Monday, October 5, 2015

Donald Davie & the poetry scene (1963)

Found in a copy of New & Selected Poems by Donald Davie (Wesleyan University Press, 1961) a handwritten letter from the author. A good newsy letter that gives a snapshot of the  Oxford and transatlantic poetry scene of the early 1960s. It is to Fred Hunter founder of Independent Radio News, teacher of journalism and something of a poetaster and friend of many of the Sixties and Liverpool poets. He also had a poetry record label (Stream Records) which in 1967 put out an L.P. of the American poet Dorn reading from his North Atlantic Turbine. The letter reads:

[Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge]. June 18th 1963.

Dear Mr. Hunter,

I was touched and pleased to have your request from yourself and Mr. S. Raut Roy. I have today dispatched the books to you - don't send them on to India before taking out your own two copies!

I know Jonathan William, by name of course and I believe he was lately entertained by my young colleague Jeremy Prynne, to whom I am chiefly indebted for my knowledge of the Projective Verse poets,

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Paul Renin 'Sex' (1928?)

1950s issue, Many thanks
John Fraser.
Here’s a bit of a puzzler. Coming from the archive of Peter Haining and bearing annotations by him, this is a photocopy of a blurb for a book 'in preparation' entitled Sex, which is described as 'Paul Renin’s Latest, Greatest and Most Courageous Novel !' Now here’s the thing. Such a novel by Paul Renin—the pseudonym of someone called Richard Goyne (1902 – 57), who also wrote crime novels—did not seemingly appear, according to Abebooks, until 1951.

The copies available on Abebooks are described as the first U. S. editions from the publisher Archer of a romance concerning a 'sixteen year old runaway Girl in the South Seas' . However, the blurb announcing the forthcoming appearance of Sex is clearly in a typeface of the 1920s, which Haining’s annotation identifies as dating from 1928. This, of course,  was the year in which Lady Chatterley’s Lover appeared, and the blurb writer seems keen to emphasise that Sex was, like Lawrence’s novel, a mould-breaking literary event.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A charitable action from Richard Arkwright---the richest shareholder in Britain

Every schoolboy knows about Sir Richard Arkwright, the pioneer factory owner from Derbyshire whose invention of the water frame contributed hugely to the Industrial Revolution. Well here’s a scrawl from his son, Richard Arkwright junior (1755 – 1843), who took over the business and proved to be an even greater industrialist than his father had been. On the latter’s death he sold some the factories he had inherited and ploughed back the capital into property, shares and a bank. At his death his fortune was estimated at £3m, making him the richest man in Britain outside the landowning classes.

The letter, which is dated 20 February 1837 and is addressed from the family home of Willersley Castle,

'The Young Have No Time' - a fumetti (1960)

Fumetti is an Italian word (literally 'little puffs of smoke' in reference to speech balloons) which refers to all comics. In English, the term often signifies photonovels or photographic comics, a genre of comics illustrated with photographs rather than drawings. These were often taken from movies or television. Photonovels were  popular on the continent, especially in Italy and further afield in Mexico. They had a life in England, especially in romantic stories for young girls. This photo novel which appears to be from 1960 was in a series designated 'Continental Film Photo Stories.' It is taken from the Danish movie Ung Leg a tale of wealthy/ elite youth in post war Copenhagen. While promising (from the cover) a sort of Leopold and Loeb plot of senseless/ existential murder it does not get more daring than a game of 'chicken'

Monday, September 28, 2015

"GOING! Going! Gone!"

Found - an obscure work by Robert Power, a forgotten journalist. In the 1920s and up to the early 1950s his short 'thought pieces' were syndicated in the UK and as far as Australia. This tradition of coffee break columns is still with us - now it's Robert Crampton rather than Robert Power but it may not continue much longer…There is no real equivalent online. This is from his Two-minute talks (Vol 2)  S. W. Partridge (London,1925) and still has some relevance in the time of eBay. Other 'talks' have titles such as 'Poppy Friendships', 'Blistering Tongues', 'In the W.P.B.', 'Rich Poverty', 'Are you Popular?', 'Poachers' and 'Rubbernecks.'


"GOING! Going! Gone!" cries the auctioneer and brings down his mallet with a sharp rap to declare that opportunity to purchase has passed for all save the highest bidder.

The auctioneer emphasises the desirability of the goods he offers. In seductive language he paints the picture of a bargain that must be seized at once. Prudence struggles with desire in the mind of the keen bargain hunter,

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Cafe Bizarre - Beatnik club

Found- a rare piece of Beatnik ephemera, a card from New York's Cafe Bizarre with the phone numbers and name of Rick Allmen who started the club in 1957. The Cafe Bizarre was one of the better known clubs to capitalise on the beatnik phenomenon, and the venue for many counterculture poets and musicians of the period. Musitron Records even recorded an album of Beat festivities at Cafe Bizarre in the late '50s. (In the post-beatnik-era Andy Warhol discovered The Velvet Underground there.) Another band who played there was the Lovin' Spoonful who described the place as a 'little dump' (1965 -post its Beatnik Glory).They played 3 gigs a night and were paid with tuna fish sandwiches, ice cream and occasionally peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. More can be found at Rock and Roll Roadmaps.

A rare drawing by Lavinia Spencer—Princess Diana’s great great great grandmother

Bought a few years ago in a provincial auction house for very little, this signed drawing of Frances Molesworth by the talented amateur Lavinia Bingham, dated 8th June 1780, is interesting for a number of reasons, not least because the artist was Princess Diana’s great great great grandmother. However, the relationship between Lavinia and Frances is also significant. After the death of her natural mother, Frances entered the household of her mother’s only surviving sibling, Lady Margaret Bingham, and her cultured husband Sir Charles (later Lord Lucan),who were the parents of Lavinia. At the time Frances would have been twenty and Lavinia two years younger, and it is highly likely that the drawing, which Lavinia presented to Frances,  was executed at the family home at Laleham, Surrey. Interestingly, the sitter seems to be wearing the same, or a very similar, wide brimmed hat trimmed with feathers that she was to wear in a later portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds. No doubt the two girls were rivals in the marriage stakes. Both had striking good looks, but whereas  less than a year after the sitting Lavinia married George, the second Earl Spencer, brother of Georgiana, Countess of Devonshire, Frances rejected two very eligible suitors, including Lord North, before she agreed to marry John Jeffreys, Marquess of Camden, in 1785.

Although, like her descendant, Princess Diana, Lavinia Spencer was a beauty, none of the features of the  'People’s Princess' can be detected in the famous portrait, also by Reynolds, which now hangs in Althorp, along with some of the sitter’s own artistic productions. Nor did Lavinia seem to share many of her descendant’s personality traits. Although before her marriage she was described as a ‘sweet creature’, she was later disliked

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The irresistible Samuel Foote

Found- in the The common-place book of literary curiosities, remarkable customs, historical and domestic anecdotes, and etymological scraps by Rev. Dr. Dryasdust, of York. (London: John Bumpus 1825) these amusing anecdotes about Samuel Foote (1720 – 1777) the British dramatist, comic actor and theatre manager. Probably the best known quotation associated with him is a put down of an unnamed 'law lord'. Foote said of him- 'What can he mean by coming among us? He is not only dull himself, but the cause of dullness in others.' Dr. Dryasdust provides six anecdotes about Foote. The first concerns Samuel Johnson, who tried very hard not to be amused by him..the last, where he messes up his lines in Hamlet, has the spirit of Tommy Cooper or Stanley Unwin. His Othello was apparently a 'masterpiece of burlesque..'

1. Life's a poor player.

"Dr Johnshon said, 'The first time I was in company with Foote, was at Fitzherbert's. Having no good opinion of the fellow, I was resolved not to be pleased; and it is very difficult to please a man against his will. I went on eating my dinner pretty sullenly, affecting not to mind him; but the dog became so irresistibly comic, that I was obliged to lay down my knife and fork, throw myself back in my chair, and fairly laugh out. Sir, he was irresistible!"

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Secret Places XXI & XXII

The last two chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in
The Tablet.



A man with a lorry, who said he was going into Sussex, offered us a lift, and because night was come and we needed rest, we climbed up beside him and fell asleep at once. He set us down at Littlehampton before dawn, and not liking that place we left the town and walked northwards in the half light.
When the sun lifted over Highdown Hill, Angering way, we reached a village south of Arundel, whose name we did not know, and stopped to watch two men who were busily semaphoring to each other across the pond

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A voyage to Russia in 1908 & 1965 (2)

Nevsky Prospect Leningrad 1960s
(thanks Transpress N.Z.)
This is the second part of an anonymous diary found in our archives.It was written first by a young woman of about 20 in 1908. Here she returns in her mid 70s (by plane.) Leningrad has since become St. Petersburg and the Astoria has become very expensive...

Sunday 12th September, 1965
 Perfect flight from London taking less than seven hours including half-an-hour at Copenhagen. Wonderful cloud effects. We spent ages waiting at the Leningrad customs. On reaching the hotel Astoria unpacked and changed. We had an excellent luncheon at 1 o'clock; sprats, not unlike sardines, Chicken Kiev. Separate course of peas, (not very good) grapes. A white wine and a red wine. The latter good, the white not interesting.

 In the afternoon we went to St.lsaac's Cathedral, a monster of vulgarity - everything gilt or malachite, except two elegant columns of lapis and a wooden model of the cathedral; these were the only things that pleased me.
We had a good dinner, but oh, the slowness of the service! We went to bed early.

Monday 13th September
 In the morning we all drove in a large omnibus round Leningrad, while our charming guide, Elena

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A voyage to Russia in 1908 & 1965 (1)

Found- an anonymous account of a a trip to Russia on The Salsette in 1908 written by a young woman of an artistic bent. There is a certain amount about the ship, mostly at Shona's Wrecks (many thanks) which mention this voyage to Northern European cities, the Salsette's first major outing. In 1915 the ship was hit by a torpedo and lies 600 feet down off Portland Bill, now a favourite wreck for divers to explore.In 1965, probably by then in her mid 70's, our diarist flew back to Russia and remarks on the changes (to follow).


20th August, 1908
 It has been rather rough and cold all day but for all that I have greatly enjoyed it. I was so tired after last night that I slept on till past 9 o'clock this morning, and then had breakfast in bed. All the competitions have started again, and out of the two I have played to-day I have again won one. It has been very nice and restful having another whole day at sea - one gets so frightfully tired sightseeing. Every town we have been to see so far has been paved with cobble stones, roads and pavements alike, and this, especially when one has thin soles to one's shoes, very quickly makes one's feet ache.

 I cannot yet quite realise that to-morrow morning when I wake up we shall really be in Russia! I am looking forward to it with very mixed feelings. It will seem so strange to be regarded by everyone with the greatest suspicion and to feel that many of the people against whom one brushes in the streets may be either police spies or anarchists. But oh! it ought all to be so fearfully interesting - I only wish I were more accustomed and better able to write down my impressions. I am conscious of the different atmosphere (this is the only word I can think of to explain what I mean) that envelope all the new countries to which we have been, yet I find it dreadfully difficult to put into words all I feel and see. But I must just let everything soak into me, and simply content myself with writing here the bare actual facts, and without doubt all I see and feel will influence the whole of my nature, and deepen my understanding and make altogether a greater artist.

Friday 21st August
 When I came on board this morning I found the whole place swarming with Russian officials of every kind and description, and the ship herself entirely surrounded by Russian warships. Somehow my first impression was horribly gruesome. Standing right out on the water - one on either side of us, are two big great buildings, these are prisons and fortresses combined,

Famous people from Stevenage (2) Edward Gordon Craig

The only other one appears to be the racing driver Lewis Hamilton, who was really born in Tewin, a few miles away, though some sites will tell you differently. According to the site devoted entirely to famous Stevenage people, most of the other contenders are bit players on soap operas or models, although it is not specified that the one decent footballer amongst them, Manchester United’s Ashley Young, actually came from the town.

Anyway, it can truly be said that Edward Gordon Craig (1872 – 1966), the eminent man of the theatre, designer of stage sets etcetera, was indeed born in Stevenage, long before the ancient Georgian coaching town had a bright, spanking New Town tacked onto its southern end. The illegitimate son of the famous actress Ellen Terry and architect Edward Godwin, it was almost inevitable that he would make his name as a stage designer,

Thomas Augustus Trollope—the famous novelist’s forgotten brother

While many admirers of Anthony Trollope are busy celebrating the great novelist’s bicentenary, spare a thought for his older brother, Thomas Augustus Trollope (1810 - 92), who was always in his shadow, but who as a novelist, prolific travel writer and biographer in his own right, may have eclipsed Anthony in the word stakes.

In a long literary career Thomas published around sixty books, having begun a writing partnership with his mother while still at Oxford? In addition, he was a prodigious contributor to magazines. His friendship with Dickens, for instance, led to a long association with Household Words. Much of his work was achieved while living in some style in Italy. He moved to Florence in 1843, creating with his first wife a salon for expatriates at the Villino Trollope, which was expertly decorated and whose  sumptuous furnishings included a library of 5,000 books.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Benjamin Jowett---'I am Master '

"Here come I, my name is Jowett
  All there is to know, I know it
  I am Master of this College
  And what I don’t know isn’t knowledge."

This squib gently mocks the pretensions of arguably Balliol College’s most famous Master. Jowett was a Greek scholar, and like many classicists through the ages, felt that a grounding in Latin and Greek was sufficient qualification to tackle most areas of knowledge. But he was also a dedicated theologian and an educational reformer. This letter, which another hand (possibly the same one that snipped out Jowett’s signature, thus losing text) has dated in pencil 5th November 1874, four years after Jowett was appointed Master, is addressed to a Mr Buckland (possibly a member of the celebrated clan of eccentric scientists). In it Jowett, who was always interested in Indian affairs and was a member of the 1854 committee drawn up to debate the future administration of the colony, shows his keenness to promote the benefits of an education at Oxford University to young men who might wish to join the Indian Civil Service. Previous to 1858, when it closed, such candidates would have been trained at Haileybury College, near Hertford, but Jowett argues that an Oxford education might prove more attractive to these young men than a stint at Haileybury, should that institution be ‘revived’.

Many thanks for your kind gift to the Hall

James Greenwood (1832-1929) A Janus of Journalism

Found at the front of a book catalogue ('Chat Dept.') of  J.J. Rigden from the Haining collection this well researched piece on Victorian journalist James Greenwood.

James Greenwood (1832-1929) A Janus of Journalism

This author is now a little better known than he was a few years ago. He contributed to the world of boy's books, some exciting, though bloodthirsty works of fiction that can still be avidly read today.

Relying on his experience as a sensational journalist, he leaned heavily on the plot. His charters were not much more than 'cardboard cut-outs', and to a certain extent, he seemed to be obsessed with lycanthropy. 'The Bear King' 1868, 'Purgatory of Peter the Cruel' 1868, 'Adventures of Seven Footed Foresters' 1865… all have shape-changing as a major theme. His descriptions of blood-letting in various forms were highly coloured, leaving very little to the imagination.

Yet, this was the man, who in 1874, published a vitriolic attack on the penny-dreadfuls, their publishers, authors and distributors, (Wilds of London, Chatto 1974). He described the papers as 'penny packets of poison', corrupting the minds of the young and laying the prevalence of all types of crime at their door… (Much the same today with horror films and comics, does nothing change?) As to the distributors, he was at pains to point out that they were greedy and unscrupulous.