Monday, January 23, 2023

The Centenary of "The Other End" by R. Ellis Roberts

January 1923 saw the publication of the only volume of fiction by the noted literary critic R. Ellis Roberts (1879-1953). It came from the London publisher Cecil Palmer, and contains three sections of three stories each, all followed by an additional interlude or commentary, making for a total of twelve. It is perhaps not coincidental that in September 1922, The Bookman published Roberts's appreciation of Arthur Machen, whom he had clearly read closely, and many Machenian ideas and themes recur in the stories of The Other End

Its two most reprinted tales are "The Hill" and "The Narrow Way", but various critics have selected other tales as its best.  E.F. Bleiler called "The Rabbit Road" and "The Wind" excellent (the others being "of varying quality"), while David G. Rowlands noted "The Cage" as the best. Readers of Wormwoodiana with long memories might recall that James Doig presented, back in 2012, the March 1923 review of The Other End from The Bookman (link here), which gives a fulsome consideration of the volume. Back in 1989 Mark Valentine noted in his column "The Ghost Story Gazetteer" in The Ghost Story Society Newsletter the possible real world places associated in the tales, and in the recently published Literary Hauntings: A Gazetteer of Literary Ghost Stories from Britain and Ireland (2022, co-edited by R.B. Russell, Rosalie Parker, and Mark Valentine), he repeated the conclusion (with a nice photograph) that "Colmer's Hill" near Bridport in Dorset is the setting of "The Hill" by Roberts.

Roberts had previously written only a few short stories, but they are entirely unlike those in The Other End (which apparently had no prior periodical appearances). We are left to regret that Roberts published no further fiction after this collection, but we can honor here this one volume on its centenary. 

1 comment:

  1. I have found only three stories from this book online: The Hill, The Narrow Way, and The Other End. I wish I can read them all.