Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Charles H. Mansfield

Charles Herbert Mansfield, born in Islington in 1864, was the son of Charles Edward Mansfield (1837- ), a London-born reporter who became City Editor of the Morning Post, and his wife Maria (nee Glass), who were married in 1863. The Mansfields had a second son, Walter Edward, born in 1870.

Charles followed in his father's footsteps, although this was much against his inclination, working as a clerk and then as a successful financial journalist. "The atmosphere of 'stocks' and 'shares,' 'bulls' and bears,' at last began to pall on me," he later revealed. "I grew tired of figures -- they made my head whirl! -- and I longed to relinquish that kind of hard labour in favour of a much brighter and fascinating side of journalism -- that of story writing.

"It is just possible that the desire to produce fiction myself may have arisen from my acquaintance with the fairy tales contained in the prospectuses of joint stock companies, and from hearing the romantic stories -- which I can never hope to excel -- told by some chairmen at the general and extraordinary (occasionally very extraordinary!) meetings of their shareholders!"

As a financial journalist, Mansfield came into contact with many City sharks and shady individuals who preyed on the innocence of small investors. This may account for his having an absorbing passion for the study of criminology. Any great trial was sure to find him an interested spectator. A graphic and realistically portrayed criminal trial was one of the elements of his novel Mystery Limited.

Mansfield said that he felt "thoroughly at home" writing detective tales, often written in collaboration with his younger brother, Walter, under the pen-name Huan Mee. The two collaborated on short stories (for Everybody's, Pearson's, Penny Pictorial and various other magazines) and novels. Charles was also a poet, his verse appearing in The Red Magazine.

In 1891 he was living at 13 Despard Road, Islington, with his wife, Alice, whom he married in 1887, and son, Harold Edward (1889- ). By 1901 the family had moved to 1 West View, Highgate Hill, Islington. For relaxation, he said that he preferred the theatre to any other form of amusement. He was greatly interested in magic but no believer in the occult. His hobby was travelling, delighting in watching the roughest of rough seas rolling in on the wild Cornish coast, although the snow-clad peaks of the Alps fascinated him even more.

Walter Edward Mansfield, also an author/journalist, married to Helen and, in 1901, living in Hornsey with their daughter, Phyllis Ethel (1898- ). He died in 1916 at the young age of 45. I have yet to find the death date for his elder brother, Charles.

Mystery Limited. London, Amalgamated Press (Fiction Lover's Library), 1914.

Novels as Huan Mee (co-written with W. E. Mansfield)
A Beauty Spot. London, Gale & Polden, 1894.
Wheels Within Wheels. London, Ward, Lock & Co., 1902.
The Jewel of Death. London, Ward, Lock & Co., 1902.
Weaving the Web. London, Ward, Lock & Co., 1902.

Collections as Huan Mee (co-written with W. E. Mansfield)
A Diplomatic Woman. London, Sands & Co., 1900.
Solving the Unsolvable. London, Ferret Fantasy, 1980.

1 comment:

  1. Good afternoon, Steve

    Thank you for your blog post on Huan Mee (Charles Mansfield), posted 8/22/2007.
    I am in the middle of a research project on Huan Mee’s “In Masquerade” short story from the Strand Magazine, but have been able to find very little information about Mee or the story.
    Would you be ever so kind to provide me with your sources for the blog post and any additional information you have on this author.

    Thank you so much for your assistance.




Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books