Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Demon of Brockenheim

Australian journals and periodicals are a largely untapped source of supernatural and fantastic fiction. This is a shame because there are some fascinating examples of the genre that have been forgotten. One such is the excessive gothic serial "The Demon of Brockenheim" which was serialised in The Australian Journal between April and October, 1877.
AUSTLIT, which provides useful synopses of stories and serials in The Ausralian Journal up to 1900, describes it as follows:
"In the town of Mayence, Germany a dark foreigner who speaks an unknown language is to be hung for the murder of Baron Von Brockenheim. A mysterious pilgrim attempts to bribe the gaoler to see him but fails. In his search for the prisoner he sees alchemical flames in a distant tower of the castle, and knowing thus that the Baron still lives he utters the terrible summoning cry of the Secret Tribunal, warning the Baron that he has been detected and justice must bedone. For the Baron had been due to appear before an ecclesial commission to answer charges of evil and illicit activity. The foreigner, emissary from Grenada's king, is executed and the pilgrim - his father - swears he will have the blood of the Baron's daughter in revenge. He is unaware that she had tried to save his son who had given her the magic ring of Mahmound in return ..."
The author of "The Demon" remains unknown. An advertisement in the March 1877 issue of The Australian Journal says, "We have much pleasure in intimating that in our next number will be commenced a sensational serial tale, by a well-known author, entitled "The Demon of Brockenheim; or, The Enchanted Ring." The well-known author may have been Mary Fortune, the Ireland-born author who wrote a regular detective series for The Australian Journal for 40 years, and who produced four gothic romances for the journal in succession throughout 1866, including "Clyzia the Dwarf." The Austalian writer/researcher, Lucy Sussex, has written extensively on Mary Fortune and has recently edited a selection of her tales for the Canberra-based Mulini Press. Another possible author is the prolific American, Sylvanus Cobb, whose tales were serialised in The Australian Journal, including "Wolfgang; or, The Wrecker's Beacon" in 1876.
The resourceful Australian bookdealer, John P. Quaine, bound up "Demon" and "Wolfgang" and advertised them in his 1931 catalogue of Bloods. The asking price, 7/6.

No comments:

Post a Comment