A Publication of

THE JOHN MEADE FALKNER SOCIETY

Founded 8th May 1999



Newsletter No.11 03 January 2003

NEW MEMBERS
Since the last Newsletter in July, the Society has welcomed three more members.

The Hon. James Stourton
Thanks to a chat with Alan Bell, James has not only joined the Society but dropped in to look at my JMF collection. Peter Davison, now Regius Professor at Aberdeen, first drew James' attention to "this subtle antiquarian novelist". Since Cambridge, James has worked for 23 years at Sotheby's where he is now Deputy Chairman of Sotheby's Europe. He has a private press, The Stourton Press.

The Rt. Hon. Lord Anthony Quinton
who, in turn, has been persuaded to join by James! A Fellow of All Souls (1949-55] and a former President of Trinity College, Oxford [ 1978-87]. he is a distinguished philosopher. His publications include The Nature of Things [1973], Francis Bacon [1980] and From Wodehouse to Wittgenstein [1998], and he has contributed over 20 articles to The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, published in 1995 by the OUP.

Professor Robert Cross
who came across us on the Internet. He studied German and French literature at the University of Wales and holds a PhD from Lancaster University. After teaching at the Universitaet Tuebingen in Germany, he is currently Professor of British Studies at Doshisha University in Kyoto. He is presently on a Sabbatical at Cambridge. Aside from his work as an academic, he is also a screenwriter of some repute.




The Nebuly Coat
Anyone surfing the Internet 'bookshops' will soon realise that, whereas Moonfleet and The Lost Stradivarius are relatively easy to find, the same can not be said for The Nebuly Coat. Recently a first edition was for sale from Brick Row Book Shop in the USA. The book had an interesting owner provenance. It was once Michael Sadleir's, with his label on the front paste-down, and later the property of Robert Lee Wolff, who apparently had two copies. He gave this one to a visitor in 1967, who enclosed a note on Ritz-Carleton stationery,

"Given to me by Robert Lee Woltf this afternoon... a remarkable book from an even more remarkable gentleman".
The present seller comments -"an outstanding novelist of his time". Selling at 204, if not a bargain, then good value.

Weymouth Writers
It is good to see one of our members, Kenneth Warren, being quoted on the Dorset Life On-Line Magazine. Under the sub heading, Weymouth's rich literary heritage, the writer draws attention to a 'sensitive boy' [JMF] who,
"though still not quite nine, walked out from Dorchester, on over Ridgeway Hill and down to the coast"
to the Weymouth home of three aunts. This was at 5, Brunswick Buildings, which
"regularly suffered a shower of pebbles thrown up from the beach in wild weather".
When Falkner was twelve, his father
"accepted a curacy at Melcombe Regis and the family moved to 82, St. Thomas Street, now a restaurant. ...John spent eighteen months at Weymouth Grammar School, which no doubt reinforced his knowledge of the local history and legends which were to provide the background ofhis most famous work."
No doubt.
The piece is accompanied by a silhouette of JMF and a view of 'Old Rectory' -a swish-looking restaurant.

JMF and Durham
More than one member has found it impossible to acquire a copy of Kenneth Warren's John Meade Falkner in Durham 1899-1932 -the Durham Cathedral Lecture for 1989. Worry no longer. Ken has kindly agreed to my republishing it as one of the articles in next July's Journal No.4.

A JMF architectural howler

Antonio lriarte, one of our two members from Spain, not only found the recent article by David Rowlands on Bell-ringing in The Nebuly Coat fascinating [JMF Newsletter No.9, May 2002], but realised it triggered his memory of another slip JMF made in the book.
On page 10 [using the OUP World's Classics version, ably edited by one of our founder members, Christopher Hawtree] the rector and Westray
"were in the south transept, and the rector had duly pointed out the dilapidations of the roof, which, in truth, wanted but little showing. 'Some call this the Blandamer aisle', he said, 'from a noble family of that name who have for many years been buried here.'"
However, [by page 114] Lord Blandamer is clear that he was
"under some sort of moral obligation for the north transept, from having annexed it as a burying-place. It used to be called, I fancy, the Blandamer Aisle".
For those readers who mistrust Lord B's every pronouncement, unfortunately Westray replies immediately: "Yes, it is called so still". The north seemingly wins, as [on page 124] Lord B. commits himself, in a subsequent letter to Westray, to spend 7,800 for "the repairs to the north transept". Let us hope he was correct.
Antonio signs off by saying,
"the novel is, by the by, clearly the best of the three JMF wrote, although I must admit my favourite, now that I have read all of JMF's fiction. is still The Lost Stradivarius".

Maj.-Gen. Sir John Adye K.C.M.G.
If you type in the word Adye on the Internet book sites you come up with two military men. The first, Brigadier-General John Miller Adye, was author of such tomes as A Review of the Crimean War [1859];Sitana: a Mountain Campaign on the Borders of Afghanistan in 1863 ; and Recollections of A Military Life [1895], where he held forth on his experiences in the Crimea, the Indian Mutiny, on the North West Frontier during the Second Afghan War and in Egypt in 1882. He had also served in England as Director of Artillery and Stores [1870] and Governor of the Military Academy at Woolwich [1875], before becoming Governor of Gibraltar between 1882 and 1886. At some time in his career he became good friends with both William Armstrong and Stuart Rendel, so much so that his daughter, Winifreda, married the former's grand-nephew and heir, William Henry Watson-Armstrong in 1889. His other daughter, Evelyn Violet, was to become John Meade Falkner's wife on 18 October, 1899.
His son, Major-General Sir John Adye K.C.M.G., is the other name to figure prominently on the lnternet lists. This John wrote Napoleon of the Snows in 1931 - a picture of Bonaparte's psychology during the Marengo campaign -and the intriguingly titled Soldiers and others I have known [1925]. He was also the author of three little known mystery novels, all published by Herbert Jenkins. The first, Who Killed Lord Henry Rollestone?, I have been unable to track down. The last in the trio was The Golden Scarab -a tale of theft and murder which involves a sinister relic from Tutenkamen's Egypt "passed down from hand to hand into modern times" [i.e. the 1920s]. A copy lies on my desk, to be read over Yuletide.
It is with the second novel that the JMF Society should take interest. At The House of the Priest [1925] was also sold as "a baffling mystery story". The first 70 or so pages are set in London, where the murder occurs; but the bulk of the tale takes place in and around San Felice, a tiny Italian fishing village
"situated on the seaward side of a small square peninsula that stretches out into the Mediterranean".
And here is the rub. More than one passage of description suggests a 'greater hand' than Sir John's is at work. It has been suggested that his brother-in-law may well have helped him in their composition. A challenge to you all!

The l'Areopagita by Graziani
Peter Davey sent me the following thoughts, which I am delighted to include in this Newsletter.
"In The Lost Stradivarius, Falkner refers to a work called l'Areopagita by Graziani for violin and harpsichord; he names four movements -Coranto, Sarabanda, Gagliarda and Minuetto. The playing of the Gagliarda movement is very important in the development of the story. It was the fact that I am a violinist which originally drew me to The Lost Stradivarius, and as a violinist I would love to lay my hands on l'Areopagita. I would even dare to play the Gagliarda with all the risks that might entail!
But, of course, it's all fiction... Or is it? There was a composer called Graziani -in fact there were three. First, there was Tomaso Graziani [1550 -1634], maestro de capella at Ravenna Cathedral, and later at Reggio Emilia. He was much too early to have written a suite. Then there was Bonifazio Graziani [1604-1664]. He composed sacred choral works and is not known to have written any instrumental music. Thirdly, there was Carlo Graziani, who died in 1787. In the novel the transcript of the l'Areopagita is said to be dated 1774, "many years after the death of that composer", but this could be Falkner feeding us a red herring. In fact, Carlo produced three volumes of sonatas for 'cello and continuo, the third of which is in the British Library, and it is dedicated to Maximilian Joseph, Duke of Bavaria. It is not uncommon to find music written for one instrument transcribed for another. I have managed to obtain one of these sonatas, but, alas, it is not the l'Areopagita. But what of the first two volumes -do they lie in some Italian library, or were they burnt, as Mr. Gaskell burnt his, because of the devilish nature of the Gagliarda? Did Carlo in fact compose a suite which he called l'Areopagita? I promise, if I find it, you will read about it first in the JMF Newsletter...... provided I survive the first performance.

N.B. Falkner's knowledge of violins was almost certainly acquired from Violin-making: as it was, and is, by Ed. Heron-A1len, first published in 1884. Some of Heron-Allen's short fiction has been published by the Tartarus Press, who recently produced a new edition of The Lost Stradivarius."

JMF letters to Edward Stone

On 16 August, I received an e-mail from a "Rare Books, Autographs & Manuscripts" dealer. After complimenting me on our website [congratulations Robert] (Blush!), she asked for any information on the Armstrong Whitworth Company I might have, as she was in the process of selling a collection of autograph letters written by JMF between 1902 and 1918. To cut a drawn out e:mail correspondence short, the Society has purchased them. If it had not been for Kathleen Falkner's incredible generosity, we could not have afforded them.
The collection consists of 12 hand written letters, totalling over 50 pages of text, to the Reverend Edward D. Stone, formerly a Senior Classics master at Eton, who had given JMF holiday tuition in Dorchester in the late 1860s. The majority are written from the Elswick Works at Newcastle-on-Tyne, but there are a couple from Constantinople and one from Swarzwald in Germany, where JMF excused the brevity of his missive as being the result
"of a severe, and anxious heart seizure, which came when I was in Manchester some three months ago".
I intend to publish the letters in full in the next issue of the Society Journal.

Best Wishes
Kenneth Hillier
Greenmantle, Main Street, Kings Newton, Melbourne Derbyshire. DE73 1BX
kah@greenmantle63.freeserve.co.uk
[NB new e-mail]

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