The Herlock Sholmes Parodies, 1915 – 1940

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The contribution of W.O.G. Lofts ( 1923 – 1997) to the history of boys’ fiction in the British periodical press is immense. ‘Bill’ Lofts, a mechanical engineer by training, but a fact-collector by inclination (why did he never enter BBC’s Mastermind ?), was also interested in detective stories. Sexton Blake and Sherlock Holmes were two creations on which his skills as an astonishingly assiduous researcher were exercised to great effect. Years spent among the riches of the British Museum Periodical Library at Colindale on projects which probably no-one else had either the energy or commitment to pursue produced what turned out to be invaluable guides to the more obscure purlieus of popular literature. One such study was The Adventures of Herlock Sholmes: a History and Bibliography, a pamphlet co-written in 1976 with the owner of the Dispatch Box Press, Jon Lellenberg, an expert in the history of Sherlock Holmes in parody and pastiche.

According to Lofts and Lellenberg, the story of the Herlock Sholmes parodies was also the story of their creator, Charles Hamilton (above)  the most prolific writer in the English language, who as the mainstay of Amalgamated Press, is estimated to have written around 72 million words in his whole career , the equivalent of a thousand full-length novels. Using the pen name ‘Peter Todd’, which was the name of a pupil at Greyfriars School, which Hamilton had dreamed up for The Magnet, Hamilton made Todd a contributor of Sherlock Holmes parodies to The Greyfriars Herald, the school’s own newspaper, which Amalgamated Press brought out as a separate publication.

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Gabriel Fielding—a neglected British novelist

Gabriel_Fielding1Listing British novelists or poets who were also medics is a fun party game. Going right back to the eighteenth century one can think of Goldsmith and Smollett. From the nineteenth, I suppose Keats can be included, although without a degree in medicine, he can’t be classed as a physician. Thomas Lovell Beddoes is a less well known example, as is Samuel Warren, who ought to be better known, especially as his ground-breaking Passages from the Diary of a late Physician heavily influenced the Bronte sisters. Among the twentieth century poets there are a few, including Dannie Abse and Alex Comfort and I dare say one or two writers studied medicine, but never practised it. I don’t think Somerset Maugham did, apart from a stint in the Red Cross. And then there is Gabriel Fielding (1916 – 86).He certainly practised. In fact he was a GP and a prison doctor based in Maidstone for many years until literary fame allowed him to give up medicine and try his luck in America. With a mother who was a descendant of Henry Fielding, he certainly possessed the literary credentials to succeed, and indeed he did, but not so much in his native land, where he is still little known. The reputation of Alan Gabriel Barnsley (his real name) is well documented in a review dated April 6th 1963 from the Haining Archive. In it, John Horder, himself a doctor and writer, marks the publication of Fielding’s fourth novel, The Birthday King, which had just appeared in the States, with the statement that in America he was acknowledged as ‘ one of our leading novelists, along with Graham Greene, Muriel Spark and Iris Murdoch’. According to Horder, Gabriel’s obsession with ‘the darkness in man ‘ was present from the start. In his debut novel, Brotherly Love (1954), for instance, Fielding’s hero, David Blaydon, who is based on the author’s eldest brother George, gets pushed into the Church, becomes entangled in the lives of various women in his parish and eventually falls ‘a great height from a tree to be found dead by one of his brothers in one of the most horrifying scenes in fiction’. Continue reading

Odyssey of a Barbarian

Found in a Penguin Odyssey translated by the classical scholar Dr E. V. Rieu a typed signed letter from the novelist, playwright and the biographer of Aleister Crowley John Symonds to Dr Rieu. EVR’s reply is witty and good-natured…

IMG_1375Methuen and Co., Ltd.

36 Essex Street, London W.C.2

22nd September 1961

Dear Sir,

Some years ago I bought your version of THE ODYSSEY and THE ILIAD, and put them on a shelf beside my bed, intending one night to begin reading them, and thus fill a literary gap. And there they remained until the month when I took down THE ODYSSEY removed the paper wrapper, felt the fine blue cloth binding, gazed at the clear print and began reading.

Splendid and immortal yarn! But what a barbarian Odysseus is! He is like a comic-strip superman of the Daily Mirror. And then I came to Book XXII which you describe in your introduction as “the magnificent climax”. What is magnificent about it? The cruelty of Odysseus appalled me. Merciless butcher, without charity! He won’t even spare the tearful women. The horrors described on page 324 made me feel sick and I flung the book into the fireplace.

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Miguel de Unamuno on Fuerteventura

unamunoFound in Essays and soliloquies by Miguel de Unamuno (London: Harrap 1924) this preface written on the windswept Spanish island of Furteventura. The island is now mainly a holiday destination, although there is an impressive statue of Unamuno by the main road and also a life size statue of him on a side street. Unamuno was exiled to Fuerteventura in 1924 by the Spanish Government for his political ideas. His friend J.E. Crawford Flitch visited him there and prepared (and translated) this selection.

Author’s preface

I am writing these lines, today the 6th of June, 1924, in this island of Fuerteventura, an island that is propitious to calm thinking and to a laying bare of the soul, even as this parched land is bare, bare even to the bone. Here I have been confined now for nearly three months, no reason for my confined having been given other than the arbitrary mandate of the military power that is de-civilising and debasing my native country.

Hither came my friend Mr. J. E. Crawford Flitch to bear me company. He was entrusted by Mr. Alfred A. Knopf with the task of making an anthology or florilegium of my shorter articles and extracts from my more extensive writings which should present a conspectus of my whole literary work. It is he, my friend and translator, who is responsible for the selection of the pieces which form this anthology…

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Sir Frederick Treves on the smell of Nice

Found in The Riviera of the Corniche Road (Cassell896d404c280cb8f898f970a1ff20cf15, London 1921) by Sir Frederick Treves (1853 – 1923) this description of the old town part of Nice. Treves, of course, is well known as a prominent British surgeon  and for his friendship with Joseph Merrick, “the Elephant Man”. He was also a distinguished writer on travel, as well as surgery. In 1906 he had written on Dorset, the county of his birth, in the Highways and Byways series. He is particularly good on the smell of the old town. Odours are often neglected by travel writers. Does the area still smell the same?

 The old town of Nice is small and well circumscribed. It occupies a damp and dingy corner at the foot of the Castle Hill. It seems as if it had been pushed into this corner by the over-assertive new town. Its lanes are so compressed and its houses, by comparison, so tall that it gives the idea of having been squeezed and one may imagine that with a little more force the houses on the two sides of a street would touch. It is traversed from end to end by an alley called the Rue Droite.
This was the Oxford Street of the ancient city. A series of narrower lanes cross the Rue Droite ; those on one side mount uphill towards the castle rock, those on the other incline towards the river.

The lanes are dark, dirty and dissolute-looking. The town is such a one as Gustave Dore loved to depict or such as would be fitting to the tales of Rabelais. One hardly expects to find it peopled by modern mechanics, tram conductors, newspaper boys and honest housewives; nor do electric lights seem to be in keeping with the place. Its furtive ways would be better suited to men in cloaks and slouched hats…

The only thing that has not changed is the smell. It may be fainter than it was, but it must be centuries old. It is a complex smell ” a mingling of cheese and stale wine, of salt fish and bad health, a mouldy and melancholy smell that is hard to bear even though it be so very old. The ancient practice of throwing all refuse into the street has drawbacks, but it at least lacks the insincere delicacy of the modern dustbin…

From any one of the windows may protrude a mattress ” like a white or red tongue “..

Gerald Heard on J.W. Dunne’s Theory of Time

HEARD16Found – the typescript of a review by Gerald Heard of J.W. Dunne’s The Serial Universe (1934). Dunne proposed that our experience of time as linear was an illusion brought about by human consciousness. He argued that past, present and future were continuous in a higher-dimensional reality and only experienced sequentially because of our mental perception of them. He went further, proposing an infinite regress of higher time dimensions inhabited by the conscious observer, which he called “serial time.” In his time Dunne’s work was highly influential, Aldous Huxley (a friend of Gerald Heard) J.P. Priestley and T.S. Eliot all used his ideas in their work. Gerald Heard is sometimes cited as a proto hippie or father of the ‘New Age’ movement. Wikipedia writes: ‘His work was a forerunner of, and influence on, the consciousness development movement that has spread in the Western world since the 1960s.’ He also wrote several still rated supernatural fantasies. This typescript was probably published in a newspaper at the time.

MR. DUNNE'S THEORY
OF TIME


'IMMENSELY IMPORTANT' FOR MAN

The Serial Universe. By J. W. Dunne.
(Faber. 10s. 6d.)

Reviewed by GERALD HEARD

  In pre-Nazi days in Germany there used to be a popular print. It showed one of the great German philosophers walking along the main street of his home town with his manuscript under his arm, on the way to the printers. He keeps close to the wall because down the street's centre dashes that dreaded black travelling carriage inside which can be seen Napoleon, Europe's tyrant, rushing from-one battlefield to another.

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A Visit to Mars (concluded)

This, the third and last part of this strange account, is a follow up to an earlier jot.

January 15th. For the sake of those who, in spite of my gloomy experience on the whole, wish to make this voyage too, I should like to make the following observations on the equipment required for the expedition. A large quantity of provisions, as for an Arctic or Antarctic expedition for many years is a first requirement. It is quite easy to keep the provisions here owing to the permanently low temperature in the ground. If economically used, sufficient water can be obtained by melting hoar-frost.

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Samuel Fuller and 144 Piccadilly

Found- a British paperback 144 Piccadilly (NEL, London 1973) a novel by the American film director Samuel Fuller. It concerns a group of London hippies who barricade themselves inside a decaying Mayfair mansion and resist all efforts to evict them. One cataloguer notes that the American edition rather obscures the fact that it was based directly on an actual event — “ripped from the headlines,” as Fuller might have put it. In September of 1969 a radical group known as The London Street Commune, formed to highlight concerns about rising levels of homelessness in London, took over a large house at the corner of Piccadilly and Park Lane (just across from Hyde Park); they occupied the building for six days before being forcibly evicted by the police. Fuller’s literary conceit was to insert himself into the situation, “playing” the narrator, a cigar-smoking American film director (in London for a BFI retrospective of his films) who gets involved with the squatters by accident. Unlike most of Fuller’s books, it’s not just a novelization of one of his own film treatments; as he tells it in his posthumously -published memoir, he actually had been in London when the occupation was taking place, had witnessed the initial break-in while out on a late-night walk, and with his “newspaperman’s nose,” had contrived to have a chat with the occupiers. “The disheveled squatters invited me to stay on,” he wrote ‘(if)…I hadn’t had prior commitments, a wife, and a flight back to the States the next day, I would have.” He subsequently got “damn mad” about the treatment accorded the squatters by the British media and the police, and knocked out a novel in which “an American film director very much like me participates in an illegal entry in London, then tries to bridge the generational gap by becoming the group’s mascot and witness. The fictional ‘me’ does what I was tempted to do but couldn’t, abandoning his hotel suite for a mattress on the floor with the flower children.” He never made a movie of the book.

Loosely inserted in the book is a typed postcard (27/11/71)  from Fuller “Am writing ‘Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street’ which I’ll shoot here in Feb. My book 144 Piccadilly just came out… Am at Senats Hotel 5 Koln 1 – Unter Goldschmied”. Fuller has not signed the card but the words ‘Mit Luftpost’ are handwritten in red ink, presumably by the great man…  At the front of the book is the ownership signature of Phil Hardy, the recipient of the card- he wrote a book on Fuller published by Praeger ( N.Y. 1970)


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David Lodge on Edmund Randolph – forgotten Catholic novelist

Before he made the big time as a fully fledged comic novelist David Lodge was principally a literary critic who wrote the occasional novel. When I was taught by him at Birmingham University his reputation rested not on his four novels—Ginger You’re Barmy, The Picturegoers,  The British Museum is Falling Down, and Out of the Shelter, but on his doorstep-sized anthology of literary theory and his books and articles on mainstream twentieth century Catholic novelists.

Lodge’s article on the hardly known late Victorian novelist Edmund Randolph, which I discovered in a copy of the Aylesford Review for Spring 1960, belongs to the period when he regarded himself as primarily a writer on the history of Catholic novel, a subject he had chosen for his M.A. dissertation at London University. This research involved reading a number of ‘forgotten Catholic novelists‘of the nineteenth century. Clearly, he had not been impressed by their quality:
 
‘…Between the waves of the Oxford movement and the Decadence there lies a trough in which English Catholic novelists produced little besides sentimental pietistic romances and propagandist historical novels…’
 
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A Visit to Mars (part 2)

Map of Mars (1894)

More from  the Dutch astronomer, Professor G. Van den Bergh  ‘A Visit to Mars ‘ a chapter in his The Universe in Space and Time (1935). In this account, which has weird parallels with the adventures of the Matt Damon character in the recent movie The Martian ‘a man, an inhabitant of the earth, succeeded in reaching Mars by rocket. He remained there a few years and evidently managed to keep alive, thanks to his good equipment and a large stock of provisions’. After a while this man returned to Earth, but was killed when his rocket crashed. It transpired that the man had kept a diary, but only a few pages could be rescued from the crash site, some of which were reproduced in the chapter. This continues an earlier jot.

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The Magus – ‘a bizarre and baffling film’ 1970

A contemporary piece about this ill-fated movie, which although often slated, most notably by Woody Allen ('If I had to live my life again, I'd do everything the same, except that I wouldn't see The Magus') has become something of a cult. The article was found in PHOTOPLAY (February 1970) a British film and pop music magazine. The long winding part about the plot has been mostly excised.

The Magus - a bizarre and baffling film which winds through a labyrinth of fantastic happenings. 

What is a Magus? According to the best dictionaries it is "one skilled in Oriental magic and astrology, an ancient magician sorcerer."

And so to our story:

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Occupation: Female Companion

Joan Fontaine in 'Rebecca'

Found in  The Fingerpost: A Guide to Professions for Educated Women, with Information as to Necessary Training (Central Bureau for the Employment of Women,1906) an article about getting work as a female companion. It suggests that the occupation, often found in thrillers and novels up to the late 1930s, hardly existed even in 1906. Vere Cochran, the writer of this piece, says that the profession was at its height in early Victorian times when 'semi invalidism' was a prevailing fashion. 'Who (now) can afford the doubtful luxury of a paid companion?' One of the most notable companions in fiction is the unnamed narrator of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1938) While working as the companion to a wealthy American woman on holiday in Monte Carlo she meets the rich and troubled widower Max de Winter who whisks her off to his country mansion Manderley...

"Companion, Housekeeper, or any position of trust - I could undertake work of this kind".

If the many seekers after work who open their campaign with these words could gauge their true import, or the effect which they produce, they would not so lightly use them. Few words could more clearly display their ignorance with regard to the conditions of the labour market;indeed, to the ears of those who know and who receive year by year hundreds of such applications, these words almost constitute a badge of incapacity.

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1846 Diary of J.W.Penfold—inventor of the octagonal pillar box

Any Jotters who in their childhood tuned into Danger Mouse, which is about to be revived, must know that his sidekick was called Penfold. It would seem that this character was named after the Victorian architect John Wornham Penfold (1828 - 1909), who is perhaps best known today as the inventor of the octagonal pillar box, several examples of which can still be found in Cheltenham.

But here we have a copy of the Punch Pocket Book for 1846 (discovered many years ago in an antique shop) that once belonged to the future architect and designer, then aged just eighteen, while he was working as a lowly assistant draughtsman in the London office of the renowned architect and illustrator Thomas Talbot Bury (1809 -1877) and his partner Charles Lee (1803 – 1880). At this time Penfold’s duties were various, and included surveying at proposed sites, researching legal documents, studying plans, often of proposed railways, and copying and preparing plans and delivering them with other related material to clients and lawyers. The Diary, also records Penfold’s churchgoing, social life, including visits of friends and relations, dining out, trips to the theatre and concerts, excursions to art galleries and museums, and visits home to his home town of Haslemere. Here  then  is a rare glimpse into the world of a trainee architect in early Victorian London at a time when  the ‘Railway Mania ‘ was raging across England and the metropolis was rapidly expanding.  Not surprisingly, most of the more interesting entries in the Diary illustrate the way in which these developments relate to Penfold’s work. Here are some examples:

January:
Wednesday 14th.Took letter to B. Williams, Waterloo Place & to Humby, Carlton Chambers. Copying Plan of Sewer under Richmond Railway on Mr Leader’s land & Beck’s Bill to W. Clay.

Monday 26th. …went with Sydney to measure across Westminster Bridge road where the south east extension is to cross by Miss Carr’s property. Inking in tracing of South Eastern Extension Ry.

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Eviction of Adam and Eve

Found in Arrows 87 (Summer 1964, edited by Roger Ebbatson) this amusing piece about Adam and Eve. The magazine was produced by Sheffield University Union and had poems articles, graphics etc., This squib was by Peter Mottley (1935-2006) who became an actor, director and playwright.

Eviction by Peter Mottley.

Dear Mr. Adam,

I am instructed by my client to serve the enclosed eviction order concerning the property you now occupy.

He feels that he is justified in this action in view of your recent behaviour, which constitutes a breach of the terms of your lease.

You will remember the Clause 4 in your lease permitted you full access to the garden on condition that you undertook 'to dress it and keep it', and that my client generously allowed you to take for your own use any of the fruits and flower which grow there. However, he specified quite plainly that you were not under any circumstances to touch the prize-winning fruit tree in the south-east corner. This clause has been broken quite blatantly by your wife, who has freely admitted taking fruit from this tree. Her excuse, that she thought it would be all right, is considered by my client to be inadequate.

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Paul Renin ‘Sex’ (1928?)

1950s issue, Many
thanks John Fraser.

Here’s a bit of a puzzler. Coming from the archive of Peter Haining and bearing annotations by him, this is a photocopy of a blurb for a book 'in preparation' entitled Sex, which is described as 'Paul Renin’s Latest, Greatest and Most Courageous Novel !' Now here’s the thing. Such a novel by Paul Renin—the pseudonym of someone called Richard Goyne (1902 – 57), who also wrote crime novels—did not seemingly appear, according to Abebooks, until 1951.

The copies available on Abebooks are described as the first U. S. editions from the publisher Archer of a romance concerning a 'sixteen year old runaway Girl in the South Seas' . However, the blurb announcing the forthcoming appearance of Sex is clearly in a typeface of the 1920s, which Haining’s annotation identifies as dating from 1928. This, of course,  was the year in which Lady Chatterley’s Lover appeared, and the blurb writer seems keen to emphasise that Sex was, like Lawrence’s novel, a mould-breaking literary event.

What of the parents who—for reasons of “delicacy” or hectic pursuit of their own gay lives—allow their children to grow up in perilous ignorance?

What if those boys and girls who, so neglected, are lured from the fireside” by distant, seductive callings” to learn “romance“ and its moods for themselves in “the little corners of the city where night steals early and danger lingers always” ?

There are the human, poignant problems with which Paul Renin is most fitted to deal. In Sex he tells a daring and a wonderful story. Of romance, of passion, of weak lovers old and young. Of great emotions and greater need. In Sex PAUL RENIN SPEAKS OUT FEARLESSLY.

We have not examined a copy of the 1928 book, if indeed it was published in this year. If its publication was held back until 1951, it may have been because the censors –perhaps provoked by the blurb—took action to prevent its appearance.. [RR]

The 1928 issue may not have happened (i.e. the book was a 'ghost') - an extensive search through WorldCat, Copac and the might Karlsruhe database reveals no edition earlier than 1942. This was published by pulpmeister Gerald Swan who was discussed in an earlier jot on London's markets.

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Professor Alexandre Lacassagne – a real Sexton Blake

Found in the endless Haining archive, an article cut from The Union Jack Detective Supplement, undated but about 1925. Peter Haining was a collector of Sexton Blake books so this piece on the scientific / forensic detective Professor Alexandre Lacassagne (1843-1924) would have interested him.

A Real Sexton Blake

By Donald Campbell.

They read like improbabilities, the achievements of this real-life Sexton Blake. But we credit them when we see the working methods of Professor Lacassagne, who has recently died.

  A few weeks ago there died at Lyons one of the greatest scientists of his own kind in the world.
This was Professor Alexandre Lacassagne, honorary professor to the Faculty of Medicine, who passed away at the ripe old age of eighty-two. He was the first man in Europe to apply science to detective work. He served as an officer in the army of Napoleon III., and fought through the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.He was taken prisoner. When released he was attached to the Bataillons d’Afrique, then a species of depot for all the rough characters who came to do their military service, usually very much against their wills.
  First he merely studied characters, but afterwards the real criminals, and specialized offenders who came under his treatment.

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J. B. Priestley by L.R. Reeve

Another piece from the papers of L.R. Reeve*. He never met Priestley but saw him speak and even appears to have been pointed at by the great man.

J. B. PRIESTLEY

J. B. Priestley may during his adult life have sometimes failed to reach his usual high standard. Certainly I have at times experienced an uneasy feeling that some passages have galloped along giving a faint impression of superficiality, a suspicion of slickness, pretentiousness, and pot-boiling. Yet I would forgive him half-a-dozen trifling contributions because of the heart-lifting, sustained enjoyment arising from The Good Companions, which I encountered more than thirty years ago, and have read again in 1969 with even more pleasure than at the first reading: a fact which leaves me wondering why thirty years on, when one is supposed to reach a plateau of jaded thrills and fancies, the enjoyment of an earlier book is assuredly enhanced. It may be that one's appreciation of a classic increases after many years of weary persistence in studying second-rate literature which misguided critics have informed us are masterpieces; or it may be that when one's knowledge of the human condition is greater than in early days, the better we are able to appreciate a perfect delineation of real men and women.
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Violet Jacob—-Scottish poet and novelist

Although Violet Jacob (1863 – 1946), is highly regarded in her native Scotland as the author of the much admired novel Flemington (1911) and as a poet writing in the Scots vernacular, she is hardly known in England. She is often compared in stature to Hugh MacDiarmid (whom she knew) and her work,both printed and in manuscript form, can be found in public collections throughout Scotland. She is also appreciated online, where a scholarly site records her life in two parts—early and late. The letter shown here , which dates from Boxing Day 1935, and is from the  archive of her friend Annie Schletter,
belongs to the last decade of her life, when she was often to be found touring Europe with her severely asthmatic  husband Arthur, a former soldier. On this particular sojourn in a part of Italy that she seems to have known since at least 1930, she was staying in the very opulent Hotel de la Reine in the fashionable Ligurian resort of Ospedaletti, a favourite haunt of the English for decades. In the previous decade Sigmund Freud had stayed at the same hotel, but a very different kind of clientele became the target of Jacob’s lash in Christmas 1935. In a very lively account of her latest stay at the hotel, she turns her withering humour and novelist’s eye on her fellow guests:

The usual old trouts---Mrs Steve, the Ellis & Benson sisterhood, the Nightingale family & the trio of Miss Ashley, her sister, Mrs Fletcher & her cousin Mrs James. The latter sisterhood are almost more than I can bear. Miss Ashley herself has a face like a cow-pat & that is the truth. Platitudes fly from table to table. I just pretend that I am deaf & dumb & blind & so I survive. I do wish you were here. Arthur & I laugh in private & he, being one of the greatest mimics I ever knew, gives me little private impersonations.

Jacob also announces that she has taken up oil painting and that the Italian that Schletter had taught her ‘has been the joy of life here ‘. Alas, Jacob’s life was to change forever a few months later with the death of her beloved husband. She retired to Kirriemuir in Angus and died in 1946. [RR]

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Mendel, A Story of Youth (Mark Gertler)

Found - a rare 1916 first edition of Mendel, A Story of Youth by Gilbert Cannan. The novel is a roman a clef about the artist Mark Gertler and has much on his disastrous affair with Bloomsbury Goddess Dora Carrington. The verse dedication is to her:

To D.C.

Shall tears be shed because the blossoms fall,
Because the cloudy cherry slips away,
And leaves its branches in a leafy thrall
Till ruddy fruits do hang upon the spray 
Shall tears be shed because the youthful bloom

And all th'excess of early life must fade
For larger wealth of joy in smaller room
To dwell contained in love of man and maid?
Nay, rather leap, O heart, to see fulfilled
In certain joy th'uncertain promised glee,
To have so many mountain torrents spilled
For one fair river moving to the sea.

Gilbert Cannan entertained Mark Gertler, Katherine Mansfield and D H Lawrence among others to a famous 1914 Christmas party at Cholesbury Mill in Buckinghamshire and between 1914 and 1916 Gertler was a frequent visitor. Gertler used Cannan’s shed as a studio and his painting of Gilbert Cannan at his Mill now hangs in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (for which much thanks).

Between 1914-15 Gertler pursued a frustrating love affair at Cannan's  Mill and elsewhere with Dora Carrington, who eventually left him to live with Lytton Strachey. Their relationship is the subject of the 1995 film Carrington*. After Strachey’s death in 1932 Carrington committed suicide.

*Rufus Sewell played a fiery Mark Gertler in the movie. Below is a sample from Christopher Hampton's script - Gertler is very annoyed that Carrington is in love with Strachey:

Mark Gertler: Haven't you any self-respect? 
Dora Carrington: Not much. 
Mark Gertler: But he's a disgusting pervert! 
Dora Carrington: You always have to put up with something.
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Sherlock’s Watson — was he a bad doctor?

Found in The London Mystery Magazine of April/May 1951 this amusing Sherlockian poem casting doubt on Watson's medical credentials…The author 'Sagittarius' was a journalist named Olga Katzin* who wrote several humorous and satirical books, some in rhyme. A short life  is appended below. The London Mystery Magazine began in 1949 and went on into the mid 1950s. It gave its address as 221b Baker Street. Adrian Conan-Doyle (Arthur's son) 'not uncharacteristically' sued the magazine, but lost the case.

Illustrated by 'Figaro'

DOCTOR…?

Holmes left one unsolved mystery,
The case of the strange M. D.;

Was he ever qualified?

Had he anything to hide?
And why was he always free?
Facts of his previous history
Researchers fail to trace,

But there’s something queer in his medical career,
For he never had a single case.

Nobody called Dr Watson
For medical advice;
If Sherlock in a hurry asked his company in Surrey,
Watson would be ready in a trice.
No one ever seemed to worry,
When he drove to Charing Cross,
Which strengthens the suspicion that as surgeon or physician
Watson was a total loss.

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