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

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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.
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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]