Monday, August 31, 2009

Henry Lazarus

I do like tales of obscure authors. Doing some digging around on behalf of the SF Encyclopedia I've stumbled upon an odd tale about an author called Henry Lazarus. Nothing was known about Lazarus except that he was active in the 1890s and had no connection with the clarinetist Henry Lazarus, who lived in South Kensington until his death in 1895.

As far as I'm aware Henry Lazarus wrote only two books:

Landlordism. An illustration of the rise and spread of slumland as evidenced on the great estates of the great ground landlords of London. London, The General Publishing Co., December 1891.
The English Revolution of the Twentieth Century. A prospective history, with an introduction and edited by Henry Lazarus. London, T. F. Unwin, July 1894; second edition with a new preface, London, F. L. Ballin, November 1897.

The latter was named the Book of the Month by the Review of Reviews in 1894, "which Mr. Stead describes as a "very elaborate affair—a compound of Carlyle's 'Latter Day Pamphlets,' General Booth's 'Darkest England,' and Mr. Lazaraus's 'Landlordism.'" The book, we are further told, is "an attempt to combine a treatise as to what is, and what ought to be done, with an exposition of what might be accomplished, in the social regeneration of England, together with a more or less fanciful sketch of the means by which the former things were destroyed and all things made new."

The former, meanwhile, inspired a verse in Punch (20 February 1892) which began:
"The Golgotha of Slumland!" That's a phrase as I am told
Is made use of by a party,—which that party must be bold,—
In the name of Mister LAZARUS, a good Saint Pancrage gent,
Wot has write a book on Slumland, and its Landlords, and its Rent.
We have to thank the compilers of Good Reading About Many Books Mostly By Their Authors, published by T. F. Unwin in 1894 (who just happened to have published Lazarus's book that same year), for what little I've found about Lazarus. In a short essay (signed T. v. E.), the author seeks out Lazarus, offers a brief sketch of his work and recommends his book:
THE interviewer is perhaps the best-abused of modern literary ephemerists—if the term be permitted—but he can be serviceable, is serviceable, and even valuable, quite invaluable sometimes. I am an interviewer, of the invaluable species, of course, and I set my mind upon interviewing the author of the "Revolution of the Twentieth Century."
He baffled me many times, but I caught him at last. Authors always fall into my net some time or other. I am the Major Le-Caron of the literary world, and am unbaffleable. One evening I spied my victim at his club; I knew him, he did not know me. When he reads this he will know me, and, as he is an irascible man, he will probably swear. But the public, whom I always have to consider and never the individual—will—well, the public can decide for itself. I wanted to find out the history of the "History of the Twentieth Century," and here it is:— The author has led a varied and adventurous life, seems to have travelled nearly everywhere, and come into contact with life in many forms. Originally trained to commerce (the chapters of his book on finance and trade bear witness to that), he eventually left the path which leads to fortune and became attracted towards the path which leads to misfortune; the path of the social reformer—the saddest intricacies of it—the slums. After some years of vigorous battle there Mr. Lazarus became an authority on slum matters generally, and was invited to draw up a report on the London slums by that admirable body, "The Mansion House Council on the Dwellings of the Poor." Friends to whom he happened to submit the report urged him to publish it as an independent work. He did, and the result was the little book called "Landlordism," which made a sensation. And no wonder: peers, church dignitaries, millionaires, noble ladies—none who were responsible for the awful places had mercy—the slum-owner, rich or poor, was fearlessly exposed in all his ignominious unattractiveness.
But the public wonder soon cooled; the sum of British misery, pauperism, and crime went on apace. An ugly fester had been laid bare; society soon dropped rags of oblivion over it. One day our author attended—not for the first time—the death-bed of a slum-tenant, a worn-out, starved wretch, who looked eighty, but was less than sixty. Mr. Lazarus plodded homeward with the old man's death-rattle surging in his ears, and his death words seething in his heart:— "It's starvation, sir, don't mind me. I'm easy now, it's all over; once I was as well cared for as you yourself … My wife died like this, … and my boy, … he was starved too; thank God my turn's come at last … I'll tell you one thing, sir, you'll live to see the end of this state of things, there's a——" Then came the last gasp, and the old sufferer was dead.
If the strangeness of the unfinished prophecy impressed our author it was not because it stood alone. Revolutionary growls and mutterings are common experiences to most intimate workers in the nether places of misery and grinding poverty, and the story told in the proem is but the synthesis of many such experiences.
Most real are also the "living pictures," or—more correctly—"dying pictures" portrayed in "Hunger Hall"; the authorities for those cases are beyond cavil.
Now it need scarcely be said that a slum visitor at the death-bed of a slum victim is not an isolated occurrence.
Starvation is an every-day matter in the slums, and our author had witnessed scores of such tragedies. Yet that old man's death, and the unfinished prophecy, became the motive power which induced the history of the "Revolution of the Twentieth Century." The book is an endeavour to lay down a programme of practical reforms, which are pressingly needed in every avenue, almost, of what is called modern civilisation. But, aware that mere abstract treatises appeal only to a very limited audience, Mr. Lazarus has cast his work in a form that attracts the general reader as well as provides a practical guide to the reformer on all the great and serious problems of the time. The book was written and re-written before it left the author's hands, and the facts, illustrations, and records which enrich it have been the labour of many years. A brief mention of some of the subjects worked out into what may perhaps be called the first really possible and realisable Utopia that has ever sprung from the press, will make it evident that in this brief notice it is impossible to attempt an analysis of the book. The problems it solves are those which deal with the land question, the raising of the submerged classes, the cultivation of waste lands, the myriad questions on labour, the national debt (which becomes transformed into a national reserve), transformation of the slums, the unification of the British Empire, the Church, Education, Law, Woman, Parliament, &c. The very breadth of such a scheme, apart from the manner the various subjects are dealt with, tempted me to inquire into the origin of it, and I hope this account of my discovery will not disappoint the curious; I am sure they will thank me if it induce them to read the book for themselves.
From this we learn that Lazarus was a traveller (which may explain why he is missing from census returns) before becoming a reformer. He published numerous Letters to the Editor in The Times from 1890 onwards, some signed on behalf of the St. Pancras Assessment Committee but always giving the address 38, Tavistock-square, W.C., quite a well-to-do area in Bloomsbury. Lazarus was a supporter of the Housing of the Working Classes Act 1890, which, he said, was truly valuable to the reformer enabling him "to war successfully against that vampire class which, for want of a better name, may be called the slum-owners." (The Times, 8 November 1890)

Lazarus stood as an Independent candidate at St. Pancas (South) during the London County Council elections of 1892, his candidacy "supported by sections of both parties. Whilst the work he has done in St. Pancras proves that he is no foe of progress of a wise and worthy sort, he certainly is an enemy to the so-called "Progressive" progress, which, he says, where it does not stand absolutely still (as in their determination to stop all improvements unless Parliament adopts their method of paying for them), will spread like greased lightning towards rates not measurable by mere shillings in the pound." (The Times, 11 February 1892)

Lazarus seems to have gone quiet in the wake of the publication of his novel. Very little is heard of him over the next few years. The novel was republished in 1897 and, on 27 January 1898, we find the following notice in The Times in the "Sales By Auction" column:

(A minor aside: I noted with interest the "Oriental china" and "Chinese and other bronzes" as it may confirm that it was "our" Henry Lazarus who appeared before the Opium Commission in 1893 and was quoted as having said that he had been in business in China.)

Why the seemingly-sudden departure from the home he had lived in for quite some years? The reason might be what happened next...

Three weeks after selling his home, Lazarus appeared in court before the Lord Chief Justice in the case Shaw v. Lazarus. The facts reported in the paper reveal an entirely different angle of Lazarus.

It would seem that in 1876 he became acquainted with a young woman later to become Mrs. Clara E. Shaw (under which name the case was brought): she was a girl of fair social position and "the defendent [Lazarus] made love to her." In 1883 he said he desired to marry her and she wished to marry him, but there was a problem: Lazarus was a Jew and he might not be recognised in a will if he married a girl who was not a Jewess. Instead, the two lived together as man and wife on the understanding that they would be married after Lazarus's mother died.

Differences arose after some time and the two separated, although provision was made for their two children. A deed was drawn up stating that Lazarus would pay £100 a year, increasing to £150 following the death of his mother. Clara married a Mr. Shaw [there's a chance that this was the marriage of Clara Edith Goldsbro and William Arthur Shaw in 1894; in the 1901 census, they are living in Kent with two children, both born prior to the marriage: Reginald (14) and Violet (12)]. Lazarus's mother had died in December 1896, but, as of the date of the case, Lazarus was being sued for the recovery of £37 10s. allegedly owed.

Lazarus address the court and, in the words of The Times report on the case, "said that no more awful falsehood had ever been uttered in that Court than the assertion that he had ever promised to marry the plaintiff, who had, in fact, begged and implored him to make her his mistress." The counsel representing Mrs. Shaw was able to read out a letter in which Lazarus promised to marry her. Lazarus went on to claim that he was coerced into signing the deed but both the judge and the jury disagreed that he had been under any duress and found for the plaintiff.

Lazarus had moved to The Hermitage, Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, and it was here that we next find him, in mid-1900 in adjudication for bankruptcy. He managed to exit bankruptcy in 1903 after some 28 months.

Again, Lazarus disappears from sight, although he remained living at the same address until around 1912/13 and, by 1910, was once again writing to The Times, and signing himself the Hon. Sec. of the Bushey Co-operative Small Holdings and Allotments Association Ltd. I can trace him as late as 1912 in the phone book and to 1913 in The Times, but not in the death indexes despite a search between 1912-20.

The 1911 census, although not fully available yet through any of the subscription services, is at least searchable and Henry appears in a search for "Lazarus" in Hertfordshire as being registered in the Watford district, aged 56. There are only two other people with the surname Lazarus in the area: Mary E. Lazarus, aged 38, and Winifred Louie Lazarus, 8.

Sifting through these clues would surely yield something.

It did: I managed to find Henry Lazarus in the 1901 census, where good old had misspelled his name Henry Layarus. This revealed he was born in the City of London 45 years earlier, so born circa 1855. There were half a dozen people by the name of Henry Lazarus born in London around that period, so confirming his full name has been impossible.

In 1901 he was living with his wife Mary E. Lazarus and Coline W. Tunley, whom Ancesty describe as 'sister'. On examining the actual census you find that Olive (rather than Coline) was actually a visitor. And not born in Clyshaw but Clapham. They really need to sort out their OCR programme.

Mary was 28 and born in Paddington and the birth of her daughter, Winifred Louie Lazarus was registered in Watford in 1902. But there appears to be no record of their marriage.

Working backwards, we find (eventually), Henry Lazarus (aged 36) living at 38 Tavistock Square in the 1891 census. Here also are his mother, the widowed Kate Lazarus (71), a sister, Jeanine (27) and a posse of grandchildren, Stanley Lazarus (12), Frank (11) and George (10). Henry is described as a "retired merchant" and the family are obviously doing well as they have four servants.

This was the family home for many years: in 1881 Lewis Lazarus, a metal merchant, and his wife Catherine were living with their children Julia (30), Ada (23), Samuel (20) and Jeannie (17). In the 1861 and 1871 census returns more children are revealed:

Abraham Lewis (1841-19 Dec 1913)
Simeon (1844-1906(?)) m. Florence Solomon in 1878
Ailsey (c.1846) m. Frederick S. D. Phillipos in 1876
Leon (c.1847)
May (1848) m. Joseph Henry Phillips in 1872
Julia (1849)
Lizzie (c.1852) m. Edward J. Lezard in 1872
Henry (1855)
Emanuel H. (1855-27 Nov 1879)
Ada (1858)
Samuel Octavius (4 Mar 1861-1935)
Jenny/Jeannie (21 Sep 1863)

It would appear that Lewis Lazarus married in 1840, although records make it unclear whether it was to a Catherine Hyams or Catharine Miersod and no earlier census records exist before 1841. At that time, Lazarus was living with Catherine in Grey Street, West Side, Newcastle Upon Tyne with their 1 month old son, Abraham. Within the next two years, the family had moved to London and Lewis, aged 37 in the 1851 census, was described as a General Agent.

Digging further, the firm of Lewis Lazarus & Sons were still carrying out the business of metal brokers and merchants at 10-11 Lime Street, London, in 1900, headed by Abraham (who retired that year), Simeon, Samuel and one Arthur Lindsay Lazarus. In fact, they seem to have lasted until 1932 when a newspaper report revealed that "the cause of the failure of Lewis Lazarus & Sons, metal merchants, to discharge their liabilities this morning, which led to a temporary suspension of dealings in the tin market, was the failure of European clients to meet their differences. Rumours of some such event have been hanging over the tin market for several months, and competent authories are hopeful that now that the extent of the trouble is known the position will improve." (The Argus, Melbourne, 8 June 1932)

From reports elsewhere it seems that the firm of Lewis Lazarus & Co. was established in 1820.

Thus it would appear that Henry Lazarus came from a well-to-do family involved in the buying and selling of metals, especially tin, with connections in China. It is very possible that Henry and his brother Emanuel, neither of whom can be found in the 1871 or 1881 census, travelled extensively on behalf of the firm. Emanuel died in Shanghai in 1879.

I can't help wondering about the two children Henry had with Clara. If my guess is correct—that she is the Clara Edith Goldsbro who married William Shaw in 1894—then it would appear she was the daughter of a physician, Thomas Goldsbro (the son of the Rev. Thomas Goldsbro, curate of Trelystan, Montgomeryshire), born in Southwark in 1857. Two years younger than Henry, they met when she was 18 or 19, a year or so before her father died on 29 January 1877. The family were living at 40 West Square in 1871 (erroneously listed as Goldstro). They had moved by the time of the 1881 census and it is proving impossible to find Clara. Her brother, Thomas William Charles Joseph Goldsbro married Kate Winifred Freeman in 1877 and was living Southwark in 1881 (erroneously listed as Goldston) but the rest of the family (including mother Kate and sister Mary C.) seem to have disappeared without a trace.

The only further trace of the family is a small notice in the Times relating to the sudden death of Clara's aunt, Elizabeth Sarah Goldbro, who died at Southampton Row, London, on 21 March 1884.

Her children were named as Reginald (14) and Violet (12) in the 1901 census but I think they just might have been born Henry Carlyle E. Goldsbro and Violet Julia C. Goldsbro in 1886 and 1888 respectively. And if that's true, I may have discovered where Clara was in 1891, three years before she married. I believe she was living at 7 Blandford Square under the name Clara Edie (aged 31), a married professor of music, with sons Harry (4) and Violet (2). Her birth in Southwark and their births in Marylebone all fit and I can't trace the births of any of them under the name Edie. Edie is, of course, a variation of Edith which, I believe was Clara Goldsbro's middle name.

What happened to Henry Lazarus? There was no obvious sign of his death in records between 1912-20, but it may be that he moved from Bushey Heath rather than died... and a continued search reveals a far more likely suspect in 1922: one Henry Lazarus whose death was registered in Kensington at the age of 67. This ties in with his birth in 1855.

Whether that's our Henry is a bit speculative. But he fits and to eventually find that he is the Henry Lazarus who wrote The English Revolution of the Twentieth Century wouldn't surprise me.

Normally, I limit how much time I spend on an author about whom nothing is known—I can usually tell fairly quickly that I'm not going to be able to add anything. But in Henry's case the extra time paid off with a most intriguing story.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bear Alley Books

Much as it pains me to do this but I'm temporarily suspending the Bear Alley Books blog. Unfortunately, the wheels of commerce grind slow and I'm still in the process of getting licenses set up for the books I want to publish. Rather than have the site sit idle while this is happening—and readers will have noticed the lack of any recent posts—I've decided to take it out of circulation so that I can get everything sorted out and nailed down. Once that's done, I'll re-launch the blog.

Apologies to all. I'm hoping this will be a very temporary situation.

Monday, August 24, 2009

William Harrison Ainsworth

Born in Manchester on February 4, 1805, William Harrison Ainsworth would become one of the most famous of British writers, his historical novels The Tower of London, Guy Fawkes and Windsor Castle continued the tradition of Sir Walter Scott, and his criminal romances Rookwood and Jack Sheppard amongst the most influential in shaping the direction of boys’ fiction. These were not written as children’s fiction – nor were many other famous tales now thought of as classics of literature for all ages, including Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, Kennilworth or Quentin Durward, or the early yarns of Capt. Marryat – but the vivid writing style and subject matter attracted a younger audience over the years.

Rookwood (1834) contained the first and most famous depiction of Dick Turpin’s ride to York (an event born purely of Ainsworth’s imagination) and romanticised the famous rogue as a noble figure, inspiring an endless stream of penny dreadfuls and pocket libraries with dashing highwaymen more Robin Hood than robber. Similarly, Jack Sheppard, in truth a young housebreaker and prison-breaker who was hung at the age of 23, was mythologised in serials, stories and comic strips for the next century (as was that other famous burglar, Charles Peace) often the hero of these stories which pitched him against Jonathan Wild, the crooked thief-taker.

Ainsworth was to have followed his father’s profession and become a solicitor, but was inspired in his reading of classic gothic novels and by swashbuckling exploits recounted by his father’s clerk, James Crossley, who was to become a lifelong friend and literary adviser.

Following his father’s death in 1824, Ainsworth inherited a partnership in the law firm of Ainsworth, Crossley and Sudlow, but was unprepared to take on such a senior position and travelled to London to complete his studies.

He had already published a number of ballads and verses under pseudonyms, having started writing gothic plays while attending Manchester Grammar School, and in 1826 collaborated on his first novel, the anonymously published Sir John Chiverton. At the time he was working as an editor for the publisher John Ebers and subsequently married Ebers’ daughter Fanny in 1826 with whom he had three children before separating in 1835. After an abortive attempt to set himself up as a publisher, he practiced law in the early 1930s whilst planning his next novel.

Bulwer-Lytton had inadvertently created a category of novel with Paul Clifford (1830) and Eugene Aram (1832) which had criminal heroes, ‘Newgate novels’, into which Rookwood found itself classed, although the main plot concerns the classic gothic battle between two brothers over their father’s estate. Only a sub-plot to the main novel, Dick Turpin’s ride was probably inspired by the real-life highwayman John ‘Swift Nick’ Nevison who rode from Gads Hill to York using a team of horses in order to establish an alibi; in Rookwood, Turpin – with the police at his heels – rides Black Bess non-stop in twelve hours, resulting in the death of that famous steed. (Many later retellings of the Dick Turpin legend adopted the ride as a centrepiece, with Bess usually surviving in versions for youngsters.)

Following the success of Rookwood, Ainsworth’s later novels were best-sellers. Jack Sheppard (1839), helped along with the publicity of its serialisation in Bentley’s Miscellany in 1839-40 which Ainsworth was then editing, even outsold Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist (1838). Dickens became one of Ainsworth’s literary friends, his circle also including William Makepeace Thackeray, Thomas Carlyle and Benjamin Disraeli.

Ainsworth continued to publish novels; his first pure historical, Crichton, had appeared in 1837 and was followed by The Tower of London (1940), Guy Fawkes (1841), Old St. Paul’s (1841) and Windsor Castle (1843). In these he was considerably influenced by Scott, telling his stories against a backdrop of English history. In The Tower of London it was the England of Mary Tudor, whilst Old Saint Paul’s was set against the London of the plague and the great fire. In all cases, Ainsworth tried to capture the spirit of the times and provided copious footnotes based on his researches.

At the same time, Ainsworth continued to work as an editor, first on Bentley’s Miscellany (1839-41) and then on his own Ainsworth’s Magazine which was launched in 1842 and folded in 1854; he had earlier purchased New Monthly Magazine in 1845, which he continued to edit, and purchased Bentley’s Miscellany, but both titles were on a slow wane and Bentley’s was sold on in 1868 and New Monthly in 1870. Ainsworth himself was on the wane, having moved to Brighton in 1853 and distancing himself from the London social scene. His last great novels were The Lancashire Witches (1849) and The Star Chamber (1854), after which his success gradually petered off. He remarried in 1878, but his life around this time remains obscure, apart from a celebratory banquet in his honour held in Manchester in 1881 – his hometown had taken centre stage in both Mervyn Clitheroe (serialised in 1851-58) and The Good Old Times (1873). Ainsworth died soon after, at Reigate, Surrey, on January 3, 1882.

In the end, Ainsworth will be remembered as one of the founders of boys’ adventure fiction, and although his style is now old-fashioned and wooden and his successors bought a more swashbuckling approach to their action, the influence of his early ‘Newgate’ novels was certainly felt for a full century.

William Harrison Ainsworth. A memoir, by William Axon. London, Gibbings & Co., 1902.
William Harrison Ainsworth and his Friends, by Stewart Ellis. London & New York, John Lane, 2 vols., 1911.
A Bibliographical Catalogue of the Published Novels and Ballads of William Harrison Ainsworth, by Harold Locke. London, Elkin Mathews, 1925.
William Harrison Ainsworth, by J. Worth George. New York, Twayne, 1972.


Sir John Chiverton (by anonymous, with John P. Aston). London, John Ebers, 1826.
Rookwood. London, 3 vols., Richard Bentley, 3 vols., 1834; Philadelphia, Carey, Lea & Blanchard, 2 vols., 1834; revised, John Macrone, 3 vols., 1835; revised, London, Richard Bentley, 1837.
Crichton. London, Richard Bentley, 3 vols., 1837; New York, Harper, 2 vols., 1937; revised, illus. Hablot K. Browne, London, Chapman & Hall, 1849.
Jack Sheppard, illus. George Cruickshank. London, Richard Bentley, 3 vols., 1839; Philadelphia, Lea & Blanchard, 2 vols., 1839.
The Tower of London, illus. George Cruickshank. London, Richard Bentley, 3 vols., 1840; Philadelphia, Lea & Blanchard, 1841.
Guy Fawkes; or, the Gunpowder Treason, illus. George Cruikshank. London, Richard Bentley, 3 vols., 1841; Philadelphia, Lea & Blanchard, 1841.
Old Saint Paul’s. A tale of the Plague and the Fire, illus. John Franklin. London, Hugh Cunningham, 3 vols., 1841.
The Miser’s Daughter, illus. George Cruickshank. London, Cunningham & Mortimer, 3 vols., 1842.
Windsor Castle, illus. George Cruickshank. London, Henry Colburn, 3 vols., 1843.
Saint James’s; or, the Court of Queen Anne, illus. George Cruickshank. London, John Mortimer, 3 vols., 1844; New York, Colyer, 1844.
James the Second; or, the Revolution of 1688. London, 3 vols., 1848.
The Lancashire Witches. London, Henry Colburn, 3 vols., 1849; New York, Stringer & Townsend, 1849.
The Flitch of Bacon; or, the Custom of Dunmow, illus. John Gilbert. London, G. Routledge & Co., 1854.
The Star-Chamber. London, G. Routledge & Co., 2 vols., 1854.
The Spendthrift, illus. Hablot K. Browne. London, G. Routledge & Co., 1857 [1856].
Mervyn Clitheroe, illus. Hablot K. Browne. London, G. Routledge & Co., 1858.
Ovingdean Grange. A tale of the South Downs, illus. Hablot K. Browne. London, Routledge, Warne & Routledge, 1860.
The Constable of the Tower, illus. John Gilbert. London, Chapman & Hall, 3 vols., 1861.
The Lord Mayor of London; or, City Life in the Last Century. London, Chapman & Hall, 3 vols., 1862.
Cardinal Pole; or, the Days of Philip and Mary. London, Chapman & Hall, 3 vols., 1863.
John Law, the Projector. London, Chapman & Hall, 3 vols., 1864.
The Spanish Match; or, Charles Stuart at Madrid. London, Chapman & Hall, 3 vols., 1865.
Auriol; or, the Elixir of Life. London, G. Routledge & Sons, 1865; as The Elixir of Life, London, New English Library, 1966.
The Constable de Bourbon. London, Chapman & Hall, 3 vols., 1866.
Old Court. London, Chapman & Hall, 3 vols., 1867.
Myddleton Pomfret. London, Chapman & Hall, 3 vols., 1868.
Hilary St. Ives. London, Chapman & Hall, 3 vols., 1870.
Talbot Harland, illus. F. Gilbert. London, John Dicks, 1871.
Boscobel; or, the Royal Oak. A tale of the year 1651. London, Tinsley Bros., 3 vols., 1872.
The Good Old Times. The story of the Manchester Rebels of ’45. London, Tinsley Bros., 3 vols., 1873; as The Manchester Rebels of the Fatal ’45, London, Tinsley Bros., 1874.
Merry England; or, Nobles and Serfs. London, Tinsley Bros., 1874.
The Goldsmith’s Wife. London, Tinsley Bros., 3 vols., 1875.
Preston Fight; or, the Insurrection of 1715. London, Tinsley Bros., 3 vols., 1875.
Chetwynd Calverley. London, Tinsley Bros., 3 vols., 1876.
The Leaguer of Lathom. A tale of the Civil War in Lancashire. London, Tinsley Bros., 3 vols., 1876.
The Fall of Somerset. London, Tinsley Bros., 3 vols., 1877.
Beatrice Tyldesley. London, Tinsley Bros., 3 vols., 1878.
Beau Nash; or, Bath in the Eighteenth Century. London, G. Routledge & Co., 3 vols., 1879.
Stanley Brereton. London, G. Routledge & Co., 3 vols., 1881.
The South-Sea Bubble, illus. Edward Henry Corbould. London, John Dicks, 1902.
Tower Hill, illus. F. Gilbert. London, John Dicks, 1902.

Considerations on the best means of affording immediate Relief to the Operative Classes in the manufacturing districts. London, John Ebers, 1826.

Poems by Cheviot Tichburn. London, Arliss, 1822.
Letters from Cockney Lands (by Will Brown). London, John Ebert, 1826.
Ballads: romantic, fantastical, and humorous, illus. John Gilbert. London, G. Routledge & Co., 1855.

Nick of the Wood. A story of Kentucky, by the author of “Spartacus”, edited by W. Harrison Ainsworth. London, Richard Bentley, 3 vols., 1837.
The Combat of the Thirty. From a Breton lay of the fourteenth century, with an introduction, comprising a new chapter of Froissart, by William Harrison Ainsworth. London, Chapman & Hall, 1859.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Avis Hekking

The Science Fiction Encyclopedia contains an entry for one Avis Hekking noting her authorship of the SF novel A King Of Mars, published in the UK by John Long in 1908. With such an odd name, it ought to be possible to find out something about her.

I got a hit in the 1881 British census which said she was born in New York, c. 1841; she also had 3-year-old daughter, also called Avis, born in Jersey, Channel Islands and a 6-month-old baby, Frank, born in New York. The family were lodging at 1 Crane Grove, Holloway, London, at the time of the census but, given Frank's place of birth, they had probably not been resident long.

Another daughter, 15-year-old Christine Hekking (b. New York) was at school at Hampton College, Hampton Road, Middlesex.

The 1870 US census has an Avis Hecking, b. Michigan, c. 1840, the wife of Antonie Hecking (a landscape painter), then a housewife in New York. The husband would appear to be Joseph Antonio Hekking (1830-1903, the form of name under which he appears in Who Was Who in American Art), who worked in Michigan. You can find out more about J. Antonio Hekking by doing a Google search, but for a quick summary of his career, you might try here. I've illustrated this piece with a few of his paintings but you can find plenty of others dotted around the web.

Johannes Antonius Hekking was born in Nijmegen, Netherlands, on 19 June 1830, the son of Franciscus Josephus Hekking and his wife Grada Scheerder. He was the father of Charles Raijmundus Hekking, born in Hees, Netherlands (25 June 1867), who is one of the Hekking children listed on the 1870 census (the other being 5-year-old Christine). His mother was listed as Avis Selina Clarke.

A bit of further digging turns up the fact that Avis Clark Hekking (using the American style of incorporating parental and married surnames) was the daughter of John P. Clark and Susan Booth and was born in Detroit, Michigan. The 1850 US census Avis was listed as an 11-year-old, implying a birth in c.1838/39; the 1860 census gives her age as 20, which, again, gives her a year of birth of 1839/40.

Putting all this together we get Avis Selina Clark Hekking, b. Detroit, Michigan, c.1839. A little different to the b. New York, c.1841 I originally discovered in the UK 1881 census.

The next question that needed answering was this: was it Avis Hekking, the mother, or Avis Hekking, the daughter, who wrote A King of Mars. The daughter, if she was born in c.1877/78, would have been around 39 or 40 when the novel was published. Her mother would have been 70. My gut feeling was that the book would have been written by the daughter. But how to prove it?

The only sign of her is a series of 23 letters written to Oscar Browning in 1899-1907. Browning was a master at Eton and King's College, Cambridge, and an author of various non-fiction works (Wikipedia has an entry for him); his letters and papers are held by the National Archive which describes the letters above as coming from "a young lady (possibly American) living in Europe with her parents; she was a close friend of Fred Harvey." Frederick Ernest Edwin Harvey was Browning's secreatary

Avis Hekking wrote only two novels as far as I can determine:

In Search of Jehanne. A romance. London, John Long, 1907
A King of Mars. London, John Long, 1908.

The former is described in an advert as "A new historical romance which can bring effectively before the reader the life and manners of a bygone age, and make real flesh and blood of the characters which it introduces, is a rarity, and sure of a warm welcome. Such is "In Search of Jehanne." Miss Avis Hekking has taken the sixteenth century and the Massacre of the Huguenots as a background. The characters are French, and the events happen wholly in France. " In Search of Jehanne" is a romance of first-rate quality, and it should create for the author a high position among writers of historical novels."

Note the "Miss" attached to Avis Hekking. It must be the daughter. But what happened to her? Her next book was about communications between the moderately advanced inhabitants of Mars and Earth... after which she seems to have disappeared from the planet herself, although it was probably only to Europe as implied by the National Archives.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Comic Cuts

Very little to add to Monday's post. This is why I'm not on Twitter... my life is incredibly dull! I've spent the week pounding out more reviews for this book on Cult Novels, although some titles seem more mainstream than cult. Having written heading on for 50 of the buggers I'm finding it hard to make them all sound individual, interesting and different to the previous four dozen. I have huge amounts of sympathy for the lass who is writing the bulk of the book who has so far written 260! I'd fear for my sanity if I had to write that many.

I was thinking this might be a good way to take a break from cleaning up artwork. Next week, I might have to go back to be cleaning up artwork as a way of taking a break from reviewing. There's no pleasing me.

I've mentioned that I do bits of work for various bibliographical projects and occasionally I'm asked exactly what I do. Well, you can see the kind of thing we (there's a group of people, not just me) do to update the Crime Fiction Bibliography as Steve Lewis (of Mystery*File) posts updated listings regularly. We've just finished update #34. To some it might appear to be a boring list; to others it's a lot of blood, sweat and toil trying to locate authentic information on a few thousand writers of crime novels. The actual Crime Fiction Bibliography is available on CD: it's now on its fourth edition under the editorship of Allen J. Hubin and a newly revised version, to include all the latest updates, should be available in the near future.

Just received the latest issue of Paperback Fanatic through the post and I'm pleased to join the ranks of writers, although it's actually a reprint of an interview originally published in my fanzine PBO back in 1997. Peter Leslie, now sadly deceased, was a very gracious, innocuous, elderly gentleman when I met him in the spring of 1996. He had travelled over from France to visit friends and I was able to meet him at the London flat he stayed in on such occasions. Armed with a huge pile of his books, I chatted with him for a couple of hours—even condensed down the resulting interview ran to something like 9,000 words. It's one of my favourite interviews and I'm very pleased to see it back in print and reaching a far larger circulation than it ever did with PBO.

The interviews are generally my favourite bits of Paperback Fanatic, and it doesn't disappoint this time round: a chat with Mark Howell about his days at New English Library is fascinating, as is the interview with artist Ian Miller. And you can't go wrong with a feature on the writings of Jim Moffatt and part two of a feature on biker novels. Add a lively letters page and a cover gallery of SF artwork by W. Francis Phillipps and you've another excellent issue.

If you want to chase down a copy, you can find all the details at the Paperback Fanatic website.

(* Our column header is a bit of random artwork—I was scanning some covers and this was to hand. No idea who the artist was but it's a nice, expressive and colourful interpretation of a Chinese dragon unlike any other dragon illustration that appeared on Anne McCaffrey's novels.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Comic Cuts

Not much to report as work on Bear Alley Books is on hiatus for the moment while I earn a living. I've spent most of the week writing reviews for a book on Cult Novels and filling in some gaps in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia and Crime Fiction Bibliography for a bit of light relief.

Honest, it can be quite entertaining and amusing sometimes. For instance, back in the 1930s and early 1940s, four crime novels appeared under the name Princess Paul Troubetzkoy which a mate of mine flagged up as being wrongly identified. He was proved right: the princess was born Rhoda Marie Maire Boddam and married Prince Paul Troubetzkoy, a Russian sculptor, in 1931. He's quite famous—you can Google his name if you want to find out more.

But it was Maire Boddam that we were interested in. John wanted to find out more and I was able to establish that Paul Troubetzkoy had died in 1938 and his widow followed in 1948 in slightly odd circumstances. Her body was discovered on the path leading to a cottage where she lived by a repairman. It was believed that she had slipped and died after striking her head in the fall.

That's not the amusing bit... what I also found was a note that she had become engaged in 1943 and the announcement in The Times implied some irregularities in her parentage:

Cue the old joke: "Female horse?" "Of course. Nothing queer about Captain Boddam."

Well, it amused me... if only they'd slipped in that extra comma.

Scroll down for the latest episode of "Eagles Over the Western Front". Tomorrow will be a bit of landmark as we reach the 50th post featuring the adventures of Harry Hawkes.

I almost missed another landmark: Bear Alley is now three years old. Happy birthday me! If you want to discover why I called this blog Bear Alley, take a look at the first post I wrote as that explains it all. Nearly 1,250 posts later, I like to think we've done our little bit to unearth a few tidbits about the history of old British comics and story papers. All I can add is that I might be growing old and cranky but I'll try and keep going... who knows what else we might discover over the next three years.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


The first issue of Shoot! Weekly was dated 16 August 1969, forty years ago today. Although not a comic, per se, it was part of many boys' lives back in the 1970s and into the new millennium. It eventually folded in June 2008 as I reported here.

For those of us who have fond memories of League Ladders, here's the first "on sale" advertising that appeared in various comics that same week.

(Shoot! © IPC Media.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Michael Turner (1929-2009)

Michael Turner, who collaborated with Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper on the translations of English-language editions of Tintin, died on 10 July, aged 80 [the Daily Telegraph gives 3 July].

Michael Ralph Turner was born on 26 January 1929 and educated at Newport School, Essex. He served as a brass player with RAF Transport Command during his national service before working on J. M. Dent's Everyman's Encyclopedia as a rewriter and studying English at Trinity College, Cambridge. Here he met his wife to be, actress Ruth Baylis.

He began his career at Methuen & Co. as a slush pile reader, working his way up to chief executive of Associated Book Publishers. He was also the chairman of the Book Marketing Council.

He was still a junior member of staff when Hergé's Tintin books were offered to Methuen and, despite his enthusiasm, the series was almost turned down. Comics were not stocked by libraries and Hergé's books had the added cost of requiring translation. Turner and Lonsdale-Cooper removed this problem by offering to do the translations for free and Methuen agreed to publish King Ottokar's Sceptre adn The Crab with the Golden Claws in 1958.

They would eventually translate all 24 books with the blessing of Hergé, who said "I want you to convey the spirit, and you can depart from the text. If you get the spirit right I shall be happy." He refused to allow anyone else do the translations.

A photograph of Turner and his co-translator can be found at the National Portrait Gallery.

Obituaries: The Times (4 August), Daily Telegraph (14 August), The Independent (2 October).

More T. E. North

Thanks to Jeremy Briggs and his busy scanner, we have more examples of the work of T. E. North, who we covered briefly earlier this week.

More examples tomorrow...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sir Boldasbrass part 4

Here's a further batch of tales featuring Sir Boldasbrass from the pages of Swift. Above is the last of the Pugwash-bonus cards, entitled "Ill Gotten Gains", kindly sent over by Richard Sheaf, which he picked up in Rye.

(* Sir Boldasbrass © Look and Learn Ltd. Reprinted by permission; with thanks to Richard Sheaf for the scan of the card.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sir Boldasbrass part 3

Another bonus Pugwash image, this time showing Pugwash as Santa from a Christmas card drawn by Ryan to raise money for the Cartoon Art Trust.

(* Sir Boldasbrass © Look and Learn Ltd. Reprinted by permission; with thanks to Richard Sheaf for the scan of the card.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sir Boldasbrass part 2

I'm starting today's episode of Sir Boldasbrass with a bonus Captain Pugwash card, which was available from the Rye Museum.

(* Sir Boldasbrass © Look and Learn Ltd. Reprinted by permission; with thanks to Richard Sheaf for the scan of the card.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

T. E. North

I've had an enquiry about the artist T. E. (Thomas Edward) North, but I have to confess that I knew nothing about him beyond the titles of a few books he illustrated for Blackie's Modern Transport series in the 1950s and the Collins' Wonder Colour Books series and Pageant of Knowledge series in the early 1960s. He also did cover illustrations for various annuals and books.

A little digging shows that a commercial artist by the name of T. E. North lived at 190 Priory Road, Hull [1951/55] and 29 Mill Lane, Kirkella, Hull [1956/69]. Whether this is the same guy I've no idea but it seems possible. A search of death records for the period 1968-72 turned up only one vaguely possible result, one Thomas Edward North, who died in Sutton, Surrey, in 4Q 1972 (born 22 November 1909). It's a long shot at best but fits an artist we know to be active in 1939-64.

Update (26 June 2011)
I have recently heard from David Platt who adds the following in relation to T. E. North.
I collect steam train jigsaw puzzles as a hobby and currently own around 400 different examples. T. E. North was a prolific railway/transport artist during teh mid 20th century and his poster/illustrative style artwork was ideal for jigsaw puzzles. Manufacturers included Victory, Ian Allen/Ponda, Valentines, Philmar (all wood) and Good Companion/Tower Press (cardboard). I wrote a book on the subject of steam trains and jigsaw puzzles three yearsa ago but always found [North] difficult to research. One snippet I can add to your own research is that a man named Thomas Edward North died in Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham - 16 April 1985 (born 25 September 1916). Cottingham, of course, is close to Hull, where we suspect he worked from. It may help others keep to research the life of this very interesting and excellent artist.
__If of interest I have appended a fine example of his work for Scottish company Valentines.
The picture appears below.

Airways. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1939.
By Train and Ship. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1939.
The Boys' Book of Locomotives. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1954.
The Boys' Book of Modern Motor Cars. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1954.
The Boys' Book of Ships. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1954.
My Book of Ships. London, Collins, 195?
My Book of Trains. London, Collins, 195?
Timothy's Book of Aircraft. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1960.
Timothy's Book of Ships. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1960.
Timothy's Book of Trains. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1960.

Illustrated Books
Tiny Tots Picture Book, illus. with Leslie Branton. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1939.
Timothy's Space Book by Maurice Allward. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1961.
Do You Know About Aircraft? by Maurice Allward. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1962.
Do You Know About Cars? by Maurice Allward. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1963.
Timothy's Book of Farming by David Stephen, illus. with A. E. Kennedy. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1963.
Do You Know About Railways? by William Porter. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1964.

(* Images from around the net: the header is the frontis from an edition of Collins' Boy's Annual found at the Motoring Art Information website; Timothy's Space Book came from the Dreams of Space website, which has further illustrations from the book; and The Wonder Book of Motors is from the Old Classic Car website, which has one or two more examples of North's covers. With thanks to David Platt for additional information (see update))

Sir Boldasbrass part 1

The news of John Ryan's death on July 22nd set me thinking about some of the comic strip work he had done early in his career before he became better known for his animated children's TV shows. Although best-remembered in comics' circles for Captain Pugwash and Harris Tweed, both originally drawn for Eagle, there was another strip that Ryan created for the early issues of Swift in 1954. Nowadays almost completely forgotten, "Sir Boldasbrass" was nicely drawn in colour and aimed at a younger audience of 7 to 12-year-olds. It doesn't offer many belly laughs, being gently amusing rather than rip-roaringly funny, but it certainly deserves to be rescued from obscurity... and that's what we'll be doing here over the next week or so.

Tomorrow will be a mid-week treat: Sir Baldasbrass and Captain Pugwash.

(* Sir Boldasbrass © Look and Learn Ltd. Reprinted by permission.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Phantom Patrol: The 2000AD Reprints

Over at Bear Alley Books we're taking a look at how The Phantom Patrol was abridged and adapted when it was reprinted in the 2000AD Annual back in the late Seventies and early Eighties.

Cartoonists meet their creations

The November-December 1951 issue of Lilliput magazine carried a brief piece entitled "Joint Consultation; or, the Personnel problems of the Cartoon Industry" in which some of Britain's most famous cartoonists met with their creations. I've seen the Jack Monk image before, without knowing where it had originally appeared. Of the four images it's the best staged, featuring Zola from Monk's "Buck Ryan" strip in the Daily Mirror. That said, the meeting of Giles and some of the younger members of the 'Giles family' will bring a smile to your face. Something to get you off to a cheery start this Monday morning.

(* My thanks to Norman Boyd of the Frank Bellamy Checklist for sending these scans over.)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Comic Cuts

I've spent the week slogging through various chores, cleaning up artwork for a future project from Bear Alley Books and spending some time doing research for the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. The latter is mostly detective work relating to names, dates of birth and death and that kind of thing, so it's a nice change of pace from spotting out rust-damage and re-inking and occasionally re-lettering panels from scans of comics that are definitely showing their age.

I'm doing some of the research for the second time round having disastrously erased the file of notes I was keeping. By the time I noticed that it had disappeared, there was no way to recover it. Aaarrgh! The only silver lining I can squeeze out of the situation is that it's a little bit quicker doing the work second time around because I can remember some of the names I spent fruitless hours working on, so I know where not to waste the time.

One thing I was peeved to miss was the launch of The Rainbow Orchid, Garen Ewing's fabulous first volume of the adventures of Julius Chancer. I had been hoping to take a day off and head down to London but it was not to be. There was an excellent review of the book by James Lovegrove in the Financial Times (3 August). For more background, there's an interview with Garen at David O'Connell's Scribblehound website and you can always visit Garen's own website for the history of the strip and a preview of volume 2.

On a more positive note, I was digging around for some comics I need for a post I'm planning for next week and stumbled across some magazines and a book that I've spent a year looking for. It proves once again my long-held belief that the best way to find something is to look for something else.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Recent Releases: September to December 2008

I'll eventually archive some of these older releases when I get a chance to update the Comics Bibliography page (now woefully out of date). In the meantime, I'll keep this listing posted as it's an interesting snapshot of the release schedule for the Christmas period of 2008. It might be worth revisiting in a few months time to see how 2009 stacks up against it.



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