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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Rodolphe Louis Mégroz

One of the names that cropped up when I was compiling the recent Golden Galley Press list was R. L. Megroz, and a little bit of digging turned up quite a bit of information on his career...

Rodolphe Louis Mégroz, was born in St. George Hanover Square, London, on 2 August 1891, the eldest child of Swiss-born Rodolphe Frederic Mégroz (c.1855-1899) and his wife Alice Jane (née Bull, 1862-?), who had married in 1890. He later described his ancestry to Who's Who as a mix of Pyrenean brigands and East Anglian farmers. His siblings included Theodore Frederic Megroz (1892- ), Rose Elise Megroz (1894- ) and Alice Beatrice Megroz (1895- ) and Maude May Megroz (1896-1897).

Rodolphe Frederic worked as a valet; in 1891 he was at Escrick Park, Escrick in York, possibly in service to a member of the 10th Royal Hussars who appear to be housed at Escrick Park. Alice, meanwhile, was living at 40 Alderney Street, St. George Hanover Square.

Life was clearly tough for the family following the death of Rodolphe Frederic Mégroz in 1899. Theodore Megroz was to be found in the Alexandra Orphanage in 1901, while widowed Alice was living in Dover, Kent, with daughters Rose and Alice, and working as a stewardess on the Channel Boat. Rodolphe Louis was educated at various institutions, including the Gordon Boys Home.

At the age of 17, Mégroz joined Farrow's Bank as a clerk, learned shorthand and accounts and became a cashier in 1911. He joined up immediately at the outbreak of the Great War and served with the West Yorkshire Regiment at Gallipoli in 1915, taking part in the landings at Suvla Bay. In 1916 he was to be found in Egypt as a shorthand writer in the Chief Censor's office. He spent two years in Egypt before returning to England at the end of the war to become an Education Instructor and an officer before being discharged at the end of 1919.

His first book of verse, Personal Poems, had already been published and, under the scheme for ex-servicemen which paid his fees and a grant, he enrolled in a Journalism Diploma course at London University, studying for the next two years whilst freelancing for various papers. During the 1920s and 1930s he wrote numerous books of literary criticism and biography and edited many anthologies of verse and letters, as well as writing numerous poems, book reviews, essays and articles for journals. He was also a playwright, his plays including Rossetti (with Herbert de Hamel), Mr Absalom (with Alan Sullivan), Mosquito Day and other plays for the BBC, and St Genevieve (with Leighton Lucas).

He married Phyllis Deborah Marks in 1921, with whom he had three daughters: Alison A. (m. John G. Lord, 1953), Christina and Monica J. (m. Anthony J. W. Taylor, 1950)); they separated in 1926 and divorced in 1931 (Phyllis, also a writer, subsequently married Horace C. Cummins in 1943 and died in 1973) and Rodolphe was married to Isabel L. Walton that same year.

During the Second World War Mégroz worked for the BBC European News Service. He then edited publications for the Overseas Food Corporation from 1949-51.

Mégroz lived at 116 Tufnell Park Road, London N.7 from at least 1932 until shortly before his death on 30 September 1968, aged 77. His last residence was Cheverells, Pickford House, Markyate, Hertfordshire. Some of his papers can be found at the University of Reading.

PUBLICATIONS

Non-fiction
Personal Poems. London, E. Matthews, 1919.
Walter de la Mare. A biographical and critical study. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1924.
A Talk with Joseph Conrad and a Criticism of His Mind and Method. London, Elkin Mathews, 1926.
Francis Thompson. The Poet of Earth in Heaven. A study in poetic mysticism and the evolution of love-poetry. London, Faber & Gwyer, 1927.
Shakespeare as a Letter-Writer and Artist in Prose. London, Wishart & Co., 1927.
The Story of Ruth. An idyll. London, E. Mathews & Marrot, 1927.
The Three Sitwells. A biographical and critical study. London, Richards Press, 1927.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Painter Poet of Heaven in Earth. London, Faber & Gwyer, 1928.
For Fathers. A book of domestic letters, with extracts from diaries, histories and biographies. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1928.
Letters of Women in Love Disclosing the Female Heart from Girlhood to Old Age. London, Thornton Butterworth, 1929.
Joseph Conrad's Mind and Method. A study of personality in art. London, Faber & Faber, 1931.
Ronald Ross, Discoverer and Creator, with a preface by Osbert Sitwell. London, G. Allen & Unwin, 1931.
Rhys Davies. A critical sketch. London, W. & G. Foyle, 1932.
Five Novelist Poets of To-day. London, Joiner & Steele, 1933.
Modern English Poetry, 1882-1932. London, I. Nicholson & Watson, 1933.
English Poetry for Children. A tract for the times. London, Fenland Press, 1934.
From the Scrip of Eros. Poems. London, Fenland Press, 1934.
A Guide to Poetry for Reciters and Teachers. London, Sir I. Pitman, 1934.
Dramatic Verse from Shakespeaere and his Contemporaries. An anthology for verse-speakers and schools. London, Sir I. Pitman & Sons, 1935.
Modern Poems for Children. An anthology for school and home, with Isabel Megroz. Wisbech, Fenland Press, 1935.
A Treasury of Modern Poetry. An anthology of the last forty years. London, Sir I. Pitman & Sons, 1936.
The Lear Omnibus. London, T. Nelson & Sons, 1938.
A Book of Lear, ed. R. L. Megroz. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books 234, 1939.
The Dream World. A survey of the history and mystery of dreams. London, Bodley Head, 1939.
The Real Robinson Crusoe. Being the life and strange surprising adventures of Alexander Selkirk of Largo, Fife, Mariner. London, Cresset Press, 1948.
Profile Art Through the Ages. A study of the use and significance of profile and silhouette from the stone age to puppet films. London, Art Trade Press, 1948.
Thirty-one Bedside Essays. Oxford, Pen-in-Hand Publishing Co., 1949.
Pedagogues Are Human. An anthology of pupils and teachers, grave and gay, from British and American fiction, biography, diaries, letters and verse. London, Rockliff, 1950.

Ghosted
How to Play Snooker by Stenley Newman [with C. D. Dimsdale]. London, Sir I. Pitman & Sons, 1936.
Billiards and Snooker for Amateur Players by Horace Lindrum [with C. D. Dimsdale]. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books 119, 1937.

Non-fiction as C. D. Dimsdale
Babies. A miscellany of the literature of infancy. London, Golden Galley Press, 1948.
Come Out of Doors. A guide for nature-lovers, illus. C. F. Tunnicliffe. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1951.
The Story of Grass. 1960. [reported but untraced]
Countryside and Coast. 1964. [reported but untraced]

Others
The Cook's Paradise. Being William Verral's 'Complete System of Cookery', published in 1759. With Thomas Gray's Cookery notes in holograph, introduction and appendices by R. L. Mégroz. London, Sylvan Press, 1948.

(* Our column header is a silhouette of Mégroz drawn by Hubert Leslie, 1949.)

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