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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Isla Mitchell

I have come across a book for young teens written in 1944 but set in 1938 called The Beginning Was a Dutchman (Faber and Faber). A Roman Catholic family with intriguing names (Mark, Bede, Eusebius, Damian) take a trip by boat up the Grand Union Canal. The family buy a boat from a Dutch scientist, but it turns out he has invented a new explosive and the formula is missing. There is war reference (rather light on plausibility) in which the children are kidnapped and interviewed by the Gestapo. They encounter good Germans (that is a pious Roman Catholic captain) and readers are left in no doubt that good Germans do not approve of the war. There is a good description of the Grand Union as a working canal.
Here is the title page:

and pencil drawing on the front board of the boat and older children Mark and Bede (a girl):

My copy has this inscription "from the Mitchells and Isla" to an unclear family name.

Isla also wrote a book on Ireland in 1952 called Irish Roundabout with illustrator Benedict Mitchell. Saints names seem to have a fascination for this family!  According to the blurb, "Story of a happy and often hilarious visit of a young brother and sister to the land of their forefathers--Ireland. For ages 12 & up."   I have only seen American editions (Dodd Mead of New York). 
I would love to learn and further details of Isla and any other works.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Henry Clarence Harridge, 1930s artist.

© Stephen Bigger.
I possess a small collection of the artwork of Henry Clarence Harridge..There is no biography anywhere, and little on the web, so I would be pleased for any information.  I bought a few pieces in nearby Highworth near where he then lived: his etchings were being sold in a local art shop, where I bought The Prospect of Whitby, and The Ouse Near Kings Lynn. He had been emptying his garage prior to moving away. Since then I have found and purchased a few more, including an original pencil and wash drawing of the Thames from Bankside, and a related etching. Harridge’s favoured medium was etching, learned at  Hornsea School of Art under John Moody and Norman James in the early 1930s. A few oils and pencil drawings have also appeared in auction.  His grandfather was also Henry Clarence H-, his father Frederick William H- (1881-1954), and mother May (Osborn, b. 1884). Our Henry Clarence was born in Edmonton, London on 23 Feb 1908, and married Hilda (Weir) in December 1935: Hilda died in 2005. HC lived in Swindon till 2005, then Melksham  and I understand that he now lives in Stoke Newington, the oldest living English artist. I have not come across any post 1940 work, so his active period was only four or five years.
A postcard etching  indicates on the back that this was self-published from 9 George Street, Hastings, in all likelihood the artist’s flat above the commercial premises below (now a restaurant). The card is undated, the signature in small block capitals is the same as on an original drawing by him I possess dated 1938.
His etching prints are ‘limited edition’ signed with a flowing pencil autograph from a later date, giving the date of the original etching. I presume they were printed later from the old plates since the prints are crisp and fresh. Of the first pair I bought, the Ouse near Denver, looked towards Kings Lynn (1936, 150 x 100 mm) sketched whilst the artist was on honeymoon (detail pencilled on the back).
My second purchase was the Prospect of Whitby public house from the Thames (200x150mm).  The front of the pub is on Wapping Wall, (a street in Wapping, London). I have a much larger impressed etching of the Thames from Bankside (410x325mm, dated 1937), showing the river, boats and Wapping warehouses opposite, drawn in great detail. Using artist’s licence, he has placed St Paul’s dome as the background. In the original pencil and water-colour I possess, this is replaced by Puddle Dock
 If you have any further information, please leave a comment.
© Stephen Bigger.  With thanks to Keith Taylor.

Friday, 18 October 2013

David T. Lindsay wrote 1936-1941

Borrowing with thanks from I am asking now for information about the writer David T Lindsay who wrote aviation books for boys as well as adult novels. These cover similar ground to other writers I am studying. Any information about the author will be thankfully received. I have just read Inspector Jackson Goes North, an improbable police sleuthing story based in Scotland (Fife) where the author may have come from (see the link above). Ace books on flying are fetching a high price at the moment. Also have just read Wings Over Africa, a rather unpleasant story of support for Heile Selassie's Ethiopia in the Italian campaign in which too many natives are machine gunned or bombed to death. Features a plane with a silent engine. A parallel story to the much better Flying For Ethiopia by E Malcolm Shard, aka Dorothy Eileen (Marsh) Heming/Dorothy Carter /Guy Dempster, on which see the discussion in an earlier post..

A full chronological list of David T. Lindsay’s books is given below, with brief notes on series and recurring characters. All titles were published by John Hamilton of London.

The Ninth Plague  [March 1936]
            Part of The Sundial Mystery and Adventure Library. Richard Monroe.

The Two Red Capsules [May 1936] 
            Richard Monroe; Inspector Jackson

Wings over Africa [July 1936]  Ace Series

Inspector Jackson Investigates [September 1936] 
            Inspector Jackson

Air Bandits [February 1937]  Ace Series

Masked Judgment [March 1937]  Ace Series

The Black Fetish [May 1937]

The Flying Crusader [May 1937]  Ace Series

The Green Ray  [July 1937]  Ace Series 

Wings over the Amazon [November 1937]  Ace Series 

Another Case for Inspector Jackson [January 1938]   
            Inspector Jackson

The Flying Armada [April 1938]  Ace Series

The Temple of the Flaming God [May 1938]  Ace Series 

The Man Nobody Knew [September 1938]
            Inspector Jackson

Inspector Jackson Goes North [February 1939] 
            Inspector Jackson

Vengeance Rides North [May 1939]

Stranglehold [September 1939]  Ace Series

Mystery of the Tumbling V  [January 1940]

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Lawrence R Bourne books

© Stephen Bigger.
Red-haired Coppernob Buckland (1925) is a doughty Boys Own Paper style story. Walter Buckland is in boarding school, about to go up to Oxbridge on a scholarship. After a false accusation, he is expelled and runs away to sea. I am not telling the blow-by-blow story, but in brief he does well as a first tripper, sails an abandoned boat single handed back to Southampton (has he drowned the captain should have been arrested for criminal negligence and manslaughter), finds a link to his bank manager father, gets involved with alcohol running into prohibition USA, is captured by pirates and finally solves the mystery so that a thief from his father's bank is arrested. Not bad for a teenager. By the end, he is no longer accused, has his scholarship, but decides on a sea career. A few points of interest in a story that is able to name and describe ports and sea journeys with apparent accuracy. It curiously starts at Lydney, a tiny port for carrying timber and coal up the Severn from the Forest of Dean, showing local knowledge. Despite accurate naming of destinations, his ship picks up barrels of whisky from an unnamed port on the Mull of Kintyre (actually, Campbelltown, and not a bad whisky). He clearly did not know the port's name in this case. The first three Coppernob books appeared as a Coppernob Omnibus in 1933 to accompany the fourth in the series. One later story was rejected by the publisher but still exists in manuscript.

A few examples of Bourne covers and dustjackets

Stamped boards: the gold stamp will be a library stamp

This title had at least one other board decoration (see previous post)
© Stephen Bigger.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Lawrence R Bourne, again

© Stephen Bigger.
I asked in April for information about this writer active in the 1920s and 1930s. 
Thanks to his grand-daughter Kathy for much of the information below. His real name was Lawrence Harbourn, born 10.10.1879 (from his passport) and died in 1941. The family possess this obituary:
Mr L H A Harbourn passed away on Nov 16th [1941] after a brief illness   He was born in London where his father was Minister of the Regent's Park Congregational Church and a contemporary of Dr Parker of the City Temple who was a frequent visitor to their home. Mr Harbourn's grandfather had been a missionary and his father subsequently took up the same work.  As a youth Mr Harbourn was active in Christian work in London, preaching in mission Halls, speaking in the open air and assisting the Salvation Army in the slums.  He took a keen interest in the Boy Scout Movement in its early days and was the Leader of a Troup.
He came to Newport in 1915 and was introduced by Mr Holbrook to the Mission at Penylan.  He became the organist there and conducted the services on many occasions and by his zeal enthusiasm and his experiences was able to forward considerably the work of the Mission.  It was fitting therefore that the last service he conducted before his illness should have been at Penylan, and that his funeral should have been held there.
Through all the years he continued to serve with the Lay Preacher's Association, and his delight was to visit the country churches throughout the county.  They will miss his genial presence and his homely words.  Mr Harbourn was a gifted musician and artist and his work in the literary world was widely recognised.  He wrote under the pen-name of Lawrence R Bourn upward of a score of books - some of them text-books of the sea, upon which he was an authority - but most of them were boys sea stories and were deservedly very popular.  He was on the staff of a London Newspaper for a period of 43 years, and the tributes paid to him by his colleagues reveal the high esteem in which he was held.
To Mrs Harbourn and the four children we extend our loving sympathy in their great loss.

A Lawrence Harbourn attended Brigg Grammar School as a boarder from 1889: boarding school was a common experience for the children of missionaries.  See

He lived in Chesterfield Road, St Andrews,  Bristol  in February 1910, was discharged as unfit from the Army in 1917, and moved to Clevedon Road Newport in August 1918, where he lived until his death.

Published works (Oxford University Press unless stated)
Seamanship (Handicraft Books for Scouts, with numerous diagrams 
by the author and R.H. Penton, paper card covers, ca. 1923)
The Channel Pirate - A West Country Sea Story (1923)
The Treasure of the Hebrides (1924)
Coppernob Buckland (1925)
The Radium Casket (1926)
Coppernob - Second Mate (1927)
Well Tackled - A Story of a Shipyard (1928)
Captain Coppernob - The Story of a Sailing Voyage (1929)
The Adventures of John Carfax - A Story of the Press Gang (1930)
Copppernob - Ship Owner (1931)
Copperknob and the Cryptogram (rejected but manuscript exists, 1932)
Eastward Bound - A Story of Modern Smuggling (1933)
The Fourth Engineer (1934)
Stark Naked (published by Frederick Muller, London, 1934) reviewed 
favourably  by Dorothy Sayers in The Times 6.1.34 
The Chronicles of Jerry (1935)
Radium Island (1936)
Mixed Cargoes (short stories, 1938),
Saving His Ticket (1939)

 There is a French translation of Coppernob Buckland, Les aventures de Buckland "boule de cuivre"!  Also, The Voyage of the Lulworth: A Story of the Great Days of Sail, Oxford UP (info on back cover of Saving His Ticket). It also notes that Radium Island was sequel to The Radium Casket. There was a Lawrence R Bourne Omnibus (of Coppernob stories) in 1933, and a 1936 omnibus of The channel pirate, The treasure of the Hebrides and The adventures of John Carfax.

Short stories published in the Boys Own Annuals
Straight Sea Stories
Haunted in Mid-Atlantic
Adrift in the Atlantic
Paying a debt
The Race Home
On the Overdue List

Scouting Stories
Strange Affair at Porthlesky
Broken Glass
The Black Beacons
A Knife and a Piece of String

Brazendial Stories
Under the Cromlech
The Mammoths's Leg
Smuggled Goods

Captain Black Yarns
The Yarn of the Waggoner
In Tow
In Dock on an Iceberg
Black Cat for Luck
Story of the Pageant ?title

Old Bosun Yarns
The Yarn of the Bullfrog
Captain Ashore
A Motor Trip

Ship Aground

Manuscripts existing
Ghosts Ridiculous  (Professor Brazendial short story 1930)
Memory (Nagna Sansrcit short story 1933)
Copperknob and the Cryptogram
The Tie Alma Mater
Murder at the Altar (short story)

The Troubles (Chronicles) of Jerry (1935)
Captain Copperknob (1929)
Copperknob Buckland (draft)

I have just finished Well Tackled! - A Story of a Shipyard (blue boards, 1930, price 1/6d), illustrations (dust jacket and frontispiece) by Victor Cooley. It has a BOP feel of daring do. Benson Wilsthorpe, a young man about to go to university, finds himself owner of a small Birkenhead shipyard at Ellersley after his uncle's death. After settling in, he wins respect and has a chance meeting with an old friend Paget who has invented a new fuel (a mix of petroleum and TNT explosive!) and a new steel which is tough enough to withstand the power of internal combustion. Together this means ships can be built, even battleships, that can go at 100 knots. After refusing to be cheated, he and Benson amicably agree to develop the new boat. The Admiralty take the development under their wing. A mysterious organisation wants to steal the secrets and take them to Russia. Paget is kidnapped apparently to be taken to Russia, but rescued by the new speedy craft.  A cross-Atlantic new ship is taken over by pirates, and is given a new course for Russian waters... Anything else will be a spoiler, but rest assured all is well in the end. 
Note these blue boards are beautifully embossed (Oxford University Press).

© Stephen Bigger.

The Pirate Island by D E Heming, 1938.

A chance find in the local Oxfam Bookshop. I shall review it gradually, so this is a brief stub to get started. My copy has blue boards, no dust-jacket - if anyone can supply photo, please do via comments.Size 81/4 by 6 inches, 13/4 thick, 248 pages. There is an embossed four-armed propeller. The title page attributes authorship to D.E. Heming.  In saying "author of The Phantom Wing" by way of advertisement, D E Heming is identified with "Guy Dempster", the author's name given in that book in this series, a popular Heming 'brand' when writing gory war stories for boys. The name "Dempster Heming" was used for the popular Peter Clayton books. The name D E Heming was also used for The Girls Book of Heroines and The Boys Book of Heroes, two books best forgotten.

A further advertisement lists "other books in the Air Adventure Series - three by husband Jack (Heming) and three others by Eileen  as Dorothy Carter (Flying Dawn), James Cahill (Flying with the Mounties) and Guy Dempster (The Phantom Wing). The other books are by other writers John Grant (a story of India), M.E. Miles and Michael Cronin. The latter's son-in-law Peter Nethercot writes (for which I am very grateful):  Michael Brendon Leo Cronin 1907-1987 was my father in law. He also wrote under the names of David Miles and M.E. Miles (his wife's maiden name). He was educated at Queens College, Dublin and after graduating joined the Royal Air Force as a school teacher. On the outbreak of the second world war he transferred into the provost branch, and from there to special branch. Most of his writing took place after the war which is well documented.

Monday, 23 September 2013

E Malcolm Shard, alias Eileen (Marsh) Heming.

Just one book of Eileen Heming's (née Marsh) output (see elsewhere in this blog via labels) used the pseudonym E Malcolm Shard. This is Flying For Ethiopia,1936. My copy has green boards, 216 pages and four plates drawn by the ace aeroplane illustrator Howard Leigh (1910-1942) who also worked on Biggles books and the magazine Popular Flying. Its publisher imprint was The Popular Library, a book club, an original and not a reprint. Size 71/2 by 5 inches, thickness 13/4 inches owing to its thick card paper. Green boards were certainly a first impression (the book carries no dates but this is indicated by 1936 prize bookplates in one green copy for sale); there is also an impression with orange boards, maybe later or maybe contemporaneous.The title page says 'by the author of The Secret Aeroplane and The Rajah of Gungra, both by D E Marsh and also dating from 1936, published by Harrap, suggesting a Harrap involvement with this book club. "E M Shard" (without the Malcolm) is an anagram of D E Marsh. Eileen Marsh/Heming had no experience of flying herself, apart from a couple of lessons after this book was published. These were more than she could afford as each book paid her a pittance. She undoubtedly scoured publications like Popular Flying to get ideas, such as the planes in this book. Anyone with copies of this magazine please let me know! They are too expensive to buy.

An appraisal is offered by Eric Bates, Among Her Own People, pages 128f. Bates dates the book as 1937, but one for sale was awarded as a school prize in 1936. The (2nd) Italo-Ephiopian war, which saw Haile Selassie exiled to London, was from October 1935 to May 1936. The Claytons, heroes of the book, set off by amphibian to Addis Ababa via Malta around February, father and son Pip, to rescue Pip's uncle Bob.. The gung-ho tone of the book, which offers the Italians a very bloody nose and points out the dignity of the Ethiopian defence, was almost certainly written at that point, before the Italian 'victory'. The Claytons were well off and well connected, knowing Haile Selassie personally, one brother being Consul in Ethiopia, and having an airfield attached to their mansion home. On arrival in Ethiopia, Pip spots a 'Supermarine Fighter', a prototype, which he dubs The Fighting Ethiopian as he joins the Ethiopian air force in his father's absence. He joins a group of four aeroplanes who  massacre squadrons of Italian bombers, even stealing two during a daring rescue. I won't summarise the whole plot, just say that superboy Pip is not only a superb fighter pilot, but speaks both Amharic and two Ethiopian dialects, thanks to his uncles tuition, deaf and dumb sign language, and is a natural born killer.

On matters of detail, the Saro Cloud was a sizable amphibian/ seaplane with two engines on top of the wings, retractable wheels at the side for dry landings, and wing floats for sea landings. Introduced 1930, it was used for training purposes in RAF Calshot near Southampton. It is accurately described. It is an expensive plane to be in private ownership, although four were privately operated!

The 'Supermarine Fighter' is not the Spitfire and is depicted in a plate (left, initialled by Howard Leigh) as having cantilevered "gull" wings.It is the Supermarine Type 224, designed by R J Mitchell of Spitfire fame, with cantilevered wings (picture below), ceiling 38,800 feet, maximum speed 228 mph powered by a single RR Goshawk II liquid-cooled engine, and armed with 4 Vickers machine guns. Only one flew from 1934, and was found to be disappointing losing out in 1936 to the Gloster Gladiator for RAF orders. It  ended life in 1937 as a target on a firing range. However lessons learned from its design and performance led to the development of the Spitfire in the late 1930s. Another connection: Supermarine was established by Noel Pemberton Billing in 1913: one of the pilots in this book is called 'Billings'. 

The representation of Ethiopians is curious. The 'native' is described as feckless, unreliable and without work discipline. 'Native'women (who had actually done an outstanding job and showed great common sense and fortitude, are described as of slow intelligence. However the royal family, including a boy of Pip's age, Makonnen, is depicted with great respect. In one official, Rastofarind, we can see the name Rastafari being drawn on, i.e. a follower of Haile Selassie. For the Italians, no respect is shown whatever.