Tag Archives: H.G. Wells

Up and coming authors in 1895

William-Pett-RidgeFound in The Album for August 19th, 1895, are these encouraging words for aspiring fiction writers:-

Let no boy or girl, ambitious of literary fame, fear nowadays that they will be denied a hearing. The one thing necessary is merit—something to say and the power to say it. Granted so much, and industry, success is certain.

Take the case of two young men who have fought their way into success, and with whose careers I happen to be familiar. They are Mr W Pett Ridge (above) and Mr H. G. Wells. Neither had any influence; neither, when they began to write, had friends in the literary world; neither had the advantage of a ‘Varsity education; and yet these two young men have six books between them on the eve of publication. Moreover, the stories and articles and dialogue that make up these books having already appeared in serial form, these authors have already made incomes out of them which barristers or bank-clerks of the same age would consider exceedingly handsome.

How was it done? Just by choosing fresh subjects, by looking at those subjects with fresh eyes, and by having the gumption to know what journals those subjects would suit. Mr Pett Ridge is a London born and bred, and a Londoner who was blessed by nature with a most observant eye, great patience, and quite an abnormal sense of humour…Hardly a day passes but the writes a short story or a dialogue and hardly a night passes but his shrewd brown eyes peer into some corner of the London he knows as well as Mr Gladstone knows Downing Street…
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Harold Monro puts up a sign

An excellent photo of the poet Harold Monro (1879 - 1932). Found in a copy of  his Collected Poems (Cobden Sanderson, London 1933). A handsome man reminiscent of TV's Inspector Lynley, the sign is almost certainly by McKnight Kauffer and was seen in commerce at last year's Santa Monica Bookfair.

There is a good piece on him at the Oxford DNB site. It informs us that he inherited a small income from a family-owned lunatic asylum. He was inspired by H. G. Wells's A Modern Utopia (1905) to start an order of ‘Samurai’, Wells's voluntary ruling class.This 'nascent order' (started with Maurice Browne who also started the Samurai Press) collapsed along with his first marriage in 1908. He opened the Poetry Bookshop in December 1912. It was revived after the war and in 1926 moved to Great Russell Street near the British Museum which is likely to be where he put this sign up.The DNB says this of the shop and HM:

Bookshop parties became famous; despite his chronic melancholy, the reverse side of his idealism, he was a generous host and kindly listener, delighting in serious conversation. Some people thought him handsome, others said he looked like an intelligent horse; he was tall, lean, and upright, with sleek dark hair, thick moustache, long face, and sad eyes. His tactless survey, Some Contemporary Poets (1920), shows little critical insight; his greatest service to his fellow poets was as an enabler.