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Literary Cranks of London– The Whitefriars Club

This was established in 1868 in three rooms at Radley’s Hotel, in New Bridge Street, Blackfriars. The authors don’t mention the fact, but  in the 1820s Radley’s was known as Walker’s Hotel and was infamous as the HQ of the generally despised Constitutional Association, the reactionary group dubbed by William Hone, the ‘Bridge Street Gang’, which harassed radical booksellers  it accused of circulating seditious libels--- usually the pirated works of Thomas Paine.

By the time it had come to house the Whitefriars ( incidentally, a humorous reference to the nearby Blackfriars) Radley’s was a respectable family business with ‘ an old-fashioned cuisine and an excellent cellar of wines ‘. Of the three rooms occupied by the Club, the one used as a dining room had ‘three windows looking out on Ludgate Hill Station, filled with heavy furniture and black horse-hair sofas of a late Georgian period’. Behind this was a smaller room dedicated to ‘smoking and writing’, which  commanded a view behind the Bridewell gaol ‘of a neglected bit of ground, on which flourished rank grass, oyster shells , and dead cats…and a row of picturesque and irregular backs of ancient houses, delightful for their finely-toned red brick, their old red tiles and their quaint chimney pots ‘. By 1900, when the history of the Club was privately published, Radley’s Hotel had been pulled down ‘for improvements’.

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Etching of Farringdon Road bookstalls in the 1930s

Photographs exist of the famous bookstalls in Farringdon Road, dating from the nineteen forties and fifties, and the one by Moholy-Nagy that illustrates the excellent London Street Markets, was taken in the thirties. But as far as I know, the stalls were never the subject of an etching, of whatever date. Here, dated 1934, is an etching by the brilliantly talented Nathaniel Sparks (1880 – 1956), one of the most popular masters of this art, which of course became moribund almost overnight as a result of the Wall Street Crash.

During the American-led collecting craze, which began just before the First World War, Sparks produced a huge number of etchings, many of them of notable London landmarks such as Westminster Abbey and Tower Bridge, and it is surely a sign of its fame in the thirties that Sparks regarded Farringdon Road as a fit subject for an etching. At that time he was doubtless a customer at the stalls himself, and it is known that in his last sad months, when poverty and illness had him holed up as a lodger in Somerton, he comforted himself by collecting old books. It is also likely that in the last half of a largely peripatetic life, which saw him living with gypsies and farmers in Somerset and the New Forest, he was forced to jettison many of the books he had picked up over the years, in favour of his paints and paper.

Naturally shy, physically slight, and all too aware of the severe rhinophyma which disfigured his face, Sparks sometimes cut a pathetic figure. He could not help compare his ill luck with the fame and fortune that attended his much older cousin, Thomas Hardy, and recorded his resentment in an unpublished satire. Things came to a head in 1940 when an enemy bomb smashed his printing press and he was forced to abandon etching entirely and eke out a living producing pellucid watercolours of scenery in his beloved Somerset.

[R.M.Healey]

The author is grateful for the excellent Nathaniel Sparks Gallery for allowing him to reproduce the two etchings.

Now have proof positive that the etching is of Exmouth Market! (ed.)

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Sir Edward Bond—the man who transformed the British Museum Library

There aren’t many librarian superstars. Casanova was one, I suppose, but he was better known for his extra-mural activities. Panizzi of the British Museum was possibly another, but a successor, Sir Edward Augustus Bond (1815 -98), was arguably a greater innovator and was certainly more industrious.

Bond proved that if you had natural talent and were hard working and dedicated, you didn’t need a university education to get to the top in the British Museum at least—though this institution was an exception to the general rule that an Oxbridge degree was de rigueur for a career in the world of Victorian scholarship. Bond earned his spurs and his reputation as a gifted palaeographer, especially in Anglo-Saxon, while in the manuscript department of the Museum, which he had joined directly from school at the age of 17 in 1832. Although he ended up as Keeper of the department in 1867, he was expected to remain there until his retirement, so it came as a shock to many with more conventional educational backgrounds when he was chosen for the top job in 1873.

This letter, which is dated 19th January 1882 and was written to Robert Harrison, who may have been a proof reader,  belongs to his fifteen year reign as Principal Librarian, when, among other innovations, he introduced electric light into the Reading Room and storage areas( how amazing that there weren’t more fires in libraries during the eras of candles, gaslight and oil lamps) , built a large extension to house prints, drawings, manuscripts and newspapers, and oversaw the publishing of  the printed catalogue of books. In the letter Bond refers to certain errors (possibly printing errors) that Harrison has pointed out to him and requests that he:

...be so good as to return to me 2 copies of each set of the Printed Accessions delivered to you during the past year, and I will instruct Messrs Clowes & Sons to send you for the future only one set of the Printed Accessions, together with the Printed General catalogue...

Bond retired in 1888, aged 73, and doubtless spent much of the remaining ten years of his life on scholarly projects. His publication legacy is not big—a four volume facsimile of Anglo-Saxon Charters and an edition of the speeches of Warren Hastings were notable—but his greatest gifts to fellow scholars are the innovations that  made the British Museum Library one of the world’s greatest academic collections. [RH]

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The Literary Cranks of London – The Vagabond Club

The second of a series on 'The Literary Cranks of London' this published in  The Sketch on Aug. 29th, 1894. Written by a member George Brown Burgin (1856-1944), novelist, critic and journalist. There are various photos of him in the National Portrait Gallery collection. He was sub-editor of the humorous journal The Idler from 1895 to 1899. He wrote over 90 novels but there is no Wikipedia page for him. However there is quite a bit online on him including various quotations such as his claim that: 'It is much more comfortable to be mad and know it than be sane and have one's doubts.' The Vagabond Club was founded around the blind poète maudit Philip Bourke Marston and boasted such distinguished members as Jerome K. Jerome, Robert Barr, Conan Doyle, Barry Pain,  and Israel Zangwill. No women. It is interesting that Burgin mentions, without opprobrium, that  it contained 'misogynists'...

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The Literary Cranks of London – The Cemented Bricks

I came across this oddly named literary coterie quite recently in a catalogue by the august bookseller and writer John Saumarez Smith in a scholarly note about one of its members - the writer (anthologist) Robert Maynard Leonard (1869 - 1941) who among other things was secretary to the Anti-Bribery League, which sounds like something from a G K Chesterton short story. Members of the 'Cemented Bricks' included Richard le Gallienne, Walter Jerrold, Sir John Parsons, Lord Amulree and Joseph Knight. The web yields very little about them except this page from The Sketch of 13/2/1895 bought for the price of a mocha latte on eBay. It remains unknown to Google books and even Brewster Kahle (praise his name) has not archived it... At the same time we bought another in the series of 'Literary Cranks of London' on 'The Vagabond Club' which will follow later.

The Literary Cranks of London.

The Cemented Bricks.

The Cemented Bricks.! Who or what are they? Is it a new order of Hod-fellows, or is it a building society?

That question, or series of questions, was put to me by a lady three years ago. This article will supply the answer.

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The Reverend John Scott Lidgett (1854-1953)

Another jotting from the L.R. Reeve collection on the educationalist the Reverend John Scott Lidgett (1854-1953). A marvellous man, described here as a 'little packet of dynamite,' and author of 15 books. Reeve has a good story also about "the best-dressed woman in Rotherhithe…"

JOHN SCOTT LIDGETT

Where did I get the news that the late Dr Scott Lidgett was chairman of the centre for Psychotherapy, Epsom, at the age of ninety-six? All I remember is that I found the information jotted down in one of my scrapbooks. It may be true because he lived to the age of ninety-nine, and at ninety when a young journalist from the Kentish Mercury called at his home for an interview and congratulations, he was certainly in full command of his mental powers.
  At the end of the visit the young newsman expressed the hope that he might call again when the veteran reached his century. "It could be”, retorted the eminent divine, "you look as if you might live another ten years". The remark was typical, for Dr Lidgett, one of the most distinguished nonconformists of his generation, a little packet of dynamite, was a decidedly witty man; and every time I saw him, his expression never showed a trace of emotion, for his self-control was so significant to any observer of human nature that one felt that no situation would make him lose his colossal nerve. Moreover, as some of his minor duties were to be a manager of several schools, stories galore were told of his visits. Two remain in my memory: at one school on Prize Day the headmaster, during his report, declared that the year's successes were not due to himself but to his staff. His face dropped when Scott Lidgett, presenter of prizes, said he accepted the headmaster' s announcement.
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Frank Podmore—the scandalous private life of a ghost hunter

In his autobiographical Everyman Remembers ( 1931), the litterateur Ernest Rhys recalls his friendship with Frank Podmore, one of the more colourful members of the late nineteenth century Spiritualist community, a co-founder of the Fabian Society and the author of a fat biography of the proto-socialist Robert Owen.

Like Anthony Trollope, the Oxford-educated Podmore, was a writer who held down a day job with the Post Office. But unlike the Victorian novelist, he was, to quote Rhys, ‘unimaginative’ and  ‘practical to a degree, but cultured and full of intellectual curiosity ‘—ideal qualities for a paranormal investigator. But although Rhys touches on his friend’s investigations, he seems more interested in the odd personal lives of Podmore and his wife Eleanor. Here, for instance is his impression of the odd couple in their Hampstead home:

They set up house in Well Walk, and furnished it with extreme taste and a touch of virtuosity.

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‘We could, I suppose, fall back on a woman…’

‘We could, I suppose, fall back on a woman…’

The words of John W Carter, scholar, bibliophile, author of the excellent ABC for Book Collectors, and sometime head of Charles Scribner’s Rare Book Department in London. He was discussing with the expert on British theatre, Ifan Kyrle Fletcher, the problem of finding someone eminent enough to open the National Book League’s exhibition on the British Theatre in October 1950 now that John Gielgud had declined the invitation.

From the correspondence that has come to light recently in a file of letters, Carter, having rejected the not very glamorous Ralph Richardson as a candidate, and having dismissed T.S. Eliot out of hand, for some reason, seems indeed to have turned to a woman in the shape of Peggy Ashcroft ( ‘the best actress in England’), who politely declined. Her explanation was that she always hated ‘making speeches‘ and that anyway she was committed to going on tour with the Old Vic on October 16th. Carter then seemingly wrote to the glamorous Fay Compton, who also appears to have said no. Luckily for Carter, the comparatively youthful Alec Guinness, despite being involved with a film at the time, accepted the invitation. [RR]

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The Arts and the Café Royal

Between 29 June and 29 July 1956 the National Book League (whatever happened to this?) staged an exhibition entitled ‘London after Dark’ on the first floor of the famous Café Royal in Lower Regent Street. The exhibition was designed to tell the story, in books, manuscripts and pictures, of London night life between 1866, when the Café Royal opened its doors, and the present day, when Soho was still a vibrant bohemian quarter .It was this exhibition that three Soho habitués, Daniel Farson, Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon visited one day in June or July, 1956. Many of the pictures on display were by, or depicted, celebrities connected to the Café Royal, and one example caught Freud’s attention. Farson takes up the story:

Lucian looked at the label on the back and reported ‘Sickert’. This set me wondering as we continued our circuit, and as we passed it again I rashly broke my silence, for I had not dared to venture an opinion before. 'If that’s by Sickert', I declared, 'he could never have painted a great picture.’ The two of  them looked at me with irritation, so with the hope of proving my point I bent down and looked at the back for myself, emerging triumphantly with the tactless cry---‘It’s not by Sickert, it’s of Sickert, by Nina Hamnett!’ They were not amused. Daniel Farson, Soho in the Fifties (1987)

Soho has changed, even in the last thirty years, as post punk singer Marc Almond complained recently on TV. But the Café Royal has perhaps changed most dramatically.  Around 2007 I paid a visit to its menu board outside with a view to getting a meal paid for by Rare Book Review as part of my ‘research’ for an article on its famous literary associations. It was, it seemed, still functioning, though probably on its last legs. A few months later I revisited it and found that this haunt of Wilde, Whistler, Sickert and Augustus John had closed its door to diners in preparation for a refit. A sly peep into what had been the Grill Room revealed little that would distinguish it from any other West End restaurant of a certain vintage. The tables and chairs had been removed. It looked sad and tired. I don’t know what the old Café Royal is now. And I don’t really care. [R.M.Healey]

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Hampsteadophobia / Jimmy Kanga

Found in the vast Jimmy Kanga* collection a signed presentation copy of Robert Lynd's The Sporting Life and Other Trifles. Lynd (1879-1949) is a rather forgotten Irish born essayist. His Gaelic name was Roibéard Ó Floinn, and he wrote essays, often humorous, occasionally under the name 'Y.Y.' (wise.) Lynd settled in Hampstead, in Keats Grove near the John Keats house. He and his wife Sylvia Lynd were well known as literary hosts (Hugh Walpole, Priestley etc.,) Irish guests included James Joyce and James Stephens. The publisher Victor Gollancz reports Joyce intoned Anna Livia Plurabelle there to his own piano accompaniment. Hampstead is the now the haunt of oligarchs and wealthy media types. A customer recalls that even into the 1970s, when he lived in Frognal, cabs were reluctant to venture that far from the West End. Now it is probably a favoured destination…Lynd writes:

HAMPSTEADOPHOBIA is a disease common among taxi-drivers. The symptoms are practically unmistakable, though to a careless eye somewhat resembling those of apoplexy. At mention of the word " Hampstead" the driver affected gives a start, and stares at you with a look of the utmost horror. Slowly the blood begins to mount to his head, swelling first his neck and then distorting his features to twice their natural size. His veins stand out on his temples like bunches of purple grapes. His eyes bulge and blaze in their sockets. At first, for just a fraction of a second, the power of speech deserts him, and one realises that he is struggling for utterance only because of the slight foam that has formed on his lips.

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Gladstone at Dollis Hill

One of the most crass and insensitive planning decisions made in 2012 was the demolition of Dollis Hill House in NW London. The fact that this semi-ruinous building, which began as a farmhouse in 1825, was once the country retreat of four-times Prime Minister William Gladstone and the home for a while of American novelist Mark Twain, couldn’t  save it from the philistines on Brent Council or, for that matter English Heritage. It has been argued that too much money was required for its restoration and back in the middle of the post 2009 recession, no entrepreneur was willing to come forward with a viable plan. A museum with a café or restaurant attached would have been a perfect use for this building. As it is, Dollis Hill Park now has a razed platform where the historic house once stood, and although there are plans for some sort of reproduction of Gladstone’s bolt hole, it is  not, dare I say, quite the same…

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Stephen Graham—a prince among Soho tramps

Just a few minutes walk from Leoni’s Quo Vadis is Frith Street, now famous as the home of Private Eye, but for a century or more  the haunt of Soho journalists, writers and other near- do- wells, including Stephen Graham, who from 1912 to his death in 1975, lived in a flat at no 60, a handsome Georgian town house. In the days before adventurers in dangerous lands were accompanied by a TV crew, Stephen Graham, who described himself as ‘tramp’ before that word had gained unsavoury associations, explored a number of exotic lands, including Russia, on which he became an expert, recording his impressions in books and articles, until he could no longer finance his expeditions.

The letter, which was discovered among a batch of other unrelated correspondence, belongs to his most productive period, is written from Frith Street and is dated 4th December 1926. In it he invites a Miss Morley to an after-dinner ‘mixed party of various acquaintances who will sit around the fire & talk.’ He also invites her to bring along her copy of his recently published London Nights for him to sign.

In his latter years Graham’s reputation fell into decline, and there is a depressing description of him in poverty and disarray in his flat. He died at an advanced age in comparative obscurity in 1975, but today, however, thanks possibly to the popularity of TV travelogues and cheap holidays to exotic lands, there is renewed interested in his work. Two major online sites are devoted to him, and Abebooks shows that his books are beginning to be collected once again. A biography by Michael Hughes has just been published Beyond Holy Russia: The Life and Times of Stephen Graham. [RMH]

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Leoni’s Quo Vadis restaurant: ‘no better place in the world to dine or lunch’

Leoni printed this praise from the film actress Evelyn Laye in a tiny promotional booklet reprinted to coincide with the Festival of Britain in 1951.The year before, journalist, S. Jay Kaufman, a veteran American, in a letter to Leoni, revealed that from 1911 to July 1914 no 27, Dean Street, Soho, which under Pepino Leoni became the Quo Vadis restaurant in 1926, had been home to himself and the painter Horace Brodsky. Back then, Kaufman explained, the domestic arrangements might have been pretty basic, but the good company had made up for this:

'The cuisine ? Ours! The charwomen ? Ourselves! And to this Adam house came Harry Kemp, John Flanagan, Augustus John, Jacob Epstein, J.T Grien, Lillian Shelley, Nelson Keys, Lily Cadogan, David Burton, Louis Wolheim Arnold Daly, Sir Charles Cochran , Leon M Lion, Constance Collier, Granville Barker, and Frank Harris…’

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E.H. (Ethel Howard) Spalding

From the papers of L R Reeve* this affectionate portrait of a minor character in British education. She does not have a Wikipedia page and is unknown to the DNB, but WorldCat record many books on history and education by her, some of which were continually reprinted into the 1960s. Her first book The problem of rural schools and teachers in North America (London : Stationery Office) was published in 1908 and she is noted as revising a book in 1960, so one could speculate her dates were something like 1880 - 1965. Her text books Piers Plowman Histories were in print from 1913 - 1957.

Miss Spalding

Miss Spalding was a most astonishing historian who still makes me feel google-eyed when I remember some of her activities.

In appearance she seemed so fragile that one would think a gentle summer breeze would blow her over. Yet when she lectured at Goldsmiths' College, London, cheeky men students, immediately after ragging unmercifully an instructor in physical training, would sit in her presence during a history lecture hardly daring to flicker an eyelid. Should, however, an unusually presumptuous newcomer take a chance, a slightly sarcastic smile and a softly spoken snub would make a blushing, wriggling mortal wish he were miles away from such and unexpected agony; and the tributes to Miss Spalding's uncanny disciplinary power can be heard even to this day when elderly men meet at college reunions.

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Boozing with the Victorian Society in Crouch End, Hornsey and Harringay

Found in a box of books is this photocopy of a typewritten guide to a ‘pub crawl’ (walk no 41) of various late Victorian ‘gin palaces’ in North London arranged by the Victorian Society on 16th September 1966. The guides were two architects-- Roderick Gradidge and Ben Davis—both of whom had designed interiors for Ind Coope. Judging by their descriptions of the pubs they planned to visit, both were also passionate and knowledgeable fans of late Victorian architecture and design. The grand plasterwork of the ceiling cornices and Art Nouveau stained glass is pointed out as being of special interest. But the two men also emphasised the ways in which Victorian pub architects tried to make   their interiors both glamorous and homely as a way of getting their (mainly) lower middle class drinkers (mention is made of Mr Pooter’s ‘raffish’ friends) to spend hours away from their more humble abodes, much (we might add) in the way that the designers of Music Halls and northern shopping arcades  (one thinks of Frank Matcham ), and grand hotels, were doing in the same era. Here are the guides admiring the combination of grandeur and intimacy found in the Queen’s Hotel, Crouch End (below):

All the way round there were through views, glimpses of the other bars, and as a result one was able to feel that one was standing in one part of a single large space, large enough to tolerate the considerable height without become vertical. Since the space was so well subdivided…one could feel secluded in a sufficiently small and enclosed space, but since the proportion of the greater space was horizontal a feeling of repose was retained which could not have belonged to tall, restricted vertical rooms. This method of subdividing an area into small bars by means of partitions, which were half-glazed  with semi-obscured glass, and were not much above six feet high, was peculiar to Victorian pubs, and goes a long way to explaining the incomparable drinking atmosphere they provide...

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More Miseries of Modern Life

So many of the world weary observations in James Beresford's brilliant best-seller of 1806 (The Miseries of Human Life, or The last Groans of Timothy Testy and Samuel Sensitive), are applicable today. Take some of his London miseries:

In your walk to the city, with a morning full of pressing business on your hands—to be blockaded by endless files of Charity children ( 3 or 4 schools in the lump), or Volunteers---a fresh-caught thief attended by his Posse Comitatus—the Bank Guard—a body of Fireman in their new dresses --&c &c, who either pin you up to the wall, if you keep the pavement , or compel you to escape them by grovelling through the mud.

Reminds me of the behaviour of tourists on Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon. Plenty of Charity Muggers there too, and also Posses, who might do a lot worse than pin you to a wall…And talking of Oxford Street..

To be persecuted by the whimpering whine of an able-bodied beggar, close at your heels through the whole length of Oxford Street

Then there’s Bonfire Night, aka:

The 5th of November, or the Anniversary of squalling petitions to “ remember Guy Fawx, alias “ Poor Guy”---whom you would most willingly forget for ever , and whose “Plot” you now consider  as by much the most venial part of his misconduct

Regency gigs could be exasperating too:

At a concert, between the acts—after quitting an excellent place on an expedition to the Refreshment Room—finding on your arrival, every table besieged—and on your return the first song, together with all chance of another seat, completely over. [RRR]

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Zeppelins over literary London

A correspondence on Zeppelins in the letters column of the Times Literary Supplement  prompted a visit to a local Suffolk church where 17 German airmen were buried after crashing their Zeppelin in 1917. The letters have the slightly leaden header 'Led by a Zeppelin' and concern a remark of Katherine Mansfield's about how she was so attracted to the sound and sight of a Zeppelin during a raid on Paris that '…she longed to go out and follow it…' This reminds the correspondent of G.B. Shaw's reaction to a Zeppelin over Potter's Bar in October 1917 -'…  the sound of the engines was so fine, and its voyage through the stars so enchanting, that I positively caught myself hoping next night there would be another raid…'

This letter (from the American writer Stanley Weintraub) prompted a riposte about the metropolitan bias of the T.L.S. letters from Suffolk beer baron Simon Loftus (26/9/2014). He notes that Zeppelin raids were relatively common on the East Coast - "...towns such as Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Southwold were bombed more or less ineffectually by these strange  Leviathans of the skies…" He then alludes to the Zeppelin shot down near Theberton, noting that pieces of the aluminium structure, salvaged from the wreckage were auctioned in aid of the Red Cross. The 17 German airmen were buried in the peaceful graveyard at Theberton. Also buried there is the author of Arabia Deserta Charles M. Doughty. The airmen's  bodies have since been moved to a central burial ground in Staffordshire, although a memorial can still be seen in the cemetery across the road from the church.

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The return of the Italian Restaurants 1961

From 'Minder' circa 1982 - Arthur Dailey leaving Otello's

Found in The Good Food Guide 1961-1962, this review of an Italian restaurant in Soho. It shows  how restaurants reflect London's recent history, and although this was the beginning of the swinging 60s it was written only 15 years after WW2 ('war wounds are healing.'). Otello Scipioni died recently aged 91 and the restaurant is now called Zilli. He also owned the grander Italian restaurant Villa dei Cesari near the Tate Gallery.  As the 60s progressed the Italians came to dominate the catering scene - Italian trattorias being a great hangout for the beautiful, the rich and the famous. Fortunes were made. Note the GFG's feedback system -- the names at bottom being unpaid food enthusiasts who had written in - the bit about singing waiters is probably a quote from one of them them. Longo Intervallo = long gap.

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Berwick Sayers on annotation 2

Berwick Sayers by Juliet K Pannett

The second and last part of Berwick Sayers masterly work  Annotation in Catalogues (1948). Sayers was, like Casanova, a prince among librarians and also a man with many other interests - he wrote poetry, music, fiction and a book on the black composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. He also wrote a travel book Over some Alpine Passes. Memories of 1908. His life was commemorated in a work published a year after his death The Sayers memorial volume : essays in librarianship in memory of William Charles Berwick (1961.) He also wrote much on librarianship, including some dryish titles like: Report on the hours, salaries, training, and conditions of service of assistants in British municipal libraries (1911.)

He wrote a comprehensive history of Croydon and his life was spent there, mostly at Croydon Library. Croydon is a large London outer suburb of some importance - one time residents include: Flower Fairies creator Cicely Mary Barker, singer Desmond Dekker, Raymond Chandler, Emily Blunt, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, A. Conan Doyle, Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss, Tracey Emin, D.H. Lawrence, Alfred Russell Wallace, Brit-pack artist Sam Taylor-Wood, Katie Melua, Kirstie MacColl, Roy Hodgson, billionaire Philip Green, Noel Fielding (Mighty Boosh) Victorian sexologist Havelock Ellis, Jeff Beck and Emile Zola.

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Berwick Sayers on Annotation I

A  pamphlet for librarians that is still relevant in the days of the web. People still need to know how to annotate information in catalogues. As Berwick Sayers says, annotation is elucidation - but he is down on the annotator who adds information needlessly. A real offender is a cataloguer who in noting the plot of a novel gives away the whole story.  Internet booksellers  break B-S's rules every day. For example, if the information is obviously there already do not annotate-- we do not need to know that Wood's British Trees is 'a handbook to trees growing in Great Britain' or Harrison's The Boys of Wynport College is a 'a schoolboy story.'

He also points out a fault of which many cataloguer is now guilty - giving irrelevant details about the author: for example, if a man writes a book on The Fertilisation of Soils it is of no consequence to the reader to know that "the author was Chancellor of the Exchequer." There are of course different rules for sellers; a librarian is not trying to get someone to buy the book. B-S's rules however apply to the world of Wikipedia where they are often broken - giving opinions, recommendations, irrelevance, shallow research and, conversely, faults that '..arise from too great a devotion to this work. The introduction into catalogues of fine writing or elaborate language is an abuse greatly to be deprecated.'

In the case of undesirable books B-S notes that drawing attention to them by 'danger notes' is self-defeating - "to say that a book is 'not written for girls' schools' must really be frightfully tantalising to any normally built schoolgirl."  To be continued with info on the life and writings of the great librarian-- a book on card indexes, mountaineering, songs, poems and a history of his borough Croydon..

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