THE JOHN MEADE FALKNER SOCIETY
Founded 8th May 1999
NEWSLETTER No. 24
8 May 2007
I am delighted to welcome as our latest member Simon Ashford of Kilburn, London. Simon has not only joined the Society but purchased a copy of The Collected Poems.
I am reminding the few members who have not renewed their 2007-8 subscription by enclosing a Renewal notice with this Newsletter. Please return as soon as possible. I have held the sub at £5.00 yet again - the eighth year running. This is only thanks to a few generous members who send an extra donation with their subscription.
Back numbers of the Journal
are still availablefor certain volumes. I have only five copies for each of Volumes 1, 4 and 5; six copies of Volume 5; ten copies of Volume 7; and plenty left of Volumes 2 and 6. They cost £1 each, inclusive of postage.
Anne L Falkner
JMF’s sister, was an amateur painter of no mean talent. Eagle-eyed Edward Wilson spotted in Abbot and Holder’s (of 30, Museum Street, London) March 2007 catalogue, under the section ‘Paintings in Oils’, the following work for sale:
Falkner, Anne L. (fl.1893-1933)
Cart horses and hens enjoying the sunshine of a stack-yard. Highly decorative painting by a pupil of Stanhope Forbes (and sister of the author of ‘Moon- fleet’). Circa 1910. Oil on canvas laid on card. 19 x 24 £1750.
The Society couldn’t afford to purchase it, and I have just revisited the Gallery’s website (3rd May) to find it has disappeared - so I wonder who did buy it?
The Lost Stradivarius
Another publication of Falkner’s first novel - this time as a paperback in the Hesperus Classics series. Other writers in the series include Jane Austen, the Brontës, Conrad and Dickens, Poe and Stevenson. The useful, if brief, foreword is by Tom Paulin, the G.M. Young Lecturer at Hertford College, Oxford - JMF’s own college. (It was G.M. Young who wrote the Introduction to the Oxford World’s Classics publication of The Nebuly Coat and The Lost Stradivarius in 1954).
Paulin argues that, on one level, Falkner is investigating the dark side of antiquarianism; that Constance Temple’s “aristocratic name embodies a pure, spiritual Anglicanism...while Maltravers’ name suggests a clumsy maladroitness”.; and, that “on another level, this intriguing story can be read as a version of the loss of faith that so many Victorian intellectuals and artists suffered...”
Michael Daniell kindly sent me a review by Tom Boncza-Tomaszewski in The Independent on Sunday of the Hesperus edition. The latter writes “Hesperus continue to resurrect some most surprising literary gems” and “although this book...is perfectly effective as a straightforward ghost story, it offers a good deal of depth to readers inclined to look for more”.
Late addendum :
I have just sent off for yet another paperback version of The Lost Stradivarius, this time published by Dodo Press in February of this year. It is 124 pp. long; the ISBN is 140651666X; and it sells for £5.99. I believe it is one of these “print to order” books which are becoming all the rage.
The Vatican Library
Ian Jackson, our Society member based at Berkeley, California - who was so helpful with tracking down the whereabouts of the little vellum Bible containing the Christopher Wordsworth letters - has again written to me with some interesting information. He was browsing through the register of Cardinal Giovanni Mercati’s correspondence (1889-1936), published by the Vatican Library in 2003.
A number of JMF letters are catalogued, (14 March, 1919; 9 November, 1920; 17 December, 1920; 26 October, 1921; 2 January 1923; 18 April, 1925; 15 October, 1926; 12 December, 1928; 26 March, 1929;31 March, 1929; New Year 1931; 4 April, 1931; 5 April, 1931; 15 May, 1931). They were written from addresses as far afield as the Hotel Excelsior, Rome; the Grand Hotel, Rome; and The Grand Pump Room Hotel, Bath; as well as from The Divinity House.
Ian rightly comments that they are surely worth printing in the Journal. Is there any member willing to chase this up?
The full reference is:
Studi E Testi
Card. Giovanni Mercati
Introduzione, inventario e indici
a cura di Paolo Vian
Città del Vaticano
Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
Another member, this time John Cochrane, has come up trumps: sending me a fascinating “goody bag” of JMF material, which comes from his own family’s “archives”. Included are typescript versions of the poem Silvesterabend and another I have not seen before, entitled The Elswick Mystery; original sheets of The Spectator (Christmas Day - The Family Sitting) and The Cornhill Magazine (Picadilly - 1916); and two letters from JMF to Wilfred Cochrane
Thank you, John, for your support.
P.S. Subsequently, John has been in touch with Andrew Belsey, who wrote about Alfred Cochrane (1865-1948) in Newsletter No. 22 (22 July 2006). Andrew recently sent me a postcard to say they had “both learnt new things”.
Barry Cross wrote to me in early February to thank me for sending an extra copy of Journal No. 7, which included Royd Whitlock’s article on Carisbrooke Castle in Moonfleet. He had passed it on to his old friend Jack Jones, who was curator of Carisbrooke Castle Museum from 1953 until his retirement in the summer of 2005. Jack reminisced about “the stirring visit of a film crew when the BBC made a TV film of Moonfleet - it involved many re-takes before the BBC and the donkey came to terms!”
Unfortunately Jack Jones had just over a year of retirement, dying at the end of last year.
An Argentinian email
arrived in mid-March from our furthest flung member, Giselle Panero. Those of you who met up at Raymond and Joan Moody’s home in Burford a few years ago will remember Giselle. She usually spends her long summer holidays in Cordoba, a province in the north of Argentina, and her return to work was lightened by the last Newsletter awaiting her! Giselle suggested a meeting in 2009, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Society’s foundation. Whether we manage one before then or not, we will certainly make sure such a meeting happens at a time to suit her!
Books For Sale
I still have some books for sale, by or related to JMF.
The Collected Poems - £15.00 (including p & p)
A History of Oxfordshire - £12 (+ £3.00 p & p)
A History of Durham Cathedral Library (piece missing from front cover, which affects the title and has been awkwardly repaired) - £10 (+ £1.50 p & p)
The Book Collector [Autumn 1960] (a useful article and bibliography of JMF) - £8 (+ £1.50 p & p)
Any cheques to be made to “The John Meade Falkner Society” but check first if the book[s] is/are still available.
Journal No. 8
is coming along very nicely. Particular thanks are due to member George Robson, who has not only contributed an article himself - entitled John Meade Falkner M.P.? - but has elicited another from Professor Richard H. Taylor, on John Meade Falkner and Thomas Hardy. Professor Taylor has edited The Personal Notebooks of Thomas Hardy (Macmillan; St. Martin’s Press, 1978) and written The Neglected Hardy: Thomas Hardy’s Lesser Novels (Macmillan; Columbia University Press, 1982). I am most grateful for his contribution. Royd Whitlock has sent another fascinating and detailed study of an aspect of Moonfleet - this time on the religious books quoted in the novel. Page and Allan Life, two of the Society’s American members have produced very useful source material for those studying JMF’s life - census records detailing his whereabouts between 1861 and 1901.
Those of you who have access to the Internet might like to type in Cornucopia.orangeleaf.com. Here you will discover a database of 6,000 important collections from almost 2,000 museums, libraries and archives. The web site has been designed to allow visitors to find the collections in a number of ways. You can find collections by browsing through the Time, People, Place, Subject or Culture sections. The site also has a list of institutions - arranged alphabetically -where the collections are kept.
Cornucopia is designed so that institutions can update their own collection record(s).
You will delighted to hear that the John Meade Falkner Collection is listed as a comprehensive collection of his fiction and non-fiction in book and article form. Large and growing collection on writings about John Meade Falkner. It directs readers to our own website and gives my address and telephone contact.
My dear Tom:
Page Life, our member based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, kindly forwarded me information about the letter from Charles Lynam to JMF (whose nickname was ‘Tom’) that was sent on 15 September, 1931. I have quoted from the letter before - on the John Buchan Society website, as Lynam recommended JB’s The Blanket of the Dark to Falkner, being set in “the country you know so well”. Lynam ended by bemoaning the passing of one old mutual friend, finishing “Well, God bless us all!” Falkner himself had less than a year to live.
I recently visited two priories which were the subject of JMF poems: Malton and Bridlington in Yorkshire. The Malton poem is undated and dedicated “To C.P.” - do any of you have a clue as to who this might be? Bridlington was composed in September 1889 and recalls with deep felt nostalgia the priory “Before the evil days begun... before that day when Henry [VIII] set his hounds to run..”
I took several photographs to add to the ones I had of the third priory which produced a poem - Woodspring, just north of Weston-super-Mare. The subtitle, “The Last Christmas, 1535”, prepares the reader for JMF’s lament. I hope to write an article for Journal No. 9 on these three priories, including the poems. Any further information on them (Edward Wilson kindly sent me material a couple of years back) would be gratefully received.
Do write in with JMF snippets for the next Newsletter, due in mid July.
Greenmantle, Main Street, Kings Newton, Melbourne
Derbyshire. DE73 8BX