Tuesday, 12 November 2013

More Wight literary miscellany

Dave Parker's very browsable Isle of Wight Nostalgia site has some transcripts from the 1948 Ward Lock Guide. The introduction has a section on literary references, which I thought worth annotating in case anyone wants a bit of an Isle of Wight reading list.

A Literary Note

It is somewhat curious that the Isle of Wight, with its wealth of natural and historical interest, should have figured so little in fiction. The writer has yet to rise who will do for it what Scott did for the Highlands, Blackmore and Kingsley for North Devon, Thomas Hardy for "Wessex," and more recently Sheila Kaye Smith for Sussex, and Brett Young for Worcestershire. Dickens, we know, stayed at Bonchurch, and wrote enthusiastically of his surroundings, but, beyond a brief reference to Shanklin Sands in Our Mutual Friend, he did not introduce them in any novel. References, more or less extended, are made to the Island in numerous well- known works, of which we need only mention Fielding's Voyage to Lisbon, Scott's Surgeon's Daughter, Marryat's Poor Jack and The Dog Fiend, and Meredith's Adventures of Harry Richmond and The Ordeal of Richard Feverel.

Readers with a partiality for "local colour" may be glad of references to other novels dealing with the district. Recent works can of course be purchased from any bookseller, or borrowed through the subscription libraries. For others it may be necessary to consult the files at public libraries or seek for second-hand copies.

Chronologically, our summary should commence with two excellent historical stories, The Count of The Saxon Shore, by Professor Church, and Caedwalla, or the Saxons in the Isle of Wight, by F. Cowper.
The Count of the Saxon Shore for Britain (Latin: comes littoris Saxonici per Britanniam) was the head of the "Saxon Shore" military command of the later Roman Empire. Alfred John Church's 1887 novel, a well-researched sword and sandal adventure, is on Project Gutenberg: The Count of the Saxon Shore, or, The Villa in VECTIS: A Tale of the Departure of the Romans from Britain (Gutenberg E-Text No. 44083).
Frank Cowper's 1887 Caedwalla takes place between 680-709 CE, and tells of the Isle of Wight campaign of Cædwalla of Wessex; I can't find it online.
  Maxwell Gray needs little introduction ...
Topographically, we will start with the capital of the Island, Newport, which appears as "Oldport" in Maxwell Gray's The Silence of Dean Maitland, in which also "Chalkburne" is Carisbrooke.
... so I'll skip and direct you to maxwellgray.co.uk.
The Captain of the Wight, by F. Cowper, is a romance of Carisbrooke Castle in 1468; The Prisoner of Carisbrooke, by S. H. Burchell, deals with the imprisonment and attempted escape of Charles I, and the same subject is treated in The Cavaliers, by S. R. Keightley, and in Marjorie Bowen's Governor of England. The White King's Daughter, by Mrs. H. Marshall, narrates the latter days at Penshurst and Carisbrooke of Charles's young and ill-fated child, the Princess Elizabeth.
  The Captain of the Wight follows the exploits of Sir Edward Woodville, the last "Lord of the Isle of Wight", up to his death in a disastrous and undermanned expedition to fight the French in Brittany.
  Sidney Herbert Burchell's 1904 The Prisoner of Carisbrooke focuses strongly on the life and loves of the hero, Robert Hammond, who became the jailer of Charles I.
  Samuel Robert Keightley's 1896 The Cavaliers tells of a young Cavalier, Thomas Duncombe, who becomes involved in the failed attempt to spring Charles I from Carisbrooke Castle; it's on the Internet Archive (ID cavaliers00keiggoog).
  As Marjorie Bowen died in 1952, her 1913 Governor of England is in UK copyright until 2027 (though you could look for it on Project Gutenberg Australia).
  The 1895 The White King's Daughter isn't findable.
A Reputed Changeling, by C. M. Yonge, has episodes at Carisbrooke Castle and Blackgang Chine about 1667; and Moonfleet, by J. Meade Falkner, in its early pages an exciting smuggling story of Dorset about 1757, hinges upon the discovery of hidden treasure in the well of the Castle. Jitny and the Boys, by B. Copplestone, describes a visit to the Island and especially to Carisbrooke during the Great War. Reminiscent of the War also is The Sub., by Taffrail - the training at Osborne of a naval sub-lieutenant and his after experiences.
  Charlotte Mary Yonge's 1889 A Reputed Changeling, or, Three Seventh Years Two Centuries Ago (Internet Archive areputedchangeli12449gut) tells of episodes in the life of the rebellious and lovelorn Peregrine Oakshott, born in 1667, who becomes involved with royal politics and a plot to reinstall James II after his deposition.
  The well-known 1898 Moonfleet, actually mostly set on the coast of Dorset, is at Gutenberg E-Text No. 10743.
  Bennet Copplestone's 1916 Jitny and the Boys isn't online, but if you like maritime stories, his 1916 The Lost Naval Papers is.
  "Taffrail" is the pseudonym of  the writer Captain Henry Tapprell Dorling; The Sub: Being the Autobiography of David Munro, Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Navy is one of his many naval thrillers based on his own experience.
Cowes appears as "Lowport" in The Caddis Worm and as "Thorneyhurst" in The Story of Anna Beames, by Mrs. C. A. Dawson Scott, whose The Burden is set at the mouth of the Medina. Wootton and neighbourhood are the scene of Scarlet Sails, by Mrs. Baillie Saunders.
  The Caddis Worm refers to Catherine Amy Dawson Scott's 1914 novel The Caddis-worm; Or, Episodes in the Life of Richard and Catharine Blake: the saga of Catherine Blake (the self-effacing "caddis worm" of the title), married in her teens to the domineering but successful Lowport doctor. Her first novel, The Story of Anna Beames (1907), tells of the conflict between its titular heroine and the Heathcliff-like Stephen Barclay. The Burden (1908) seems to be in similar vein.
  Margaret Baillie-Saunders' 1924 Scarlet Sails is a love story: according to The Bookman, "a delightful story with the fragrant beauty of the Isle of Wight for background, and a celebrated journalist on holiday and the pretty daughter of a reprobate mother".
Bembridge, Ryde and Sandown all appear in The Privateers, by H. B. Marriott-Watson. Ventnor and Shanklin, under different names, will be found in Old Mr. Tredgold, by Mrs. Oliphant. Ursula, by Miss E. Sewell, and A Romance of the Undercliff, by Mrs. E. Marshall, deal with the Undercliff, and the closing chapters of William Black's Madcap Violet take us to the same delightful region. The Rev. Wm. Adams, author of Sacred Allegories, lived at Bonchurch, the scene of his stories, and is buried there.
   H. B. Marriott Watson's 1907 The Privateers is a thriller in which (according to the advertising blurb) "Lieut. Kerslake, a good type of the British naval officer meets Herbert Alston, a young American, and becomes involved in adventures of a Conan Doyle description".
  Margaret Oliphant's 1895 Old Mr. Tredgold: A Story of Two Sisters (Internet Archive oldmrtredgold00margoog) is a novel of social drama and satire about two sisters, one staid and deserving, the other who elopes with her lover.
  I've already mentioned the locations of Elizabeth Missing Sewell's 1886 Ursula: A Tale of Country Life - see "Ursula" and Blackgang and the Internet Archive (ursulataleofcoun00sewe).
   Emma Marshall's A Romance of the Undercliff; or, the Isle of Wight in 1799, was described by the author as "a shilling story of the French War" - see Emma Marshall, a biographical sketch (1900).
  William Black's 1877 Madcap Violet (Internet Archive madcapviolet01blacgoog) tells the story of a wilful and impulsive tomboy, from childhood to womanhood and tragic love.
  William Adams and Sacred Allegories: see William Adams: The Old Man's Home.
Blackgang will be found in A Cavalier's Ladye, by Constance MacEwen, a tale of the sixteenth century. Freshwater and the Needles are seen in H. B. Marriott-Watson's Twisted Eglantine. The Trespasser, by D. H. Lawrence, includes a visit to Freshwater; Headon Hill's Spies of the Wight and Millions of Mischief are staged at Totland Bay, while Beacon Fires, by the same author, includes stories of Freshwater and Hurst Castle. Laurence Clark's Bernard Treve's Boots is a Wartime "spy" story set at Freshwater and Newport. And the Stars Fought, by Eva Fitzgerald, The Lady Isabella, by Sir F. W. Black (Cowes and Carisbrooke), and Towards Love, by Irene Macleod, are other good Island stories for holiday reading, as is also Yesterday, a Tory Fairy Tale of the Isle of Wight, by Norman Davey.
  The 1889 A Cavalier's Ladye: A Romance of the Isle of Wight by Constance Macewen (aka Mrs AC Dicker) is a saga set during the English Commonwealth, purporting to be the journal recounting the adventures of an ardent Royalist, Miss Judith Dionysia Dyllington.
  Marriott Watson's 1905 Twisted Eglantine (Internet Archive twistedeglantin00watsgoog) is a romance of the Regency, the hero being Sir Piers "Beau" Blakiston.
  The Trespasser (1912) is DH Lawrence's second novel, drawing on the experiences of a friend of Lawrence, Helen Corke, and her adulterous relationship with a married man.
  "Headon Hill" (a pseudonym based on an Isle of Wight coastal hill between Alum Bay and Totland) was the author and journalist Francis Edward Grainger; he wrote a number of mystery and adventure stories, including some in the paranoid pre-WW1 'invasion threat' genre. Spies of the Wight (1899) is one, in which a holidaying journalist encounters German agents. Millions of Mischief: The Story of a Great Secret is online (Internet Archive millionsofmischi00hilliala), and concerns a plot to kill the Prime Minister of England. Beacon Fires (1897) is an anthology of "war stories of the coast" generally featuring the foiling of foreign coastal invasions in various eras, including the Napoleonic Wars and Anglo-Dutch war of a century before.
  Laurence Clark's 1920 Bernard Treves's Boots; A Novel of the Secret Service is online (Gutenberg E-Text No. 42459); it's another invasion story, involving the foiling of a German submarine attack on the fleet at Portsmouth.
   And the Stars Fought (A Romance) (1912) by Ena Fitzgerald is an Isle of Wight romance; you may recall the author from Poets of the Wight.
    Lady Isabella: A Thirteenth Century Tale Of Carisbrooke Castle And The Isle Of Wight Told In Verse By Sir Frederick W Black (1924) looks a fairly eccentric effort. The author was a civil servant for the Admiralty, and another of the IOW celebrities to appear in Poets of the Wight: Sir Frederick Black KCB. Lady Isabella tells the story of Isabella de Fortibus, Countess of Devon, the wealthiest woman in England in the late 13th century, and owner of Carisbrooke Castle. She is, incidentally, the Countess who Countess Wear, near Topsham, is named after.
    Towards Love. A novel (1923) is by Irene Rutherford Macleod (later wife of Aubrey de SĂ©lincourt). I haven't been able to find anything about it.
     Yesterday: A Tory Fairy-Tale (1924) is by Norman Davey, and features a near-future secession of the Isle of Wight.
Finally, The Scarlet Rider, by Bertha Runkle, is an exciting romance of a highwayman about 1780, and deals with an old manor-house, and we are informed that the manor-houses of The Reproach of Annesley and Ribstone Pippins, both by Maxwell Gray, are respectively Arreton and Westridge.
      The Scarlet Rider (1913) is by the American author Bertha Runkle. , and concerns the headstrong daughter of an impoverished aristocratic family who shelters a fugitive who appears to be the "Scarlet Rider", an infamous highwayman. See the Internet Archive (ID scarletrider00compgoog).
      I'll refer you to previous posts for The Reproach of Annesley and Ribstone Pippins.

An older edition of the Ward Lock guide is online - A pictorial and descriptive guide to the Isle of Wight in six sections : with excursions, and cycling and pedestrian routes from each centre ; upwards of seventy illustrations, map of the Island (1900, Internet Archive guidetoisleofwig00ward). There's a deal of historical and pictorial interest in there.

- Ray

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