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Sunday, January 09, 2011

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).

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