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

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Captain Edric Vredenburg

Edric Walcott Vredenburg (sometimes spelled Vredenburgh or Vredenberg) was born in 1860 at the British Consulate  in Curitiba, Para, a state of northern Brazil bordering with Guyana to the north through which the lower Amazon flows towards the sea. He was the son of Watson Vredenburg, a Jamaican-born barrister, and his wife Marie Parchappe De Vinay, whom he married in Brazil.

The family had travelled to Angola where Wilmot Laurence Vredenburg was born in 1865 and were in France in 1870 when Ernest Watson Vredenberg was born. They had returned to England where Ernest was baptized in Kensington in November 1870 and, by the time  of the 1871 census, the family were living in Tonbridge, Kent, where Edric was educated.

It is worth noting that a brief biography of a Captain Watson Vredenburgh (found here) charts his life in America where he fought in the war  (1862-65) before returning to New York, where he worked as a policeman between 1865-99. However, Watson Vredenburg, father of Edric, died nine years before that profile was written, so is clearly not the same person. Watson Vredenburg of 131 Church Street, Chelsea, died at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, on 21 August 1890.

Edric Vredenburg served in the infantry with the 3rd Battalion, Essex Regiment in the 1880s, rising to the rank of Lieutenant in March 1885 but resigning his commission in April 1886. He began writing in the late 1880s, his first known novel appearing in 1889. In the 1891 census, aged 31, he is listed as author and editor. His stories appeared regularly from children's publisher Ernest Nister in around 1890-93, although the rewards cannot have been too great as Vredenberg – of 5F Oxford & Cambridge Mansions, Hyde Park, formerly of 19 North Andley Street, London – was declared bankrupt in May 1894.

It was around this time that he joined the staff of Raphael Tuck & Sons, where he would edit children's books for the next forty years.He was involved in countless books, many of them collections of short stories and fairy tales retold for a young audience. These were often very well illustrated – Vredenburg worked on titles illustrated by Mabel Lucie Attwell and Luis Wain – and were very popular in their time. For Raphael Tuck he also wrote natural history books and guides, including London Town, a colour booklet of views of the metropolis.

Vredenburg also penned numerous magazine stories and serials, some of the titles of which include The Veiled Lady, A Bitter Inheritance, His Little Girl, A Silent Witness, The Red Thumb, At the World's Mercy, Millicent Phayre, A Fabulous Fortune, By the Queen's Command, Dolly, A Marriage in May, Merlyn Mystery, Mystery of a Silent Court, Mystery of Madeline Grey and Lady Mary's Love Story.

The author lived at numerous addresses over the years, probably a requirement of his ever expanding family. He was married to Pearl Ada De Winton in Kensington on 25 April 1889 and they had two children: Marie Geraldine Hewett Vredenburg, born 24 July 1889 and Lilian Margeurite Vredenburg, born  7 December 1890, who were both baptized in 1891. Later children were Edric (1892-1980), Vivian Francis De Wilton Wilmot (1893- ), Violet Pearl (1894- ), Charles Ernest (1895-1915 ), Mildred Olive Ruby (1896-1976, married Leonard Francis Handford), Leslie Gordon (c.1898-1941), Douglas Alexander (1899-1964), Philip G. (1902-1903), Reginald (1903- ), Irene Olga R. (1905- ), Harold Hugh Carmichael Laurence (1906-1981), Valentine Geoffrey (1908- ) and Beatrice Eileen K. N. (1909- ).

Over the years he lived at 7 Spencer Mansions, Fulham, [fl. 1896-99], 36 Abbey Road [fl. 1901-03], 22 Hill Road [fl. 1903-04] and 34 Clifton Hill, Westminster, in 1908-10. On the 1911 census he gave his postal address as 81 Portsdown Road, London W. and stated that his house had thirteen rooms. 13 of his 14 surviving children still lived with him, their ages ranging from 2 to 20. This address – given as 80b in the telephone books – was his home until around 1918.

Given the rank of Captain in October 1914, Vredenburg relinquished his commission (with, I believe, the 10th London Regiment) in September 1917 due to ill-health. Shortly after the war, he published an official account of the work of the Expeditionary Force Canteens, showing the magnitude of organization it took to feed armies in France, Italy, Salonika, Mesopotamia, Gallipoli and Egypt.

His later addresses include 38 Ashworth Mansions, Elgin Avenue, Hampstead W.9 [fl. 1919-32] and 49 Leith Mansions, W9, [from c.1933].

Vredenburg died in Paddington, London, in 1941, aged  81.



Her Secret. London, Edlington & Co., 1889.
The Haunted House in Berkeley Square. London, Trischler & Co., 1891.
A Bitter Inheritance. London, Pearson, 1895.

Children's Books
Snowball. London, E. Nister, 1890. 
Our Pets. London, Ernest Nister, 1891; New York, E. P. Dutton, 1891.
The Cat and the Fiddle; or, Tib, Tabby, and Tom. London, Ernest Nister, 1891; New York, E. P. Dutton, 1892?
Fireside Fancies. London, Ernest Nister, 1892?; New York, E. P. Dutton, 1891.
Pretty Polly. London, Ernest Nister, 1892?; New York, E. P. Dutton, 1891.
Cinderella; or, The Glass Slipper. London, Ernest Nister, 1894?
Cat's Cradle. London, Ernest Nister, n.d.; New York, E. P. Dutton & Co., n.d.
Like Grandpapa. London, Ernest Nister, n.d.
The Pet Lamb. London, Ernest Nister, n.d.; New York, E. P. Dutton & Co., n.d.
The Pet Puppy. London, Ernest Nister, n.d.; New York, E. P. Dutton & Co., n.d.
Three Friends. London, Ernest Nister, n.d.; New York, E. P. Dutton & Co., n.d.
General Jack. London, 1894. [Bodleian]

Four Feet by Two. Animal Talks and Tales by Mr. Barn Owl and other animal writers. London, Ernest Nister, 1892. 

A Cosy Corner and other stories by Mrs. Molesworth, L. T. Meade and Edric Vredenburg. London, Ernest Nister, 1893.
Curly Heads and Long Legs. Stories and verses by Edric Vredenburg, Norman Gale and others; illus. Hilda Cowham. London, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1914.
Golden Locks and Pretty Frocks, stories by Edric Vredenburg and others; illus. Agnes Richardson. London, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1914.
Long Ago Fairy Tales, re-told by E. Vredeburg and others. London, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1914.
"Tinker, Tailor", illus. Louis Wain. London. Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1914.

The Sights of London. London, E. Nister, 1891.
Our Village. London, R. Tuck & Sons, 1895.
The Animal Kingdom. London, Raphael Tuck & Sons, n.d.
Animals at Home Including British domestic animals and British wild animals, with Rose Yeatman Woolf. London, Tuck, n.d.
Bird Life and Reptiles and Amphibians, with Rose Yeatman Woolf. London, Raphael Tuck & Sons, n.d. 
Birds of the World. London, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1904?
London Town. London, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1905.
West and East with the E.F.C.. London, R. Tuck & Sons, 1919.
Madame Tussaud's: The Palace of Enchantment, described by Edric Vredenburg, illus. Howard Davie. London, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1925?

Short Stories & Serials
A Strange Language (Wit and Wisdom; reprinted, Short Stories, Jan 1893)
In His Wife's Absence (The Penny Illustrated Paper and Illustrated Times, 4 Jun 1898)
The Veiled Lady (serial, Dundee Courier & Argus, 15 Nov—9 Dec 1899)
The Silent Witness (serial, Dundee Courier & Argus, from 14 Dec 1900)

(* Cover scans for many Raphael Tuck albums edited by Vredenburg can be found here.)

No comments: