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The Secret Places XVII & XVIII

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

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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]

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Secret Places XV & XVI

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

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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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The Secret Places XIII & XIV

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

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The Secret Places XI & XII

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

XI

THE FRIARY IN THE HILLS

It chanced that I had to go over into Surrey hm Sussex to pay a visit to the Franciscan Friary whence we had started on our wanderings. Leaving Longshanks, therefore, in an inn at Chidding in the fold country, whither we had gone in search of a man who claimed to be a direct descendant of Earl Godwin–though what he was doing here in the south I do not know–I went through the gap in the hills to Guildford and, being weary, took a ‘bus thence to Chilworth.
  Because I was stupid with sleep I left that ‘bus at the wrong place, and, being unfamiliar with the country west of the Friary, I sought direction from a butcher and a queer man who carried a lighted lantern, though it was yet mid-afternoon. Thereafter I walked two miles, as I had been told, I came at last to a large crucifix by the roadside and entered the Friary grounds.
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The Secret Places IX & X

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

IX

MY LADY OF THE MIST

To tell of the incidents of every day of our wanderings would be monotonous and wearisome, and so I make no effort to do so. Moreover, what is of interest, or gives happiness, to Longshanks and myself is not necessarily entertaining to anyone else. And because we had no aim but aimlessness–which is good for men sometimes–we wandered from county to county as the spirit moved us, having no regard for even a daily itinerary or for a settled account when our adventures should be written down.
  It was at Small Dole–which is in Sussex–that we discussed, the relative merits of hot and cold shoeing with the big blacksmith, and when we had worked him to a passion of rage at our obstinacy, so that he stuck out his big fan of a beard at us and cursed us with a strange oath, we were minded to continue our journey to the Downs. It was not long after dawn, and October rime still lay where the sun had not yet thawed it.
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E. M. Forster, the Rajah and his tutor

Most people who know E.M.Forster’s Passage to India (1924) also know that the background research for the novel was undertaken while the author worked as private secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas, senior, who ruled a tiny State in north central India. In 1953, many years after the novel appeared, and sixteen years after the Maharajah had died, Forster published as The Hill of Devi  recollections of his time in  what he called ‘ the oddest corner of the world outside Alice in Wonderland’.

Forster had first met the young ruler, who bore the rather cumbersome cognomen of  Sir Tukoji Rao III, in 1912 , while he was the guest of the high-flying administrator  Malcolm Darling, who had himself arrived in India in 1904.  ‘His Highness’, or H.H., as the Rajah styled himself, was then just in his early twenties, having succeeded his father in 1900 at the tender age of twelve. In 1906 Darling was appointed his tutor and mentor, and in October 31st, 1907 the two men, together with the usual retinue, including possibly the Rajah’s beloved brother, embarked on what might today be called a ‘ fact -finding ’ tour of ’ All-India’ and Burma , which is briefly mentioned by Forster in his book. Various members of the party were responsible for taking snaps of the sights along the way. The Rajah himself can be seen in many of the photos, and Darling features in at least one. The camera used seems to have been a Kodak, which had become popular early in the 1890s—and it is this photographic record, mounted in a Kodak album, with brief identifying captions by the Rajah, that has recently come to light in a provincial auction house in the UK.

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The Secret Places VII & VIII

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

THE WOOD OF MYSTERY

Leatherhead used to be famous for its "nappy" ale, as King Henry the Eighth's laureate knew, for he wrote a song about the mistress of the Running Horse Inn and praised the brew, as a man should. And the Mole, which chatters its way half round the town, was famous for its trout. Alas! in these days the ale there is no better than it should be, and of trout there are none–at least Longshanks and I were not served with any.
  But Leatherhead has its distinction even now, and you shall mark it whether you proceed thither by train, by car, or on foot. For at Leatherhead the rather threadbare rusticity of the country south of London ends, and when you have climbed the steep hill beyond the bridge on the Guildford road you are in a new land. In the little rectangle of which one side is the main road between Leatherhead and Dorking, and the opposite side an imaginary line running through Little Bookham and Effingham and ending roughly five miles due ; west of Dorking, you may get lost an hundred times.
  I scruple to say how this may be done, for when a horde of people get lost together there is no mystery nor any fear; only paper bags and bottles left on the eternal hills and in the secret places of the woodland. And so I shall be vague.
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The Secret Places V & VI

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book.

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The Secret Places III & IV

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book..

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The Secret Places

Ashdown Forest* 

These are the first two chapter of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. One of those magical walking/ rambling books that appeared in the 1920s and 1930s while, to quote Waugh, 'the going was good' despite ribbon development and the ubiquitous motor car. It was probably aimed at urban and suburban dwellers who got away to the country at weekends or when they could. Foster  was a jobbing journalist who also wrote books on the countryside and how-to-write  books. Most of this book had appeared in the Evening News in the late 1920s. He also wrote detective fiction. Between 1924 and 1936, according to Hubin, he produced 11 mysteries, some featuring a detective called Anthony Ravenhill (The Dark Night, The Missing Gates, The Moat House Murder etc.,) This contemporary review of The Secret Places in The Tablet gives a flavour of the work. There follows the first two chapters…(more to come)

We like The Secret Places. Mr. R. Francis Foster knows where treasure lies hid, and would gladly share his secret with those worthy of the trust. But he fears the barbarian motorist, "with soul so dead" that he is to be stirred only by speed records until the love of country cannot touch him. Therefore he compromises by describing byways where the demon speed cannot go : quiet, ancient ways to be trodden only by the feet of the humble pilgrim in quest of peace and beauty. The author himself trod these paths with a fitting companion, setting out in the autumn along the Pilgrims' Way and wandering through the counties of Surrey, Sussex and Kent until Spring, bringing alas, a plague of cars in her train, drove the travellers from the roads ! Then they ended their journey at Chilworth Friary, where it had begun, convinced that cars are a curse of the devil, and that "the limit in permissible inventions should be the bicycle, foot propelled." This little volume, although perhaps rather self-conscious in the writing, will please lovers of the English countryside and leave them with many delightful things 'pleasant to think on.' We should like to know more of Zebedee, the Zebra, a strange gift-horse to the pilgrims whose fate, after his total disappearance by night, they never seem to have found out.

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John Hayward—‘the most malicious man in London’

This photo, which is inscribed on the reverse, 'Rose Macaulay (centre) and John Hayward' was found amongst a large collection of press photographs that included a number of other shots of celebrated British cultural figures from the forties and fifties. Judging from the physical condition of the identified figures, it must date from the mid fifties. Hayward had suffered from muscular dystrophy since his twenties and eventually became wheelchair- bound. I suspect that the other two individuals in the shot were his ‘carers’, although observant Jotwatchers may know better. Even though Hayward was said to be light in weight, I can’t imagine the spindly Rose  having the energy to propel him across the grass. Incidentally, does Rose come into the category of Very Tall British Female Novelists**, along with Virginia Woolf ?

The photo makes Hayward, with his thick lips and mischievous mien, resemble top notch Modernist Wyndham Lewis. Nor were these facial features the only attributes they held in common. Both were disabled, though Lewis only became blind in his late sixties. Both were close to T. S. Eliot, though the much younger Hayward was more of a literary groupie than the intellectual equal of the poet, though his various editions of poetry gave him a certain cachet.  In 1926, while still an undergraduate at Cambridge, he had met Eliot for the first time. They got on well and Hayward developed the friendship with letters and invitations to the lonely Eliot to visit him at his home. In 1946 the two men moved into a flat together, with Hayward as the great man’s companion and amanuensis. For many years his closeness to Eliot, and his extraordinary ability to amuse all who came into contact with him meant he became a popular guest at literary parties, where his waspish tongue (which Lewis also had) was much in demand. One friend called him approvingly ‘the most malicious man in London’.  On Saturdays Eliot could be seen wheeling his friend around London, but the poet‘s late marriage ended the relationship and Hayward was obliged to vacate the flat in 1957. A year later Rose Macaulay died. Eliot died in 1965 and Hayward followed him eight months later. [RMH]

According to CelebRiot she was 5 foot 7 inches but this is a site more about Lady Gaga than V.W. so it may be inaccurate. Tall for a woman but not "Very Tall."
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D.H. Lawrence & Rananim – the lost plans

In our researches in the Glenavy papers in various books and online we came across  traces of D.H. Lawrence's plans for a Utopian community to be called Rananim. At one point it appears that Lady Glenavy had Lawrence's actual plans for the community…

Painting by D.H. Lawrence

22/1/17 Lawrence wrote to Baron Glenavy (Gordon Campbell):

I hope, in the long run, to find a place where one can live simply, apart from this civilisation, on the Pacific, and have a few other people who are also at peace and happy and live, and understand and be free…

A little later he wrote to Gordon Campbell :

You see for this thing which I stutter at so damnably I want us to form a league - you and Murry and me and perhaps Forster - and our women - and any one who will be added on to us…as long as we are centred around a core of reality, and carried on one impulse.

Earlier (1915) he had written to E.M. Forster:

…in my island I wanted people to come without class or money, sacrificing nothing, but each coming with all his desires,  yet knowing that his life is but a tiny section of a Whole : so that he shall fulfil his life in relation to the Whole. I wanted a real community, not built out of abstinence or equality, but out of many fulfilled individualities seeking greater fulfilment. But I can't find anybody. Each man is so bent on his own private fulfilment…'

Campbell's wife, Lady Beatrice Glenavy writes in her memoir Today We Will Only Gossip (Constable 1964):

About 1915..Lawrence  begin to formulate his ideas about  an Isle of the  Blest which he had named Rananim, a name which he got out of one of *Kot's Hebrew songs.  He had written out a long draft of the constitution of this island and given it to Gordon to study, hoping to get him interested and involved, believing him to have the organising capacity and the capital to work the scheme. Gordon put the papers away and they were forgotten till after Lawrence's death when Gordon met Aldous Huxley in London and they spoke of Lawrence and Gordon remembered the plans for the island which his practical mind had not taken seriously.  Huxley was very interested and said these papers were of great importance and interest. When Gordon returned home he looked for them in the place where he thought he had put them, but they were not there. We searched the house and we almost tore it to bits in an effort to find the document, which consisted of several sheets of paper covered with Lawrence's own beautifully careful writing. They were never found and their disappearance remains a mystery.

Kot = the writer S. S. Koteliansky a core member of the Bloomsbury group. This Hebrew musical version of the first verse of Psalm 33 ('Rejoice in the Lord, O ye Righteous') is preserved in his papers.

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Christmas advice from 1932

The Perfect Christmas by Rose Henniker Heaton was a companion volume to the same author’s Perfect Hostess and Perfect Schoolgirl. Published in 1932 by the eighty something Australian-born widow of an illustrious Conservative MP, its distinctly barbed humour has hardly dated. In addition to the many jokes and riddles (one of which defeated Professor Einstein) are some handy hints. The following still has value today.

How to Ruin Christmas

Grumble at everything and everyone.
Moan at the mention of presents.
Scramble wildly at the last moment for people you dislike, rather than be left alone.
Do nothing for anyone, and expect everyone to wait on you.
Eat too much, and drink far too much. 
Spend too much, and grumble while spending it.
Spend too little, and grudge even that.
Leave everything to the last, and sit up until 4 a.m., tying up parcels, and decorating madly.
Start a family quarrel. 

[RMH]

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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.

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Angus Wilson and Evelyn Waugh – the tweed connection

Found - this enigmatic pair of pictures in a 1980s Japanese book on English literature. The book was in a box of foreign language books from the estate  of the novelist Angus Wilson. The inscription in Japanese is probably to him from an academic that he had met on one of his lecture tours to Japan in the 1960s. He had befriended Yukio Mishima while there and the great samurai stayed with him at his Suffolk cottage on a trip to England.

The notable item in the photo is that Evelyn Waugh and Angus Wilson appear to be wearing the same brand of tweed...it is possible that at the time in Japan it was assumed that all English novelists wore nothing but tweed..The connection between the two men,however, is slightly  deeper. Waugh was a great admirer of Wilson, especially his novel The Old Men at the Zoo which he vigorously defended in a long letter from his country pile Combe Florey to The Spectator in 1961, after it was attacked by their critic John Mortimer. Which novelist wore the tweed first is (so far) unknown.

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John Osborne observed in 1959

Reading Which of Us Two? The Story of a Love Affair (Viking, London 1990).It is the record of a 'youthful, illicit and intense' relationship between John Tasker (1933 – 1988) the theatre director and Colin Spencer (born 1933) artist and writer. Spencer uses a  collection of letters the lovers wrote to each other (his were returned after John Tasker's death) and considers the relationship and why he 'murdered its future'. Spencer makes acute and amusing comments on literary figures including John Osborne (whose library we bought last year). This entry was starred by Osborne in his copy:

17.iii. 59. Yesterday I began drawing the great Mr Osborne, tall, thin, spectral: in black skin-tight trousers that showed a cute bottom and a huge lunch. And camp, my dear – not 'arf.  And the musical, my dear, cor that's a queer dish too, everybody changes their sex halfway through and deliciously lovely Adrienne Corri grows hair on her chest. Most peculiar: he was moving about so much, it's only the second week of rehearsals...though I did some lightning things with a brush, it just won't do so I'm going back after Easter and try some more. He has a curiously camp voice and he appears to stare at one with his teeth...

Colin Spencer says of this letter:

The John Osborne musical was of course The World of Paul Slickey, soon to become the only commercial failure of his early years. [We]admired Look Back in Anger, our generation felt that Osborne encapsulated the rage we all felt over the limitations of the British theatre.Yet like so much of the later Osborne the play now seems an hysterical diatribe, the characters thin and invalid,the plot negligible..it was brilliant journalism.. masquerading as theatre.

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The Ghosts of Glamis

Found -  The Ghosts of Glamis - a typescript, apparently unpublished, from around the 1960s. Glamis is the seat of the Queen Mother's family, the Bowes-Lyons, and is said to be the most haunted castle in Britain. There is the Grey Lady who haunts the chapel, a tongueless woman haunting the grounds, a young black servant boy haunts the seat by the door to the Queen's bedroom, also the ghost of the gambler and hell raiser Earl Beardie has free range of the house (he lost his soul to the devil in a card game). There are more. The castle is also mentioned in Shakespeare's MacBeth, and the murder of King Malcolm the II is supposed to have taken place in one of the rooms.This seems unlikely as the castle dates from the 14th century and the murder from the 11th century. The typescript is of unknown provenance but seems to have been written for publication...

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The Wheel of Orffyreus 2

The second and last part of a chapter from this fascinating forgotten work Oddities: A Book of Unexplained Facts (Allan, London 1928) by R.T. Gould. Gould was a polymath who appears to have tolerated fools and cranks gladly...however Johann Bessler was no fool (although he may have been insane) and no less a figure than the philosopher Leibniz and  and the scientist and Newtonian Willem Jacob 's Gravesande thought he had the secret of perpetual motion. Gould gets to the heart of the matter -as always with footnotes blazing...

Was Orffyreus honestly deceived when he wrote down such an incorrect description (for so we must regard it)† of his own mechanism? The thing is unlikely–but it is possible, as a later case has sufficiently shown.

 † The supposition that the wheel was kept going by external power does not, of course, exclude the possibility that it also contained "overbalancing" mechanism. If well made, this would waste very little power, though it could not generate any: and it would certainly impress an amateur mechanic like the Landgrave–the only man who ever saw it.

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