Monday, July 27, 2020

John Gawsworth's Anthologies

John Gawsworth was the pen-name of Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong (1912-1970). Beginning in the early 1930s, he published a series of eight anthologies, one as edited by Gawsworth, another as edited by Fytton Armstrong, and the rest anonymously.  I have all eight anthologies, but completing the chronology of when they were actually published hasn't been possible.  Perhaps one of the UK newspaper subscription databases might help sort this out, at least as to when the first reviews might have appeared, but I don't have access to any of these. Can anyone help?

The eight anthologies, with the month of publication (when known) are as follows:

October 1932. Strange Assembly: New Stories (London: Unicorn Press), ed. John Gawsworth

January 1933. Full Score: Twenty-five Stories (London: Rich and Cowan), ed. Fytton Armstrong

December 1934. New Tales of Horror by Eminent Authors (London: Hutchinson).

Month? 1935. Thrills, Crimes and Mysteries: A Specially Selected Collection of Sixty-Three Complete Stories by Well-Known Writers (London: Associated Newspapers). With Thirty Illustrations by Norman Keene, and a Foreword by John Gawsworth.

Month? 1936. Thrills: Twenty Specially Selected New Stories of Crime, Mystery and Horror (London: Associated Newspapers). Twelve Illustrations by Norman Keene.

Month? 1936. Masterpiece of Thrills (London: Daily Express). Reportedly this book was a newspaper give-away.

October 1936. Crimes, Creeps and Thrills: Forty-Five New Stories of Detection, Horror and Adventure by Eminent Modern Authors (London: E H Samuel). With 30 unattributed illustrations.

October 1945. Twenty Tales of Terror: Great New Stories (Calcutta, Susil Gupta). This anthology reprints fourteen stories from Thrills, Crimes and Mysteries (1935) and six stories from Thrills (1936).

I'm presently trying to annotate some letters related to contributors in the 1935-1937 period, so figuring out in which months those anthologies were published would really help.  Thanks. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

RIP Gary William Crawford (1953-2020)

Critic, poet, fiction writer, and small press publisher Gary William Crawford passed away in his native  Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 9th, at the age of 67, after a long illness.

Gary published some six booklets of poetry, including Poems of the Divided Self (1992); In Shadow Lands (1998); The Shadow City (2005); The Phantom World (2008); Voices from the Dark: Selected Poems 1979-2009 (2009); and, in collaboration with Bruce Boston, Notes from the Shadow City (2012).

He also published two booklets of his own short fiction, Gothic Fevers (2000) and Mysteries of Von Domarus, and Other Stories (2006).

He was probably best known as a critic and publisher.  He founded Gothic Press in 1979, and edited six issues of the magazine Gothic (1979-1987), which featured criticism as well as fiction and poetry.  (Galad Elflandsson's notable story "The Exile" first appeared in issue 2 in 1979.) A listing of the contents of the six issues can be found here.  Another magazine, Supernatural Poetry, began in 1987, but apparently lasted only for one issue. From 1992 through 1997 he published fourteen issues of Night Songs, another dark poetry magazine.

Of his nonfiction, his work centered in particular on three authors, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Robert Aickman, and Ramsey Campbell.
His massive J. Sheridan Le Fanu: A Bio-Bibliography appeared from Greenwood Press in 1985. With Jim Rockhill and Brian J. Showers he co-edited the seminal collection of Le Fanu criticism, Reflections in a Glass Darkly (2011). And with Brian J. Showers he issued an updated booklet covering Le Fanu's writings as Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: A Concise Bibliography (2011).  In 2006 he founded and edited a twice-yearly online journal Le Fanu Studies.
A booklet-sized study Robert Aickman: An Introduction appeared in 2003. And he edited a booklet of three essays on Aickman, Insufficient Answers (2012). (The three essays are by Philip Challinor, Rebekah Memel Brown, and Isaac Land.) In 2011 he started an online Robert Aickman: A Database, which in 2014 expanded to include a twice-yearly online journal, Aickman Studies.
Ramsey Campbell (1988) was a Starmont Reader's Guide to the author.  Gary's last book was a collection of essays he edited, Ramsey Campbell: Critical Essays on the Modern Master of Horror (2014).  
Other booklets of especial interest published by Gothic Press include poetry collections by Bruce Boston, Conditions of Sentient Life (1996) and Cold Tomorrows (1998); Black Prometheus: A Critical Study of Karl Edward Wagner (2007), edited by Benjamin Szumskyj;  and (apparently the final Gothic Press chapbook) Unburying the Past: The Hermeneutics of Truth in Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Novels (2015), by Claudio Di Vaio.

After Gary's increasing health problems, the Le Fanu and Aickman online databases and journals went offline sometime in 2016 or 2017. Some materials can still be found via the Wayback Machine, e.g. for Le Fanu here, or for Aickman here.  He also worked on a larger critical book on Aickman but this was never completed.

He also wrote articles on  Walter de la Mare, Fritz Leiber, and Stephen King, and contributed to various reference books, like Jack Sullivan's Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural (1986) and Marshall B. Tymn's Horror Literature (1981). 

Friday, July 10, 2020

Rex Ryan/R.R. Ryan

It's been a few years since I posted some contemporary notices of Rex Ryan's death in 1950.  Earlier I had posted a number of notices about him in an attempt to put together some biographical information about this elusive author and playwright, including his strange upbringing with a jailbird father (for what now would be considered white collar crime) in a large house with a "Buebeard's Chamber".

Browsing the British Newspaper Archive, a few more newspaper references have appeared about him in the recently digitized South Yorkshire Times and Mexborough and Swinton Times.   The following article, dated 1 October 1926, as well as including a rare photograph, has some new biographical information:

The article reads:

“Mr Rex Ryan whose ‘Tryning’ is one of the interesting performances of the Venner Repertory company’s excellent production of 'If Winter Comes,' at the Mexborough Hippodrome this week, has had an interesting career.  He began with Shakespearean work at 16 years of age, and gained part of his training with Florence Glossop Harris.  He went through the stock company school, and ran his own companies for several years.  Then he specialised in the work of Oscar Wilde, of which he is very fond, and was particularly happy in the part of Lord Illingworth in ‘A Woman of No Importance.’ He joined Mr. Venner three months ago, and made his first acquaintance with Mexborough during the present stay of the company.  Mr Ryan knows Ireland very well – loves it – and admires greatly the work of the Dublin school, which grew up round the historic effort of Miss Horniman and the Abbey Theatre.  But he is most interested in the work of Basil Macdonald Hastings, whom he regards as the Ibsen of England.  Mr Ryan is a native of Liverpool.”

Another article, dated 21 October 1927, mentions a series of "crime plays", including "The Black Triangle", which I've written about before:

And another of 23 September 1927, which includes some interesting information about a series of performances, including "Maria Marten", the infamous murder in the red barn: