Manchester Grammar before being appointed secretary to Oxford Local Examination Boards. Then he became a lecturer, subsequently a senior lecturer at Birmingham University. Service on the National Parks Commission won him the OBE. He was a member of both the Athenaeum and the RAC, the London club that is, not just the roadside motoring organisation.

‘An Introduction of Animal Physiology’ was, I fancy, the book that won him his appointment at Birmingham, and he prepared a series of revisions of Borradaile’s Manual of Elementary Zoology, a more advanced work than its title suggests. Published after his retirement, his ‘Birds in Mediaeval Manuscripts’ was a significant contribution to antiquarian studies. In 1962 Yapp’s ‘Birds and Woodlands’ was published by Oxford University Press. He regarded it his most important scientific work. The frontispiece is C. E. Tunnicliffe’s picture of ‘Cock Pied Flycatchers in Sessile Oak’, which I understand was specially commissioned. It was also used, on a green background, on the dust jacket, and Yapp later adopted it as his bookplate. I have not seen it in publications about Tunnicliffe, though I have not looked very hard. Continue reading

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From the classified ads in T.P.’s Weekly, July 11th 1914

t-s-eliotBachelor, in digs.,wishers to meet gentlemanly fellow of refined tastes, bank clerk for instance, who wants chum. Walks, cycle rides, physical exercises, theatres etc. Friendship desired. Confidences exchanged. (X2, 372)

Although T.S. Eliot was studying philosophy at Oxford in July 1914, he was probably lonely in his ‘digs ‘ and may have met a bank clerk who persuaded him that such fellows were sensitive and highly cultured. This could explain why, in 1917, he himself decided to join Lloyds Bank in London. However, it’s hard to visualize Prufrock taking up cycling and other physical exercise.

The Summer School of Patriotism—–An endeavour to organise the forces working for the renascence of patriotism in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, to be held at Bexhill-on-Sea, August 1st to September 12th. Stamp for full particulars, Organising Secretary, 6, Melbourne Road, Merton Park, London, S.W. (X2, 315).

A bit worrying, this. A call for patriotism in mid July 1914! Two weeks later Britain was at war with Germany. What were these armchair warriors planning to do in sunny Bexhill for six weeks? And why did the Secretary not volunteer his or her name? Still, never mind, the event was probably cancelled due to you know what. Continue reading

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The madness of collecting–Major Pat A’ Beckett

jesus-christ-matchbox-label-001Found in a copy of the October 1936 issue of The Collector’s
Miscellany
is this account of fanatical collector Major A Beckett, who many times risked his life for a matchbox label:

‘ He states that as a boy of 8 whilst riding in a tramcar he dropped his ticket. Bending down to search for it he found an unusual match-box. This interested him, and there and then he commenced to collect match-box labels, having now accumulated a collection of over 25,000 different varieties. He remarked that on several occasions he has been nearly run over whilst picking them up in the gutter. During the War, whilst in the Piccadilly Tube, he saw a matchbox label lying on the line. He jumped down to secure it but a policeman came and arrested him on a charge of attempted suicide. Whilst at the Police Station he was examined by a Doctor, and it was only when they rang up his Army Headquarters that he was able to establish his identity. Part of his collection was presented him by the late King of Siam, who more than once was run over while searching for labels. The Major recently made the acquaintance of Mr Burnell, the proprietor of a Weymouth hotel, who owns a collection of 27,000 different labels. Mr Burnell offers any figure for the rare Indian label of the Crucifixion. Only a few copies of this label, which we illustrate on this page, were ever printed, as the design was almost immediately suppressed’. ( p 66). Continue reading

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The neglect of prose

Found, in the issue of Today for March 1919, is this well argued plea by the acclaimed journalist Bernard Lintot for a greater appreciation of prose:

today-title-page-1919-001‘One of the most persistent of literary illusions is that the writing of prose is easier than the writing of verse. The contrary is the truth in both instances. Most of those who try can write passably good verse, and most of those who try fail to write passably good prose. Further there are far more triers at verse than at prose. Why? In the first place those who think they can write prose rarely pause to consider whether they are writing prose, because prose is popularly assumed to be all that writing which is not verse. In the second place verse writing is the more primitive, and therefore the most instinctive, and therefore, again, the easier form of literary expression. This, you may say, is mere theory. So it is. But, as theories go, it is none the worse for that, and as for facts, it is only necessary to point to the epidemic of verse-writing in full flux at this very moment. Never were there so many volumes of verse; never so many verse-writers, and those who succeed in bringing their composition to printing-point are in the minority of those who use or abuse metre and rhyme for the purpose of expression or amusement or vanity. The remarkable output of verse and poetry at the present moment is perhaps a little abnormal, but it certainly indicates a hitherto unsatisfied taste for this form of literary composition.

                                                         *     *     * 

The volumes are read, it is true, very largely by those who have written, are writing, or would like to write, verse, and the fact that many more of them (volumes, not readers ) are issued than volumes of prose, say genuine prose essays, novels or plays, proves that verse is more popular than prose. But, you object—and there is as much meaning in your ‘but’ as there was virtue in Touchstone’s ‘if’—what about the newspapers: are not they very prose of very prose, and popular? What, again about Sir Hall Caine and Mr Charles Garvice and Miss Ethel Dell and other novelists with high velocity circulations; do not these walk in the garden of prose? They do not, nor are newspapers found there. Those about to become popular abstain from prose as they would the plague. They angle with clichés and dazzle with jargon. They grow rich and famous, but they do not write prose, because, desiring success, and being good business folk, they know that the lovers of prose are so few as to be beneath commercial notice. Some of them couldn’t write prose if they tried, others resist a temptation that does not pay. Continue reading

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In Honour of Mr. John Betjeman – Patrick Leigh Fermor

john-betjeman-statueFound- in a copy of Nip in the Air (John Murray 1974)  a book of poems by John Betjeman this affectionate parody by the esteemed travel writer Patrick (‘Paddy’) Leigh Fermor. It is probably from a magazine (pp 379-380), possibly The London Magazine but is not archived anywhere online. It is probably from the 1970s. It deserves a place in a completist Betjeman collection and in any future collection of Fermor’s complete oeuvre.

In Honour of Mr. John Betjeman – Patrick Leigh Fermor

Eagle-borne spread of the Authorised Version,

Beadles and bell ropes, pulpits and pews,

Sandwiches spread for a new excursion

And patum peperium under the yews!

 

Erastian peal of Established Church-bells!

(Cuckoo-chimes in Cistercian towers)

Bugloss and briny border our search. Bells

Toll the quarters and toll the hours.

 

Unscrew the thermos. Some village Hampden

Swells the sward. Fill the plastic cup

For toast to Brandon, to Scott and to Camden,

To dripstone and dogtooth, with bottoms up! Continue reading

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Oscar Wilde—a case of ‘human wreckage’

oscar_wilde_portraitFound in the issue of T.P.’s Weekly for July 11th 1914 is this distressing description of Oscar Wilde a year and a few months before his death. It was sent in by an American reader who noticed it in an article by the war correspondent George W Smalley (1833 – 1916) for The New York Tribune:

‘Oscar Wilde died in 1900, a bankrupt in respect of property and reputation alike. With regard to our personal relations I will quote Wilde’s own testimony:

     “ I dislike all journalists, and Smalley most of all “

I was staying with Sir Sydney and Lady Waterlow at their villa in Cannes during the winter of 1898 –’99. Every Sunday morning I used to drive with Sir Sydney to the further end of the Esterel promontory, the most picturesque portion of that picturesque Mediterranean shore, to the east and south-east of the town. As the horses walked up the long hill, I saw at some distance a figure of a man coming slowly down. He was tall, heavily built, ill-dressed, almost ragged. You could hardly say he walked. He shambled and slouched and stumbled along. As he came near, his face was bloated, the flesh hung below the jaw in dewlaps, the eyes were bleared; there was hardly a look of conscious humanity left in them; his whole attitude was one of illness and extreme misery and despair. ( It was Oscar Wilde.)

     He passed rather close to the victoria, and the spectacle of so much human wreckage was appalling’. [RR]

 

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Press release for an early Coco Chanel Exhibition

coco-chanel-picFound in a box of ephemera — this press release from the Paris HQ of legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel announcing a forthcoming exhibition on a May 5th (possibly 1933) of over a hundred dresses made entirely from British materials.

The aim of this non-selling exhibition, which was to be held at 39, Grosvenor Square and would last a fortnight, was to promote co-operation between textile manufacturers and exclusive model houses in Britain and designers in Paris. The show was the result of a previous visit to London when Mlle Chanel had met with forty textile manufacturers. From the samples they had brought with them she had produced a collection that aimed to prove that’ it is possible to be appropriately dressed in British materials for a cloudburst at Ascot or a hurricane at Lords, as for a dead calm at Cowes, or a tropical spell on the Scotch moors.’

‘These dresses and their many accessories ’, the press release continues, ‘will be displayed by English girls, (including Mrs Ronald Balfour and Lady Pamela Smith), and as each dress appears, a card will be shown stating the name of the manufacturer of the materials employed. Continue reading

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The Mystery Man of Cowes

cowes-old-houses-1927_Found in that repository of odd facts, The Collector’s Miscellany, is the following short piece by reporter H. A. Owen in the issue for May 1935.

THE MYSTERY MAN OF COWES

In a certain narrow street of Cowes, Isle of Wight, lives Mr W. Cole, locally known as the Mystery Man on account of the many strange things he has in his house. He is a chemist and has been collecting all sorts of curios for over sixty years. The small room behind the shop contains hundreds of valuable curios and the other rooms are also crammed full with them. All the windows are closely shuttered and fastened and the atmosphere is stuffy, as they have not been opened for years. As a schoolboy he started collecting stamps, butterflies and birds’ eggs and now he has a valuable collection of stamps, hundreds of books and the largest collection of fossils in the Isle of Wight.

     One room upstairs contains a collection of Skeletons, including one of the Bronze Age. Among his stuffed monstrosities he has a two-headed calf, a calf with six legs, a one-eyed puppy and a three-eyed kitten! There is also a double-headed pig and a four-legged robin. The latter he found himself at Calbourn many years ago. He also has many valuable pictures and prints and a complete record of the island since 1290. Continue reading

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