Leavis’s ‘life enhancing’ piano shop

Leavis pianos pic 001Found in the May Week 1914 issue of the Cambridge student magazine Mandragora is this full page advert for the Regent Street piano shop run by Frank Leavis’s father Harry. Pianos figured very large in the lives of the Leavis family. Harry’s brother ran a piano shop in Mill Road and their father was a piano tuner in another part of the city. According to his biographer, Dr Leavis admired his father, apparently a cultured man, very much. It is not known whether Leavis, or his simian-faced wife, Queenie, played the piano.

Leavis was in his first year studying history at Emmanuel College when the advert appeared. When war broke out a few months later he signed up, but after a year was permitted to resume his studies at Cambridge—this time in the newly formed English department. Apart from short spells teaching at York, Wales and Bristol, Leavis spent his whole academic life in Cambridge, setting up home in Bulstrode Gardens–then an enclave of ‘thirties villas off the Madingley Road on the edge of the city, but now next door to both the Cavendish Laboratory and the Institute of Astronomy. How Leavis would have loathed this juxtaposition.

Interestingly, his dad’s piano shop lay almost opposite Downing College, where Leavis was to spend much of his time brain-washing vulnerable students. It is now a ‘Pizza Hut ‘fast food restaurant. He would have hated that too.

[Sent in by a loyal jotwatcher – opinions are his, although the tide seems to have turned against the Leavises this century. Take it or Leavis..]

The Writers’ and Artists’ Year-book 1923

 

Artists and writers yearbook 1923 001In the year in which the UK edition of The Waste Land was published, as well as novels by Lawrence, Wells and Huxley, comes this copy of The Writers and Artists Year-book. Evidently owned by a lady who wished to make money from her writing, the blank pages at the back of this book devoted to a record of contributions includes mostly household and beauty tips, such as ‘ Dangers in the Kitchen ‘ ,‘To Clean Hats ‘, ‘ My Great Grandmother’s Beauty Tips’, and ‘Adulterated or Not ‘, all of which were accepted. However, it seems as if this writer was also concerned with the role of women in society; she sent an article entitled ‘Women as Prison Wardresses’ to the Yorkshire Post, which though it was not published there, was re-sent to the Yorkshire Evening Post, where it appeared in May 1923 in the ‘Work for Woman’ series as ‘The Prison Wardress’. Other magazines to which she sent feature articles include Farm, Field and Fireside, Pearson’s and the Westminster Gazette.

Our freelance journalist also appears to have been interested in contributing verse. In the section covering ‘ Magazines and Journals’ she has underlined in pencil references to ‘ verse ‘ , ‘ humorous verse’ or ‘ poems’ in the Times (really?), the Prize, Lady’s World, Ideas, Humourist, Home Notes, Graphic, Colour, Chummy Book Annual, Children’s Companion, Boys’ Own Paper, among other periodicals. There are pencil marks next to the names of various American periodicals, too. Continue reading

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

Pantilepapersletter102

Obscure Victorian magazines—number 3—The Pantile Papers

If we hadn’t found this letter among a pile of other manuscripts it is unlikely that anyone else would have written anything useful on E.S.Littleton or his short-lived literary magazine, The Pantile Papers. Having said that, at least one book dealer has recorded that this was a ‘very rare’ periodical. However, two examples are currently in the market---one single issue priced at £120; the other a complete run for £350. So perhaps it’s not so rare—but interesting at least.

According to a very brief notice in George Hull’s The Poets of Blackburn  Edward  Littleton was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, the son of a minister. In 1877 he published a slim volume entitled Hamand and other Poems and not long afterwards moved to Tunbridge Wells to set up a new ‘Monthly Literary Magazine and Review ‘which he christened The Pantile Papers in honour of the towns’s famous street, The Pantiles. Confusingly, the magazine’s editorial address appears on our featured letter  as 11, Stationer’s Hall Court, London EC, which could suggest that Littleton felt an address in the City might attract more contributors and readers.

Continue reading

IMG_0020

The Open Window 1905

Not sure where this came from or what it was. It appears to be a literary magazine but is not the literary magazine  The Open Window published in London by Locke Ellis  from 1910 onwards with contributions by Edward Thomas, E.M. Forster, George Bourne, Katherine Mansfield,  Maxwell Armfield, Douglas Goldring, W.H. Davies, Geoffrey Whitworth, Lord Dunsany, John Drinkwater, Walter de la Mare and Vivian Locke Ellis etc., The article, of some competence, quotes among other George Borrow, Kipling, W.E. Henley and F. Marion Crawford...

On the “Joie de Vivre.”

There could hardly be a more fitting time to say something about this primitive impulse than now, when maps and guide-books are taken down from shelves; when bicycles, botanical vascular, and geological hammers are brought out from their places of concealment, and we lift up our eyes to the hills.
  The true “joie de vivre” I take to be the satisfaction of an instinct for communion with Nature, an instinct which, implanted in the bosoms of our ancestors during the long ages before cities were existent, has not yet died completely away in their more artificial descendants, and which, at certain periods, seizes upon some of us with an almost irresistible power.
  After living during many months in dingy offices or class-rooms, poring over musty tomes, and hearing through our windows nothing but the lugubrious cry of the coal man, the discordant tinkle of the barrel-organ, or other of the multiform phases of the “brouhaha des rues”–sounds having relation to nothing more than the distracting life of this “man-made” town–suddenly some small note may be heard, or an odor of spring may be felt, or a green blade seen growing in a cranny of the wall–some sight or sound, small in itself, but mighty in the mental effect it  evokes; for, in a moment, this ancient primaeval instinct grips us by the heart-strings, and we resolve–to take a holiday.
  In Marion Crawford’s “Cigarette Maker’s Romance” there is a wonderful passage describing the annual wild rush of the reindeer to drink the salt water of the Arctic Sea. As their blood cries out for the essential chloride, so in spring does that of the city-dweller for the ozone of the hills.
Continue reading

AntiquarainBookMonthlyreview067

ABMR – The Antiquarian and Book Monthly Review

There are now no popular magazines in the UK covering the field of rare and antiquarian books. Just seven years ago there were two—Rare Book Review and Book and Magazine Collector –and I wrote regularly for both of them. First to fold was Rare Book Review, a very glossy and well designed affair financed by a wealthy dealer. Previously this had been known for many years as the Antiquarian Book Review, and before this as the clumsily-titled Antiquarian Book Monthly Review, an early issue of which we have here.

When we consider how well designed and glossily produced magazines covering other fields in the arts –such as fashion and the fine arts—it is astonishing how unglamorous this particular magazine must have appeared to the eye of someone familiar with, say, Vogue,  the Burlington Magazine, or Country Life at that time. To arrive at something that could compete in visual terms with these titles it took over 40 years and oodles of dealer's dough. It isn’t as if there had never been glossies that had dealt with aspects of the antiquarian book trade---The Bookman, a product of the twenties and thirties, being the most notable.

The idea for a new popular magazine distinct from the academic Book Collector and the dryasdust Clique, which was then just a list of books for sale and wanted ( it has since extended its range and appeal) came from the antiquarian  book dealer, Paul Minet, who operated from Chicheley House, Bedfordshire. Minet ( 1937 – 2012) provided most of the copy, as he was to do for many years after, but the editing was left to one of his employees, the recently married Elke Sadeghi, then in her early twenties, who was also helping to compile his catalogue of Chicheleana, and was working from Minet’s home and her own flat in the Georgian Brayfield House, near Olney. A local printing firm called Comersgate, based in Newport Pagnell, was chosen and the first issue appeared early in 1974. It is easy to forget that before the advent of digital publishing, which now makes it possible for amateurs to produce magazines and booklets of a professional standard for next to nothing, that back in the seventies a magazine produced cheaply on bog-standard paper by a non-professional art editor would tend to look like this 1974 issue of Antiquarian Book Monthly Review, with its yucky light orange cover, title in Gothic script, and clunky page set-up.

The content was unpromising too, consisting mainly of an exhibition review, some book chat, extensive book lists and a piece on recent science fiction that clearly has nothing to do with ‘antiquarian’ books. There was nothing to suggest that this venture would come to anything. We know that it did, and its eventual success seems to have had something to do with the good intentions of dedicated people like Minet, Sadeghi and her successors as editors, but perhaps more importantly, with the goodwill shown in the letters page, which is dominated by messages of encouragement from dealers and collectors alike, who clearly welcomed what the new enterprise represented.

Sadeghi was eventually replaced as editor and left publishing to start a family with her husband, Dr Majid Sadeghi , who became an internationally acclaimed expert on automotive design and anti-crash impact technology at Cranwell. Around 2002 she became a bookbinder and still practices her art from North Crawley, near Newport Pagnell.

Collectors and dealers now hope that Rare Book Review, the splendid child of Antiquarian Book Monthly Review, will somehow, with the help of another wealthy sponsor, be resurrected.
[R.M.Healey]

Ianhamiltonpic

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. I boldly marched up to the door with my clipping of ‘Ossie Ardiles’ and rang the bell. I seem to recall that Hamilton himself answered, but I can’t be sure. Anyway, I announced myself and, with the minimal explanation, handed over the clipping. He did smile. He might even have laughed. It was all over in two minutes. He told me that he had dinner guests, but asked me to phone or write with a view to an interview. I never did write. Sadly, he died a few years later. [RMH]

nihilist_23849_md

The Dynamiter – first punk mag?

At a revolutionary printing office*

Found - a review in a 'monthly magazine of bibliography' Book Lore (1886) of  a new magazine The Dynamiter : a record of literary bombshells, books old and new, flung into the camp of the orthodox [London : Printed and published for the proprietor by Thomas Shore**, Jun.,] WorldCat shows that it  went to just one issue. The only copy in world libraries is at the British Library in Euston. Amazon list it as 'currently unavailable' assigning it the ASIN number ASIN: B0000EF989. The publisher, and probably the author, seems to have been a minor John Camden Hotten style publisher of the curious, seditious & the scabrous. WorldCat lists another work almost certainly by  by him:

Men V. Machinery. Suggestive Facts and Figures, urging National Control of National Powers of Production. By Thomas Shore. With Preface by H. Halliday Sparling. 20 pp., price 2d. 

Continue reading

2013-03-30-22.25.02

This England

Found -- This England, a patriotic pamphlet from the late 1920s in the Golden Thoughts series. "A Pictorial Memento of the scenic loveliness that lies within the land which the King calls 'our own dear home' as described by the poet Allan Junior."

The four images on the cover show England as an island of lakes and seas - 'this island race.'  A jingoistic magazine of the same name has carried on publishing into this century. The title comes from Shakespeare's King Richard II: "This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle... This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England."

photo-5

Homosexuality and Its Cure (1936)

Sexology : The Magazine of Sex Science was a magazine founded by Hugo Gernsbach ('the father of Science Fiction') and seems to have flourished in the 1930s. It had many anatomical diagrams and articles about 'female inverts', pregnancy, infibulation, venereal disease etc. It probably sold well. This letter is in the 'Questions and Answers' column and has to be assumed to be typical of its time, regarding homosexuality as a sickness to be cured by determination and the love of a good woman. Autre temps, autre moeurs. What is slightly strange is that the 'doctor' providing the answer suggests physical violence if the other man persists in his attentions - 'beat him up.' Odd advice from a doctor. The reference to drink - 'you got drunk and became intimate' may refer to other matter in an abridged letter or simply be an assumption…again, curious.

Continue reading

Jot101Idlerpic622

Another Idler

Most literary people when they think of past magazines called The Idler would cite Samuel Johnson’s famous miscellany and Jerome K Jerome’s humorous organ of the1890s. Today’s Idler is edited by the anti-corporatist and ukelele enthusiast Tom Hodgkinson, author of How to be Free. But there was another Idler, which is, as yet, unknown to Wikipedia, and indeed has a very, very low online profile.

Continue reading

modwoiiioto-1

Wonders of the 1930s

Some amazing covers from Modern Wonder: the Pictorial Review.(Odhams, London 1937 - 1940)

An astonishing magazine of modern invention, science and future prediction (visions of the future) subjects include: photography (miniature), aviation & flying boats, trains, shipping, wireless, television, military machinery, car racing, world record speed attempts, deep-sea diving & submarines, power stations and manufacturing. Striking, colourful covers, mostly by Bryan de Grineau and Lashwell Wood. Most issues have stories, (thrillers and science fiction) by such writers as Clifford Cameron, Stanton Hope, W. J. Passingham, Peter Barr, and in the first issue, John Wyndham (writing as John Beynon) Issue 1 also includes the required supplementary booklet 'Marvels of Today'. Issue 105 sees the appearance of Alex Raymond's 'Flash Gordon' comic strip, for about 30 issues, mostly in colour.  From issue 134, as Britain moves into the war, it's name changes to Modern Wonders (War Pictures).

petiluioto-1

Petulengro ‘King of the Gypsies’

Found in the Frederick Warne published children's magazine The Merry-go-Round of October 1937 this piece by (Xavier) Petulengro, who was known as 'King of the Gypsies.' Kooshti Bok, sometimes spelt Kushti Bok is Romany for 'Good Luck.'

Wikipedia says of him '...a British Romanichal horse trader, violinist, businessman, writer and broadcaster, known as the "King of the Gypsies". He frequently broadcast on BBC radio in the 1930s and 1940s, and later wrote regular astrology columns in magazines as well as publishing his autobiography and several books on Romany lore... His funeral at the age of (about) 97 was arranged in traditional Romanichal style, with about 100 mourners in traditional costumes and some 1,500 sightseers.'

This piece was written for the boy and girl readers of Merry-Go-Round -some of whom had attended this ceremony. 'Chavvies' = children.

Kooshti-Bok, Chavvies,

Well, this has been an exciting time for me. As many of you know, I was crowned King of the Gypsies at Baildon in Yorkshire on August 28th. I hope you saw the ceremony on the screen at your picture-house, but I am going to tell you all about it here.

Continue reading