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Monday, November 17, 2014

James M. Small

I've always had a fascination for the post-war boom in writing when, despite the paper shortage, there seemed to be dozens of small magazines popping up all over the place to replace regular pre-war markets that had either folded or were stumbling on with reduced page counts. Perhaps the war itself, which resulted in the biggest upheaval in lives seen since the Great War, was partly responsible: young men, many of them away from home for the first time, might have picked up their pens and found comfort in writing – whether it was letters to their families or fiction.

During that post-war period, many new writers had brief writing careers and many of them are completely unknown.

James M. Small, for instance, had a small run of stories published by Gerald G. Swan in the period 1946-50.

Malorky's Lad (Boxing Shorts 2, Jun 1946)
Ghost Gun on the Prod (Hands Up Annual 1947, Nov 1946)
The Doctor Needs a Wife (Affinity, Jan 1947)
Gloves Off!(Scramble, Feb 1949)
Slippered Feet! (Scramble, Jun 1949)
The Fame of the Name (serial; Scramble, Dec 1949-2 Jan 1950)
Rosemary's Indian Prince (Romances, 3 Jun 1950)

Only one, "Ghost Gun on the Prod", was published by someone other than Swan, namely Western Book Distributors. A collecting pal of mine once owned a copy which may reveal the true name of the author, who had underlined the story on the table of contents and written his own name on the opening page of the story and on the reverse of the frontispiece.

His real name was Dennis Small and it would appear that he was a nurse. The information recorded in the book includes the fact that he attended Oxford University, from which he graduated with a BA, was an SRN and SEN (State Registered Nurse and State Enrolled Nurse) and served in the RAF. At the time the note was made, he was living at 25 North Road, Whitehall, Bristol.

Further digging through birth, death and marriage records turns up a possible suspect: Dennis Edward Small, born 19 September 1922, who died in Bristol in 1993. I can't say with any certainty that this is author Dennis Small, but he fits the bill.

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