Tuesday, August 27, 2013


A few years ago, there was a significant buzz that Guillermo Del Toro was going to direct a big budget version of H.P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness".  It seemed like a good match of director and subject, and it was apparently one of Del Toro's dream projects that he'd tried unsuccessfully to do before. Del Toro himself scripted the film with Matthew Robbins. But sometime afterwards, interest seemed to dry up, and Del Toro moved on to other things. 

Recently Del Toro and Robbins's script began circulating on the web.  I understand this is an early version, but at least we now get to experience as a brain movie something of Del Toro's vision.  Alas, I found it second-rate---much more of an expansion of John Carpenter's The Thing (itself excellent) along Lovecraftian lines, than something truly Lovecraftian.  Dole in a heap of movie cliches, and a heavy reliance upon special effects, and I can see why no studio would want to fund this project.  (Of course, compared to what studios want to and do fund, this script should have seemed like a real box-office winner.)  But don't trust me.  Read it for yourself.  Currently I found it online at The Lovecraft eZine.  Direct link here

New Work on M. R. James

It was back in January 2008 that I saw a Call For Submissions by Patrick J. Murphy (Miami University) and Fred Porcheddu (Denison University), for an "edited collection on the fiction of M.R. James, tentatively titled Medievalists Red the Antiquary: Essays on the Fiction of M.R. James." Then there was a long period with no news about the project, which has now transmogrified into a book-in-progress authored by the two academics. So far two articles have appeared in print, with two more presently being considered for publication. It was my discovery of the second article, in the recently published new volume of Studies in Medievalism volume 22, that prompted me to check for other articles and I found the recent interview with Murphy and Porcheddu at A Podcast to the Curious.  Here's a direct link to the interview.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The John Meade Falkner Society Journal - July 2013

The latest issue of the journal of the John Meade Falkner Society (number 14, July 2013) includes rare material by the author of The Lost Stradivarius, Moonfleet and The Nebuly Coat, and essays on little-known aspects of his life and work.


George Woodman explores Falkner's final published piece of fiction in "Charalampia: A Quasi-Byzantine Romance?", and notes that it adds to our regret that Falkner did not write more fiction in his later years. One reason was certainly that Falkner was a very busy man in his role as Company Secretary of Armstrong, a major armaments firm, and another essay in this issue discusses Falkner's visit to Brazil in 1906 to sell warships, with quotations from letters showing his shrewd observation of character and brisk business sense.

Journal Editor Kenneth Hillier has made an excellent find in an old school journal of an account by Falkner of a boating trip on the Thames with friends: the excursion was beset by wind and rain, and the account has some of the facetious flavour of Jerome's Three Men in a Boat.  There's also a consideration by George Robson of the use of underground passages in Falkner's fiction, with discussion of some genuine examples which might have inspired these. Finally, the issue also reprints a previously uncollected poem by Falkner, 'Villa Adriana'. The journal is free to members of the Society, and there is also a regular newsletter.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sorcery and Sanctity: A Tribute to Arthur Machen

To mark the 150th anniversary of Arthur Machen's birth, Hieroglyphic Press are publishing Sorcery and Sanctity - A Tribute to Arthur Machen, with new stories in the Machen tradition from seventeen authors inspired by the wizard from Gwent, including Ron Weighell, Mark Samuels, Thana Niveau, Steve Rasnic Tem, John Howard and John Gale.

The tales offer tributes to all aspects of Machen's literary career, including his work in supernatural horror and mystical wonder, the wartime legends and the ornate prose of his Nineties vignettes. The anthology, elegantly designed and produced, is in a limited edition of 150 copies, only 100 of which are for sale, and proceeds go to The Friends of Arthur Machen. It is sure to be a choice collector's item among Machenites for years to come, and an enduring homage to his work. Update: now sold out.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Checklist of Anglo-Eastern Publications

Checklist of Anglo-Eastern Publishing Company
This checklist is based on a catalogue of the Anglo-Eastern Publishing Co in the National Archives of Australia, CRS A425, Prohibited Publications - General, 1943/2649.  Correspondence with the catalogue is dated February 1927, but I suspect the catalogue itself dates from mid-1926.

Novels of Bree Narran
1. One Night
2. Three Nights
3. Seven Nights
4. A Night and a Day
5. Six Nights Near the Moon
6. The Hour of Temptation
7. Cora Pearl: The Lady of the Pink Eyes 
8. The Dangerous Mrs Raymond
9. The Kinema Girl 
10. A Woman of Forty
11. A Woman of Temperament
12. The Love Child 
13. The Dancing Girl
14. The Right to Motherhood
15. Eve and the Man 
16. Eve out of Eden

A marketing postcard of a Bree Narran novel:

  Guy de Maupassant's Short Stories [probably translated by Bree Narran]
29. Short Stories, No 1 Series
30. Short Stories, No 2 Series
31. Short Stories, No 3 Series
32. Short Stories, No 4 Series
33. Short Stories, No 5 Series
34. Short Stories, No 6 Series
35. Short Stories, No 7 Series
36. Short Stories, No 8 Series
37. Short Stories, No 9 Series
38. Short Stories, No 10 Series
39. Short Stories, No 11 Series
40. Short Stories, No 12 Series
41. Short Stories, No 12a Series
80. Short Stories, No 14 Series
42. A Ladies' Man
43. A Woman's Life [was the subject of an obscenity trial in 1920 – noted in The Times]

Various French Authors.  Translated from the French by Bree Narran
27. Crisp Stories vol 1
28. Crisp Stories vol 2
81.Crisp Stories vol 3
26. Rare Stories, vol. 1
79. Rare Short Stories, vol 2 

The Novels of Paul de Kock. Translated from the French by Bree Narran (unabridged)
44. My Neighbour Raymond
45. That Rascal Gustave
46. The Bride of the First Night
47. The Wife, the Husband and Lover
48. Cards, Women and Wine
49. Mistress or Wife
50. The Girl With Three Petticoats
51. Georgette
52. Madeleine

 W.N. Willis
53. White Slaves of London
54. White Slave Market
55. Western Men with Eastern Morals
56. Should Girls Be Told?
57. A Girl of London Town
58. White Slaves in a Piccadilly Flat
59. The Taint in the Blood
60. Betrayal
61. Why Girls Go Wrong
62. Anti-Christ in Egypt

Sporting Novels, W.N. Willis
64. Bluey Grey [‘A Romance of the Turf’]
65. The Lady Jockey

17. Valentine, Cuddl'ums
18. Valentine,The Adjusters
19. John Bernard, [Annie O'Meara de Vic Beamish], A Woman of Fire
20. John Bernard [Annie O'Meara de Vic Beamish], The New Race of Devils
21. Herbert Parker, The Midnight Lady
22. Herbert Parker, The Cuckoo Woman
23. Louise Heilgers, Further Tabloid Tales
24. M Lehane-Willis, THE PAINTED WOMAN
25. M Lehane-Willis, Dean’s Rosemary
66. Boccaccio, Decameron
67. Marguerite Queen of Navarre,  Heptameron
68. Aristotle, Works
70. T. Faukner, M.D., Book of Nature
86. [No author given], THE GIRL WHO CHARMS MEN
87. Noel Despard, THE TYRANY OF VIRTUE

Another marketing post card

Sexual Science Series.
73. W N Willis, Wedded Love
74. J P Gair, Sexual Knowledge for the Young Man
75. J.P. Gair, Sexual Knowledge for the Young Woman
76. John Hurstcot, Love Ethics: Sex and the Divine
77. Thomas Herne, Love, Courtship and Marriage

The following books are known to have been published by the Anglo-Eastern Publishing Co:
Arthur Wolseley D'Ombrain, Boomerang Verses [the foreword is dated February 1924]
C.J. O'Donnell, Outraged Ulster: why Ulster is rebellious with an introductory letter to the Right Hon Viscount Craigavon [1932]
D.C. Daking, Feed My Sheep [1933]
D.C. Daking, Jungian Psychology and Modern Spiritual Thought [1933]
W.N. Willis, Luvvy Muvver: letters from her dorter Miss Jane [first published in 1916]
Rex Ryan, Crooked Love [advertised in a 1932 catalogue of Anglo-Eastern Publishing Co titles]

Thanks to Andrew Parry who provided many of the cover scans.

Rex Ryan/R.R. Ryan

Kudos to researcher and fellow archivist, Andrew Parry, for discovering more Rex Ryan novels, which he revealed on the excellent Vault of Evil site.  Andrew made the link between the publisher of Noel Despard’s Tyranny of Virtue, Nicholas F. Willis, and the Anglo-Eastern Publishing Co, both of which advertised at the same address.  Anglo-Eastern is one of the more obscure publishers of the first half of the twentieth century; as far as I know only Professor John Arnold of Monash University has done any extensive research about it and the related Camden Publishing Company – see here. 

 There appear to have been three phases to the life of the Anglo-Eastern Publishing Company:

1.   From its founding in about 1910 to the death of William Nicholas Willis Snr in 1922, when the company was run from 48-50 Waterloo Rd, London.

2.    From 1922-1932 when William Nicholas Willis Jnr evidently took over the reins and published only intermittently.  The address of the firm varies between 48-50 Waterloo Rd, 48-50 Waterloo Bridge Rd, and 50 Waterloo Bridge Rd.

3.     From 1932, when the original Anglo-Eastern Publishing Co went into receivership, and a new publishing firm with the same name was formed, which acquired the stock, copyrights, stereotypes and printers’ moulds of books of the earlier company.  According to a 1932 issue of The Publisher, “The Anglo-Eastern Publishing Co (1932) Ltd, of 15 Cecil Court, W.C. 2, have taken over the business of the company of the same name formerly of Waterloo Rd, SE 1, and are issuing new editions of their ‘Bree Narran’ and other well-known fiction.  While it advertised an extensive stock, it’s not clear how much of it was actually published.

 Andrew Parry found an extensive catalogue at the back of one of the 1932 reissues which included two Rex Ryan titles as well as Noel Despard’s Tyranny of Virtue.  The Rex Ryan titles are Midnight Love and Crooked Love. 

 John Arnold has sent me a working checklist of Anglo-Eastern/Camden titles drawn mostly from a similar catalogue of Anglo-Eastern titles at the back of a copy of Crisp Stories, published by Camden.  While there was no Rex Ryan titles in this catalogue, John did find an advertisement for Rex Ryan's Midnight Love at the back of another copy of Crisp Stories.

In addition, a full catalogue of Anglo-Eastern Publishing Company publications, which dates to early 1927, includes both Rex Ryan's Midnight Love and Noel Despard's Tyranny of Virtue. They are numbered 85 and 87 in the catalogue, out of a total of 87 titles.