E.V. Lucas remembered

Sent in by a sharp-eyed jotter this aside on the slightly  forgotten writer and belle-lettrist E.V. Lucas (not to be confused with E.V. Knox who was known as 'Evoe.')

Portrait of E.V. Lucas by the Canadian artist J. Kerr-Lawson

R .G .G. Price revealed some jaw dropping facts about E. V. Lucas (1868-1838) light essayist, biographer of Charles Lamb and lover of dogs, cricket and long country walks, in his excellent History of Punch (1957). On page 194 we find the following remarks on his fellow Punch stalwart:

'More than any other Punch man, he adopted a mask for his work…His literary personality was light, charming and kindly. He appeared as a lover of Georgian week-end cottage life, a bit of a scholar, a bit of a dog lover and a stalwart defender of what he considered the better human impulses. In private he was a cynical clubman, liking to entertain peers to sumptuous meals with champagne and brandy, very bitter about men and politics and the decadence of modern art. He was a great ‘trouncer ‘ of outspoken books  and was rumoured to have the finest pornographic library in London….’

Eh ? Anodyne E.V., author of At the Shrine of St Charles and of Quaker stock, is ‘rumoured to have the finest pornographic library in London.’ Well, in 1957 Lucas had been dead for 19 years , which meant Price was safe from litigation,  but some of his friends and fellow Punch men, might have objected. But they didn’t, as far as I know, and this rather astonishing slur (if you wish to call it that) remains unchallenged to this day.

Incidentally, what happened to Lucas’s curiosa ?

Thanks H. This library never surfaced to my knowledge and its existence may be apocryphal. On the other hand it could be gathering dust in an attic or warehouse somewhere. The claim of 'having the finest collection of erotica in London' has been made of others - I have heard it made of a fringe member of the Bloomsbury Group.

Among his many works probably the most interesting and valuable is the fantasy The War of the Wenuses. Translated from the Artesian of H. G. Pozzuoli a book he wrote with Charles L. Graves (Arrowsmith, Bristol, 1898.)

Noted by Locke and by Currey, who writes: 'A fine parody of H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds. Earth is invaded by beautiful Venusian women. "A 'Punch-style' parody in which the natives of Venus, young ladies, invade earth (in giant crinolines) in a quest for sartorial improvements, devastating all males with the dreaded 'mash' glance.'

2 thoughts on “E.V. Lucas remembered

  1. Charles Simpson

    This piece would have been far better written and edited without resorting to use of a hackneyed cliché such as “jaw dropping.” Detachment and objectivity are the hallmarks of the true researcher or journalist.

  2. max

    Hard to think of any cliches that aren’t hackneyed. It is like ‘totally unique’ which you hear a lot..putting the dunce in redundancy.


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