A Publication of


Founded 8th May 1999

Newsletter No.68 May 2001

New Members

Since January, the Society has gained a further eight members and we send a warm welcome to each and every one of them.

Javier Marias is a Spanish author, whose books have sold in excess of 3.5 million copies -mainly in Europe and Hispanic America -since his 1971 debut. He has been translated into some twenty languages. Look out for his novels -currently in print in English are: All Souls, A Heart So White, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me and When I was Mortal.

Robin Willis lives with her husband in Norfolk, Va, and recently took a holiday in England (see Letter). Stimulated by both Burford and a re-reading of Moonfleet, she found us through Robert Wilson's excellent Internet site.

Peter Mead is the cousin of Thomas Alexander Meade Falkner, nephew of JMF. To be strictly accurate, his great-grandparents, on his father's side, were JMF's grandparents. He has a considerable amount of information on the Mead family, which he promises to make available to us in the future!

Celia Grover is the daughter of John and Ruth Falkner. John was the second son of Charles Falkner, JMF's brother. It is most encouraging to see two more members of the Falkner family tree joining our Society.

Antonio J. Iriarte is our second member from Spain, having been introduced to us by Javier Marias. I was able to send Antonio a copy of The Nebuly Coat, just as hard to find in Spain as elsewhere.

Bernard Jones is the author of the excellent monograph on JMF, published in 1984, in the Dorset Worthies series (No.l8). One can still purchase copies at the Museum in Dorchester, where there is a small display on JMF and, in particular, Moonfleet.

Barry Cross found us through readership of 'All Hallows', the Ghost Story Society's journal. He regards The Lost Stradivarius as "one of the very finest supernatural novels".

Richard Shepherd is Head Master of The Minster School, York. He writes: "As one who has worked all his life associated with cathedrals I have always enjoyed The Nebuly Coat. It is easy to tell that the writer knew what went on in these extraordinary institutions."

* * * * * *

Moonfleet to be filmed?
Tapestry Films Ltd.- a film company based in Toronto -contacted me in early February. They were interested in acquiring the film rights for Moonfleet, "in order to develop the work into a feature film". I was able to put them in touch with the Society of Authors and a follow-up e-mail said they had been in touch with the exact person who held the rights. Strangely, the company did not know of the Fritz Lang version, which came out in 1955 and starred Stewart Granger. Perhaps it was just as well.

BooksGlobal (Jefferson Busherman) has asked that members are made aware of his web site at www.booksglobal.com (email: BooksGlobal@hotmail.com tel.: 800-477-7578). This allows writers to "publish" their book on the site without the necessity of trying to gain the favour of a publisher or agent. The company also eliminates the expenses and dead-end streets involved with vanity publishing and the workload of self-publishing. They normally charge a nominal fee for listing a writer's book and a percentage of sales. So, over to you, budding JMFs.

Mark Valentine notes that a recently published work of reference, Shadows in the Attic: A Guide to British Supernatural Fiction 1820-1950. by Neil Wilson (The British Library, November 2000), has a standard biographical and bibliographical information about JMF , with this to say about The Lost Stradivarius:

"An imaginative plot, a finely paced atmosphere of growing menace and a wealth of background detail combine to make this short novel one of the nineteenth century's classic tales of the macabre. It is our loss that, despite his obvious ability and keen interest in supernatural fiction, Falkner did not write further works in the genre."
The Nebuly Coat is also praised and the two short stories get mentioned.

Edward Wilson is following up a reference in Mark Holloway's biography of Norman Douglas (London, 1976), where, on page 109, the author states that Douglas' Villa Maya was Falkner's Villa de Angelis of The Lost Stradivarius.

Page Life thoughtfully sent me a list of 14 JMF items from her university's Periodical Contents Index. As a result I was able to contact the author of one of better-sounding articles. He, in turn, has kindly allowed his piece to be reprinted in the summer's Journal. Thank you, Page.

Robin Willis first contacted us by this very interesting letter:
"I had just received Moonfleet in the mail after ordering it online, when my husband and I departed from Norfolk, Va. for a holiday in the Cotswolds. We travelled to Burford and were fascinated by the church and its churchyard. I bought a book about the church and read it that night at Walton Hall, where we were staying. It seemed a strange coincidence that J. M. Falkner's name was in the book and that he was buried in the very churchyard we had been to that day. We went back to Burford next day and found his tomb and saw his name in the stained glass window. When we got back to Virginia I read Moonfleet again, as I had been wanting to since reading it many years before. It was as exciting as ever...to the very last page. I was happy to find this website [Robert Wilson's] and to read more about J. M. Falkner."
The Tartarus Press has really come up trumps with its republication of The Lost Stradivarius. As a fanatical book collector, the 'feel' of a book is very important to me. This book is very well bound with nice, thick pages and a text that is pleasing on the eye. One bonus is Mark Valentine's thoughtful Introduction, with its felicitous turns of phrase and its light wearing of quite erudite points. Another is the salutary addition of two difficult-to-find JMF items - A Midsummer's Night Marriage [1896] and Charalampia [1916]. If you do not have a copy, then I strongly urge one on you.
Tartarus Press, Coverley House, Carlton, Leybum, North Yorkshire DL8 4AY. Tel.: 01969-640399

Walhampton House

In Newsletter No.4 (22 July 2000), I mentioned that Peter Davey was toying with the idea of Walhampton House, near Lymington, being the house referred to in JMF's poem A Seaside Garden. Nicholas Aldridge, one of our members, passed this on to Henry Phillips, present Head Master of the private school based there. Mr Phillips has just commissioned a "Historic Landscape Restoration and Management Report" on the site and, so far, he can find no reference to either JMF or an Oxford cleric. It must be stressed that the school is in private grounds. Peter's article in this summer's Journal will be referring to the house again.

JMF One Hundred Years Ago
April 1901 saw Falkner in Constantinople, writing one of his many letters to Stuart, Lord Rendel. His first two sentences are masterpieces in social lubrication, and might well be usefully employed by any of us in the future:
"If I have not sooner answered your long and important letter, it has not been for any want of reading, learning, marking and inwardly digesting it. That, I assure you, I have done: but till now, I have not found time to sit down to answer it, with any hope of being left to myself .."
He goes on to discuss Saxton Noble being sent to the firm's London Office and, after four pages of densely packed argument, summarises:
"All these points have not escaped notice: but still your letter has put them in a clearer light, and marshalled them more forcibly than I had seen them before & I shall know how to make use of your suggestions when consideration of the matter comes up."
JMF was ever the diplomat. Perhaps knowledge that Rendel and others were soon to be involved in discussing his salary was not irrelevant.

JMF's Novels in other Languages
Antonio Iriarte kindly sent me a Spanish translation of The Lost Stradivarius -El Stradivarius perdido. It set me wondering how many other languages his works had been translated into. I have a French paperback of Moonfleet, published by Phebus in their Presses Pocket series; and a Dutch translation with an afterword by Henri Van Daele, published by Averbode. Do any members know of any others?

Update on Membership (32)
(In order of joining with dates of joining)

Kenneth Hillier (April 1999) ]
Christopher Hawtree (April 1999) ] Founder
Edward Wilson (April 1999) ] Members
Victor Brown (April 1999) ]
Alan Bell (May 1999) ]
Peter Davey (May 1999)
John Noble (May 1999)
Kenneth Warren (June 1999)
Roger Norris (June 1999)
Nicholas Aldridge (June 1999)
Hamish Guthrie (July 1999) [Canada]
Kathleen Falkner (July 1999)
Raymond Moody (July 1999)
Ruth Falkner (July 1999)
Robert Wilson (July 1999) [Canada]
Richard Wirdnam (August 1999)
Elizabeth Falkner (August 1999)
Jeffry Pretes (March 2000) [USA]
Christopher Morrell (May 2000)
Page Life (July 2000) [USA]
Allan Life (July 2000) [USA]
Ray Russell (October 2000)
Mark Valentine (October 2000)
Michael Morello (November 2000) [USA]
Javier Marias (March 2001) [Spain]
Robin Willis (March 2001) [USA]
Antonio Iriarte (April 2001) [Spain]
Celia Grover (April 2001)
Peter Mead (April 2001)
Barry Cross (Apri1 2001)
Bernard Jones (Apri1 2001)
Richard Shepherd (Apri1 2001)

Best Wishes to you all,
Kenneth Hillier
Greenmantle, Main Street, King's Newton, Melbourne, Derbyshire DE73 1BX
Tel.:01332 865315
Email: moonfleet@greenmantle63.freeserve.co.uk