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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Kay Hammond Davies

This one's a little tale of distraction and obsession. Working on a previous post, I was looking at a publishing list I'd compiled many years ago and spotted the name Kay Hammond Davies. Another candidate for a "mysteries that have me mystified" column, I thought, as I knew nothing about her beyond the titles of a few stories. I then mistakenly thought I'd do a bit of digging to see if I could come up with something... anything... just to make the piece more interesting.

Many hours later I believe I've tracked her down. Not only that, I've got a photograph of her, too!

Back in the early 1980s, when I was just getting interested in researching old paperbacks, comics and magazines, I became fascinated with the publications of Gerald G. Swan, an ex-market stall holder who had turned publisher shortly before the Second World War. Swan produced some of the shoddiest-looking magazines and books imaginable on whatever paper he could find. Interest in Swan was surprisingly high, one reason being that Bill Lofts—researcher extraordinaire into old boys' papers—remembered buying magazines from Swan in the 1930s. Bill's mentions of Gerald Swan sparked my interest and I indexed a few old Swan magazines during trips to the British Library.

One of Swan's authors was Kay Hammond, who contributed to his science fiction and horror magazines, which were of particular interest to me as I was a big fan of SF. As far as I know, there were only four...

Spider Fire (Yankee Weird Shorts 6, Mar 1942)
Hold the Line for Hell (Yankee Science Fiction 11, 1942)
The Dark City (Weird Pocket Library, 1943)
Vashtarin (Weird & Occult Library 1, Spr 1960)

... but a woman writing for a science fiction magazine as early as 1942 was something that stuck in my mind.

Then there was a Kay Hammond Davies who wrote a short novel, Gates of Paradise, for one of the paperback firms contemporary with Swan, Barnardo Amalgamated Industries, a printing firm based in north London.

A Google search for Kay Hammond Davies turned up a story in the 24 December 1947 edition of The Sketch under the hyphenated name of Hammond-Davies. From this little acorn, I discovered the following:

Kathleen Eleanor Hammond was born in Ballytore, Ireland, on 6 June 1900, the daughter of Egerton Hammond (1863-1923) and his wife Selina (née Barrington). Her paternal grandfather was the Rev. Egerton Douglas Hammond (1822-1897), vicar of Northbourne, Kent, in the 1850s and the author of a number of books.

Kay Hammond married Bernard Ewart Davies (1894-1969), the son of William Reginald Davies and his wife Ethel Beatrice (nee Chambers), in 1925 in Eastry, Kent. They adopted the married name Hammond-Davies and had two children, Ann Elizabeth Hammond-Davies (b. 1926) and Judith Egerton Hammond-Davies (b. 1929, m. John L. Shearme, 1949). During this period, Mrs. Hammond-Davies was living at St. Laurence Priory, Canterbury, and , in 1930, earned her Aviator's license from the Cinque Ports Flying Club.

Divorced in 1936, Mrs. K. E. Hammond-Davies was living at Amroth, Long Lane, Hillingdon in 1939, 37 Lansdowne Crescent, London W.11 in 1948/51 and 71 Queens Gate, S.W.7 in 1952/55.

Kathleen E. Hammond-Davies married Philip K. Barnes in Kensington in 1953. I'm a little unsure, but Barnes may have been Philip Kentish Barnes, whose family were greatly involved in cotton merchandising. I'm on firmer ground saying that Mrs. Barnes died after a long illness at Folkestone Nursing Home on 3 June 1967.

Kay Hammond-Davies, c.1930

I have to admit that I'm pleased with the results of my research, even if that glance at her name cost me four hours!

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