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Quest for Jack Mann 1

From the Tartarus site with thanks (1937)

Found among the papers of the writer Peter Haining, this piece (the first of two) by the writer and expert on popular fiction and juvenile literature W.O.G. Lofts. It is on the elusive writer of supernatural fiction Jack Mann (real name E.C.Vivian (but also known as Charles Henry Cannell, A.K. Walton, Sydney Barrie Lynd, Galbraith Nicholson and  Barry Lynd.) As Jack Mann his books are highly collectable and some of considerable value. Lofts starts off by tracing his daughter...

Report by W. O. G. Lofts  

Jack Mann, 

Report of Visit to Mrs. K. Ashton. Monday July 7th 1975.

Frank Vernon Lay and myself arrived at Mrs. Ashton's flat at 7pm sharp which is situated in a Mews off Beaumont Street, London. Mrs. Ashton was about 60 well groomed, and obviously well educated. Unfortunately the meeting on the whole was a great disappointment as we were not there more than 15 minutes. Mrs. A who was born during the First World War, knew nothing about E. C. V's  Hutchinson (publishing) activities. She had no copies or records of the magazines and was not very expert (in my opinion) of his stories. The majority of her family papers were destroyed during the last war. The facts gleaned that elucidated several things however were interesting.

Charles Henry Cannell, was his real name, and he was the son of a Norfolk farmer. He had a serious dispute with him early in life, and so changed it. His mother did not remarry, and he had no brothers or nephews, only two sisters whom he did not keep in contact with. He served in the Boer War, but she did not think in the Great War. In the last was he was an Air-Raid warden. An early writing venture was "Books for the Bairns' edited by William Stead (very juvenile material) and he also working in collaboration with the author J. D. Beresford - material not known. He wrote some Westerns for Ward Lock under the name of Barry Lynd., and also other material for 'Wind and Water' magazine. E. C. V. certainly and without question was JACK MANN, and he wrote the stories entirely by himself. His agent was not concerned in this and probably he (the agent) felt disgruntled and this was the reason why he was not interested to talk about it. Mrs Ashton could not throw any light on the large number of books that came on the market though curiously this was the same time she moved from London to North Wales. Its more than likely they were originally her own father's autographed copies (and from her mother's) and she did not want to admit it. She seemed to me vague in places (e.g. the nickname her father called her mother inscribed in books) but did promise to look through all the papers when she had time. We had a glass of sherry and then left!

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