Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Guy Thorne: Why I Chose My Pen-Name

From Pearson's Weekly, 4 July 1907: 

“Guy Thorne”  (C. Ranger Gull), the author of “When It Was Dark”

          I chose my pen-name of “Guy Thorne” in the following way and for the following reasons:

Some four or five years ago I had written a good many novels under my own name. These novels were not at all concerned with religious matters. They were ordinary society novels dealing with the problems of modern life, as I saw it.
One day it occurred to me that the theory of the modern novel is all wrong. It is not, in the majority of cases, a true representation of modern life, because it absolutely ignores what is an integral part of every man and woman's life in Britain—religion.
People who are irreligious are just as interested in the religious question as the larger majority who are more or less religious. Therefore it seemed to me that a story of the British life, which entirely ignored and made no mention of religious matters, only represented a part of life.
Pursuing this line of thought, I came to see that a novel which should express these views and show how intimately religion is bound up with the lives of everybody, even those who do not appreciate the fact and would not allow it, would probably interest a great many people. I set up to write this book.
When I was half way through it I began to realise that if I published it under my own name the story might possibly have the result of alienating the regular circle of readers I had won, for the reason that it was not the literary fare which they were accustomed to buy under my name. I resolved to make the experiment of issuing a story under a pseudonym.
The pseudonym was not an easy thing to choose. The name ought to be, I thought, something which was easily said and easily remembered. I decided upon a name of two single syllables. “Guy” is about the shortest Christian name in the English language, so I resolved upon that.
Writers have always to be students of how words sound when they are spoken. I have been a student of sound in this way. I knew that a long “i” sound ought to be followed by a longer vowel sound, but which, in its constitution, allowed a drop in the voice. The human voice always drops at the end of a statement. From that it was not difficult to evolve the surname of “Thorne,” which seems to me to fulfill the conditions I had laid down for a pen-name, and, in conjunction with “Guy,” to have a certain picturesqueness. This is the simple story of my pen-name.

[signed]  Guy Thorne

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Why I Chose My Pen-Name: Dick Donovan

From Pearson's Weekly, 4 July 1907: 

"Dick Donovan" who is busily writing a splendid series of stories that will start shortly in Pearson's.

Many years ago I was asked to write a series of detective stories to be published in a widely-read journal with which I was then associated. I was not particularly anxious to undertake the work, and imposed a condition that if I did the articles must appear under a nom de guerre.

This was agreed to, and then I became puzzled about the selection of a suitable name.

I chanced, however, to be looking over some old records of Bow Street when that historic thoroughfare occupied the position that Scotland Yard does at the present day. The "Bow Street Runners" had a rough and arduous time of it, for they were not aided by telegraphs and railways. They were veritable sleuth hounds tracking their prey by trail and scent.

I noted that among those who most distinguished themselves towards the end of the eighteenth century was a Mr. Richard Donovan, He was a terror to evil doers, and was the means of bringing some of the notorious criminals of his day to a well-deserved end. It at once occurred to me that by abbreviating Richard into Dick I had an excellent pen-name in "Dick Donovan," and one that would cling to the public memory. 

I therefore adopted it, and I hope that the spirit of the dead and gone Mr. Richard Donovan has not been perturbed thereby

 [signed:] J.E. Preston Muddock 

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Roger Dean's Gollum

Roger Dean (b. 1944) is a British artist perhaps best known for his album covers, especially those for the band Yes. I knew that he did at least one Tolkien-related illustration, a painting of Gollum, done at the suggestion of a friend.  It's a bit dark (in appears in Views, published in 1975), but I rather like it.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Poetic Elves in the 1920s

I was discussing "twee" with a friend and remembered a nifty poem I read about thirty-five years ago.  Of course I had to go find it, and it's as good as I recall, so I'll share it here.

How to Treat Elves

by Morris Bishop

I met an elf-man in the woods,
the wee-est little elf!
Sitting under a mushroom tall—
'twas taller than himself.

"How do you do, little elf," I said,
"and what do you do all day?"
"I dance 'n fwolic about," said he,
"'n scuttle about and play;

"I s'prise the butterflies, 'n when
a katydid I see,
'Katy didn't!' I say, and he
says 'Katy did!' to me!

"I hide behind my mushroom stalk
when Mister Mole comes froo,
'n only jus' to fwighten him
I jump out 'n say, 'Boo!'

"'N then I swing on a cobweb swing,
up in the air so high,
'N the cwickets chirp just to hear me sing,

"'N then I play with the baby chicks,
I call them, chick chick chick!
'N what do you think of that?" said he.
I said, "It makes me sick."

"It gives me sharp and shooting pains
to listen to such drool."
I lifted up my foot, and squashed
the God damn little fool. *

The poem first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post for 3 April 1926 (it was reprinted in an anthology edited by Thomas L. Masson, Laughs: A Sovereign Remedy for Boredom, published in November 1926). That makes it nearly contemporary with Lord Dunsany's poem, "Ode to a Dublin Critic," apparently first published in Fifty Poems (1929). Here are the first two stanzas (of five):

        Ode to a Dublin Critic
        Through steely gaps that I have known 
           In mirage mountains, upon wings 
        Has my imagination flown 
          To bring you news of magic things.

        And lesser journalists have said, 
          That cannot see such things themselves, 
        The man is clearly off his head 
          To write of things like gods and elves

Of course earlier in the same decade, J.R.R. Tolkien was writing of 'Tinfang Warble" in a fairy poem first published in 1927. It is a conception Tolkien would (thankfully) abandon.  Here are the first eight lines.

Tinfang Warble

O the hoot! O the hoot!
How he trillups on his flute!
O the hoot of Tinfang Warble!

Dancing all alone,
hopping on a stone, 
Flitting like a fan, 
In the twilight on the lawn, 
And his name is Tinfang Warble!


* The text of "How to Treat Elves" is that given in Bishop's collection Spilt Milk (1942). The poem also appears in Bishop's earlier collection Paramount Poems (1929), but I have not seen that appearance.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

More E.A. Wyke-Smith nonsense

I named this blog "A Shiver in the Archives," but sometimes that shiver is one of revulsion. I'm getting tired of finding photos on the internet of supposed authors, when they are completely and wrongly identified. For example, this photo, which I just observed here,

 Not E.A. Wyke-Smith
No, no, this is not E.A. Wyke-Smith (more fully, Edward Augustine Wyke-Smith), the author of The Marvellous Land of Snergs. I don't know who it is, but presumably someone found a photo of an Edward Smith and sloppily claimed it was was the author.

I have several photos of Wyke-Smith, shared with me by his family. I published the nicest portrait in The Annotated Hobbit.  It, too, has migrated to the internet, where it appears without source-credit at the Open Library and the ISFDB

Here is a photograph of the actual author. 

The real E.A. Wyke-Smith

Sunday, May 23, 2021

New Issues with Following Blogs by email

The short version:  Most blogs I'm involved with have a "Follow by email" option. The "Follow by email" function worked (fine) via Google's Feedburner since I started using it.  Google is eliminating Feedburner in July, which means I have had to find an alternate source. I have transferred this following-by-email function to follow.it. I already have seen anomalies, and hope they won't be numerous. This blog has a new "Follow by email" widget that goes directly to follow.it. I have migrated the subscription list there too, but I suspect there will be issues. I'll try to fix errors if they are reported to me.