Scary monsters – artist (almost) unknown

This truly horrible image is the stuff of nightmares. I can’t quite relate the birds, if indeed they are birds, to anything in nature, so I will assume that the etcher, one J. B. Kenrick, was on something at the time, or just had a rather lurid imagination.

But exactly who was the etcher? I’ve tried every source, but cannot find anyone matching that name in any reference work listing artists. The only candidates I can locate are Joseph and Josephus Kendrick, who were both sculptors. It is possible that one of these may have decided to drop the letter  ‘d’ in their name. And as I also acquired two other, much smaller, much less accomplished etchings with the same signature, which depict some sinister monkeys sitting in a circle, it could be that one of these sculptors amused himself with etching some time in the early or mid nineteenth century. Or the etcher could be a gifted amateur called Kenrick who has escaped the attention of art historians.

It did occur to me that in depicting monkeys Kenrick might have been attempting a satiric comment on Darwin, but the horrific ‘ birds’ don’t seem to be satirical in any way. I would, however, welcome any interpretation of this image ---the more outlandish the better. [RH]


The Daily Mail –The Busy Man’s Daily Journal

Sent in by a loyal jotter and keen accumulator of ephemera and near nonsense. The clue here is that it is the first issue. Surely stuff get's made up at that point...

Check out these Personal ads on the front page of the first issue of the Daily Mail, May 4th 1896. Surely, they can’t be for real. The first and the second read like extracts from late Victorian romantic novels (‘There shall be no reproachful letters; but for heaven’s sake, let me hear of or from you…’ and ‘ if you do not come back to me soon, I fear I shall be tempted into accepting one of the many offers of marriage I am receiving almost daily’ ). Then look at the names attached to the second  ad:‘ To Oak’ from ‘ Ivy’ .  The third ad reads like a Music hall joke.

Uncle Jim---Come home at once. All is forgiven. Bring the pawn tickets with you---Niece

As for the last announcement, this is a neat effort at sardonic humour:

Will the gentleman who took away by mistake the Brown Pony standing outside the Star and Garter on City and Suburban day, kindly send to the same place for the trap, or return pony ? One is no use without the other.

Hurgh hurgh! But back then, the Daily Mail was a light-hearted read for a mere halfpenny, not the tissue of ill-informed opinion that it is today. Along with fashion tips and household hints, it advertised romantic fiction and jolly magazines, announced violin and piano recitals, and even ( horror of horrors ) included an advert for a novel by that dastardly communist Emile Zola !

Those were the days. When did it all go so wrong ?


Crime Fiction by Setting

Hubin's Comprehensive Bibliography of Crime Fiction 1749-1990 lists crime novels by their 'setting' in its second volume. This is mostly places, countries, states and towns with a few other settings like the past, the future, aircraft and academia. Naturally there is an emphasis on America  e.g. under 'Massachusetts' Hubin lists 200 thrillers but at the next entry 'Mauritius' just one - J.C. Shill's Murder in Paradise. The section on the Canary Islands is of interest with just these 5:

P. Attlee. Silken Baroness.

R. Harding. Appointment in Tenerife.

R. MacLeod. Legacy from Tenerife.

D. Serafin. Port of Light. 

J.M. Walsh. Danger Zone.

Madeira has these:

M. Farnsworth. Castle that Whispered.

E. Ferrars. Skeleton Staff.

E. Ferrars. Witness Before the Fact. 

R. Goddard. Past Caring.

Alicen White. Watching Eye.

The sparsely populated Azores throw up just one novel:

Denis Wheatley. They Found Atlantis.


Locked Room Murders – 20 Solutions

From Robert Adey's Locked Room Murders (Ferret Fantasy, London 1979)

Major discussions on the subject of locked room murders are to be found in Carr's The Hollow Man, Rawson's Death from a Top Hat and Holmes' Nine by Nine.

There appear to be some 20 different ways in which a locked room can be breached.

Analysis of solutions

1 Accident.

2 Suicide.

3 Remote control – poison gas or impelled to do so with his own hands.

4 Mechanical and other devices.

5 Animal.

6 Outside the agency made to look like inside agency. E.g. dagger fired through window.

7 Victim killed earlier but made to appear alive later.

8 Presumed dead but not killed until later, e.g., by the first person to enter the room.

9 Victim wounded outside, dies inside.

10 Turning key, bolt, catch, etc, from outside with pliers, string, etc

11 Unhinging and rehinging door or window.

12 Taking out and replacing windowpane.

13 Acrobatic manoeuvre,.

14 Door locked or wedged on outside. Key replaced or bolt thrown after re-entrance.

15 Door locked on outside. Key returned before re-entrance.

16 Other methods of gimmicking doors, windows etc.,

17 Secret passages, sliding panels, etc.,

18 Murderer still in room when entrance forced.

19 Alibi provided while murder committed in an apparently  
guarded area.
20 Other impersonation stunts

  A further mystery is the price and rarity of the much enlarged edition from Crossover Press 1992. A copy on Canadian Amazon (often a home for awesome prices) at $10000 seems to have now vanished...


Here is Tuk Radio London!

Tuk Radio, London

64 page BBC booklet from 1947 for the BBC Bulgarian Service ('Radio Voice at London'). It looks like it is mostly about the BBC World Service and the same booklet might be produced (with the same images) for other international London broadcasting stations.


Warding off the Evil Eye

According to R.C. Maclagan's Evil Eye in the Western Highlands (Nutt, London 19 02) the Evil Eye superstition was widespread in the area well into the late 1800s. Possibly it still lingers in the Western Highlands of Scotland. The simplest way of telling who had the Evil Eye (the 'diagnostic mark') was to look out for persons with different coloured eyes but as he says 'all the parti-coloured eyes in Scotland would not account for a tenth part of the results accredited to evil eyes.' Atrtractive children were particularly prone and various dress codes are suggested to ward it off:


A woman of twenty-eight, whose information is quite
reliable, the daughter of a respectable man in one
of the inner islands, remembers when young people
talked a great deal about these things, and many were
very much afraid of them. "The idea was that it
was always the best and prettiest of beast or body
that was most liable to be injured by a bad eye.
(My) youngest brother was awfully pretty when a child.
They used to have him dressed in a red frock and
white pinny, and with his fair skin, fair curly hair,
and red cheeks, he was the nicest-looking child in
all the place. Many a time, when my father would
take him out, the neighbours would be warning him
to take good care lest some one might do the child
harm, and some would advise my father to go in and
take the frock and pinny off him, so that he might not
draw one's attention so much."

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I once met Alec Guinness

In a former incarnation I worked as a TV critic on the short lived London listings magazine Event. It was owned by Virgin and one of Branson's minions sent me to the BBC at White City to review Smiley's People. This was 1982. There was a showing and then a small reception with canapés and wines at which point they wheeled out the star Alec Guinness who with an assistant 'worked the room' - making critics feel good and hopefully thus obliged to write well of the TV series. It was actually very good ,and Guinness was the perfect Smiley.

At one point he was introduced to me and I said I liked the show. I had been an admirer of one of his directors, Robert Hamer, and mentioned him. His face brightened and he said he had been thinking about him that very morning. He did not seem to know that Hamer was something of a poet and asked me to send him some examples. I had vague ideas of publishing his work in a (very) slim volume. Guinness moved on and later, having received the copies of the poems he wrote from his house near Petersfield to thank me.

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Photography and poetry

In a world of cellphones with cameras as powerful as Leicas, sites like Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest etc., the problem still remains - what shall I shoot? This advice is from The New Illustrated Universal Reference Book (Odhams, London 1933.) The book called itself 'the book of a million facts' covering 'the main interests of humanity…no essential subject is left out.' Much of the technical stuff is highly out of date, the language even more so, but the advice is still good. A good photograph comes from the heart...

The world is crowded with things calling to be photographed when a man first goes forth with a camera. Indeed, he is so overwhelmed with the thousand and one things to take that he frequently returns home with only half his roll of films exposed.He is so confused and confounded by the wealth of possibilities confronting him in the end he cannot see anything worth taking.

The man with the camera should ask himself what class of subject naturally interests him…Let him focus his mind on something before he attempts to focus his camera on anything… every picture that is worthwhile arouses some feeling; wonder or sorrow, peace or joy, fear or distress, or any one of the many emotions which move the human heart.

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Melly on Savile 1980

George Melly jazzman, writer and critic wrote about the now disgraced DJ Jimmy Savile in the book The Media Mob (Collins 1980) which was illustrated by Barry Fantoni. Melly was no fool and even something of a cynic but this encomium shows just how deeply Savile duped everybody...

He doesn't really do anything, he just is. The lock of inappropriate dyed hair over the craggy, patently heterosexual face, the eccentric but meaningless clothes, the cigar, the parrot cries of 'Howzabout about that guys'n gals', the flat Yorkshire accent:  none of it should add up and yet somehow it does. The reason, I believe, is that Savile  is that rarest of all human creatures, genuinely good right through, a kind of bizarre saint. He is genuinely odd, too, with big cars and his job as a hospital porter and his passion for physical endurance tests. But his goodness is manifest; people respond to it automatically.

At the same time George has this to say of the astronomer Patrick Moore for whom there was an outpouring of sentiment when he left the planet last year...

...tie awry, hair crackling electricity, he sprays out words at the speed of light as though attempting to bridge the vast and silent interstellar spaces which are his province..he reminds me of a werewolf just beginning to feel the effect of the full moon… I have never read a kindly word about [him].


St. Francis the second Son of God

From the now rare book Elizabethan Demonology (Chatto, London 1880) by Thomas Alfred Spalding, this piece about an attempt to deify St. Vitus and, more importantly, Francis of Assisi. The book, which is dedicated to Robert Browning, mainly deals with mystical allusions in Shakespeare but has a certain amount on polytheism including this:

...the Roman Catholic form of Christianity, representing the oldest undisturbed evolution of a strictly monotheistic doctrine, is undeniably polytheistic. Apart from the Virgin Mary, there is a whole hierarchy of inferior deities, saints, and angels, subordinate to the One Supreme Being. This may possibly be denied by the authorized expounders of the doctrine of the Church of Rome; but it is nevertheless certain that it is the view taken by the uneducated classes, with whom the saints are much more present and definite deities than even the Almighty Himself.

It is worth noting, that during the dancing mania of 1418, not God, or Christ, or the Virgin Mary, but St. Vitus, was prayed to by the populace to stop the epidemic that was afterwards known by his name...

The posthumous history of Francis of Assisi affords a striking illustration of this strange tendency towards polytheism.

This extraordinary man received no little reverence and adulation during his lifetime; but it was not until after his death that the process of deification commenced. It was then discovered that the stigmata were not the only points of resemblance between the departed saint and the Divine Master he professed to follow; that his birth had been foretold by the prophets; that, like Christ, he underwent transfiguration; and that he had worked miracles during his life. The climax of the apotheosis was reached in 1486, when a monk, preaching at Paris, seriously maintained that St. Francis was in very truth a second Christ, the second Son of God; and that after his death he descended into purgatory, and liberated all the spirits confined there who had the good fortune to be arrayed in the Franciscan garb.

Spalding cites Maury, Histoire de la Magie, p. 354 as his source for this.


Sports that didn’t quite take off

Number 9, Roller Tennis

This snap of a doubles match shows that along with previous sports in this series, which included Naked Petanque, Championship Dwarf throwing and Crown Green Tiddlywinks, Roller Tennis just lacked the appeal of Roller-skating or….Tennis.

First there were the health and safety concerns. How, for instance, did competitors prevent themselves from being garrotted by the net if they failed to stop in time? Also, experts contend that death may be averted if a vehicle travelling in an urban area hits a person at thirty miles an hour or less. They didn’t say anything about doubles players wielding rackets sustaining serious head, arm or leg injuries colliding at high speed while going for the same ball.

The photograph, which was rescued from a press archive, comes with no explanatory information. It probably dates from the 1930s, when someone fuelled on Pimms thought it might be a rather spiffing idea. Thoughts of popularising the new sport  might have ended  following the first fatality, but a very recent You Tube amateur video shows a doubles match somewhere in Europe in which a blonde looking suspiciously Swedish talks to camera about having fun playing tennis on roller skates.

If players can avoid falling into the net while attempting a drop shot, perhaps the sport does have a future. But don’t hold your breath.


I once met Borat’s cousin

His name is Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, and he is based at the Department of Psychology, Cambridge University, where he is a world authority on autism. In fact, I’ve interviewed him twice—firstly in 2000 at his rooms in Trinity College, and a few years later in his Department on the Trumpington Road. With a name like Baron- Cohen , and at a time when Ali G was beginning to do his famous TV stunts, I could hardly fail to ask him the obvious question. He didn’t flinch from the truth.

He’s not as tall as his cousin and doesn’t resemble him facially. He is very softly-spoken and, like many academics, was very precise and deliberate in his responses to my questions. On the first occasion we talked about the advantages and disadvantages of having Asperger’s Syndrome, which back then wasn’t the fashionable condition that it now is. He revealed that many high-achieving academics, most them mathematicians, engineers and physicists, functioned perfectly well in their chosen fields, although quite a few had problems in wider society. He argued that though those with Asperger’s Syndrome were often regarded as odd or unusual by their neural-normal colleagues and friends, it was wrong to demonise them. On the contrary, society should celebrate the fact that their abilities, which included often excellent memories, especially for facts, a liking for repetitive or routine work, and strong interests in systems analysis, were in high demand in the modern world. If all these positive attributes inevitably came with some negative aspects, most notably, a lack of social skills, including a sometimes shocking lack of tact and a brutal honesty, together with occasional disabling physical sensitivities, then that was a price society should be able to pay.

Thirteen years on, and two best-selling books later, Borat’s cousin has become a major academic guru in the field of autism studies, which has grown into a little cottage industry (see the catalogue of the publishers Jessica Kingsley and numerous online sites). Today, the annals of British achievement in the arts and sciences is being retrospectively raked over---with Bertrand Russell, Patricia Highsmith and Jonathan Swift-- emerging as Asperger’s candidates. Baron- Cohen’s most controversial book, The Essential Difference, which argues that male and female brains are wired differently, and that therefore it is possible for a female to have  a man’s brain, and vice versa, is required reading for anyone interested in transgender politics -- not an issue about which Borat himself would have had anything useful to say. [Thanks H]


Alphabet of Dead Writers

This was entered for a New Statesman competition in 1944. It may have won a prize but its author Edward Marsh notes that it wasn't a first prize. The poem is reprinted in a collection of his poems called Minima (London 1947). Sir Edward Marsh is now mostly remembered as a friend and promoter of Rupert Brooke, although he served as Churchill's private secretary for 10 years. Wikipedia have him listed mainly as a polymath (which he may have been) and note '...he was a discreet but influential figure within Britain's homosexual community.' He was also something of a poet and poetaster editing 5 volumes of Georgian poetry and in 1918 his late friend Rupert Brooke's Collected Poems.

This alphabet is fun (X is always a problem) and it is likely that in 1944 most or all of the references would have been picked up by New Statesman readers, but I have added a couple of notes for these fallen times...the question marks are Marsh's.

Alphabet of Dead Writers

Edward Marsh with Churchill in Africa 1907

A is for Addison, model of prose
B is for Lord Byron, parading his woes.
C for young Chatterton, splendidly lying,
D for old Dyer, whose Fleece wanted dyeing.
E is for Emerson, star-waggon-hitcher,
F not for Beaumont, but only for Fletcher.
G for John Gay, whom his Beggar made rich,
H for Tom Hood with his Song of the Stitch.
I is for Ireland*, in forgery far-gone,
J for James Joyce with his Jabberwock jargon.
K is for Charles Kingsley,that Christian so muscular
L for poor L.E.L**., so pale and crepuscular.
M for Kit Marlowe, whose line was of might,
N for Newman, the pilgrim of light.
O is for Otway, Preserver of Venice,
P is for Pope, friend and foe to John Dennis.
Q for the quaint emblematical Quarles,
R for Lord Rochester, friend of King Charles.
S is for Sterne, a divine somewhat shady,
T is for Tate, coadjutor of Brady.
U for Nick Udall, who wrote Roister-Doister,
V for the Ven'rable Bede in his cloister.
W ? Wainewright, both critic and crook,
X for the bards of the Exeter Book.
Y for Jeames Yellowplush, alias Thackeray,
Z ? Israel Zangwill - I wish he'd been Zachary,
Neatly to finish my little gimcrackery.

* William Ireland(1775 -1835) forger of Shakespearean documents etc. also Gothic novelist and poet.

**Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802 –1838), English poet and novelist, better known by her initials L. E. L.

John Dyer (1699-1757) was a Welsh poet and painter and Thomas Wainewright (1794-1847) was a writer, critic, artist and serial killer (poison). Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady were 17th century hymn writers and psalmists -their version of Psalm 34 'Through all the changing scenes of life' is still regularly sung today. John Dennis (1658-1734) was a critic and dramatist (admired by Dr. Johnson) who was attacked in a venomous pamphlet by Pope...


Grocer’s sign—late Georgian style

Sent in by a loyal jotwatcher, writer and collector of ephemera. Look out for Shillibeer bus tickets!:

Rarer than a copy of Oscar Wilde’s Ravenna or W. B. Yeats’ Mosada ? It’s a Shillibeer bus ticket or a Georgian price sticker.

You are unlikely to find either of them - unless you’re incredibly lucky when you go through the papers of your great great grandfather who had lived in London in 1829, or discover them down the back of a chest of drawers that belonged  to your great great uncle, who was a grocer in Bristol. I haven’t found a Regency bus ticket, but I do have this early 19th century grocer’s sign. I found it doing service as a protective card wrapper around a book of heraldry from the 1770s. A third of it is missing, which poses some intriguing questions. Is the grocer inviting his customers to enter his ‘Cheap Sh(op)’ and buy White Wine Vinegar, Common (Vinegar) and G(inger ) ? Or could the second word be ‘Shelf’ and G(inger) Grains of Paradise ? Another question relates to the card itself. Was it removed from the book for use in a shop, or did the shopkeeper use the placard as a book protector after the grocery promotion ?

These are two puzzles that perhaps only a social and economic historian could solve. So I found one. Jon Stobart of Northampton University, an acknowledged authority on domestic consumption trends in Europe, recently published Sugar and Spice, an excellent analysis of the English grocery trade in the long eighteenth century. I had actually reviewed this book, so I knew I had the right man for the job.

It turned out to be a pretty useful e mail exchange. Stobart was initially overjoyed that such a piece of ephemera had survived over two centuries. In fact he confessed that he had never seen such an item before. He agreed that the probable date was late Georgian, though he rejected my suggestion that the second word might be ‘shelf’ on the grounds that in the early nineteenth century condiments were sold loose rather than in bottles or jars. He too thought that the G word was ginger.

I am not exaggerating when I say that this is an extraordinary find, and Stobart had every right to be excited. It is probably even rarer than Shillibeer bus tickets, since these may have been retained as souvenirs by keen Regency travellers. There is no reason whatsoever why a grocer operating c 1808 should keep a piece of card that he once used to advertise a cheap line in condiments----unless, of course, he could use it as a temporary book cover. [RMR]


Reverend E. E. Bradford / Love in Earnest (Norfolk)

A rare photograph of the Reverend Doctor E. E. Bradford, devotee of 'Lads Love', posed outside his very humble Fenland church at Nordelph near Downham Market, Norfolk. Alas, admirers of such gay poetic classics as Passing the Love of Women and The Romance of Youth, failed to save the structure, built in 1865, which Pevsner dismissed in less than two lines as 'E.E. with a fleche between nave and chancel.'

In 2010 it was demolished, seemingly with hardly a protest, which is a great shame. Thankfully, the Rectory survives.

Bradford was a genuine eccentric of English letters, who published his innocuous verse, not imagining, or perhaps not caring, if it provoked loud laughter from the likes of Oxford sophisticates like Betjeman and Auden , to name but two. Actually, in 1935 Betjeman visited the poet, then aged 75. He found a lonely, 'saintly' man, isolated for want of a car, a modernist who believed in sexual freedom and birth control, but who was also fond of ritual. Betjeman’s recorded impressions of the man showed sympathy for his predicament:-

Vicarage hall, dark, grim…Terribly poor. Bradford hurried out of room in dressing gown.’ Quite safe in here, only other side of house is falling. I’m not bothered’. High voice, like Cottam’s. Talks a lot and v. fast. Sit on hard kitchen chairs. I sat by fire in arm chair. .likes conversing in French…Various reproductions of Tuke and Millais’ ‘Princes in the Tower’. Pictures everywhere. All very neatly docketed…

Bradford died in 1944. It’s a wonder that no-one has written a biography. Stephen Fry lives just a few miles away. Not a busy man, perhaps he should give it a go. [ETH]




Found in A.E. Waite's Occult Sciences (1891) between Belomancy and Capnomancy (divination by smoke) this method of detecting witches and sorcerers and also using a Bible for prediction etc., Belomancy, by the way, is divination by arrows...

Occasionally the forms of divination exceeded the bounds of superstition, and passed into the region of frantic madness. There was a short way the sorcerers which was probably the most potent discoverer of witchcraft which any ingenuity could devise. A large Bible was deposited on one side of a pair of weighing scales. The person suspected of magical practices was set on the opposite side. If he outweighed the Bible he was innocent; in the other case, he was held guilty. In the days of this mystical weighing and measuring, the scales may be truly said to have fallen from the eyes of a bewizarded generation, and to have revealed " sorcery and enchantment everywhere."

Bibliomancy, however, included a more harmless practice, and one of an exceedingly simple character. This was the opening of the Bible with a golden pin, and drawing an omen from the first passage which presented itself. Books like the Scriptures, the "Following of Christ," and similar works, abound in suggestive and pertinent passages which all men may apply to temporal affairs, but declares that he had recourse to it in all cases of spiritual difficulty. The appeal to chance is, however, essentially superstitious.


I once met Anton Mosimann

Another 'once met' jot - this from tireless jotter RMR. He reminds me there was anthology of such meetings edited by Michael Ondaatje (with David Young and Russell Banks) called Brushes with Greatness (Toronto, 1989). Many of the contributions are Canadian but there are one or two superstars (John Lennon, Muhammad Ali, Dalai Lama, Jayne Mansfield). They solicited contributions for a second volume but so far it has not been published.

Anton Mosimann

It was just before Christmas 1998. The brilliant Swiss chef had recently opened a swanky new restaurant in the heart of Belgravia . I wanted to see this, but, I was more looking forward  to discussing with him the six thousand cookery books he had amassed —one of the finest collections in private hands—and most of which had recently installed into his Mosimann Academy in trendy Battersea. And there was always the chance of a free meal….

Some hope. There was no food on offer, but I did get a coffee, which was very, very good. I sat in the restaurant drinking it while waiting for Mosimann to turn up. While I sipped I gazed up at the framed menus from around Europe that adorned the walls from top to bottom. I waited, and waited…

Eventually, the great man arrived and he showed me into what looked like a board room. On the table were a dozen or so of his favourite books, which included one dated 1507,the oldest cookery book ever printed. The actual interview was less interesting. Before we began he made it known that he could give me only twenty minutes. Mosimann seemed less than happy talking in English and I had to lead him a little in his responses. There were too few nuggets to chew on, but two stuck in my mind. The first was his determination to try out many of the recipes from his antique books and manuscripts, including a 1737 recipe for cheesecake, which he revealed came from Germany, rather than America. The second was his conscious decision not to decorate his restaurant with pictures, but to frame his huge archive of menus, which had accumulated over many decades, and stick them on the walls instead. The latter I considered a stroke of genius.

The twenty minutes flew by. Looking back at what I had actually recorded, I knew that there wasn’t enough, so I turned to his autobiography and amplified some of his answers to my questions.

In fact, this interview was the shortest I’d ever done—some of the others have gone over the three hour mark. But I’m glad I did it. How often can one boast of having handled a cookery book printed in 1507?


Wheatley – a motley collection

Two press cuttings about a sale of papers belonging to  Dennis Wheatley (1897-1977) writer of thrillers and occult novels. Dated 5th August 1984. The reports, which mention the sum of money (£1100) as if it were a fortune, differ in emphasis and depth. One reporter, Cowdry, seems to have gone through the lot himself. He also seems to suggest that the secret lover had become a 'difficulty', requiring the services of a private detective.

Riddle of an author in love
By Phillip Jordan

Dennis Wheatley prided himself on being the writer who put sex into English thrillers.His middle-class heroes and heroines used not only to battle the forces of Satanism, but also to go to bed with each other even when they were not married.
Yesterday, seven years after Wheatley died, a mystery worthy of his own pen developed – over his love life.
The clues came from an auction in Bournemouth of 15 boxes of the author's personal papers. They included a bundle of about 100 letters and notes from women.
The mystery is over seven letters posted to him in 1926, three years after he married his first wife Nancy.
One thanks him for 'last night'. Another says: 'You must know, darling, I would do anything to be with you.' All are signed lovingly, 'Gwen'.
But the correspondence ends abruptly in the first week of December, 1926. And alongside the letters in Lot 464, which fetched £1,100, are a series of reports from Thomas P. Cox, private investigator.These, headed 'G.M.L.,' give details of how detectives followed a woman from the same address in Ashley Gardens, London, which was at the top of the letters from 'Gwen'. 
And they are pinned to other reports tracking down the background of an apparently wealthy shipbroker, Thomas Albert Clements of Lansdowne Road, Holland Park. And a man from Reading, seemingly known to 'G.M.L.,' called Kilpatrick.
In 1931 Wheatley married for a second time. His new wife Joan Johnstone had the middle name Gwendoline. But the initials did not match: She was 'J.G.J.' not 'G.M.L.'.
Auctioneer Trevor Langton said that the man selling the papers had no connection with Wheatley, whose second wife died in 1982.
The author's son, publisher Anthony Wheatley, said: 'We know nothing about this auction.'

Wheatley sale nets £1,100
by Quentin Cowdry

A motley collection of jottings, handwritten manuscripts, photographs and other personal effects belonging to the thriller writer Dennis Wheatley, who died in 1977, was sold yesterday for £1,100.
The buyer, Mr John Spake, an antiques dealer, of Harberton, Devon, said he had not properly inspected the lot, which comprised 1,000 items heaped into 15 cardboard boxes, before going to the auction.
 “It probably will take weeks – even months – to sort out the stuff; then I’ll be able to say whether I’ve done well or caught a cold.”
The collection was offered to Garnet Langton Auctions, of Bournemouth, whose lots never normally reach more than £1,000, by a local man who has refused to disclose his identity. It is understood, however, that he is not a member of the Wheatley family.
I viewed the items shortly before they were auctioned. Roughly packed in battered cardboard boxes were no less than 1,000 items, including the writer’s will, letters from relatives and friends, manuscripts and personal photographs.
In one particularly dilapidated box I discovered some receipts from a private detective, a Thomas S. Cox, or Queen Anne’s Gate, London, whom Mr Wheatley had hired in 1927 to “tail” and make inquiries about a number of people, including the occupant of 121 Ashley Gardens, Westminster.
The occupant, on the evidence of a series of letters also sold, was a woman called Gwen, who had been writing love letters to Mr Wheatley a few months earlier.


A Treasure Hunt in London 1973

Samuel Charters was a London based American writer on the Blues and ethnic music. He was also a poet and on Sunday, February 11, 1973 he decided to publicise his latest book of poetry with a treasure hunt around London where people found the various poems. This is a transcription of the leaflet he distributed about the hunt. In the case of Speaker's Corner he writes 'I'll be near fence by Park Lane from 11 to 2. I won't be arguing with anybody and will be wearing poems. If it's really raining I'll leave about 1.' At the end of the day Charters would be at the Holly Bush pub in Hampstead from 7:30 onwards with extra copies of poems. A merry enterprise, one wonders how it went...London has changed a bit since then.


Instructions for the treasure hunt

A Note

Most of these poems were written while I was going from place to another place in London over the last year and a half. Sometimes I finally got there, sometimes I just stood around looking at something else and never got there at all, Sometimes I was just getting out of a pub or just going to a pub. Somewhere early in the time this started I bought a notebook in a stationer's in Camden Town, and the poems were scribbled into it as I went along. Since I wrote the poems in so many parts of London it seemed most natural to publish them by scattering them back across London again, in the places where I'd written them, The place where they were written and the poems themselves, in a way, were too closely bound together to be separated.

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Coloured pyjamas in Alassio

From Gone Abroad (London 1925) by the somewhat forgotten travel writer Douglas Goldring. The chapter 'In Liguria' has much on the beach resort of Alassio at the time much favoured by the English. However according to Goldring they tended to leave at the beginning of June when the heat was becoming too much, to be replaced by native Italian tourists. Goldrings notes on fashion are interesting, portraying a lost world of men and women walking around the town in coloured pyjamas and screaming Italian bathers with exotic swan shaped rubber rings:

Then follow the two months of its "grand season," when prices are nearly doubled and the town makes more money than during the whole half-year of the English occupation. On July 1st, from Milano and Torino, comes the first train-load of holiday-makers, and from then onwards till the end of August the town is gradually packed to suffocation with Italian business people and their wives and families. The transformation is amazing. As if by magic the sands become covered with bathing-tents and thronged with bathers, from Santa Croce almost to Laigueglia. The sea is studded with little white-sailed yachts, canoes and motor-boats. Inside the town, caffés one had scarcely noted during the winter blossom out with bands and concerts and are filled with visitors eating gelati, spumoni and cassate, or drinking their "caffea espresso." The narrow Via Umberto Primo—nicknamed by the English "'the main drain "—swarms with young men in brilliantly coloured pyjamas. The shops are freshly stocked, and many of them display fantastically shaped bathing bladders of red india-rubber, some in the form of fishes, others fashioned like swans. And everywhere one sees pyjamas—purple pyjamas, blue pyjamas, pink pyjamas, striped pyjamas. So attached are the Italians to this form of costume that, despite the entreaties of the hotel-keepers, they often wear their pyjamas at dinner, and even dance in them afterwards. . .

To the traveller familiar with a French or English plage the bathing at Alassio, from the spectacular point of view, is depressing. Anyone expecting to find dark-eyed houris tripping about on the sands in brightly coloured maillots would be doomed to disappointment. To begin with, unlike her brothers, the middle-class girl of Northern Italy, in my experience, is rarely blessed with charm or comeliness. For ten Apollos, with bronzed skin and rippling muscles, you will not encounter more than one passably good-looking female. And whereas the men are allowed to bathe in comfort in short drawers, the girls are forced, by Italian prudishness, to clothe themselves in thick, voluminous and unbecoming garments of which the predominant colour is a dingy black. Their method of bathing is for a group of about a score to enter the sea together. They walk in up to their knees, form a circle, and bob up and down, uttering the while shrill screams of terrified delight. They can continue doing this for about two hours at a time.