Thursday, December 20, 2012


The new issue of the Arthur Machen journal, Faunus, has just been issued to members of the Friends of Arthur Machen. Issue 26 of the hardback journal  includes Thomas Kent Miller's comprehensive survey of the meanings of Machen's enigmatic story 'N'; John Howard's explorations of a key Machen motif, geographical and spiritual boundaries; Godfrey Brangham's recollections of browsing for Machen in obscure bookshops; and an unpublished essay on Machen by the Nineties authority Derek Stanford. There's also an essay on a vituperative feud against Machen by the Edwardian journal The New Age, together with a previously undiscovered portrait of Machen in the futurist style. Accompanying Faunus, Gwil Games' Machenalia newsletter has the usual cornucopia of Machenesque news and announcements, including details of events planned to mark his 150th anniversary next year. To join the Friends of Arthur Machen and receive the journal and newsletter, please visit the Friends of Arthur Machen website.

R.R. Ryan

In 2004 Theo Pajmans and I published an article in All Hallows about the 1930s thriller writer, R.R. Ryan.  We revealed the existence of the book contracts for R.R. Ryan in the archive at Random House.  The contracts indicated that, in addition to the seven novels that he published under his own name, R.R. Ryan wrote four novels under two pseudonyms, Cameron Carr and John Galton.  At that time Random House would not release any personal information about Ryan for privacy reasons, so we were unable to establish the identity of the author, though we suggested a couple of possibilities, the actor Cameron Carr, and Rachel R. Ryan, who wrote a book about the city of Manchester in the 1930s.

In 2008, Random House agreed to release the personal information in the contracts in response to an access request.  All of the books are contracted to R.R. Ryan of 16 Granville Road, Hove, Sussex, except No Escape, Ryan’s last novel, which is addressed to 80B Lansdowne Place, Hove, Sussex.  The contract for No Escape is dated 17 November 1939.

A letter dated 3 March 1939 indicates that R.R. Ryan accepted an offer assigning copyright for all three names to Herbert Jenkins, now controlled by Random House.

The last correspondence in the R.R. Ryan file is a letter from Mrs Anne Ryan, R.R. Ryan’s wife, dated 1 August 1956.  The letter is addressed from 80B Lansdowne Place.  The letter appears to be a response to a letter dated 30 July 1956, which is not extant. In the letter Mrs Ryan accepts an offer made by Herbert Jenkins, but it is not clear for what, though it is conceivable the offer is for the copyright of No Escape, which was contracted after Ryan sold the copyrights of his other books to Jenkins in March 1939.

The Hove electoral registers reveal that a man named Rex Ryan lived at the Hove addresses with his wife, Anne.  Local directories confirm that the Ryans lived at these addresses.  Mrs A. Ryan is listed in Pike’s Directory for 1939-40 at 16 Granville Road.  Kelly’s Directory for 1947 and 1951 lists Mrs R Ryan at 80B Lansdowne Place, and lists Mrs A. Ryan at the same address for 1964 and 1966.

There is only one Rex Ryan listed in the UK Death Indexes for the period 1939-1956; he died at Hove, aged 67, in the last quarter of 1950.  His death certificate confirms that he was in fact R.R. Ryan.   His occupation is given as “retired theatrical manager and author”.  He was “found dead eighteenth October 1950 80B Lansdowne Place, Hove”.  The cause of death is given as “asphyxia due to carbon monoxide poisoning following inhalation of coal gas.  His own act. Suicide whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed.” 

The most intriguing detail of all comes under his name:

“Evelyn BRADLEY otherwise Rex RYAN”

Evelyn Bradley who was born in Waterloo, Lancashire on 14 December 1882.  His birth certificate was registered in September 1883.  He was the son of Walter Bradley, described in the 1891 census as a retired African merchant, who was born in about 1849, and Alison Bradley, born in about 1857.  Evelyn had two siblings, Arnold and Norah.  The 1891 census also lists Mary Webster, a school governess, as living with the family.  In that year the family were living in Cheadle in Cheshire; the 1901 census has the family living in Ripponden in Yorkshire.

Evelyn Bradley was a theatre manager, actor, and playwright, and his knowledge of the theatre appears in his books; a number of his protagonists are actors or aspiring actors, there are frequent theatrical references in his books, and A New Face at the Door, under his Cameron Carr pseudonym, concerns the members of a repertory company in a provincial theatre. 

Bradley’s plays included titles such as Yellow Vengeance, The Trap and The Volga Boatman.  The former is mentioned in Steve Nicholson’s The Censorship of British Drama 1900-1968 (2003-5):

In November 1928, [Lord Cromer, the Lord Chamberlain, who was responsible for theatre censorship in Britain until 1968] licensed Yellow Vengeance, in which Wong Koo, a doctor, threatens to inject the son of an Englishman, with tetanus, unless Pearson sacrifices his second wife to Koo’s lust, as revenge for Pearson having violated Koo’s betrothed twenty years earlier.  It is hard to argue with Street’s description of Yellow Vengeance as ‘the Chinese rubbish play reduced to a very simple form’, and Cromer noted that it was just the sort of play to which the Chinese consulate was ‘constantly taking exception’.  However, Koo actually turns out to have been bluffing, and is ‘much less a villain than the usual Chinese type’, so Cromer was more easily able to justify his decision: ‘as the Chinaman comes out with all the credit, I can hardly object to the play on either political or moral grounds.’

Rex Ryan may also have written The Twister, another sensational play, which was set in Chang’s Torture Chamber and featured cocaine gangs.  The play was licensed in September 1928 for the Grand Theatre, Brighton, close to where Ryan lived and worked. 

Interestingly, Ryan’s wife was Anne Howard, whose mother was Zoe Beatrice Howard, formerly Redgrave, and related to the famous acting family.  Anne Ryan died in about 1970 and evidently destroyed all of her husband’s papers.

Evelyn Bradley appears to have been known as Rex Ryan from an early period, and as we have seen, his wife called herself Anne Ryan.  Their daughter, Denice, called herself Bradley-Ryan on her marriage certificate.  Denice was born in 1915 and was herself a writer: she published four novels with T Werner Laurie under the name Kay Seaton:  Pawns of Destiny (1947), Tyranny Within (1946), Phantom Fear (1948) and Dark Sanctuary (1949).  A short article on “Kay Seaton” published in the 1948 Christmas edition of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes News says that she writes the novels in long-hand and sends them to her father in Hove who has them prepared for manuscript and sent to the publishers.  Rex Ryan’s grandson’s, David Medhurst and Paul Caton, also confirmed the existence of another novel, Tyranny of Virtue (London: Willis, 1925) written under the pseudonym Noel Despard.  Paul Caton and his sister Elspeth run the R.R. Ryan website, which includes lots of genealogical information and some rare photographs:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


The Mellifont edition

In my column “Late Reviews” in Wormwood no. 10 (Spring 2008), I reviewed one of Mark Hansom’s novels as follows:

Hansom, Mark.  The Wizard of Berner’s Abbey. (London: Mellifont Press, undated but 1944)
The Wizard of Berner’s Abbey is the second of Mark Hansom’s seven novels, all of which were published by Wright & Brown of London between 1935 and 1939. It came out in May 1935, following the November 1934 publication of The Shadow on the House, an unambitious but readable thriller.  Original Wright & Brown editions of the seven Hansom novels are extremely rare, as are the seven paperback reprints done by Mellifont Press between 1939 and 1951.  According to the British Museum Catalogue, at least some of the Mellifont Press reprints were abridged.  I have not been able to compare the texts of the two editions of The Wizard of Berner’s Abbey, but if the Mellifont edition (which contains approximately fifty-six thousand words in twenty chapters) was abridged, as I suspect (owing to the hazy details of certain aspects of the plot), the cutting was an act of mercy towards the reader.  The Wizard of Berner’s Abbey is a considerable step down from Hansom’s first novel, a descent into hackwork.
            It is the first person narrative of John Richmond, a student of medicine aged twenty-four, who comes unexpectedly to a little Surrey village to visit his cousin, Leonora, who had jilted him two years ago to marry Paul St. Arnaud, a sinister and much older figure completely absorbed in scientific inquiry. John hopes to come to understand why Leonora turned against him and towards the repellant St. Arnaud.  What John discovers is that St. Arnaud believes that his own will is so great that it works in complete independence of his body. St. Arnaud, however, is soon dead and buried, though his influence over his wife, via some sort of mind control, remains. And Leonora unwittingly continues her late husband’s nebulous experiments to create life—these experiments have something to do with the murders of two young women, for evidently brain matter is an essential part of St. Arnaud’s methodology.  Meanwhile John explores St. Arnaud’s library, which contains various occult books, and after reading in one of them John decides that some kind of vampirism is involved with regard to St. Arnaud’s strength of will.
Much of this kind of exposition is padding and deflection. It turns out that St. Arnaud has faked his own death, but is in the end killed in a struggle, leaving John and Leonora to marry.  The reader reaches the final page with relief that this tedious novel, poorly executed and entirely without thrills, is at last finished. 
            Nothing is known of the author. It is possible that the byline is pseudonymous.  Though there are many people with the last name of Hansom in England (particularly in the north), there is no “Mark Hansom” of the appropriate age to be found in the death records for England and Wales from 1938 through 2005.

I am now able to confirm, by comparison with the Wright & Brown original (courtesy of James Doig), that the Mellifont edition of The Wizard of Berner’s Abbey is, as I suspected, significantly abridged, and I am able to make some generalized statements about Mellifont’s process of abridgement, which (presumably) is common with other Mellifont texts.  Basically, what the editor at Mellifont seems to have done is to cut whole paragraphs throughout the book, mostly of narrative description. In some instances, a sequence of paragraphs, including some dialogue, might be excised wholly, even running to a number of pages; but for the most part, it was common for a paragraph or two  to be snipped out here and there in each chapter to reduce the amount of text enough to fit in the standard Mellifont 96-page format.  Additionally, all italics in the original Wright & Brown edition are dropped from the Mellifont.

As an example, here are my notes about the cuts from the twenty chapters of the Wright & Brown edition of The Wizard of Bernard’s Abbey. Very occasionally one sentence might be cut out of a paragraph otherwise retained in the Mellifont edition (marked with a + below), or a sentence from a paragraph otherwise excised might be retained (such instances are marked with a - below).

Chapter I:  6 paragraphs cut
Chapter II: 2 paragraphs cut
Chapter III:  3+ paragraphs cut
Chapter IV:  4 paragraphs cut
Chapter V:  5- paragraphs cut
Chapter VI:  10 paragraphs cut
Chapter VII:  no cuts
Chapter VII: 3 paragraphs cut
Chapter IX:  47 paragraphs cut (including one stretch of 6 pages)
Chapter X:  16 paragraphs cut
Chapter XI:  16 paragraphs cut (including one stretch ~ 3 pages)  
Chapter XII:  18 paragraphs cut
Chapter XII:  17+ paragraphs cut
Chapter XIV:  20 paragraphs cut (+ one new transitional sentence)
Chapter XV:  no cuts
Chapter XVI:  5 paragraphs cut
Chapter XVII:  6- paragraphs cut
Chapter XVIII:  16 paragraphs cut
Chapter XIX:  1 paragraph cut
Chapter XX:   5+ paragraphs cut

I think it’s safe to call the Mellifont edition hacked to pieces! The currently available edition published by Ramble House is reproduced from the Mellifont edition, and thus identically abridged. Potential readers are hereby alerted!   

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Wormwoodianaites would know of R. Ellis Roberts through a couple of stories anthologised in Dorothy L. Sayers' sublime Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror series.  Surely his scarce collection, The Other End, is deserving of a reprint in these enlightened times.  Here is a contemporary review that appeared in The Bookman in March 1923.

THE OTHER END, By R. Ellis Roberts (Cecil Palmer, 1923)

There is said to be joy among authors when a critic writes a novel or a book of short stories.  “Now,” they say in their hearts, “he will give himself away.  It is easy for him to point out the flaws in our art and tell us how to do it, but he will not find it so easy to demonstrate how it ought to be done." Any such joy will, in this case, be short‑lived, for “The Other End" proves that Mr. Ellis Roberts is as well able to write stories of his own as to criticise those of others. Here, moreover, he has set his hand to a kind of story-telling that is not often practised successfully and achieved a mastery, at times, over the grim, the terrible, the eerie, the bizarre, over the fine, elusive mysteries of the spirit, that challenges comparison with Poe and Hawthorne.

For all the uncanny air that enfolds these stories, the supernatural elements in them are so quietly taken for granted, and am blended with so much of everyday circumstance that even their unrealities are made to seem curiously real. Mr. Roberts paints you a conventional, smiling English landscape, then by gradual, subtle wizardries touches it with secret, twilight terrors. He finds the gods of ancient Rome still haunting the English countryside where their alters and temples had stood; finds the altar magically re‑erected, the sacred fire burning on the lonely hill in the deep of the night, and a strange worshipper, who had seemed by day an ordinary herd‑boy, offering up sacrifice; finds the gods themselves returning to influence mysteriously, tragically, the lives of present‑day men and women.

In "The Great Mother," Hugh Flinders asks his friend: “Would it surprise you to know that the old worship goes on? That hills near here are still sacred to Apollo? That groves are still dedicated to Diana, and woods to Pan? I don't mean stupid revivals like old Taylor's: I mean survivals of the old faith among the old people ‑ people to whom Christ and the saints are less direct of access than earth-stained Pan, gross Priapus, or even Jupiter of the storm. For months now I have resisted and I can resist no longer. I am going to the grove tonight: and I should like you to come too, it you will. Will you?” The amazing happenings that night at the grove ‑ the baffling disappearance of Hugh, the rush of frenzied dancers, with nothing to be heard but the swift padding of many feet, and nothing seen but the long, rank grass beaten down as by a storm of hailstones ‑ the whole thing, with its matter-of-fact ending, which leaves the wonder unexplained, is done with an art, an imaginative cunning that is rare in modern fiction.

These occult influences of the ancient world are potent in “The Hill,” the piteous tragedy of “The Other End,” “The Wind,” “Under the Sun,” and other of the tales; but it is a different wizardry that is practised by the saintly priest, Lascelles in "The Narrow Way," another sort of spirit that haunts the high road in "The Cage." Any summary of the stories would misrepresent them; they depend so much for their effectiveness on the atmosphere in which they are steeped, on little details of character and incident that, subtly touched into them, subdue the reader to a belief in their bizarre happenings. Some are edged with a delicate irony, or have charm as well as mystery and terror; the best show a power of fantasy and a deftness of finish which seem to indicate that Mr. Ellis Roberts has too long given to criticism what was meant for imaginative literature.

Monday, December 10, 2012

VALANCOURT - 20th Century Classics

Valancourt Books have announced a new series of 20th Century Classics, which includes quite a few reprints of rare ghostly, supernatural or fantastic novels. Titles lined up include I Am Jonathan Scrivener by Claude Houghton, introduced by Michael Dirda; a range of volumes by John Blackburn; The Witch and the Priest by Hilda Lewis; The Hand of Kornelius Voyt by Oliver Onions; He Arrived At Dusk by R.C. Ashby; and Flower Phantoms by Ronald Fraser. The books will all be reset and have new introductions.  The list looks like it will prove a good opportunity to read some fine, hard-to-find, but neglected work, and I'm pleased to be involved with introductions for some of them.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

More Lesser-Known Writers Entries

I think I've added more than two dozen new entries to my Lesser-Known Writers blog since last I posted here (on April 16th) a roundup of some of the more interesting ones.  (There are a bunch more entries in the queue to be automatically published.) So it's time to call attention to some of the newer ones.

Weird Tales writers include:
M. Humphreys, [not M.L. Humphreys], author of "The Floor Above" praised by Lovecraft;
Allison V. Harding, stalwart contributor of the 1940s under Dorothy McIlwraith;
Robert Nelson, poet and correspondent of Lovecraft's;
Royal W. Jimerson, author of one tale in 1928

obscure British writers of horror stories include:
Uel Key
Clive Pemberton
The Countess of Munster
Francis C. Prevot

Writers of romantic scholarship:
Clark B. Firestone, author of Coasts of Illusion;
Maximilian J. Rudwin, authority on the European fantastic, and on the Devil in literature

Entries of interest to Tolkienists:
E.F.A. Geach, one of whose poems inspired Tolkien;
S. Matthewman, founder of the Swan Press in Leeds;
Laverne Gay, whose reuse of unusual medieval words rates a comparison by Oxford lexicographers with Tolkien

Off-trail European writers of the fantastic:
Wolfheinrich von der Mülbe
Morley Troman
Eva-lis Wuorio
George Blink, a dramatist of vampires;
Margaret Armour
Sir Harold Boulton

Truly obscure fantasists:
Henry Iliowizi
Andrew James 
Jane Pentzer Myers 

Writers with interesting associations:
Harriet Works Corley, wife (for a short while) of fantasist Donald Corley 
Elinore Blaisdell, illustrator, who compiled an early vampire anthology

And let's not omit real cranks (you can't make up people like this!):
Benson Bidwell, author of The Flying Cows of Biloxi

Future entries scheduled for posting include Mitchell S. Buck, and some other writers in the family of fantasist E.R. Eddison, and more. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

R.I.P. John D. Squires (1948-2012)

John D. Squires at Pulpfest 2010*
I'm very saddened to note here the passing of the eminent Shielian, John D. Squires, on 2 November 2012, at the age of sixty-four.  He had been in ill-health for several years.  Our condolences go out to his daughter and other family members, and to his many friends.  John was one of the world authorities on the life and writings of M.P. Shiel, among his many other interests. Professionally he practiced law, having received his advanced degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, after his undergraduate degree from Harvard University. A number of John's essays related to M.P. Shiel can be found online here (scroll down, where they can be found in a special section). A memorial service will be held in Greensboro, North Carolina.

*Photo from Morgan Holmes's report of Pulpfest 2010.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Wormwood 19 has gone to print and is available to order from the Tartarus website at

Why didn't Bram Stoker write a sequel to Dracula?  Brian J Showers explores the question.

Name five great interwar fantasies. Henry Wessells' choices aren't the obvious ones.

Which writer with sales of over 50 million books has been disowned by his publisher? Roger Dobson on the colourful life and work of Dennis Wheatley.

Who was 'The Man in the Yellow Mask' ? Lucien Verval tells the story.

Mark Andresen discusses 'Women in the Gentleman's Club'; Jason Rolfe looks at Baron Corvo in 'The Weird of the Wanderer'; Reggie Oliver reviews a life of Alfred Jarry, a book on outsider writers, and more; Doug Anderson reveals a learned parrot called Clovis; Hall Caine's The Demon Lover; and more lost classics.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


It’s about a young man who gets lost one night and ends up in a fancy dress party in a chateau and sees a beautiful woman and he spends the rest of the book looking for her. True enough, but not Le Grand Meaulnes. There are some books that paraphrase cannot capture. Readers know that they’ve been drawn into something strange and haunting, but they can’t say what: the grammarye can’t be conveyed. So, as to Under the Yew (1928) by Robert Nichols, a pleasing pocket-book in half-marbled boards and a buckram spine. It’s about a late 18th century rakehell who has a night of debauchery and gambling with cronies at a country house. There he meets a singular stranger, who wears a weird ring: they duel with the dice to the very end of their fortunes. Ruined, he has a single, shivering, uncanny experience beneath a yew tree, reforms, and rebuilds his fortune. Later he encounters the Faustian stranger again. All true, but yet not Under the Yew. It is a Gothick dream, a fantasia in firelight. It ought to be spoken about in whispers and passed by hand. Cabals should meet to discuss its meanings. And in certain wild, starlit nights, its characters might strut again, and dice, and laugh, and make the frightened candles gutter.

The author, Robert Nichols (1893-1944), wrote nothing else like it. He was known in his time as a poet of the Great War: his ‘The Burial in Flanders’ and others are still anthologised. He was a close friend of Philip Heseltine (who composed music as ‘Peter Warlock’). He did write a volume of Fantastica, including ‘The Smile of the Sphinx’: these are formalised tableaux, quite different to Under the Yew. The fine biography of him, Putting Poetry First (2003) by Anne and William Charlton, says that Nichols knew nothing of gambling, and he described the book as “a piece of imaginative virtuosity.” But, as his biographers note, it isn’t “about” gambling, but rather about anything “that can destroy its votaries, lyric poetry included.”

Mark Valentine

Thursday, September 27, 2012


The bleak, precise, sombre novels of Phyllis Paul have been sought-after in recent years, ever since Glen Cavaliero discovered her work, recognised its strange qualities, and began to write about it. They remain quite hard to find, so it's welcome that The Sundial Press of Dorset have just reprinted her 'A Cage for the Nightingale' (1957), with an introduction by Glen Cavaliero, who points out that this is the first reissue of her work since her death nearly forty years ago. Her novels, he notes, "plumb spiritual depths as harrowing and violent as those of Jacobean tragedy": while Elizabeth Jane Howard, quoted on the dustjacket, reaches even further back, evoking "An almost medieval sense of good and ill". What distinguishes her books is the  contrast between the meticulous, correct, shrewdly-observed prose and the stark tragedies and villainies she describes so remorselessly. 'We Are Spoiled' was the title of another of her books, and this sense of humanity as doomed to an existence of sly little evils and weak acquiesence in viciousness permeates all her writing. 'A Cage for the Nightingale' has at its heart a young woman's hesitant quest for the truth about a mysterious death some years before, and the ambiguous roles and attitudes of those around her in the country house where she is a paid companion. The story is well-contrived, with the reader often left in doubt about any explanation. But what pervades the book most of all is a sense of so many shadows, not just in the house and its grounds, but in the conscience of each character - and of greater shadows in a half-lit world beyond.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe

In Wormwood no. 16 (May 2011), one of my "Late Reviews" covered Jules Verne's sequel to Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838), entitled Les Sphinx des Glaces (1897), based on reading the 1898 translation by Mrs. Cashel Hoey. I will copy my "Late Review" below, but here I'd like to call attention to "the first complete English translation" of the book, recently published by the State University of New York Press. Translated and edited by Frederick Paul Walter, it contains not only a full translation of the book (noting on page 387 that Mrs. Hoey's version is "heavily abridged, chopping some 36% of Verne's original", and that her edition "features a number of careless mistranslations, retitles chapters, interpolates passages, fabricates notes, and reorganizes Part Two by shoehorning sixteen chapters into ten"), but also includes the full text of Poe's short novel as one appendix, and a translation of the section on Pym from Verne's 1864 article "Edgar Poe et ses œvres" from the magazine La Musée des familles. Seventeen illustrations also appear, and I recognize most of them from the old translation I read.  The new complete text must now be considered the preferred edition.  Copies are available in an oversize trade paperback edition, very reasonably priced, via Amazon, click here, and Amazon UK, click here. I wonder whether reading the full text would alter my original opinion of the book, which I did not know was abridged at the time I read it. 

Verne, Jules.  An Antarctic Mystery (Philadelphia:  J. B. Lippincott Company, 1899).  Translated from the French by Mrs. Cashel Hoey. 
            In an article on the works of Edgar Allan Poe published in La Musée des familles, Avril 1864, Jules Verne (1828-1905) observed of Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) that “the story of Pym’s adventures breaks off in mid-air.  Who will take it up again?  Someone bolder and more daring than I, who does not fear to launch himself into a sphere of the impossible.”  Thirty years later Verne himself did just that, in Le Sphinx des Glaces (1897), which first appeared in English as a serial, beginning in 1898, in The Boy’s Own Paper under the title Captain Len Guy; or, An Antarctic Mystery. It was subsequently collected in The Boy’s Own Annual for 1899, and also came out as a separate volume, re-titled An Antarctic Mystery, from Sampson Low, Marston and Company, London, around October 1898, with a U.S. edition, published by Lippincott, a month later (though it is dated 1899).  Sadly, none of these versions use Verne’s more poetic French title, which in English would be Sphinx of the Ice-Fields. 
            Poe’s masterful narrative is open-ended, deliberately lacking closure so as to leave the mysteries foremost in the reader’s mind. Inevitably this invites others to write continuations of the story, and the attempts made to explain Poe’s mysteries are inevitably disappointing. Verne’s sequel was the first published, beating out Charles Romyn Dake’s A Strange Discovery (1899) by a matter of months, though it seems likely that both were being written around the same time. And both Verne and Dake hinged their sequels on the supposed reality of the character of Dirk Peters, Pym’s companion, who according to Poe’s note at the end of the book was still alive in 1838, a resident of Illinois.
            Verne’s story is set some eleven years after Poe’s.  Captain Len Guy of the Halbrane is the brother of the Captain Guy who sailed with Pym, and Len Guy has come to believe that his brother, and others of the ill-fated expedition, may still be alive.  The book is narrated by a Mr. Jeorling, who takes passage on the Halbrane and though initially skeptical becomes convinced of the truth of Poe’s narrative, supporting Captain Guy in his search for his lost brother.  Any sequel to Pym is almost by its nature bound to rehash familiar material, as the new expedition retraces the steps of the earlier one, moving farther and farther south towards the pole and Pym’s mysterious end.  Verne adds new hardships for the crew of the Halbrane to overcome, including mutiny and the capture of the Halbrane by a rolling iceberg, leading to its complete destruction. One mysterious crewman of the Halbrane turns out to be the half-breed Dirk Peters, Pym’s companion, who reveals that contrary to what Poe published, Pym never returned to America but drifted off in the Antarctic, after he and Peters had become separated.  Verne brings the story to an implausible conclusion.  Captain Guy eventually find his brother, and the enormous Sphinx they encounter is revealed to be a lodestone—an enormous magnet.  Pym’s frozen and dead body is discovered six feet up the Sphinx, magnetically bound by the iron of the gun which he carried over his shoulder.  Dirk Peters falls dead of grief.
            Both as a novel in its own right and as a sequel to Pym, Verne’s story is unsatisfying. A weak work written in Verne’s old age, his own earlier imaginative writings are much, much better.