Monday, November 13, 2023

The City Moated and Walled, by W. Todd

 The City Moated and Walled,* by W. Todd, was published in London by Hodder and Stoughton in late March 1930. It is a strange book, telling the story of Rolf Micklewright, a young man of Bembis, whose uncle spent twenty years across the world in Granaloni, and from him Micklewright learned the language of Granaloni. This comes in handy when Micklewright is drugged and kidnapped, and then taken to Moated-and-Walled in Granaloni, where he is to serve the young girl Empress. The kidnapping was set-up by the curious Dr. Zurimai, the heathen clergyman who dominates the Empress. Zurimai has by some magical means also caused Micklewrigth to forget everything but his name. He is then sent to spy on some aristocratic revolutionaries, including Mr. Gloaming and the Klinbalek family, one of whose daughters, Saffery, soon catches Micklewright’s interest. But even before that Micklewright quickly switches sides, and thereafter has a number of adventures which take on the feeling of dreams, as, eventually, he regains his memories and returns to Bembis.

This is the only book by “W. Todd”, about whom nothing would be known save for the fact that in registering the U.S. copyright, the publisher gave the author’s full name as Winifred Todd, and noted she was a resident of London.

The dust-wrapper illustration, by J[ohn] Morton Sale (1901-1990) [an illustrator of Lewis Carroll, among other books, see here ], depicts the Empress of Granaloni with a striking red dress, and her head framed by a ring of peacock feathers. It is presumably Dr. Zurimai who sits at her left. 

*I know the title come from a line in a poem by  Longfellow, but it doesn't otherwise seem to have any relation.

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