Private Life of Henry Maitland – author’s copy

IMG_1579Found – the dedication copy of Morley Roberts  ‘roman a clef’  The Private Life of Henry Maitland– a fictionalised biography of George Gissing (Maitland.)  H.G.Wells, Clement Shorter, Edward Clodd and many others also turn up under disguised names. Although the book is fictional it gives a very good and authentic account of Gissing and his literary life and his circle. Loosely inserted is a note in MR’s hand giving the real names of many characters etc., The novel New Grub Street is here Paternoster Row. The book has a dedication in MR’s hand to the printed dedicatee – his late wife Alice daughter of the playwright Angiolo Robson Slous – ‘To my dear wife (14.9.11).’ She had died the year before the book’s publication.  A long signed note on the title page explains:

This book was actually dictated during a period of great tribulation and I found myself utterly unable to correct the proofs with any care. It is therefore full of faults most of which I hope where removed in the revised edition of 1923. Much of the value of this book, if it has any, is due to the fact of it’s downright truth and directness as it was done at a time when I was incapable of understanding that any could be disturbed by anything but some great disaster. Morley Roberts

The note in MR’s hand gives a comprehensive list of the disguised names. A handful  were already  known  and a few characters (e.g. George Meredith) are in the book under their real names. It would be impossible to imagine a better copy of the book, the only think lacking is the 104 year old dust- jacket.

Edgeworth = Frederic Harrison

Roden = Clodd (Edward)

Lynne = Brangwyn (i.e. Frank Brangwyn, artist)

Marvell = Melville (i.e. Arthur Melville, Scottish painter)

Hammerson’s = Rivingtons (publisher)

Miller = Smith Elder (publisher)

Glass = James Payn

Henderson = Anderson

Kingdom = Collett

Butler = Lawrence & Bullen

Bissell = Sir Henry Roscoe

Balfour = Balfour Stewart

Little = Professor Stonewood

Schoorsteen = Schoktemmer (chemist)

Parker = Professor Wilkins

Sarle = Taylor (?)

Wolff = Steinthal (probably Hermann Steinthal – German philologist)

Cumberland Mansions = Cornwall Mansions

Mirefields (school) = Wakefield

Wolverhampton = Manchester

‘Best of all Things’ = ‘Crown of Life’

Apteryx = …les Pagodes (?)

Latter = Shorter (Clement Shorter)

Redburn = Ray Lankester (biologist)

The notes in brackets are by us.

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