Saturday, 28 February 2015

Maxwell Gray in Sanatogen ad shock

Cross-posted from A Wren-like Note: the odd bit of detail on the Newport-born author Maxwell Gray (Mary Gleed Tuttiett) continues to surface, often via researching something else. A sidetrack on patent medicines while writing the ATURFUQIL piece brought something of a surprise: Maxwell Gray giving a celebrity endorsement for the patent remedy Sanatogen.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Charles G Harper: journalist, artist, sexist

With International Women's Day forthcoming, and its particular focus on the centenary (more or less) of the women's suffrage movement, it seems appropriate to mention an egregious example of the kind of attitudes this movement had to contend with. After reading Charles George Harper's South Devon Coast, I was inclined to rate this artist and travelogue writer quite highly as a person, but my opinion plummeted on finding his Revolted Woman; past, present, and to come, a diatribe against women - writers, particularly - with social and career aspirations. Nor is my view much helped by his crass satire Hearts Do Not Break: a Tale of the Lower Slopes.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The South Devon Coast: #3 of 3

Concluding the gallery of the 70+ images from The South Devon Coast (Charles G Harper, London: Chapman & Hall, 1907, Internet Archive ID southdevoncoast00harpgoog). As I've said, Harper's self-illustrated travelogue is rather more personal and candid than the usual run of such books. The final set of scenes takes us round the coast of the South Hams to Plymouth.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Aged Holmes stories

"Mr. Holmes"
My current reading ran into a couple of Sherlockian topics. In UK newspapers, it's been hard to miss the story of the discovery of a lost Sherlock Holmes story in a 1903 fundraising booklet, The Book o' the Brig, compiled in aid of a bazaar to raise money for the reconstruction of a Selkirk footbridge destroyed by flooding in 1902. I also just started Mitch Cullin's A Slight Trick of the Mind, which has been filmed as Mr. Holmes.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Ask A Foolish Question

From Project Gutenberg: Robert Sheckley's 1953 short SF story Ask A Foolish Question, which is still worth reading, as well as having quite a bit of modern pertinence. The story concerns various species, including humans, who make pilgrimage to a device called Answerer, "Because Answerer knows everything".

Friday, 20 February 2015

Five Fags a Day: life on the scrapheap

Continuing the posts on the Walsall author John Petty - whose work I've found surprisingly engaging - I just finished his Five Fags a Day (Secker & Warburg, 1956), a strongly autobiographical novel about the life of a scrap-picker collecting metal from the industrial tips near Walsall.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

ATURFUQIL: philanthropy funded by snake oil

This is a fairly well-known local curiosity, but as it was a beautiful day, I decided to take an afternoon off to see it for myself: the "ATURFUQIL" memorial in Ringmore churchyard on the grave of William Newcombe Homeyard and his wife Maria Laetitia Kempe Homeyard.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Latin at Anstey's Cove

Pursuing the reference in Harper's 1907 The South Devon Coast to the Latin sign that adorned Mr Thomas's tea-house, formerly at Anstey's Cove, Torquay: here's a transcript and a bit more about its background.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The South Devon Coast: #2 of 3

"Du Zummat"
Continuing the gallery of the 70+ images from The South Devon Coast (Charles G Harper, London: Chapman & Hall, 1907, Internet Archive ID southdevoncoast00harpgoog), a travelogue that's refreshing in giving a rather more personal set of impressions than the usual run of such books. I'll quote a few more highlights en route.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Cliff and Beach at Branscombe: review

I don't normally buy local history books, but I made an exception with Cliff and Beach at Branscombe (Barbara Farquharson & Sue Dymond, Branscombe Project, 2014), as it concerns an area that has particularly interested me since moving to East Devon.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The A'Court Smiths of Gurnard: fossil insects and pedestrianism

After reading about the appalling Thomas Hawkins, the story of Mr A'Court Smith of Gurnard makes a refreshing contrast. He was a fossil collector also with Isle of Wight connections, but of very different temperament. The Athenaeum magazine commemorated his death in 1900 thus:

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Great Sea Dragons and other weirdness

"Ow, me neck!"
Lyme Regis Museum Blog just announced what looks an interesting talk by Stephen Locke at Woodmead Halls, Lyme Regis, on Thursday: Thomas Hawkins and his Sea Dragons – a mad, bad, fossil collector? I can't get there that day, but the name rang a bell. I knew Hawkins was buried in Ventnor, Isle of Wight (see the God's Acre photo post Thomas Hawkins 1810-1889), but had never bothered to pursue his details.