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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mark Gatiss's Lucifer Box

Mark Gatiss may be better known for his work on TV, which ranges from (co-)writing and (often) starring in The League of Gentlemen, Doctor Who and Sherlock, presenting (the recent A History of Horror series about horror movies) and, as a novelist, writing a number of Doctor Who licensed books for the BBC. But my favourites amongst the dozen or so books he's been involved with are the trio that feature Lucifer Box, a foppish artist who is also secret agent. Sexually voracious, ruthless and prone to sardonic humour, he's a James Bond for the Edwardian era. The first book was turned into a graphic novel by artist Ian Bass and there's rumours that the BBC are making a TV series, although that rumour was floating around in 2007, so it may come to nothing.

I especially like the third cover... you'll have seen plenty of similar illustrations here on Bear Alley as it was clearly influenced by the old 1960s Pan Books' editions of old Agatha Christie novels with covers painted by W. Francis Phillips. In fact, quite a lot of thought has gone into the designs... again, I like the hardcover edition of the first book, which ran faux adverts on the endpapers in the style of the time.

The Vesuvius Club (Simon & Schuster, 2004)
Pocket Books 978-074348-379-0, 2005, 240pp. Cover by Ian Bass

The Devil in Amber (Simon & Schuster, 2006)
Pocket Books 978-074348-380-3, 2007, 248pp, £7.99. Cover by Ian Bass

Black Butterfly (Simon & Schuster, 2008)
Pocket Books 978-074348-381-0, 2009, 204pp, £7.99. Cover by Mark Thomas

Paul Temple in Order to View part 14

(* © Evening News)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Comic Cuts - 28 January 2011

Another week of not much news interrupted by a mid-week panic to get my accounts done and my tax paid before the deadline. I should be used to doing these by now as I've been freelancing for twenty years and the only time HM Revenue have bounced a return was the year they wouldn't let me claim a pizza as tax deductible—despite my strenuous arguments that hotels don't let you cook your own food and it costs a hell of a lot more to eat in a restaurant than nipping into Sainsburys and cooking for yourself. If MPs can claim food as a legitimate expense, why can't I?

The point is, I've never had any problems bar that one, yet I always feel panic stricken despite the fact that I'm pretty well organized about keeping receipts and bills, invoices and bank statements and everything else I need to fill in my tax returns. Even when we moved I made sure that I could find everything. It should be a fairly relaxing job, tapping away with a calculator, filling out a form, writing out a cheque. Nothing scary about that.

But I do wonder how many people say "Yes" to the question: "Are you involved in any tax avoidance schemes?"

The rest of the week has been pretty low-key. My regular weekly chores have been done and I put in some more work on the Hurricane/Champion Index, which will be the first of the new series indexes I'm planning to publish, chosen because they were both "the companion paper to Valiant". The introduction clocks in at around 6,600 words at the moment with more to write. The format will be A4, stapled, softcover with a colour cover, lots of b/w illustrations inside and as complete as I can possibly make it as far as identifying artists and writers. There's also a second project up my sleeve which should debut around the same time... but I'll get to that closer to the time. Hopefully next month.

The latest Paul Temple adventure will be coming to an end shortly so I'm not sure what strip we'll be running next week as we head in February. I'll see what I can find. Hopefully I'll also post the framework for the next part of the Peter Cheyney covers' gallery over the weekend. This will only be partly complete and I'll add more as and when I get time, as I did for the first part. There will be a third section to follow and, once that's filled, I'll repost the lot.

Today's random scan is another pairing... a mate of mine over in the States has been scanning some particularly rare old British paperbacks for me to clean up. These scarce little pamphlets were often badly printed on the worst scraps of paper available and many of them haven't survived the sixty plus years in the best of condition. Mind you, it's a miracle they've survived at all, so I'll post a few of these gems whenever I get a chance.

For a starter, here are two old US pulp yarns given the paperback/pamphlet treatment by Gerald G Swan in 1943 (Into the Fourth Dimension, below) and 1953 (The Man on the Meteor, our column header). I'm still missing a scan of The Shadow Girl from 1946 if anyone has a copy.

Paul Temple in Order to View part 12

(* © Evening News)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Paul Temple in Order to View part 7

(* © Evening News)

Bertram Smith

I get a lot of enquiries through Bear Alley - mostly from people trying to track down a book (in which case I can rarely help as I'm not a dealer) or trying to price a book or some artwork (in which case... ditto). The more interesting ones are whether I can track down information on an author or artist. I've had a reasonably good hit rate recently and this is one such case. (But before I get  too big-headed about it, there are plenty of cases where I can find nothing. I only write up the successful ones!)

So... Bertram Smith. Paul Norman asks about his book Totty, which was published by Latimer House in their 'Crusader' range of children's books in 1950 - as was the sequel, A Perfect Genius. Pauls says: "My copy says it was first published by Harper Bros in 1908, but the story seems much more modern than that, and I wondered if you could shed any light on it?"

The short answer is "No", but I do wonder if the later printings were abridged or modernised as the Latimer House editions are around 150 pages where the originals are around 240. That may just be post-WWII austerity as paper restrictions were still in force, but it could mean they were abridged or revised to keep the length down.

A.N.M., reviewing the book in the Manchester Guardian (15 July 1908), said: "Mr. Bertram Smith's Totty should not, perhaps, be put into the hands of schoolboys, for it might make them conscious and laboured imitators of this ingenious adventurer. His doings are narrated by an abettor and admirer - the Mr. Watson to his Sherlock Holmes, - and though we cannot claim that the narratives are masterpieces of schoolboy life, they may fairly be called jolly good ripping, or whatever indicates the brisk excursion over the lower slopes of humour. Totty's invention of an entirely fictious boy who makes his mark on the school and even baffles the masters is capital, and so is 'The Great Tontine' and it is all good, hearty, funny stuff."

The follow-up was reviewed by P.R.B. on 6 October 1909: "The writer of fiction who announces that his hero is a genius is asking for trouble. To portray genius with success is to possess it. The task loses none of its immensity when the hero in question has to be a genius and a public-school boy at the same time. after gaily giving a hostage to fortune in the title of his new series of sketches of school life - A Perfect Genius - Mr. Bertram Smith proceeds in the most light-hearted way to redeem it. There is no mistake about Totty Grahame's genius. It takes the rare form of continually getting into mischief (and very often out) without doing anything of which one need be ashamed. To outline his escapades at second hand would be sacrilege. There is only one small detail that invites adverse criticism. The shorthand master is a Manchester man, and his taste in slang is indicated as being not quite up to public school form. And yet his censors use the word 'nipper' where he uses 'kid.' Surely this should be the other way about. It is a trivial point, perhaps, but one expects perfection from Mr. Smith, for he has caught the atmosphere of a small public school as no other writer one remembers. After reading this book one sees what Mr. Kipling was driving at in Stalky and Co. - something one almost missed in it - for Mr. Kipling was Mr. Kipling all the time, whereas Mr. Smith is merely the creator of Totty and does not obtrude his personality on the reader. But enough. Buy the book for a Christmas present for your nephew, and don't forget to read it youself, for there are some good hearty laughs to be got out of it."

High praise for schoolboy books isn't the usual, although Bertram Smith was himself a regular writer for the Manchester Guardian, writing light and humorous columns on boyhood, many of which were collected in his 1917 book Days of Discovery. Intrigued, I went to my first port of call in all things relating to schoolboy stories, Robert Kirkpatrick's The Encyclopedia of Boys' School Stories, which has an entry for Bertram Smith but lacks any biographical information. I can now add a little.

Bertram Smith was born at New Brighton, Cheshire, 1876, the son of James Smith, a cotton broker, and Ramsay M. Smith, his wife. Both were born in Scotland but lived at Dalmorton House, Rowson Street, Liscard, Cheshire, with their children (at least six) and servants. Bertram also began life as a cotton broker but seems to have strayed from his father's business to become a farmer and writer, his articles appearing regularly in Punch.

He began caravanning in the late 1890s in Cheshire with a caravan called Triumvir which had several successors before he purchased Sieglinda, or the Perfect Caravan. He became an authority on caravan building and touring and authored The Whole Art of Caravanning (1907). A review of his later book, Caravan Days (1914), describes it as written in a humorous but not obtrusively funny style, good spirited but not high spirited. Describing trips through every county in Scotland but Argyll, and "days that are so completely recalled have been vividly lived ... This is the first truth about Caravan Days. There is nothing in them that does not count. They are free from slack and empty periods. They leave no room for killing time. They are busy days, packed with insistent occupations - days in which there is always much to do and everything is worth doing. They are beautifully monotonous, and yet no two are the same."

One reference I've been able to find is in The British Journal of Nursing, dated 29 May 1915 which notes that the Wounded Allies Relief Committee were sending two caravans to Belgium in support of Allied troops, one fitted out as a soup kitchen, the other with hot baths. "The Committee has been presented by Mr. Bertram Smith of Beattock with two other caravans and these are now in process of equipment."

As well as being devoted to the open-air, Smith was also a fan of sports and was an authority on curling and other winter sports, describing for his readers the international competitions held each year Switzerland.

During the Great War he campaigned for increasing the production of the land and, as a lowland farmer himself, began operating one of the new motor tractors in all weathers on the farms in his district. Never strong in health, he died at his home, Broomlands, Beattock, Dumfriesshire, on 21 March 1918 after a short illness.

Smith appears to have had a kind and generous disposition, supporting many activities and raising funds where he could. One such was noted in Punch on 2 April 1919, shortly after his death: "The sum of £91 11s. 0d. generously collected by various schools in South Africa for the "Sporpot" (savings-box) fund, which was suggested in these pages by Mr. Punch's friend, the late Mr. BERTRAM SMITH of Beattock, has been distributed amongst the Belgian refugees who have spent four and a half years of exile at Beattock and have just left to return to their own country."

Obituaries appeared in The Bookman (vol. 54) and Country Life (vol 43), but I don't have access to either of these.

PUBLICATIONS

Fiction (series: Totty Grahame in both)
Totty. The truth about ten mysterious terms. London & New York, Harper & Bros., 1908.
A Perfect Genius. London & New York, Harper & Bros., 1909.

Non-fiction
The Whole Art of Caravanning. London, Longmans, 1907.
Caravanning as a Holiday Pursuit. 2nd ed. Beattock, B. Smith, 1910.
Caravan Days. London, J. Nesbit, 1914.
Days of Discovery. London, Constable & Co., 1917.
Running Wild, with a preface by Ward Muir. London, Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1920.
Crashie Howe, a Hill Parish, with an introduction by Sir William Robertson Nicoll. London, Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1921. [sketches]

(* The photograph at the top of the page showing Bertram Smith at the kitchen range at the back of one of his caravans. The second shows the interior of the Triumvir. Both are from The Bystander, 29 May 1907, and had previously appeared in Smith's book The Whole Art of Caravanning.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Paul Temple in Order to View part 6

(* © Evening News)

Red Seal Checklist

A Checklist of Red Seal Books Published by L. Miller (London)
By Victor A. Berch

Off-hand, I can’t really recall what prompted me to undertake this compilation of books published by the L. Miller Company of London, England under the series title of Red Seal Books.
___More than likely, it was my observation that I noticed that Allen J. Hubin, in his massive compilation of crime fiction, 1700-2000, had designated these books as hard-cover publications; when, in reality, they were all paperback publications.  I queried Mr. Hubin about this and his explanation was a simple one. It seems that if he does not designate a book as a paperback publication, the computer program automatically designates the book as a hard-cover book by default. Once that was explained, I noted that many, if not all, were republications of American paperbacks. And so I was anxious to know their origins. But first I had to know if such a list had been previously published.
___I contacted the English bookseller, Jamie Sturgeon, and asked him if any such list had been compiled before.  He graciously responded that he believed that another English acquaintance of mine, namely Steve Holland, had posted such a list some years back.
___I asked Steve if he could send me a copy, which he promptly forwarded on to me.
___Looking over the list, it was a bare-bones listing of book number, author, title and date.
___I then decided to check the list against the British Library’s holding and it soon became evident that there were some discrepancies between the list and the holdings of the British Library.  And so I set out to redo the list and decided to track down the American publications from which they were taken.
___Therefore, I would like to thank Jamie Sturgeon for putting me in touch with Steve Holland; for Steve Holland for supplying his listing; and for my friends, Kenneth R. Johnson and Katherine Godfrey, for supplying some of the copyright information  that was  missing from the on-line copyright records.

51. Chase, Borden, pseud. of Frank G. Fowler
___Lone Star [1956]
___Source: GM 236 [1952] ©May 7, 1952

52. Miller, Wade, pseud. of H. Billy Miller and Robert (Allison) Wade
___South of the Sun [1956]*
___Source: GM 331 [1953] © Sep. 4, 1953
___* The British Library has incorrectly dated this 1953, obviously taken from the US copyright date.

53. Mara, Bernard, pseud. of Brian Moore
___French for Murder [1956]*
___Source: GM 402 [1954] © May 5, 1954
___* The British Library has incorrectly dated this 1954, obviously taken from the US copyright date.

54. Merriman, Chad, pseud. of Giff(ord) (Paul) Cheshire
___Blood on the Sun [1956]
___Source: GM 271 [1952] © Dec. 5, 1952

55. Whittington, Harry (Benjamin)
___Fires That Destroy [1956]
___Source: GM 190 [1951] © Oct. 5, 1951

56. Cook, Fred James
___The Girl on the Lonely Beach [1956]
___Source: GM 431 [1954] © Sep. 3, 1954

57. Connolly, Paul, pseud. of Thomas G(rey) Wicker
___Tears Are for Angels [1956]
___Source: GM 224 [1952] © Mar. 5, 1952

58 Kay, Cameron, pseud. of Gore Vidal
 ___Thieves Fall Out [1956]*
 ___Source: GM 311 [1953] © July 3, 1953
___* The British Library has incorrectly dated this 1953, obviously taken from the US copyright date.
        
59, Westwood, Perry, pseud. of Llewellyn P. Holmes
___Six-Gun Code [1956]*
___Source: GM 299 [1953] © May 6, 1953
___*The British Library has incorrectly dated this 1953, obviously taken from the US copyright date.

60. Taylor, Robert W
___The Glitter and the Greed [1957]
___Source: GM: 461 [1955] © Mar. 1, 1955

61. McGuire, Atha
___Homicide Hussy [1957]
___Source: GM 502 [1955] © Aug. 1, 1955

62. Heuman,William
___Guns at Broken Bow [1957]
___Source: GM 131 [1950] © Dec. 6, 1950

63. Clements, Calvin [Joseph. Sr.]
___Satan Takes the Helm [1957]
___Source: GM 252 [1952] © Sep. 5, 1952

64. Glendinning, Richard (Edwin) (Jr.)
___Who Evil Thinks [1957]*
___Source: GM 262 © Nov. 5, 1952
___*The British Library has incorrectly dated this 1952, obviously taken from the US copyright date.

65. Adams, Clifton (H.)
___The Colonel’s Lady [1957]
___Source: GM 230 [1952] © Apr. 2, 1952

66. Cushman, Dan
___Jewel of the Java Sea [1957]
___Source: GM 142 © Feb. 7, 1951

67. Stewart, Logan, pseud. of Leslie R. Savage . Jr.
___They Died Healthy [1957]
___Source: GM 182 © Sep. 5, 1951

68. Marsten, Richard, pseud. of Evan Hunter
___Runaway Black [1957]
___Source: GM 415 © July 2, 1954

69. Bellah, James Warner
___The Apache [1957]
___Source: GM 155 © Apr. 5, 1951
___Note: A shorter version appeared as 'The Apache Curse' that ran in Saturday Evening Post, Feb. 17, 24 and Mar. 3, 1951

70. Zane, Lehi, pseud. of Sam S. Taylor
___Brenda [1957]
___Source: GM 264 [1952] © Nov. 5, 1952

71. Stewart, Logan, pseud. of Les Savage, Jr.
___War Bonnet Pass [1957]
___Source: GM 137 © Jan. 5, 1951; in notice 1950

72. Merriman, Chad, pseud. of Giff(ord Paul) Cheshire
___Ridge Runner. [1957]
___Source: GM 305 [1953] © June 6, 1953
___Note: Previously published in Blue Book Magazine under the title 'East to Wyoming', Sep. 1952, under the author’s real name. A novella expanded for book publication.

73. Heuman, William
      Roll the Wagons [1957]
      Source: GM 146 [1951] © Mar. 7, 1951

74. Jenkins, Will(iam) F(itzgerald)
___Son of the Flying Y [1957]
___Source: GM 161 [1951] © June 6, 1951

75. Himmel, Richard
___Two Deaths Must Die [1957]
___Source: GM 373 [1954] © Feb. 3, 1954

76. Cohen, Octavus Roy
___The Corpse That Walked [1957]
___Source: GM 138 [1951] © Jan. 5, 1951
___Note: A shorter version appeared in Collier’s under the title 'Masquerade in Miami', Jan. 10, 17, 24, 31, Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28, Mar. 7, 14, 21, 1942.

77. Williams, Charles
___Go Home Stranger [1957]
___Source: GM 371 [1954] © Feb. 3, 1954

78. Runbeck, Margaret Lee
___Three Secrets [1957]
___Source: GM 150 [1951] © Nov. 6, 1950
___Note: Based on the screenplay by Martin Rakin and Gina Kaus from the story in Good Housekeeping, Aug. and Sep. 1950.

79. Hatten, Homer (Alvin), 1904-1955.
___Westport Landing [1957]
___Source: GM 157 [1951] © May, 4, 1951

80. Stanford, Don(ald) (Kent)
___The Slaughtered Lovelies [1957]
___Source: GM 116 [1950] © Aug. 2, 1950

81. Meservey, Russ(ell) C(lare)
___Masquerade into Madness [1957]
___Source: GM 302 [1953] © June 6, 1953

82. Hatten, Homer (Alvin), 1904-1955.
___Conquest [1957]
___Source: GM 215 [1952] © Feb. 6, 1952

83. Glendinning, Richard E(dwin) (Jr.)
___Terror in the Sun [1957]
___Source: GM 237 [1952] © May 7, 1952

84. Alan, Henry, pseud. of Alan Henry Orloff
___Wagon Train Woman [1957]
___Source: GM 344 [1953] © Oct. 7, 1953

85. Ballard, Willis Todhunter
___Walk in Fear [1957]
___Source: GM 259 [1952] © Oct. 3, 1952

86. Dean, Dudley, pseud. of Dudley Dean McGaughey
___Ambush at Rincon [1957]
___Source: GM 318 [1953] © July 6, 1953

87. Albert, Marvin H
___Lie Down with Lions [1957]
___Source: GM 1955 © Sep. 29, 1955

88. Baker, Ledru [Jr.]
___And Be My Love [1957]
___Source: GM 183 [1951] © Sep. 5, 1951

89. Chaze, Elliott
___Black Wings Has My Angel [1957]
___Source: GM 296 © May 6, 1953

90. Craig, Jonathan, pseud. of Frank E. Smith
___The Dead Darling [1958]
___Source: GM 531 [1955] © Nov. 2. 1955

91. Adams, Clifton
___Whom Gods Destroy [1958]
___Source: GM 291 [1953] © Apr. 3, 1953

92. Packer, Vin, pseud. of Marijane Meaker
___Look Back to Love [1958]
___Source: GM 324 [1953] © Aug. 5, 1953

93. Adams, Fay, pseud. of Velma Clark
___To Love, To Hate [1958]
___Source: GM 333 [1953] © Sep. 4, 1953

94. Kieran, James
___Come Murder Me [1958]
___Source: GM 150 [1951] © Mar. 7, 1951

95. Fischer, Bruno
___Fools Walk In [1958]
___Source: GM 209 [1951] ©Jan. 4, 1952; in notice 1951

96. Williams, Charles
___Hell Hath No Fury [1958]
___Source: GM 286 [1953] ©Mar. 4, 1953

97. Williams, Charles
___Hill Girl [1958]
___Source: GM 141  [1951] © Feb. 7, 1951

98. Mitchell, Will
___The Goldfish Murders [1958]
___Source: GM 118 [1950] © Sep. 6, 1950

99. Loomis, Noel M.
___The Maricopa Trail [1958]
___Source: GM s661 [1957] ©Apr. 27, 1957
      
100. Miller, Wade, pseud. of H. Billy Miller and Robert (Allison) Wade
____The Big Guy [1958]
____Source: GM 279 [1953] ©Feb. 4, 1953

101. Myers, Virginia
____Escape from Morales [1958]
____Source: GM 320 [1953] © July 6, 1953

102. Boswell, Charles and Thompson, Lewis
____The Girl in Lover’s Lane [1958
____Source GM 334 [1953] © Sep. 4, 1953

103. Whittington, Harry (Benjamin)
____Brute in Brass [1958]
____Source; GM 595 [1956] © Aug. 30, 1956

104. Goodis, David
____Street of No Return [1958]
____Source: GM 428 [1954] © Sep. 8, 1954

105. White, Lionel
____The Snatchers [1958]
____Source: GM 304 [1953] ©June 6, 1953

106. Packer, Vin, pseud. of Marijane Meeker
____Dark Intruder [1958]
____Source: GM 250 [1952].© Sep. 5, 1952

107 Miller, Wade, pseud. of H. Billy Miller and Robert (Allison) Wade
____The Tiger’s Wife [1958]
____Source: GM 173 [1951] © Aug. 8, 1951

108. Rosen, Victor
____A Gun in His Hand [1958]
____Source: GM 154 [1951] © Apr. 6, 1951

109. Fischer, Bruno
____House of Flesh [1958]
____Source: GM 123 [1950] © Oct. 6. 1950

110. Heller, Mike, pseud. of Arnold Hanno
____So I’m A Heel [1958]
____Source: GM 664 [1957] © Apr. 27, 1957

111. Goodis, David
____Cassidy’s Girl [1958]
____Source: GM 189 [1951] © Oct. 5, 1951

112. McPartland, John
____I’ll See You in Hell [1958]
____Source: GM 578 [1956] © Apr. 26, 1956

113. Mason, Raymond
____And Two Shall Meet [1958]
____Source: GM 395 [1954] © Apr. 5, 1954

114. Craig, Jonathan, pseud. of Frank E. Smith
____Come Night, Come Evil [1959]
____Source: GM 716 [1957] © Nov. 29, 1957

115. Vail, John, pseud. of Robert Carse
____Blonde Savage [1959]
____Source: GM 476 [1955] © Apr. 28, 1955

116. Hynd, Alan
____Violence in the Night [1959]
____Source: GM 473 [1955] © Mar. 4, 1955

117. Mooney. Booth
____Here Is My Body [1959]
____Source: GM 218 [1952] © Feb. 6, 1952

118. Blood, Matthew, pseud. of Davis Dresser
____Death Is A Lovely Dame [1959]
____Source: GM 423 [1954] © Aug. 3, 1954

119. Fischer, Bruno
____The Fast Buck [1959]
____Source GM 270 [1952] © Dec. 5, 1952

120. Fox, Gardner F(rancis).
____The Gentleman Rogue [1959]
____Source: GM 394 [1954] © Apr. 5, 1954

121. Nye, Nelson (Coral)
____The Red Sombrero [1959]
____Source: Dodd, Mead & Co. Silver Star Western [1954] ©July 26, 1954. hc.

122. Schweitzer, Gertrude
____The Obsessed [1959]
____Source: GM 125 [1950] © Oct. 6. 1950

123. Ames, Robert. pseud. of Charles Clifford
____The Devil Drives [1959]
____Source: GM 269 [1952] © Dec. 5, 1952

124. Brady, Matt, pseud. of Joseph Shallett
____Take Your Last Look [1959]
____Source: GM 376 [1954] © Feb. 3, 1954

125. Goodis, David
____The Wounded and the Slain [1959]
____Source: GM 530 [1955] © Nov. 2, 1955

126. Brewer, Gil
____77 Rue Paradis [1959]
____Source: GM 448 [1954] © Dec. 30, 1954 in notice: 1955

127. McPartland, John
____The Wild Party [1959]
____Source: GM 596 [1956] © Mar. 30, 1956

128. Frazee, Steve
____Gold at Kansas Gulch [1959]
____Source: Lion Books LL130 [1953] © Mar. 27, 1953

129. Flagg, John
____Murder in Monaco. [1959]
____Source: GM 628 [1957] © Jan. 2, 1957

130. Borden, Lee, pseud. of Borden Deal
____The Secret of Sylvia [1959]
____Source: GM 744 [1958] © Feb. 27, 1958

131. Margolies, Leo
____Three Times Infinity [1959]
____Source: GM 726 [1958] © Jan. 2, 1958]

132. Appel, Benjamin
____Sweet Money Girl [1959]
____Source: GM 385 [1954] © Mar. 8, 1954

133. Packer, Vin, pseud. of Marijane Meaker
____Whisper His Sin [1959]
____Source: GM 426 [1954] © Sep. 3, 1954

134. Castle, Frank
____Lovely and Lethal [1959]
____Source: GM 695 [1957] © Aug. 29, 1957

135. Douglas, Dean, pseud. of Douglas De Mean
____Man Divided [1959]
____Source: GM 407 [1954] © Jun. 7, 1954

136. Hogan, Ray
____Ex-Marshal [1959]
____Source: Ace Books D-186 [1956] © Nov. 9, 1956

137. Foster, John
____Dark Heritage [1959]
____Source: GM 486 [1955] © Jun. 3, 1955

138. Whittington, Harry (Benjamin)
____You’ll Die Next [1959]
____Source: Ace Books D-63 [1954] © Jul. 23. 1954

139. Hogan, Ray
____Longhorn Law [1959]
____ Source: Ace Books D-248 [1957] © Oct. 11, 1958

140. Marr; Reed, pseud. of P. J. Reed-Marr
____Women Without Men [1959]
____Source: GM 638 [1957] © Jan. 29, 1957

141. Brewer, Gil
____Little Tramp [1959]
____Source: Crest Books 173 [1957] © Jun. 11, 1957

142. Fischer, Bruno
____The Lustful Ape [1959]
____Source: Lion Books 38 (as by Russell Gray) [1950]

143. Packer, Vin, pseud. of Marijane Meaker
____The Twisted Ones [1959]
____Source: GM s861 [1959] © Mar. 31,1959

144. Christian, Paula. pseud. of Yvonne McManus
____Edge of Twilight [1959]
____Source: Crest Books S-267 [1950] © Jan. 13,

145. Hogan, Ray
____Land of the Strangers [1959]*
____Source: Ace Books D-260 [1957] © Dec. 12, 1957
____* Incorrectly cited as No. 45 in British Library Catalog

146. Cooper, Morton
____Delinquent [1959]
____Source: Avon Books T-247 [1958] © June 17, 1958

147. Keene, Day
____Flight by Night [1960]
____Source: Ace Books D-170 © [1956] © July 12, 1956

148. Whittington, Harry (Benjamin)
____A Woman on the Place [1960]
____Source: Ace Books S 143 [1956] © Feb. 8, 1956

149. Ronns, Edward, pseud. of Edward S. Aarons
____Say It with Murder [1960]
____Source: Graphic Books. 76 [1954] © Mar. 24, 1954

150. Roeburt, John
____Corpse on the Town [1960]
____Source: Graphic Books 27 [1950] © Oct. 24, 1950

151. Ronns, Edward, pseud. of Edward S. Aarons
____Point of Peril [1960]
____Source: Bouregy & Curl [1956]© June 25, 1956

152. Shirreffs, Gordon D.
____Range Rebel [1960]
____Source: Pyramid Books 192 [1956] © Mar. 30, 1956

153. Ronns, Edward, pseud. of Edward S. Aarons
____Gang Rumble. [1960]
____Source: Avon Books T-262 [1958] © Aug. 19, 1958


RED SEAL GIANTS

[1] Verne, Jules
____Around the World in 80 Days [1957]
____1st French ed. Le Tour du Monde en Quatre-vingt Jours
____Originally published serially in Le Temps (Paris), Nov. 6, 1872-Dec, 22, 1872. Book form: Paris: J. Hetzel, Jan. 30, 1873
____1st American ed.: Around the World in Eighty Days
____Boston: James R. Osgood © June 22, 1873
____1st British ed.: Around the World in Eighty Days
____ London: Sampson Low, Marston, Low & Searle Nov. 1873

[2]  Jackson, Joseph Henry and Offord, Lenore Glen
____The Girl in the Belfry [1958]
____Source: GM s688 [1957] © July 30, 1957

[3] Jessup, Richard
____The Young Don’t Cry [1959]
____Source: GM s440 as The Cunning and the Haunted [1954] © Nov. 2, 1954

[4] Packer, Vin, pseud. of Marijane Meaker
____5:45 to Suburbia [1959]
____Source: GM s731 [1958] © Jan. 30, 1958

Friday, January 21, 2011

Comic Cuts - 21 January 2011

How can we be three-quarters of the way through January already? It seems like only the other day that we were putting up the Christmas decorations! Life tends to speed up the older you get but there seem to be less hours in the day to cram everything I want to do into.

I've had a gratifyingly busy week, which means that the rent is paid and I can go out Saturday night with a clear conscience (it's a birthday party). My week's work for Look and Learn and the Illustration Art Gallery is done... a piece for The Guardian on Joe Gores should appear shortly and I've put together another article for Dodgem Logic and scanned 120 book covers, should they need them. I actually scanned over 160 covers in total this week, all of which I'll get around to posting at some point.

And I've also been busy with my other project, which is actually more than one project. One part of this is a lot of work on my old comic indexes, revamping and revising them with the notion of getting them all back into print. I've done a couple of books through Book Palace Books covering a lot of the pocket libraries, but I'm planning to some others in a more affordable A4 magazine format. As I have to keep stopping to earn a living, I'm not sure when the first one will be complete as each will hopefully be accompanied by a comprehensive introduction, but I'm well on my way on one volume and have started working on a second. Price is still to be determined and whilst they won't be dirt cheap, they will be a lot cheaper than you see the old editions selling for.

I received a copy of Shaqui Le Vesconte's Look-In Calendar this week, a neat little spin-off to promote his  launching of a new site dedicated to Look-In. Each month is accompanied by a large illustration of lost Look-In art, ranging from strips dropped during industrial action to try-outs for strips later assigned to other artists and a couple of proposed strips that were never picked up. Fascinating stuff for the collector and a neat and practical calendar to boot. This month is the 40th anniversary of the launch of Look-In and Lew Stringer has posted a column looking back at the very first issue which is well worth a look.

Next week we'll continue Paul Temple - hope you're enjoying it... speaking personally, I love these old newspaper strips and wish there were more of the older strips in print as. With the exception of James Bond and Modesty Blaise (from Titan) and Jeff Hawke (via Jeff Hawke's Cosmos), are there decent runs of any other adventure strip available? A few years ago, Penguin India announced that they were planning to publish the complete run of Garth but I suspect the costs of cleaning up strips in the Mirror archive probably made the volumes too expensive to produce; Jane, another Mirror strip, has had a patchy career in book form; and there have been a couple of American reprints of Danielle and Axa. But that's about it.

The number of reprints of British comics is even more sparse. Just to take one little area that I was involved in, the Carlton pocket library volumes (Death or Glory, Unleash Hell and 11 others you can find listed over to your left if you scroll down) reprinted the equivalent of 125 issues from various old IPC-owned titles... but that's a tiny fraction of the 5,450 pocket libraries they own. I did some statistics for an article a couple of years ago and discovered that there were something like 28,000 pocket libraries published in the UK of which half were original stories. It rather puts 125 reprints in perspective.

So enjoy Paul Temple while you can because it's highly unlikely you'll ever see the strip in book form.

And so to today's random scans... two covers painted by John L. Baker. I did a small gallery of Baker's Agatha Christie covers just over a year ago and I've stumbled across quite a few more covers he did for Fontana in the intervening twelve months. These are just a couple, one out column header and one below. Enjoy... and I'll be back next week.

Paul Temple in Order to View part 5

(* © Evening News)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Paul Temple in Order to View part 1

A new year, a new strip. I was lucky enough to be able to run a full Paul Temple strip back in November/December ('Paul Temple in Death Sitting Down', which you can find here, although you'll have to work your way from the bottom of the page up to read them in the correct order). And here we have another one. Not sure when this dates from, although some time in the 1960s. The artist is John McNamara, a fine New Zealand artist about whom I wrote a biographical sketch over on the Illustration Art Gallery blog.

OK, that's enough introduction... on with the action...

(* © Evening News)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Comic Cuts - 14 January 2011

There's an old saying that God gives with one hand and takes away with the other. While I'm not a God-fearing, or even God-believing, person, you can't but wonder sometimes whether life, fate, destiny, karma—call it what you will—is taking potshots at you. Last week I mentioned taking on some additional work for Look and Learn which, frankly, is a very handy gig at what's proving to be a financially shaky time. And this week I hear that one of the magazines I've done some work for in the past is going onto hiatus after the next issue. It's simple synchronicity... there's no hand at work behind the scenes trying to screw with me but sometimes, just sometimes, you do wonder. Then, just when you think everything's going down the pan, a commission arrives from The Guardian.

So I've had a bit of an up-and-down week.

I'm hoping to have some news of a couple of other projects I've been working on soon. One I've been working on (although more off than on) since the tail end of November and the other is something that has been hanging around for quite some while as a possibility; the latest news I heard was that it was looking more likely to happen. And, in my usual "play it close to your chest and don't jinx it" way, I'm not going to say what either project is. Sorry.

Instead, here's something from someone who is talking about a project...

Shaqui Le Vesconte, who runs the amazing Gerry Anderson-related Technodelic website, is launching a new site dedicated to Look-In, the "junior TV Times" that ran throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Under the banner Look-In Unfamiliar, it promises to reveal "The Look-In You Never Saw" and Shaqui is promoting the site with a desk-top calendar of unseen artwork from the comic. He's also giving some away, so check out the site before the deadline on Sunday week (23 January).

Garth, the old Daily Mirror strip, now has a fan page on Facebook.

The BBC's The One Show had an interview with Gerry Anderson on Monday as part of a round of interviews he's doing to promote a new set of Royal Mail stamps (the piece, by Carrie Grant, starts about 8 minutes in). Even bigger news has also started to filter out that Anderson has completed a deal to make a new Thunderbirds series, which he discussed during a 3-minute interview on 5Live Drive (about 1hr 27m in). He wasn't able to say much, having signed a non-disclosure agreement, but did say that the new show would retain all the popular old elements but will be made "with today's technology and today's thinking and today's pace". Although he danced around the question about whether the show would be made with puppets or CGI, he emphasized the fact that it would be modernized. Can we assume, then, that it will be CGI?

Being a huge fan of the old Thunderbirds, the main problem I see is scheduling. I think Anderson made a pretty good job of Captain Scarlet a few years back but the show was utterly ruined by the way it was shown on TV. I cannot imagine that anyone in television these days would broadcast a kids show in an uninterrupted, hour-long slot, despite the fact that Thunderbirds re-runs have been hugely successful. The originals run for around 50 minutes, but any new show is likely to be around 22 minutes long, so the long, languid build-ups, the lengthy scenes of the Tracy brothers getting into their craft, the secondary storylines (often featuring The Hood or Lady Penelope and Parker) and the thrill-upon-thrill climaxes are almost certainly going to be condensed or dropped to fit the slim running time. And after ten minutes some lousy Saturday morning presenter is going to interrupt the story just as it gets into full flow and you'll have to sit through some stupid, grungy game or the wailing of some kid-friendly band before you get part two.

OK, so let the kids have this format, but make each show a two-parter and, at some point, show them uninterrupted for the people who do have an attention span—44 minutes plus adverts nowadays equals an hour-long slot. Less time than the original, but at least it will give the writers a chance to put some plot into the stories and keep the bits that actually made the show worth watching.

Time, I think, for today's random scan... a triple treat today.

I was going to use Eliot Crawshay-Williams' Parade of Virgins, which turned up when I was digging around looking for a couple of the Donald Henderson Clarke books I posted the other day. It's not as spicy as the title makes it sound but what a fabulous cover by W. J. Roberts, an artist I've covered in the past. I spent a little time digging around the internet in the hope of finding more books from the same series (no luck, I'm afraid) but I did stumble across the following two examples of Hutchinson's Red Jacket series. So Eliot rises to our column header and I present these two for your viewing pleasure. The first is definitely by S. Abbey and the second is probably someone else.

See you next week.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

G H R Young

G. H. R. Young was the author of a single collection of short stories, the British Library containing no further information, not even a full name. The book, The Talking Skull, is subtitled "And Other Selected Short stories--Grave & Gay" and contains 19 stories in 128 pages, a mixture of mystery, drama, satire and humour, the tales often having a sting in the tail.

The author was George Henry Robert Young, and I was fortunate enough to find a family tree with some details about his career. Young, born on 5 March 1904, was the son of Joseph Chamberlain Young, a New Zealand businessman and entrepreneur, and his wife Teresa (nee Fair). George attended Victoria University College, Wellington, but appears not to have completed his education as his name does not appear in lists of graduates from the university. In 1926, his play Just as you say, Dear, was performed at the Wellington Grand Opera House instead of the usual annual Students' Association Extravaganza to generally positive reviews.

George brought the play to England, arriving in January 1927 (his occupation described on passenger records as "copy-writer") and it debuted at the 'Q' Theatre in Kew on 24 January 1928, although so many changes were made to put it on that George washed his hands of it.

Another play, Dangerous Women; or The Green Geraniums. A farce in 3 acts by George H. R. Young, was registered for copyright in the USA on 22 September 1933 by a Fred Duprez of London (presumably an agent). And a report in the (New Zealand) Evening Post for 30 May 1940, reveals that another play, The Lady from Aberdeen, was shortly to be produced in London. A review of yet another play, Atmosphere for Murder, performed at the Chepstow Theatre Club, appeared in The Times (27 April 1950). The complex plot would appear to revolve around a prostitute, "a good girl gone wrong", who pines for something better. But by the end she has been exposed, her husband appalled, the villain of the piece killed, the heroine cast out by her parents, her husband then killed in error by the heroine and the heroine dead by her own hand. "It is one of those pictures of vice in which every stroke betrays the hand of innocence ... If it was not exactly life, it was a good deal more amusing," says the reviewer.

Although it's an odd combination of initials, there appear to be two further George Henry R. Youngs... a second George was born in Bristol in 1893, the son of George J. Young, who was married to Ada M. Weaver in 1914 and subsequently to a Hetty Lane in 1919. He died in 1974 in Tiverton, Devon. Then there's George Henry R. Young, born in 1916 who died in Portsmouth in 1987 who, I suspect, is the George H. R. Young who married Lee O. Thompson in Portsmouth in 1967.

If we exclude these from the frame, there's a further marriage of a George H. R. Young, to Gladys I. Brown in Marylebone, London, in 1930. I may be stretching to believe that this is our playwright. However, it does appear that George most likely returned to New Zealand in the 1930s as I can find no further trace of him in the UK.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Eric Williams

Born in London on 13 July 1911, Eric Williams joined the R.A.F. on the outbreak of war and served in Bomber Command. In December 1942 he was shot down over Germany and was eventually imprisoned in Stalag-Luft III from which he made his successful escape. He was awarded the Military Cross.

After escaping from Poland, Williams returned to England via Sweden and Williams was posted to the Philippines for the remainder of the war. It was on the voyage home after the Allied victory that he wrote a short book based on the escape entitled Goon in the Block (1945).

A few years later he wrote a fictionalised (third-person) account as The Wooden Horse, calling himself Peter Howard, which sold over a million and a quarter copies by 1955. It was originally published in 1949 and filmed in 1950 with Leo Genn, Anthony Steel and David Tomlinson as the three escapees; Williams' comrades were actually Michael Codner ("John Clinton"), who was killed on active service in Malaya in 1952, and Oliver Philpot ("Philip Rowe"), who later wrote his own account of the escape under the title Stolen Journey. Both also received the M.C. for their exploits.

Williams amassed a collection of escape literature and edited The Escapers (1953), a collection of firsthand stories of escape from the 16th century to modern times, and a sequel, More Escapers (1968).

Williams lived in a stone-and-wood house he built on the cliffs of Start Bay in Devon, where he continued to write. He died on 24 December 1983.

The Wooden Horse (London, Collins, 1949)
Fontana Books 2, 1953, 256pp. Cover by John Rose?
----, 2nd imp., 1955.
----, 3rd imp., Feb 1956.
----, 4th imp., 1956, 256pp, 3/-. [same cover as above]
The story of the Wooden Horse that two British officers built in a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1943 is likely to become as immortal a legend as that of the mythological device on which it was modelled, the Trojan Horse. The latter was designed as a means of entering a beleaguered city, while its 20th century counterpart was built as a means of escape from what the Germans believed to be an escape-proof camp.
__How the wooden vaulting horse was used to conceal an escape tunnel, and how Eric Williams (the 'Peter' of the story) and his companion made their hazardous way across war-time Germany to freedom, must always rank as one of the masterpieces of escape literature.
The Tunnel (London, Collins, 1951)
Fontana Books 62, 1955, 251pp, 2/-. Cover by John Rose
Eric Williams' account of his escape from a German prisoner-of-war camp by means of a wooden horse will surely become as immortal as the device on which it was modelled. In The Wooden Horse he confined himself to the story of that successful escape; he omitted his earlier adventures and the abortive attempts. Now in The Tunnel, still calling himself Peter Howard, he tells how he was shot down while on a bombing mission over Germany; how he managed to get within a stone's throw of the Dutch frontier but was caught by a search party of foresters; how he escaped from his captors and this time succeeded in reaching Holland only to be captured again.
__Readers of The Tunnel will feel the shock of prison camp life with its perpetual hunger, lack of privacy, and isolation from normal existence; will watch the reaction of different temperaments to the inactivity and monotony; will be excited by the brief moments of drama, and warmed by the growing spirit of comradeship and determination which paved the way for later success.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Carve Her Name With Pride

Violette Bushell was the daughter of a French mother and English father who had met during World War I, born in Paris in 1921. She grew up in London and was working in a department store in Brixton when the war broke out. Aged 19, after a whirlwind romance, she married Etienne Szabo, a 31-year-old French officer whom she met in July 1940. The couple had a daughter, Tania, but Etienne never saw her as he died at the Battle of Alamein in 1942.

Violette Szabo had joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1941 and, following her husband's death, she offered her services to the British Special Operations Executive. Fluent in French, she received intensive training and was parachuted into occupied France near Cherbourg in April 1944. Code-named 'Louise', she helped reorganise a French Resistance network that had been broken up by Germans and reported on factories being used by the Germans.

After returning to England for five weeks, she returned to France a few days after D-Day and was working with the Maquis sabotaging communication lines. She was captured by Germans when a car in which she was a passenger was stopped at a German roadblock. In Limoges, she was interrogated for four days before being moved to Paris and then to Ravensbruck concentration camp where she suffered from hard labour and malnutrition before being executed on or around 5 February 1945, aged only 23. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre.

R. J. Minney's Carve Her Name With Pride was published in 1956 and filmed the following year. Released in February 1958, the film starred Virginia McKenna and Paul Schofield. More recently, two further biographies have appeared: Violet Szabo: The Life That I Have by Susan Ottaway (2002) and Young, Brave and Beautiful (2007), the latter an exhaustive study of her mother's two missions by Tania Szabo.

Carve Her Name With Pride by R. J. Minney (London, George Newnes, 1956)
Pan Books G103, (Jan) 1958, 190pp, 2/6. Cover by Cy Webb, Movie tie-in.
Fontana 1486, 1965, 190pp, 3/6.
----, 2nd imp., Nov 1965.
----, 3rd imp., May 1967, 190pp, 3/6. Photo cover
Fontana 2104, 4th imp., 1969, 190pp.
----, 5th imp., Jun 1971, 190pp

(* With thanks to Curt Purcell for the additional scan.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Comic Cuts - 10 January 2011

A quick note from me: I've only just had a chance to update and post the Recent Releases and Upcoming Releases columns, which haven't appeared since the beginning of last month. Hopefully I'm back on track with them.

This time round there are some additional titles from Rebellion (up to September) and some juggling from Titan, whose Johnny Red: Falcon's First Flight volume is definitely due to appear shortly after a long, long wait. Copies of the book exist, so if you haven't ordered it yet, order it now!

I've been asked about the announcement of Heros the Spartan, but at the moment I don't have any further information other than that the ISBN has been registered and Amazon are pretty quick to update their site with newly registered books.

It's also worth noting that Century 21: Classic Comic Strips from the Worlds of Gerry Anderson Vol.5 seems to be back on the schedule for April. This was delayed following the closure of Reynolds & Hearn and may now carry another imprint, but at the moment it's credited to R&H at Amazon.

One last thing, as we're talking about comic reprints. Commando is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011 and will have a year-long series of classic reprints of early issues. The latest releases include The Desperate Days which was originally Commando #12, and it looks pretty darn splendid in its original Ken Barr cover. If you want to relive your childhood reading and support the only British adventure comic to have survived since the 1960s, pick up a Commando... and if you can't find them in the shops, you can always order directly from the new Commando webite, which has a few interesting new features and also offers a digital subscription.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Percy G. Griggs

My mate Jim Mackenzie sends over an enquiry: "I have a copy of The Bard's Cloak by Percy G. Griggs on loan," he says. "It is a first class boy's adventure story of unusual intensity about three characters called Pat, Rodda and Allan. I was stunned when reading it to think that this author seems to have avoided any critical acclaim. I suppose it is because the title is misleading people into thinking it is a story about Wales and Welshness. Pitkin, the publisher, doesn't seem to be that well-known in this field of childrens' books but this story is much better than any other emerging in this field in the period between 1948-1955." But what do we know about Griggs? The book usefully provides a little information - and the above photo - from which I've been able to cobble the following.

He was born Percy George Griggs on 24 August 1907, his birth registered in Wandsworth "within occasional sound of Bow Bells". "Percy G. Griggs at an early age showed that he had inherited a full share of the Londoner's lively wit and agility of mind," reveals the biographical sketch.

Griggs worked as a mechanic in a London Omnibus garage, as a junior clerk in a City Company; he was a garage proprietor, manufacturer, policeman, salesman, journalist and advertisement writer. He was married to Winifred Mary Allen (b. 29 January 1911) in Hammersmith in 1934 and they lived at 109 Nork Way, Banstead, Surrey, for many years.

Percy Griggs served in the Air-Sea Rescue Service between 1942 and 1945, and spent some eventful yearrs on the English Channel as Engineer on a high speed rescue launch. For relaxation during the 'Blitz' he had begun writing stories for children and published his first book, a collection of fairy stories, in 1944. His experiences in the services convinced him to turn his hand to writing adventure novels, the first of which, Treachery at 40 Knots, appeared from an Australian publisher in 1947, followed by The Treasure on Weir Island in 1949. "He believes that the convincing adventure story must have a factual background, and occasionally alarms his friends by sudden excursions to caverns in Wales, night rides on Railway-engine foot-plates, and any other extraordinary activity he may feel necessary to repair deficiencies in adventurous experience."


The Bard's Cloak, published in 1950, seems to have been his last novel for boys and girls, although he did continue writing for a publisher called Medallion Press Ltd. for whom he adapted various folk tales as well as writing original stories that were made into pop-up books. This was around 1951/53, after which he seems to have stopped writing.

One imagines that Griggs' other business was able to capitalise on the end of paper rationing and the steadily growing economy as, following his demobilisation from the R.A.F., he helped establish an advertising agency in London. His output of fiction would not have sustained his family, which by then included four children: Deidre M. (b.1936), Barbara G. (b.1940), Andrew R. (b.1942) and Timothy D. (b.1948), whom Griggs credited for "their insatiable appetite for stories" which spurred him to inspiration and their "exacting standards of judgment" which provided "an invaluable check to the appeal of his work."

Griggs continued to live in Banstead until his death in 1967, aged 59. His wife continued to live at the same address, briefly relocating to 8 Nork Way, Banstead, prior to her death in 1979.

PUBLICATIONS

Books for children
Once in a Blue Moon: Fairy Tales, illus. Edward Lander. London, Hammond, Hammond & Co., 1944.
Treachery at 40 Knots. Sydney, Shakespeare Head, 1947.
The Treasure on Weir Island. London, John Langdon, 1949.
The Donkey and the Dragon, illus. Edward Lander. London, John Langdon,1949.
Dandy Lion, illus. Edward Lander. London, 1949.
The Squirrel and the Gnome. [publication information unknown]
Up the Wooden Hill. [publication information unknown]
The Bard’s Cloak, illus. George Bowe. London, Pitkin, 1950.
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, retold by Percy G. Griggs. London, Medallion Press, c.1952.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears. London, Medallion Press [Medallion Junior Play-Tales], c.1952
The Hare and the Tortoise. London, Medallion Press [Medallion Junior Play-Tales], c.1952.
The Story of Cinderella. London, Medallion Press [Medallion Junior Play-Tales], c.1952.
The Cow Who Gave No Milk, illus. Edward Lander. London, Medallion Press, c.1953. [pop-up]
The Fish that Grew Too Fat, illus. Edward Lander. London, Medallion Press, c.1953. [pop-up]
The Goat with the Tar-brush Beard, illus. Edward Lander. London, Medallion Press, c.1953. [pop-up]
The Swan from the Stars, illus. Edward Lander. London, Medallion Press, c.1953. [pop-up]

Two John Freemans?

Here's another poser sent in by my pal John Herrington. I thought I'd share it with you because we have our own John Freeman in the world of comics who maintains a list of other John Freemans (scroll down the linked page).

Here's the background:

In the 1920s, British publisher Hurst & Blackett published four novels credited to John Freeman.

Fan of Belsey's. 1922.
This My Son. 1922.
Punch and Holy Water. 1923.
Kennedy's Second Best. 1927.

Confusing the issue of authorship is the fact that two different John Freemans have been credited with various combinations of the books: John Frederick Freeman (1880-1929), a British poet and critic, and John Dolliver Freeman (1864-1943), a Canadian writer. According to John Herrington:

Some sources say the last two titles were by the Canadian author. National Library of Canada  says this, as well as listing the other two titles as by the British author.

But the entry for John D Freeman in Who's Who Among North American Writers does not list any of the above titles. While the Times obituary for John F Freeman in 1929 says that among a few novels he wrote Fan of Belsey's and This is (sic) my son. Google Books lists three of the books by John D. Freeman, but Punch and Holy Water by John Freeman. There is no entry for John D in the Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. The Wikipedia entry for John F Freeman does not list any novels."

Fan of Belsey's and Kennedy's Second Best seem to be set in Canada, which would imply the Canadian Freeman."

And this is what I've come up with...

Copyright records in the US for 1926 list John Dolliver Freeman (1864- ) as the author of Kennedy's Second Best: A story of the Great North-west by John D. Freeman. New York, Chicago [etc.] Fleming H. Revell Company [1926].

The book was also published in the same year by McClelland & Stewart of Toronto, so the US edition may be a reprint. Both Canadian and US editions are available via AbeBooks, the author listed as John D. Freeman; the British Library also list this title as appearing as by John D. Freeman so I believe I'm on safe ground when I say that was the byline they were published under.

Since the other guy is John Frederick Freeman, I think it would be reasonably safe to credit John Dolliver Freeman with that particular book.

I can't find any of the others in contemporary copyright records.

Fan of Belsey's. The tale of the ironside was published in the UK by Hurst & Blackett in 1922 but was originally published in Canada by a minor publisher, The Musson Book Company (Toronto). A Canadian dealer has a copy "Fiction story of Eastern Canada. Signed, with a message, by the author in the inside front cover. No date given but author's message dated 1923." However, according to the Canadian National Catalogue it was published in 1921. Just to confuse the issue, the Canadian National Catalogue has the book listed twice, once giving the author as John Freeman, 1880-1929 (i.e. John Frederick), and a second listing under John D(olliver) Freeman. Only one library (University of Victoria) lists the latter; four list the former, including the National Library.

So, on reflection, I suspect this is indeed by John Frederick Freeman, as implied by the Times obituary. Perhaps Hurst & Blackett received the manuscript and put it out to Canadian publishers to offset their costs ahead of the British printing.

The other two books, This My Son and Punch and Holy Water were then published by Hurst and Blackett. Neither had Canadian editions nor American editions as far as I can see. I'd say these were by a British writer and the Times obituary at least connects John Frederick Freeman to This My Son. Punch and Holy Water is credited to John Freeman, 1864- (i.e. John Dolliver Freeman) by one Canadian university library, but I'd suggest this is in error.

And there's a fifth book: God's Infidel (London, Williams & Norgate, 1924) listed by the British Library. Which I'd put at the feet of John Frederick Freeman.

So I'd say John Frederick Freeman wrote Fan of Belsey's (1921), This My Son (1922), Punch and Holy Water (1923) and God's Infidel (1924) and John D. Freeman wrote Kennedy's Second Best (1927).

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Bernard Home Thomson

Another enquiry, another run around the family records circuit. Bernard Home was credited with a couple of thrillers in the 1930s and has previously been identified as Bernard Cecil Home (1895- ). However, copyright records prove this to be an error and the author was, in fact, Bernard Home Thomson. The problem? Bernard Home Thomson doesn't turn up on any birth, marriage or death records.

I could find only a couple of immediate traces: he served with the British Red Cross during WWI (the abbreviation BRX had me scratching my head for ages!); and he was elected to The Arts Club in 1918.

Possibly the most useful trace was the marriage of his daughter Juliet Daniel to Richard Hugh Sedley Allen in 1945. Marriage records give a fuller account of her name as Juliet E. B. Daniel. A notice of the marriage says she was the daughter of Bernard Home Thomson and the late Mrs Thomson.

Further digging reveals that she was was Juliet E. B. Thomson who married John S. Daniel in 1936; they had a son, Julian Abbott Daniel. Her full name was Juliet Ella Bernardine Allen who was born on 4 June 1909, died Chichester, W. Sussex, in 1983. A look on the census for 1911 shows that she was living in Chelsea.

And that leads to Bernard Henry Home Thomson, 37 (b. c.1873/74), also living in Chelsea, and presumably the Bernard Henry H. Thomson who marries at St. George Hanover Square in 1905 to either Rose Duke or Helen M. Scholfield. There's a Rose May Thomson living in Chelsea in 1911 and also a Helen Margaret Thomson (b. c.1881) who is more in line with her Bernard's age.

Bernard H. H. Thomson is in the 1901 census, aged 27, living in Chelsea. The son of Zoe Thomson, he was born in Bishop Thorpe, Yorkshire and had a younger sister, Madeline, also born in Yorkshire.

Working backwards: in 1891 Zoe (already widowed) is living with son Wilfred Forbes Home Thomson (33, born in Oxford) and Madeline Ita Mary Thomson (15). Wilfred, incidentally, married in 1899 which makes me wonder if he is the father of Ivo Wilfred Home Thomson, born in York on 14 October 1902.

Now, Zoe Thomson (b. c.1836) turns up in the 1861 census, born in Athens, Greece, but a British subject, and married to William Thomson (b. c1819, Whitchurch, Cumberland) [corrected to Whitehaven, Cumberland] with children Ethel Zoe Thomson (4), Wilfred F. H. Thomson (3) and Jocelyn H. Thomson (1), all born in Oxford. Dad is Provost of [unreadable] Coll. Chaplain to the [unreadable] and author.

In the 1871 census, Zoe is still with William, but now with Ethel (b. Oxford, 14), Zoe (b. Oxford, 8), Beatrice (b. London, 6) and Alexandra (b. Bishop Thorpe, 3) and now living in Bishop Thorpe. Dad has a more legible occupation this time: Archbishop of York.

William has an entry at Wikipedia and I also found a lengthy and interesting article about him here which is mostly derived from his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (not online), from which we learn that William and Zoe had nine children (four sons, five daughters). We also learn that Zoe was the daughter of James Henry Skene, British consul at Aleppo, and the granddaughter of James Skene of Rubislaw, the friend of Sir Walter Scott. A quick dig around library listings turns up a book about her: Zoe Thomson of Bishopthorpe and her friends by Edith C. Rickards, with a preface by Basil Thomson (London, John Murray, 1916). Basil was the third son of William and had a very interesting career as a spycatcher as well as writing novels, someone worth taking a look at in the future.

So, we should now be possible to list all the children...

Ethel Zoe (b. Oxford, 1856)
Wilfred Forbes Home Thomson (b. Oxford, c.1857)
Jocelyn Home Thomson (b Oxford, 31 August 1859; d. 13 February 1908)
Zoe (b. Oxford, c.1860)
Basil Home Thomson (b. Oxford, 1861; d. 1939)
Beatrice (b. London, c. 1862)
Alexandra (b. Bishopthorpe, c. 1865)
Bernard Henry Home Thomson (b. Bishopthorpe, 9 January 1874)
Madeline Ita Mary Thomson (b. Bishopthorpe, c.1875)

A search for William Thomson in Bishopthorpe (sic) turns up William in the 1881 census but no sign of the rest of his family. Just some servants. In fact, there seems to be no sign of Zoe or any of the family at all in the census.

All of which brings us back to Bernard Henry Home Thomson, who was educated at Winchester College and received a civil service commission in 1895 as a clerk in the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division. He subsequently trained as a lawyer at Lincoln's Inn where he passed in Roman Law in 1910. He travelled extensively in Germany, Austria, Hungary, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Algeria and Tunisia. He died in Bridport, Dorset, in 1953, aged 79.

PUBLICATIONS

Novels as Bernard Home
Passport to Death. London, Hutchinson & Co., Apr 1937.
Rogue Haven. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1938.