Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Rector of Maliseet - Leslie Reid

The Rector of Maliseet
(1925) by Leslie Reid is an atmospheric mystery in the Machen and Blackwood vein. A young man takes up a post as the secretary to an eccentric cleric in a remote parish in the West, helping him compile a book about the legends of obscure saints. The rector’s household includes his aged mother, young daughter and a servant. The narrator is beguiled by the lonely landscape and also by the daughter.

The rector keeps two tall candles burning on the altar of his church at all times and also retires at times to a secret room in a disused wing of his house. In the course of his duties, the secretary discovers the legend of a medieval abbot of sinister reputation, whose abbey lies in ruins in a deep forest nearby, and sees a connection between the abbot and the rector.

Reid's prose is beautifully assured, gradually unfolding the mystery and strangeness with brief, subtle foreshadowings, and the descriptions of the lonely country are marked by keen and evocative observation. This is a highly accomplished first novel which remains largely unknown. I found it entrancing.

Reid wrote three other novels, Saltacres (1927); Trevy the River (1928); and Cauldron Bubble (1934); and two books of non-fiction on geology and natural history, Earth’s Company (1958); and The Sociology of Nature (1962).

Saltacres has a more conventional and less mysterious plot: a young woman, a farmer’s daughter, is torn between the wealthy squire who offers marriage and another man she really loves. Although there are evocative scenes set in the marshes and on a holy island, and a stone circle is mentioned, the romantic tangle, which ends in tragedy, is the main theme. This is really Thomas Hardy country.

In Trevy the River, a young man, the son of a miller’s daughter and a mysterious stranger, makes a living first as a farm labourer, then in a bookshop in a lightly-disguised Wells, Somerset, then as an under-gardener and under-footman at a country house. From childhood he has an affinity with the river that runs through the watermill where he was born, and whose name he shares: and this has led to village tales about him, with hints of the supernatural.

He also has a recurring dream of a hilltop with five pine trees upon its summit and, when he finds the hill, discovers that it is below here that his river has its source. He determines to follow the whole course of the river and has various curious encounters on the way. These episodes read like short stories linked together. The lyrical passages of delight in nature have a pagan element to them like those in the work of Algernon Blackwood. But the work is an odd sort of mixture of Dickens (adventures of an orphan) and this Blackwoodian mysticism. Even so, it is an original and distinctive book.

Reid's fourth and apparently last novel, Cauldron Bubble (1934) is quite different to the other three. In Part 1, ‘The Mixing’, a young man, Lowrie Blane, hiking in the hills of the imaginary nation of Edwal makes for a remote inn at the ruins of the ancient Rhiannon Priory: this reads remarkably like Llanthony Priory, near Abergavenny. Here, he overhears a conspiracy for an uprising against Grendel, a nation to the east that has occupied the smaller country for 500 years. There is a contiguous country also to the west of Edwal, called Belmark, which is to support the revolt.

Some obvious parallels are clear here, but they are not exact. Edwal is geographically and culturally a thinly-disguised Wales, but with elements of Ireland in its history: for example, it is largely Roman Catholic, not (like Wales) Nonconformist; and its nationalist movement is more like that of Ireland too. Grendel is not exactly England, either: it is a republic. Nor is Belmark like Scotland, as might be supposed: it is more like Germany.

The atmosphere is at first quite like that of J B Priestley’s little-known romance of a Jacobite conspiracy, Adam in Moonshine (1927), but not so whimsical: or of John Buchan’s slightly later Ruritanian novel The House of the Four Winds (1935). There is to begin a breezy, adventurous tone, but this soon changes in the second part, ‘The Heating’, which is much darker.

Reid describes the well-planned uprising itself with crisp, convincing detail, and the book becomes tenser, more urgent. The idealistic hopes of a bloodless coup are soon disappointed. There are scenes of battle between the two sides in the capital city, with stark, unflinching detail about the casualties, like the first hand accounts of the First World War. The change from the lighter first part is a distinct jolt, and we see that Reid’s book is no high-spirited costume romp. This continues in the third part, 'The Cauldron Boils', when Grendel and Belmark are at war.

Leslie Hartley Reid was born in India on 17 November, 1895, the elder son of Robert Newby Hartley Reid of the Public Works Department, Madras, India. He attended Rugby school from September 1909 to 1914. He was a Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery, attached to a Trench Mortar Battery, and wounded in action. In 1921 he lived at Foxlease, Swanage, Dorset. He gained a Diploma in Forestry from the University of Toronto, and from 1922 worked for the Canadian Forest Service. (Source: Rugby School Register, Annotated, 1892-1921).

Earth’s Company provides a biographical notice on the dustwrapper which offers further details. Reid served in “France and the East in the First World War”, then worked in the Ontario Forestry Branch. “In 1928 he left Canada and took up teaching after gaining a degree in History at London University. Then came a teaching career of some twenty years, including thirteen at Stowe. In 1956 he retired.”

It adds: “He has been interested in Natural History since boyhood and after the Second World War began writing articles on geological and biological subjects for The Scottish Field, Countryman, Contemporary Review, and Quarterly Review. This is his first book of this kind.” That last phrase, of course, is carefully worded not to include his novels, which are not mentioned at all. Even so, they are worth rediscovering, and, of the four, The Rector of Maliseet in particular.

Mark Valentine

Photo: From 'The Treasures of the Cope Chest' exhibition, Mark Valentine.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Set Down in Malice - Gerald Cumberland

Set Down In Malice by Gerald Cumberland, published one hundred years ago in January 1919, is a book of chatty anecdotes about literary, musical and artistic figures, amongst others. It was mostly written, says the author, while on “Active Service in the Near East”; “in the trenches and dug-outs of Greece and Serbia”, and he “added a chapter or two in Port Said, Alexandria and Marseilles”.

‘Cumberland’ was in fact Charles Francis Kenyon (1879-1926), a music critic and minor composer, and the author of “an experiment in the sensational”, The Cypress Chest, a macabre thriller.

His book of reminiscences consists of brief encounters and impressions, sometimes rather inconsequential, and it’s hard to avoid the sense of the author clutching at the coat-tails of more famous men, while at the same time trying to tip their hat over their eyes. For all that, he has a sharp pen: “Mrs Annie Besant, like her Himalayan Mahatmas, is lofty, remote, and difficult of access”: of Frank Harris; “There is something of the jaguar in his nature; he must, for his soul’s peace, have his teeth in the flesh of an enemy.”

He gives a sympathetic but shrewd description of John Masefield: “I believe he is intensely morbid, delighting to brood over dark things, seeing no humour in life, but full of a baffled chivalry . . .” The poet was indeed drawn to the macabre, an enthusiast of Machen and M R James, though himself gentle and rather shy. We are also given an amusing story of the author’s friend Granville Bantock, accompanied to a music festival by two live eels, ‘dark objects in dark water, swirling about with enormous enthusiasm’ in a tank in the composer’s hotel room . . .

But Cumberland does not only write about the celebrated. He tells also, for example, of forgotten bohemians, Café Royal habitués, such as a Polish poet who had a dispatch case containing eight hundred and seventy-three poems all about himself. Cumberland read one, entitled ‘How I felt at 8.45 A.M. on June 8, 1909, having partaken of Breakfast’, and thought it “much better than half of Wordsworth’s”. There was also a lady “who used always to appear in public in a kind of purple shroud, her face and fingers chalked. She rather stupidly called herself Cheerio Death . . .” and in fact, he says, died of consumption in Soho in the Autumn of 1913.

And there are brief evocations of forgotten writers, with just enough information to whet the curiosity. For example, he has three paragraphs on Charles Marriott, whose first novel The Column, “threw everybody into fever-heat somewhere about 1902 . . . It was a brilliant book; fresh, original, provocative.” But then what? Ah: “the author has since written many distinguished books, but none of them is as good as The Column.” Marriott, he goes on, “was living at Lamorna, a tiny cove in Cornwall when I first knew him. He was tall, lantern-jawed and spectacled.” What his character, and his books, lacked, says Cumberland, was vigour, indeed vulgarity: “Fastidious to the finger-tips, he would rather go without dinner than split an infinitive.”

Charles Marriott (1869-1957) was from 1924-40 the art critic of The Times and wrote books on art. His Love With Honour (1902) is an Edwardian vagabonding novel: a young man, the orphaned son of a parson, on attaining his majority throws up photography indentures and takes to the road. There is a passage about the effects of hunger and weariness - light-headedness and disconnection with the world - that is similar to some of Machen’s, and there are some lyrical segments, but the novel soon veers into a conventional romance.

His other novels appear to be mostly rather decorous accounts of romantic couples who have to overcome social or emotional difficulties, though “Now!” (1910) is a near-future fantasy in which people adopt a quietist lifestyle. Marriott is a good character-drawer - his minor characters are well done - but a certain amount of intensity is missing, things are a bit too well-staged.

Two other writers mentioned by Cumberland I did not know at all. Alphonse Courlander was, he says, “one of the many young and promising writers whom the war has killed”: not, it seems, at the front, but from overwork. He was a restless journalist in France, “and the horror of the war appears to have got on his nerves. He disappeared from Paris and was found wandering alone in London, neurasthenic, beaten, purposeless. A week or two later he died.” Cumberland’s impression is that “he was too highly strung for the rigours of the game.” Courlander, says Cumberland, used to ask his friends for plots. His Mightier Than the Sword (1912), however, about the picaresque progress of a journalist, seems to have autobiographical elements.

The other writer, with whom Cumberland corresponded, but never met, was Benjamin Swift. “Many of us will remember,” he says,“Benjamin Swift’s Nancy Noon, a strange novel that jerked the literary world into excitement two decades ago”. But Swift, like Marriott, did not later meet this anticipation. “I remember six or eight of his books,” continues Cumberland, “each lit with genius, but all a little crude and violent.” And, though he has not read his more recent books, he hears they also are “outré, violent, eruptive, yet distinguished and glowing here and there with a genius that is always hectic.” I must admit these Shielian adjectives make Swift sound rather tempting.

Mark Valentine

Friday, January 4, 2019

Guest Post: Boyd White on another "R.R. Ryan" Pseudonymous Novel

While visiting my friend Lloyd Currey this past fall, I noticed a copy of John Galton’s The Stars I Kneel To (Herbert Jenkins, 1939) resting amidst a shelf of uncatalogued books. The Stars I Kneel To is one of a number of pseudonymous novels written by Evelyn Grosvenor Bradley, best known for the lurid weird thrillers he wrote in the 1930s and 1940s as R. R. Ryan. I asked Lloyd if I could read The Stars I Kneel To in order to evaluate its content so that he could add the title to his database and feature the book in his upcoming email list for that week, which he happily allowed me to do.

There is nothing substantial written about The Stars I Kneel To anywhere of which I am aware. Conducting an online search for information about the novel only retrieves a brief description of the book as a “romance with typical Ryan theme of psychological torture,” a statement that could apply to nearly any of the books Bradley wrote. The most complete assessment readily available appears in the April 1939 issue of The Library World in a less-than-flattering anonymous review under “New Fiction”:

"A rather terrible story of a young genius, Kenneth, who is trained to be a barrister and becomes an actor. His stern brother goes into his dressing-room and beats him so mercilessly that he cannot act again and gradually deteriorates in character. One imagines that if Kenneth had time to tell his brother he was earning £50 a week instead of sitting still waiting for briefs, the story might have ended differently."

As The Library World review suggests, The Stars I Kneel To is a routine melodrama. The main character, Ken Richmond, is studying to be a lawyer at Oxford at the behest of his oldest brother Reade. Obsessed with restoring the family estate of Little Heights to its former glory, Reade views Ken’s future career as a lawyer as instrumental to securing the funds necessary for Reade to reclaim the family’s squandered property holdings. Ken, however, feels trapped by the path that has been chosen for him and quits law school to become an aspiring actor, a profession that better suits his artistic temperament. He discovers his soulmate in Nan Leslie, the daughter of Sir Nigel Leslie, a famous London gynecologist who is determined his daughter will not marry Ken. Spurred on by Ken, Nan rebels against her tyrannical father, and, with Ken’s assistance, they both become overnight sensations on the stage. Reade eventually confronts Ken and nearly beats his younger brother to death, damaging Ken’s face to the extent that he is unable to speak. Doctors fear that Ken may never recover mentally or emotionally from this incident, and when Ken returns to the stage, he has lost his acting ability.  After being tricked by Sir Leslie into taking nerve pills that make him appear completely drunk on stage, Ken later attempts to rob Sir Leslie and is arrested after he accidentally shoots a police inspector in the leg. The sensationalistic lurid details that characterize the Ryan thrillers appear in the final third of the novel after Ken is released from prison and falls in with Teresa Bowles, a prostitute who is a former patient of Sir Nigel’s suffering from an advanced case of syphilis. Teresa is prone to parading around in the nude during her attempts to lure Ken into bed after she falls in love with him as they navigate life on the streets in the seedier parts of London. The novel’s title is a quotation from Poe’s second “To Helen” poem (1848), which is addressed to Sarah Helen Whitman to whom Poe was briefly engaged: “They fill my soul with Beauty (which is Hope,) / And are far up in Heaven—the stars I kneel to / In the sad, silent watches of my night.” The “stars” to which Poe refers are Sarah’s eyes, and the novel’s title emphasizes Ken’s idolization of Nan, whom he nicknames “Star.”

Unlike the Ryan novels, The Stars I Kneel To is not a thriller, nor does it contain any fantastic or supernatural elements. It is essentially a work of psychological and social realism. The plot is straightforward, and overall, the novel is much more competently written than any of the Ryan books. While I have not been able to read any of the novels that Bradley wrote under the Cameron Carr pseudonym, they, too, are reportedly less fantastic than the Ryan novels and characterized by a greater depth of psychological insight. The speculation that Bradley employed his different pseudonyms for what he viewed as very different types of novels certainly seems to have some merit. I can easily imagine Bradley viewing Ryan’s The Subjugated Beast (1938) or Freak Museum (1938) as commercial hackwork and Cameron Carr’s Gilded Clay (1938) or Galton’s The Stars I Kneel To as his “serious” novels.

As such, The Stars I Kneel To provides an interesting contrast to the Ryan thrillers. Most noticeably, the novel’s protagonist is male, not female, and Bradley’s characteristic concerns with the cultural and social forces with which women must contend in a male-dominated society do not take center stage. Bradley’s focus is entirely on Ken’s struggle to define his own identity and career in order to free himself from his oppressive relationship with Reade, his older brother. Ken’s artistic and aesthetic temperament is also entirely at odds with the lives lead by all his brothers, who, like characters in a D. H. Lawrence novel, revel in hard physical labor in the country and in their lusty, sensual relationships with their wives. While Ken loves Nan, he is clearly not interested in sexual relations with her. Instead, he longs for a more spiritual connection, a melding of artistic souls not rooted in earthly physicality. Ken is alienated by the lives his brothers lead and by all of them essentially being “men’s men.” The efforts Ken later takes to avoid having sex with Teresa despite admittedly being somewhat aroused by her behavior are glaringly obvious.

Whether or not we are to read Ken as a repressed homosexual is a matter for conjecture as is the extent to which any autobiographical elements of Bradley’s own life have informed the development of Ken’s character or the plot of The Stars I Kneel To. Bradley was a theater manager, actor, and playwright, and his novel A New Face at the Door (Herbert Jenkins, 1937), written under the Cameron Carr pseudonym, focuses on the members of a repertory company in a small theater. At the very least, Bradley’s own theater experiences certainly shaped the subject matter of The Stars I Kneel To and A New Face at the Door.

The Stars I Kneel To is fairly mediocre, but then again so are the more well-known novels written under the R. R. Ryan pseudonym. Their primary points of interest lie in the aberrant psychology of their main characters, their frank treatments of sexuality and sexual violence, and their over-the top plot conceits that would make even Harry Stephen Keeler raise an eyebrow. Lacking the more macabre elements found in the Ryan thrillers, The Stars I Kneel To is far less interesting despite Bradley’s seeming ambitions to write a more serious work.

Boyd White

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A College Mystery - A P Baker

This month marks the centenary of an unusual but accomplished Jamesian ghost story, A P Baker’s A College Mystery: the story of the apparition in the Fellows' Garden at Christ's College, Cambridge . . . With five drawings of Christ's College, Cambridge, by F. H. Round (Cambridge : W. Heffer & Sons, 1918). Though the copyright page bears a 1918 date, the book was in fact published in January of the following year (according to The English Catalogue of Books for 1919).

A College Mystery
is presented as a “real” ghost story, complete with spoof press reports and documents, but is in fact a slim novel of 80 pages or so. This is a very modern approach, and because of this it has sometimes been taken as a true account: the British Library catalogue finds the need to add the explanatory note “[A Tale]” for its records. It is lucidly written, with an assurance about the structure, and a plausible deployment of the “documentary” sources: deft and highly readable.

The bibliophile and book cataloguer Robert Eldridge notes: “The dry tone of this story (and similar ones) would have been soporific had not the ghost business been established at the outset. Thereafter, the dryness adds a pleasingly contrapuntal tone to the story.” There was a “second edition” in 1923 or, as Eldridge argues, in fact a remainder issue of the first edition with the new date added. There is a 2016 print-on-demand paperback reprint from Ostara Publishing.

The book included atmospheric illustrations by F H Round. Frank Harold Round (1879-1958) was a botanical illustrator known for his sumptuous work for The Genus Iris by William Rickatson Dykes (Cambridge University Press, 1913), for which he provided forty-seven coloured drawings. He was described then as the drawing master at Charterhouse. He also did landscape pictures.

The author of A College Mystery, whose full name was Arthur Ponsford Baker, was born in 1873 and died aged only 45 in 1919. He published one other book, University Olympians; or, Sketches of Academic Dignitaries (Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons, 1914), light verses in rhyming couplets about Oxbridge ‘types’ of the time, such as The Master, The Tutor, The Bursar, The Steward. These were originally published in The Cambridge Review.

There is an excellent discussion of the ghost story and its author by Rosemary Pardoe in The Ghosts & Scholars M R James Newsletter Issue 8 (September 2005), available online here.

Mark Valentine

Picture: "The figure of a man crossed a patch of comparative light on the darkness of the lawn". The Fellows' Garden, Christ's College, Cambridge (South View) by F.H. Round, from A College Mystery, via the Ghosts & Scholars website.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Catching Up with Le Visage Vert

The recent publication of issue 30 (a milestone!) of Le Visage Vert has reminded me that I need to cover it and their other recent publications.

Here's the new issue, which contains (among other things) two stories by Stefan Grabinski, and two studies of Grabinski, by Pierre van Cutsem (biographical and bibliographical, with nice color illustrations) and by Michel Meurger.  For the full contents see here. And for ordering information, see here.

Issue 29 came out about a year ago, and it has two pieces by Marcel Schwob, and two articles about him, along with the fourth installment of Michel Meurger's historical study  of werewolves (the third installment appeared in issue no. 27), among other intriguing items. For the full contents see here. And for ordering information, see here.

Recent publications in the Librairie du Visage Vert include the first of three planned volumes of stories by Maurice Level, Les Oiseaux de nuit [Night Birds], with a long Preface by Philippe Gontier and a long afterword and extensive bibliography by Jean Luc Buard. Such extensive coverage of Level is long overdue and very welcome. For ordering information, see here.

And there is a recent collection of essays on Lovecraft, edited by Christophe Gelly and Gilles Menegaldo, Lovecraft au prisme de l'image: Littérature, cinéma et arts graphiques [Lovecraft in the prism of the image: literature, cinema, and graphic arts]. For ordering information, see here

As usual, these LVV publications are elegantly and tastefully produced.  Have a look around at their main page here, and scroll down a bit to find their list of publications, with the most recent nearer to the top.  

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Atlantean Angel in Nightingale Lane

A Note on D Bridgman-Metchim

Atlantis, The Book of the Angels, “Interpreted” by D. Bridgman-Metchim, with illustrations by the author (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Col Ltd, 1900) is a historical fantasy presented as a visionary recreation of a pre-Flood civilisation. An introductory note says: “This Interpretation is the fullest account we have yet of the life ante-diluvium . . . This is the history of the zenith of the early Adamites.” It is explained that it is derived from “the root language of Shinar”, which lies beyond all languages, and has been interpreted in English.

The book, album size in Royal Octavo, extends to some 461 pages, has numerous footnotes citing learned authorities, and also includes an Appendix of explanatory notes. A cheap edition of the book was issued in 1903. Bindings have been noted in red and in blue cloth, and one, catalogued by Robert Temple Booksellers, in purple with gilt lettering on the spine (possibly an author’s or presentation copy?). My own copy once belonged to the Revd Edward W Lees of The Manse, Gillingham, Dorset and has his 1916 bookplate.

The author’s first name was Donald and his dates have been given in an index of wills (1) as 1871-1931, which if correct means he was only 29 when the Atlantis book was published, and even younger when it was written. Probate records show that he died on 8 November 1931 and at the time of death his address was given as 246 Coombe-lane Wimbledon, Surrey. Earlier he lived with his parents in a large house called Courtlands in Nightingale Lane, Clapham. There are records of a Metchim printing firm to which his family seem to be connected, although his Atlantis book was printed in Holland, possibly because of its rather vivid contents.

The prose is in that form of florid archaic-style expression (with liberal use of “thou”) which Victorian writers often adopted for historical epics. It is not dissimilar to that used later by William Hope Hodgson for The Night Land (1912) and may strike a modern reader as somewhat heavy-going. I probably ought to confess that I have not read every word in the book, especially in the footnotes, but certainly quite a lot of it.

The plot concerns the descent of an archangel to Earth to persuade its inhabitants to cease their cruel and sinful regime. He alights at the Atlantean capital of Zul, whose architecture, denizens, customs and ceremonies are richly described. There is a lot of lurid detail about the Atlanteans’ use of human sacrifices, torture, and Roman-style amphitheatre spectacles. However, the archangel falls in love with an Atlantean princess, and a main theme of the book is their passionate but forbidden love, often expressed in sensuous prose. Drama is also supplied by conspiracies and wars between rival factions. Thus, the book is a curious mixture of sultry, decadent, swooning scenes in the manner of Pierre Louys and brisker adventure yarn work in the way of Rider Haggard.

The artwork is also in two styles: some plates are very darkly inked and mysterious, so it is hard to discern the detail: they depict Atlantean citadels and aristocrats. There is a hint of similarities to the work of Simeon Solomon, and also a suggestion of the Art Nouveau style. The others are more like the typical story illustrations in periodicals of the day, as seen eg in the Strand or Pall Mall Magazine.

Although little is known of the biography of Bridgman-Metchim, there is a brief recollection of the author from an unexpected source. The poet Yann Lovelock’s grandfather was Bridgman-Metchim’s gardener for a while and told his son Ralph, Yann’s father, about his employer. Yann asked his father to write an account of what he remembered, and this has been published in a family newsletter (2):

“As the new century began, John Ernest Lovelock of the Wiltshire Lieflock line was employed by the artistically inclined Donald Bridgman-Metchim as head gardener at a large house in Nightingale Lane, Clapham. The two struck up a friendship of sorts and John’s son Ralph remembered sundry mementoes of that time in the family home—‘booklets, a plaster head of a young girl and a very large canvas’. According to Ralph, Bridgman-Metchim had once sculpted in marble the figures of a man and girl embracing which his narrow-minded family had smashed and sold for hard core. A similar fate nearly overcame his long novel titled Atlantis, the book of the angels, a reinterpretation of the biblical book of Genesis.

For the date of its publication in the closing years of the Victorian era, it was thought sexually explicit and the family are said to have had the bulk of the first edition destroyed. However, there exists a 1900 edition and another from 1903, an inscribed copy of which was presented to [John Ernest] ‘with the author’s sincere good wishes’.”

These artistic aspects are confirmed by other sources. A painting by Bridgman-Metchim called ‘The Fairies Hour’ sold at auction in 2001 (3) and the recollection of him as a sculptor is borne out by a record of his application to join the Royal Society of British Sculptors in February 1906 (4).

The British Library catalogue lists two other books by D. Bridgman-Metchim, both issued from A H Stockwell, the well-known subsidy publisher. The first was Our Own History of the War, from a South London view (1918), and the other, The Solution of All Life’s Riddles (1929), which certainly sounds a book worth getting. However, the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (5) notes that he also wrote, under the name B. Metchim, Wild West Poems (T. Fisher Unwin, 1891): if so, he was then only 20 years old.

His war book was, rather surprisingly, reviewed by Virginia Woolf, under the heading ‘The War from the Street’: “Mr Metchim here records the history of the war as it appeared to a gentleman living in South London so far as the body is concerned, but populating the whole of England spiritually, constituting, in fact, that anonymous monster, the Man in the Street . . . taking the reflection of the things that individuals do, and occasionally wobbling this way or that as some instinct of hate, revenge or admiration bubbles up beneath it.” (6)

Not the least of the mysteries surrounding D Bridgman-Metchim is this evocation of the Atlantean visionary as a barometer of the man in the street. My researches continue.

Mark Valentine


With my grateful thanks to Yann Lovelock for permission to quote the passage about his father’s recollections, and for suggestions of further places to look.



(2) This account is given in Lovelock Lines, The Lovelock Family Newsletter New Series #11, March 2015, edited by Yann Lovelock, in an article entitled ‘Rubbing shoulders with the Lovelocks’, ‘the history of family members in service in past centuries’.



All accessed December 2018.

(6) Quoted in Christina Britzolakis, ‘War, Utopia and the Everyday in Woolf’s Fiction’, Utopian Spaces of Modernism: Literature and Culture, 1885-1945 edited by Rosalyn Gregory and Benjamin. Kohlmann (2011).

Image: Mystery Cove Book Shop

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Phantoms at the Phil

The Lit & Phil, Newcastle, is a historic private library of some distinction with an impressive collection and an active and friendly group of supporters. In recent years they have organised ghost story readings in Midsummer and Midwinter, under the title of Phantoms at the Phil: and the next of these takes place on Thursday January 3rd at 7pm. Here's their announcement:

"It’s that time of year again, when nightmares of turkey and sprouts are beginning to fade, inexplicable gifts have gone to the charity shop and the tinsel can be laid to rest. Don’t relax too soon, though – the nights are still dark and those icy tendrils on your window-pane could herald something more sinister than Jack Frost… Time for another evening of specially written spooky stories from Sean O’Brien and Gail-Nina Anderson along with our guest author Mark Valentine, master of the seriously strange tale."

If you're within reach of Newcastle early in the New Year, why not come along? Booking details are here.