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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hunt the authors

A bit of a change of pace today as I'm using this particular column as an open request for information. I've spent a little time this evening working on the next Fleetway Index volume and particularly on one of the romance libraries that was published by Amalgamated Press in the 1950s. Famous Romance Library, which ran for 171 issues between 1956 and 1961, probably isn't at the top of most people's wants lists but it demands study. Blame the completest in me.

Some surviving payment records have revealed a handful of names of writers. There are a few I recognise and expect to see: Joan Whitford, for instance, as she was a very capable scriptwriter often involved in adaptations; Adrian Vincent was editorially involved, so no surprise he scripted a few; Walter Tyrer was a prolific romance author even if he wasn't known for scripting strips.

But a couple of names are new to me and I've had no luck in tracing any other work by them. It seems unlikely that these people would come from nowhere, write prolifically for a pocket library then disappear again. They simply came from and moved to areas that haven't been indexed—women's romance magazines; maybe even D. C. Thomson's romance picture libraries.

So this is something of a wild shot into the dark in the hope that someone may someday look up the name of an author-relative and stumble upon this request for information.

First up... E. Tierney. This would appear to be a Miss Eileen Tierney, but that's the absolute limit of my knowledge of her. I've found no further work by her but she was one of the most prolific contributors to Famous Romance, debuting with issue 4 in 1956 and writing right through to the end, her last confirmed contribution being issue 156 in 1961, a total of 67 issues, which is 40% of the whole run. Quite a few stories appeared under the pen-name Ellen Gribbon, under which name she may have contributed to other magazines, although I've yet to trace any appearances.

The problem is that there are 33 birth records that could possibly be our Miss Eileen Tierney, presuming that she was indeed born in the UK. If we assume she was at least 20 when she started writing, there are 9 records in 1916-34 and a further 7 dating back to 1905. 16 possibles... but tracking her down is no easy task as there are also 40 marriage records for women named Eileen Tierney. There are 59 Eileen Tierney's on current or recent electoral roles... and I don't even want to contemplate the number of potential names that a search of each marriage record might produce, if there are 59 names for each of the 40 records, that's 2,360 possible suspects. Presuming that she was still alive in the last 10 or so years.

Our second subject is V. Humpherson. Humpherson isn't as common a surname as Tierney, but in this case we only have an initial. If we ignore Victor as a birth name, I've found two possibles in birth records: Vera and Violet but I've don't think either are "our" V. Humpherson—Vera Humpherson, born Ecclesall Bierlow area of Yorkshire's West Riding in 1926, married Clifford D. Cheetham in Sheffield in 1950 and they had at least one son; Violet Humpherson, born Wolverhampton, 1925, married Sydney F. Rubecamp in Wolverhapton in 1945 and subsequently moved out of the UK. In 1949, her address was in Portland, Oregon. In any case, payment records for her work, which appeared in 1959-60, would have been under her married name.

Which means we are looking for a Mrs. V. Humpherson, who was already married before 1959, which is a rather more tricky business as that generates hundreds of potential suspects. However, while I was digging around I've found one good suspect, a Violet M. Humpherson, born Violet M. Jenner in around 1900, who married Edgar C. Humpherson in Hambledon, Surrey, in 1931. Edgar died in 1958, aged 68, and Violet followed in 1963, aged 62.

Now, there are three birth records that might apply to her and each is in the name of Violet May Jenner: Camberwell, London (2Q 1899), Mutford, Norfolk (2Q 1900) and Hambledon, Surrey (2Q 1901). Given the place of marriage, the third seems the most likely of the three.

So now we have a possible suspect, Violet May Humpherson (1901-1963), whose husband died shortly before stories by V. Humpherson began appearing and who died shortly after stories by V. Humpherson stopped appearing. But how to prove that Violet is "our" V. Humpherson?

Just to finish off, here are a few other names from my known authors lists that I have little or no information about :—

H. Fairfield
R. Garner
G. Dunn
J. Heale
D. Leader
D. A. Sampson
E. Jackson
J. Gardner

(* Famous Romance Library © IPC Media; incidentally, all three illustrations are covers for issues scripted by Miss Eileen Tierney.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Violet Rubecamp who married Sydney F. Rubecamp, currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.