Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Charles Welsh Mason's Queer House

In And I’d Be the King of China, I wrote about Charles Welsh Mason, the Eighteen Nineties writer published by John Lane and others who had also had an adventurous career, including an attempt to lead a revolt in China.

After the publication of his last known book, The Chinese Confessions of Charles Welsh Mason, by Grant Richards in 1924, I was unable to find very much trace of this mysterious figure.

It transpires that in fact he retired to a house that he built for himself in rural Kent, and lived there pretty much as a hermit until his death in 1951. Queer House, High Malden, was an eccentric edifice with decided Chinese and Gothicky influence.

It’s now possible to see a splendid film excerpt briefly depicting Mason himself and his house under the title Hearths Are Trumps, where he is described as Writer, Gold Miner, World Traveller, dwelling alone with his memories.

(With thanks to David Leffman and Johanna Mason, the author’s grand-daughter)

Mark Valentine

1 comment:

  1. Mason is only 73 but with that beard he looks much older. At the same time, he seems incredibly spry and fit. I must look up the earlier article about him. The fantasy and sf writer Jack Vance built his own house in Oakland--I can't remember it very well, except that the ground floor is a great mead-hall kind of open room. --md