ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

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DIARY ARCHIVES

 

[Note: Since the site has changed over the years, the internal links to various items on the site have been removed. The more recent diary entries, from 2010 to 2013 are available on the next page.]

2006 to 2009

28th May 2006

The story so far...

This site originally went online on 27th August 2002. That first version just contained a selection of Buchanan’s poetry and some biographical notes. I then added the Harriett Jay biography and Archibald Stodart-Walker’s Robert Buchanan, the Poet of Modern Revolt. As I came across other Buchanan material I added it to the site and I then made the rather foolish decision to try and put all of Buchanan’s poetry online. I was happily engaged in doing that when I read The Coming Terror, and other Essays and Letters, and naturally decided that I should do the same with Buchanan’s essays. Around the same time it was suggested I try and get hold of a copy of Buchanan’s letters to Robert Browning, which had never been published and had ended up in New Zealand. Fair enough, but why not try and put all of Buchanan’s remaining letters on the site? At which point I had another look at the site and realised what a great sprawling mess it had become. So in May 2006, I redesigned the whole thing.

I added several new sections, including those for the Novels and Plays (which, I admit are looking rather sparse, but one never knows with Buchanan what may turn up - although I have made a solemn vow that I will never attempt to put his 26 novels and 52 plays online, for that way lies madness), and I also decided to have some kind of News page, if only to show that I’m still alive. However, since there is never any news about Buchanan, I thought I should just call it a Site Diary.

The column on the right shows the progress I’m making adding Buchanan’s books to the site. I’m currently working on The New Rome, Buchanan’s final book of poetry published in 1898 and Idyls and Legends of Inverburn, which was one of his first, so that should indicate the lack of any overall plan in the process. Buchanan’s books are fairly difficult to get hold of, so the order in which they appear on the site depends largely on what turns up on ebay or abebooks.com.

***

10th June 2006

Additions to the site:

Two remaining letters from Buchanan to Robert Browning (one from the Library of Congress, the other from the British Library) have been added to the Letters to Robert Browning page.

Edmund Clarence Stedman’s 1876 assessment of Robert Buchanan from Victorian Poets has been added to the Critical Writings section.

***

18th June 2006

Additions to the site:

The original version of ‘Faces on the Wall’, a sequence of 12 sonnets, published in the Saint Pauls magazine in May  1872. A revised version, omitting the sonnet to Robert Browning, was published in The Poetical Works of 1874 and all subsequent collections.

***

13th August 2006

Additions to the site:

The New Rome: Poems and Ballads of our Empire (London: Walter Scott, Ltd., 1898). Buchanan’s final volume of poetry, published three years before his death. It concludes with a Prose Note which explains the genesis of the book and reveals a little of Buchanan’s mood at the time.

“I had been taught by sharp experience that such poems were not wanted by the public, that all modern Society expected from its poets was a little verbal music and a great deal of acquiescence and patriotic sentiment. The critic clamoured for moral mannerisms and “beautiful ideas.” The middle classes wanted amiable platitudes, and the governing classes wanted to be let alone. For a verse-writer to be a thinker and a pioneer, in revolt against political and religious abominations, was regarded as an impertinence; his business was to twang the lyre or strum the banjo, leaving politics to the thieves and thinking to the philosophers.”

***

20th August 2006

Additions to the site:

Two items added to the Fleshly School Controversy section:

1. Extracts from the diary of Sir Edmund Gosse referring to Robert Buchanan and the libel case against the Examiner.

2. An article from Studies in Browning and His Circle, ‘Robert Buchanan, F. J. Furnivall, and the Browning Society: A Letter’ by Jay Jernigan, concerning Buchanan’s attempt to enlist the support of Furnivall.

*

Information on Richard Purvis (1913 -1994) added to Buchanan’s Music page.

*

‘Art in England’ by Israel Zangwill added to the Miscellanea section. This chapter from Zangwill’s Without Prejudice, takes as its starting point the first night of Buchanan’s play, The Charlatan.

*

Reviews of The Master of the Mine, A Look Round Literature and The Wedding Ring added to the Book Reviews page.

***

27th August 2006

Additions to the site:

Three films added to Buchanan’s Filmography:
Master and Man (aka The Trumpet Call) 1915
God and the Man 1918
La Donna e l’uomo 1923
(A restored version of this Italian adaptation of Woman and the Man, directed by Amleto Palermi, starring Pina Menichelli, was shown at the La Rochelle International Film Festival in 1996.)

*

As I add things to the site I occasionally come across ‘bits’ of Buchanan which I feel should be highlighted in some way. So, I’ve added a page of Buchananalia in which to store them.

***

News

A copy of Wayside Poesies: original poems of the country life, edited by Robert Buchanan (London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1867), went for £112 on ebay on 24th August. However, I don’t take this as an indication of Buchanan’s rising popularity in the world - Wayside Poesies is one of those much sought-after, illustrated editions engraved by The Brothers Dalziel.

***

17th September 2006

Additions to the site:

I’ve added a page of Additional Bibliographic Information listing various editions of Buchanan’s works.

***

1st October 2006

Additions to the site:

Idyls and Legends of Inverburn (London: Alexander Strahan, 1865).
Buchanan’s third book of poetry, written simultaneously with ‘Undertones’ but published two years later. Essentially, everyday stories of country folk, mixed with legends of gnomes and fairies. The former are perhaps too sentimental for modern tastes, but that’s not a charge to be levelled at ‘The Widow Mysie’. And among the elfin fays of the latter, you’ll find ‘The Legend of the Stepmother’, which is a lot more unsettling, in fact, downright scarier, than any poem from the pen of Poe. The collection also includes ‘Poet Andrew’, Buchanan’s poetic version of the story of David Gray.

***

29th October 2006

Additions to the site:

Books:

Reviews of: North Coast and Other Poems, The Shadow of the Sword, The New Abelard, The Coming Terror, The Outcast, The Wandering Jew, Diana’s Hunting, Lady Kilpatrick, Effie Hetherington.

Theatre:

Reviews of: The Witchfinder, Corinne, The Exiles of Erin (aka The Mormons), A Sailor and his Lass, Agnes, Sophia, A Dark Night’s Bridal, Joseph’s Sweetheart, That Doctor Cupid, The Old Home, Miss Tomboy, The Struggle for Life, The Trumpet Call, The Lights of Home, The Black Domino, The Piper of Hamelin, The Charlatan, Dick Sheridan, The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown, The Mariners of England.

Additional reviews of: A Madcap Prince, The Nine Days’ Queen, The Shadow of the Sword, Lucy Brandon, Storm- Beaten, Lady Clare, Bachelors, Alone in London, The Blue Bells of Scotland, Fascination, Partners, A Man’s Shadow, Man and the Woman, Clarissa, Theodora, The Bride of Love, Sweet Nancy, The English Rose, The Sixth Commandment, Marmion, The Gifted Lady, The White Rose, A Society Butterfly, The Romance of the Shopwalker.

Film:

Review of The Lights of Home.

Music:

Reviews of the premieres of ‘Meg Blane’, ‘The Veil’,and ‘Fra Giacomo’.

*

Buchanan’s obituary from The Times.

Further accounts of the ‘Fleshly School’ libel case.

I’ve also added a page for Alone in London which includes additional reviews of the play, plus two items concerning its London opening - a letter from the authors to The Times and an account of a court case.

***

18th November 2006

Additions to the site:

This tiny picture of Harriett Jay is courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery’s website - any larger and money would have to change hands. I spent less on an original programme of The Knight Was Bold, the 1943 musical adaptation of Harriett Jay’s greatest success, When Knights Were Bold. I admit it may be getting a little far from the primary object of this site, but the lives of Robert Buchanan and Harriett Jay were so entwined that it seems appropriate to add whatever information I can about her life after Buchanan’s death in 1901. I’ve therefore extended the page on When Knights Were Bold with reviews and other material.

*

Further details of Buchanan’s bankruptcy in 1894 have been added to the Buchanan and the Law page.

jaynpg

***

10th December 2006

Additions to the site:

Buchanan’s attack on Kipling from the Contemporary Review of 1899, ‘The Voice of the “Hooligan?”’, Sir Walter Besant’s reply, ‘Is it the Voice of the Hooligan?’ and Buchanan’s response to Besant, ‘The Ethics of Criticism’, have been added to the Essays section.

It’s difficult not to agree with Sir Walter Besant that Buchanan’s attack on Kipling was motivated primarily by envy of the latter’s popular success. Buchanan’s last book of poetry, The New Rome (1898), had not been well-received and his criticism of Kipling seems a little overwrought. It’s particularly disappointing to see him using the same arguments that were levelled at his own London Poems early in his career, and the attack on Kipling’s Stalky & Co. seems rather ridiculous. However, Besant himself, goes a little too far in his reply, and gives Buchanan a marvelous opportunity to rail against the warmongers.

***

24th March 2007

Additions to the site:

Ballad Stories of the Affections: from the Scandinavian (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1866).

This is a transcript of the cheaper (both then and now) unillustrated edition (London: Sampson Low, Son, and Marston, New York: Scribner, Welford and Co., 1869). A bit of a curiosity - Buchanan’s translations of several Scandinavian poems and folk ballads. ‘Axel and Walborg’ is the longest poem in the collection, but that should not be taken as a recommendation. My own favourites are the rather macabre ‘The Treasure-Seeker’ by Adam Oehlenschläger, and ‘The Joiner’ by Claudius Rosenhoff. There is little information (as ever) about Buchanan’s interest in Scandinavia and his reasons for learning the Danish language, but it did lead to his visit to Denmark in 1864 to report on the Schleswig-Holstein war for the Morning Star. Without learning Danish myself and seeking out the originals, I can’t comment on how much of Buchanan is in these translations. With regard to Rosenhoff’s ‘The Lead-Melting’, Buchanan seems to have had the same problem. It turns up again in his last book of poetry The New Rome in 1898, with no indication of its original source.

***

22nd April 2007

News:

The following Buchanan books are now available for download in a variety of formats (including pdf facsimiles) from the Internet Archive:

Poetry:

Complete Poetical Works. (1901)
Volume 1
Volume 2

Undertones (1865 second edition)

London Poems (1866)

Ballad Stories of the Affections: from the Scandinavian (1866 illustrated edition)

North Coast, and other poems (1868)

The Book of Orm (1870)

The City of Dream (1888)

The Outcast (1896 edition)

The Wandering Jew (1893)

The New Rome (1898)

Novels:

Foxglove Manor (1884)
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3

Essays:

David Gray and other Essays, chiefly on poetry (1868)

Master-Spirits (1873)

A Poet’s Sketch-Book. Selections from the prose writings of Robert Buchanan (1883)

The Coming Terror, and other essays and letters (1891)

Miscellaneous:

The Life and Adventures of J. J. Audubon. (1890 edition of the revised version.)

I have added links to the downloads throughout the site. These appear to have been made available towards the end of last year and I will continue to keep an eye on the Internet Archive for further additions. I had been monitoring the Google Books project for Buchanan works, but nothing has appeared there yet (whereas my only contact with the Internet Archive was downloading Radar Men From The Moon). Although it may seem a bit redundant, I will keep to my original plan and will continue to add Buchanan’s books of poetry and essays to this site.

***

6th May 2007

Additions to the site:

The Wandering Jew: a Christmas carol (London: Chatto & Windus, 1893)
[Including Buchanan’s Note to the Second Edition and Press Comments]

Harriett Jay devotes a whole chapter to The Wandering Jew in her biography of Buchanan, dealing with the controversy which followed its publication in 1893. Buchanan had actually begun work on the poem in 1866 following his father’s death and one can’t help wondering what effect it would have had on Buchanan’s reputation as a poet if the poem had appeared earlier in his career. Chapter 25 of the biography is a reminiscence by G. R. Sims of his friend and  collaborator, towards the end of which there is a passage which one presumes must refer to The Wandering Jew:

‘It was as we stood in the moonlight looking across the river to Canvey Island that he told me of a strange foreboding. He had a work on which he had been engaged for many years— it was finished, yet he feared to let it see the light. “I believe,” he said, “that whenever that poem is published it will be my last effort. I shall never do anything great again.” The poem was eventually published. The foreboding proved correct. It was the last great work that he gave to the  world.’

The first edition of The Wandering Jew sold out in a fortnight and Chatto & Windus printed a second edition which included a note by Buchanan and a four page section of ‘Press and Pulpit Opinions’ of the poem, brief extracts of reviews and sermons either praising it or noting its significance. Three years later when Buchanan had become his own publisher, The Devil’s Case had a similar four page section of reviews of The Wandering Jew, but Buchanan had added a couple of less laudatory comments. According to Marie Corelli, “There would be something inexpressibly funny in a Robert Buchanan pronouncing doom on the Christ, if it were not so revolting.” And the Birmingham Post’s opinion of The Wandering Jew was as follows:
“All this weltering mass of foul accusation is but the morbid dream of an egotistic rhymer.”

***

12th May 2007

Additions to the site:

‘A Note on Robert Buchanan’ by Lafcadio Hearn - taken from Appreciations of Poetry (Dodd, Mead and Company, New York, 1916.)

‘The Poetry of Robert Buchanan’ by T. L. Adamson from The Poetry Review (July-August, 1929.)

Two additions to the Critical Writings about Buchanan section of the site. The first, taken from a series of lectures which Lafcadio Hearn delivered to the students of Tokyo University sometime between 1896 and 1902, concentrates mainly on ‘The Ballad of Judas Iscariot’. The second is an early attempt to restore Buchanan’s reputation as a poet. I’m very grateful to ‘DJ’ for taking the time and effort to photocopy the T. L. Adamson piece at the British Library and post it to me.

***

23rd June 2007

Additions to the site:

Robert Buchanan’s letters to Roden Noel.

Nine letters and three fragments from the collection of Desmond Heath, author of Roden Noel: A Wide Angle. I’m extremely grateful to Mr. Heath for letting me see the original letters of Buchanan to his great friend, Roden Noel. Some of these letters were included in Roden Noel: A Wide Angle but others are ‘published’ here for the first time.

***

7th July 2007

Additions to the site:

Under The Microscope by Algernon Charles Swinburne
(1872 - Thomas B. Mosher edition, 1899)

Swinburne’s contribution to the ‘Fleshly School’ controversy. A devastating attack on Buchanan which concludes with the following:

“But when once we have seen the fang, though innocuous, protrude from a mouth which would fain distil poison and can only distil froth, we need no revelation to assure us that the doom of the creature is to go upon its belly and eat dust all the days of its life.”

Buchanan’s reply to Swinburne was the rather more succinct, ‘The Monkey and the Microscope’, which is included in the appendix of this 1899 reprint by Thomas B. Mosher. Buchanan’s earlier swipe at Swinburne, ‘The Session of the Poets’ (1866), and a section on Buchanan’s apology to Rossetti, also form part of this edition.

*

And continuing in the same vein, I’ve added a review from The Times Literary Supplement of Harriett Jay’s biography of Buchanan. In 1903, a mere two years after his death, Buchanan’s reputation could be summed up thus:

“His work was rarely better than second-rate in any of the many departments of intellectual industry which he attempted; his friends were not notable, nor was his own personality conspicuous. He wrote nothing that will endure, such was his fecundity and want of distinction and style.”

How I wish I’d read that five years ago before I embarked on this ridiculous enterprise.

***

28th July 2007

Additions to the site:

Three essays added to the Critical Writings about Buchanan section of the site:

‘Whitman and Buchanan’ by Harold Blodgett
From American Literature, Vol. 2, No. 2. (May, 1930).

‘Nature and the Victorian City: The Ambivalent Attitude of Robert Buchanan’ by R. A. Forsyth
From English Literary History, Vol. 36, No. 2. (June, 1969).

‘Robert Buchanan and the Dilemma of the Brave New Victorian World’ by R. A. Forsyth
From Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Vol. 9, No. 4, Nineteenth Century. (Autumn, 1969).

***

12th August 2007

Additions to the site:

The following essays have been added to the Fleshly School Controvery section of the site:

‘Robert Buchanan and the Fleshly Controversy’ by John A. Cassidy
From Publications of the Modern Language Association, Vol. 67, No. 2. (March, 1952).

‘Robert Buchanan’s Critical Principles’ by George G. Storey
From Publications of the Modern Language Association, Vol. 68, No. 5. (Dec., 1953).

*

I came across another picture of Harriett Jay on the Frankfurt University Library site, which I’ve added to the Harriett Jay Reviews page. I also found details of another film adaptation of When Knights Were Bold - a silent Italian version from 1916, Il Cavaliere Del Silenzio.

*

I’ve also added another photo of Buchanan to the Poetry page and a poster of Grace Hawthorne in Theodora to the Theatre Reviews section.

***

9th September 2007

Additions to the site:

The following essays have been added to the Critical Writings about Buchanan section of the site:

‘Robert Buchanan’ from Poets and Novelists; a series of literary studies by George Barnett Smith (Smith, Elder, & Co., London, 1875.)

‘To Mr. Robert Buchanan’ from Letters to Living Authors by John A. Steuart (Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, London, 1890.)

‘Robert Buchanan as Poet’ from The Sonnet in England, & Other Essays by James Ashcroft Noble (Elkin Mathews and John Lane, London, 1893.)

‘Robert Buchanan’ from Reticence in Literature, and Other Papers by Arthur Waugh (J. G. Wilson, London, 1915.)

*

Judas Iscariot by Paul Pilott, with a text by Philip Barker using some of the ideas and images portrayed in the Buchanan poem, has been added to the Music page. The cantata was written to commemorate the centenary celebrations of St. Mary’s Church, Alverstoke, Gosport and received its first performance there on Sunday 10th July, 2005.

***

23rd September 2007

Housekeeping:

Hopefully no one will notice but I’ve had to move the poetry section of the site to another address. I’ve been using the free webspace which came with an old Freeserve account (Freeserve were later taken over by Wanadoo then by Orange) which gives me 5 sites of 30mb each. The original Buchanan site reached its limit when I did the last update, so the logical option seemed to be to split the site. If I’ve caught all the links then everything should run smoothly.

Additions to the site:

Programme for That Doctor Cupid at the Vaudeville Theatre,
Wednesday, April 10, 1889. Not a great deal of Buchanan content but some fascinating adverts, including this one:

grenadegs

7th October 2007

News:

The following Buchanan books have been added to the Internet Archive site:

Poetry:

Poems (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1866.)

Saint Abe and His Seven Wives: a Tale of Salt Lake City (1872)

White Rose and Red: a love story (1873)

Novels:

Andromeda: an idyll of the Great River (1900)

Essays:

A Look Round Literature (1887)

***

4th November 2007

Additions to the site:

‘Is Christianity Played Out?’
The Wandering Jew Controversy.

A review of The Wandering Jew by Richard Le Gallienne in The Daily Chronicle (11th January 1893) sparked a great controversy on the subject, “Is Christianity Played Out?” Buchanan himself participated in the debate (which lasted until the end of January), sending six letters to the paper, and the controversy was made the subject of several Sunday sermons. Buchanan’s letters and a selection of the rest (some from notable figures of the day like W. Bramwell Booth) are included in this addition to the Wandering Jew pages in the Poetry section of the site. So, if you want to find out all about Mr. Buchanan’s consumptive monkey (great name for a band), click the link above.

***

25th November 2007

News:

Checking the entry for Robert Buchanan on wikipedia (which always seemed to be the entry from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica which I have on my biography page) I noticed the following alteration:

“Buchanan's first published works were books of poetry written while he was still living in Glasgow. He appears to have disowned them later in life as they fail to appear in any bibliographic references. His first book was Poems and Love Lyrics which although undated was almost certainly published in 1858. This date has been settled upon for the following reasons: 1) The author's second book Mary and other Poems is by the 'Author of Lyrics'. This book is dated 1859 and signed Robt W Buchanan in the preface; 2) The preface to 'Mary' states that this is the author's second published book; 3) The preface indicates that the writer is still a young man; 4) The dedication to Hugh Macdonald suggests he was alive when it was written. Macdonald, a well-known Glaswegian, died in 1860. Buchanan's second book Mary and other Poems was published in 1859 and has never been mentioned in any bibliographies. The book is extremely rare and the only copies appear to be in the Mitchell library in Glasgow. Buchanan also published a play Storm-beaten, or Christmas Eve at the "Old Anchor" Inn in 1862, before Undertones, which is often cited as Buchanan's first book.”

The entry was written by Bob Farquharson and apart from one minor error (Storm-beaten, or Christmas Eve at the "Old Anchor" Inn was a collection of short stories and poems written in collaboration with Charles Gibbon), seems to be correct. The dedication to Hugh Macdonald seems especially convincing since Harriett Jay devotes a couple of paragraphs to him in Chapter III of her biography and refers to him as Buchanan’s “literary godfather”. So it appears Buchanan chose to disown his first two books of poetry when he wrote the ‘My First Book’ piece for The Idler.

I have added Mary and other Poems to Robert Buchanan’s bibliography.

Additions to the site:

The Guardian put its archives online this month and I made use of the introductory offer of a free day’s pass. I also found out by accident that The New York Times had stopped charging for the older items in its archive. So far I’ve added the following to the site:

Books:

Reviews of: Idyls and Legends of Inverburn, The Land of Lorne, Saint Abe and His Seven Wives, The Shadow of the Sword, A Look Round Literature, The Wandering Jew, Lady Kilpatrick, A Marriage by Capture, Effie Hetherington, Father Anthony.

Theatre:

Reviews of: Alone in London, Sophia, The Queen of Connaught, Fascination, The Trumpet Call, The Piper of Hamelin, Lady Gladys, The Romance of the Shopwalker, The Mariners of England.

Obituaries:

The Guardian, The New York Times.

Harriett Jay:

Reviews of When Knights Were Bold.

***

30th December 2007

Additions to the site:

More items from the archives of The Guardian and The New York Times:

Books:

Reviews of: London Poems, Diana’s Hunting, Effie Hetherington, The New Rome, Andromeda.

Theatre:

Reviews of: The Shadow of the Sword, Lucy Brandon, Lady Clare, A Sailor and His Lass, Constance, Partners, Sweet Nancy, The English Rose, Squire Kate, The Charlatan, Dick Sheridan, The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown, Two Little Maids from School.

Harriett Jay:

Harriett Jay’s obituary in The Guardian.
Review of the biography from the Guardian.
Review of When Knights Were Bold.

***

24th February 2008

News:

The following Buchanan books have been added to the Internet Archive site:

Poetry:

Idyls and Legends of Inverburn (1865)

Napoleon Fallen: a lyrical drama (1871)

Selected Poems (1882)

The Devil’s Case: a bank holiday interlude (1896)

Novels:

The New Abelard (1884)
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3

The Master of the Mine (1885)
Volume 1
Volume 2

Rachel Dene: a tale of the Deepdale Mills (1894)

Essays:

The Land of Lorne: including the cruise of the ‘Tern’ to the Outer Hebrides (1871)

*

Also, Archibald Stodart-Walker’s Robert Buchanan, the Poet of Modern Revolt (1901) is now available to download in a variety for formats at the Internet Archive.

Additions to the site:

I’ve added a new page to the Plays section of the site:

Buchanan’s Theatrical Ventures in America
(Expanding on Harriett Jay’s brief description of their visit to America in 1884.)

And, after getting hold of a programme from the opening week of “Alone in London” at the Olympic Theatre in November, 1885, I’ve added some more information to the original Alone in London page. This now deals with the origins and development of the play in America, the troubled production at the Olympic Theatre in London and the play’s fortunes thereafter, and also includes scans of that original programme.

*

Trawling the archives of The Guardian and The New York Times threw up several interesting items:

A very long review of The Life and Adventures of J. J. Audubon (saves you reading the book) which does explain why the Widow Audubon took exception to Buchanan’s editing job and took his name off subsequent editions.

A brief comment about a poem of Buchanan’s in the Contemporary Review of April, 1879 raised the question of whether Buchanan was always anti-war and anti-Empire. The poem, ‘The Battle of Isandúla’, is on the Poems From Other Sources page in the Poetry section of the site (another new page which also includes ‘Alone in London’ from that Olympic programme). Thanks to Phil Johnson of Keele University Library for finding the poem for me.

And thanks are also due to David Rose of the Oscholars site, Mark Samuels Lasner of the University of Delaware Library, and Meg Sherry Rich of the Princeton University Library who helped track down Buchanan’s copy of Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol. This quest began with an item in The Guardian from 1929 regarding a sale at Sotheby’s and I’ve added the information to the account of Buchanan’s defence of Wilde.

Finally, although this is more in the nature of speculation, reading the material from The New York Times related to Harriett Jay, I came to the conclusion that this was probably why she adopted the pseudonym of ‘Charles Marlowe’ for her later collaborations with Buchanan and her own play, “When Knights Were Bold”. I have no real evidence for this, of course, but I’ve added a brief item to the Harriett Jay Reviews page.

***

15th March 2008

News:

Harriett Jay’s biography of Robert Buchanan has been added to the Internet Archive and can be downloaded in a variety of formats:

Robert Buchanan: Some Account of His Life, His Life’s Work and His Literary Friendships by Harriett Jay (1903)

I’ve taken the opportunity to replace my scans of some of the pictures from the book and I’ve also re-arranged the Harriett Jay page a little.

Additions to the site:

Arthur Symon’s assessment of Robert Buchanan from Studies in Prose and Verse (London: J. M. Dent and Company, 1904) has been added to the Critical Writings about Buchanan section.

I also came across a couple of items relating to Buchanan’s poem, “Phil Blood’s Leap”: a film version and a musical adaptation.

***

22nd March 2008

News:

The Internet Archive has now added The Piper of Hamelin: a fantastic Opera in two acts (1893) to its list of Buchanan’s works available for download. I was intending to add this to the site, since it is the closest thing to a Buchanan ‘play’ which has survived and I came across a copy quite recently, but for now the link will suffice.

The Internet Archive also provided another text which has some relevance to the Buchanan story - the footnote on David Gray from Algernon Swinburne’s Essays and Studies of 1875. This was the likely cause of Buchanan’s libel suit against The Examiner in 1876, and I’ve added a note, with the extract from Swinburne’s essay, to The Fleshly School Libel Case page.

***

20th April 2008

Additions to the site:

The Fleshly School of Poetry and Other Phenomena of the Day (London: Strahan and Company, 1872).

The pamphlet version of Buchanan’s attack on the ‘Fleshly Poets’. Not Buchanan’s finest hour, and yet it’s still worth reading - if only for the riff on ‘the Leg’ and his dismissal of John Donne (perhaps that only applies to those of us who struggled mightily with the metaphysical poets trying to discern any kind of point).

***

17th May 2008

News:

Latest additions to the Internet Archive:

The Buchanan Ballads Old and New (1892)

The Ballad of Mary the Mother: a Christmas carol (and other poems) (1897)

***

5th July 2008

Additions to the site:

Buchanan’s contribution to the My First Book feature in The Idler originally featured three more photographs of his house in Maresfield Gardens which were not included in the book version. I’ve now added these to the end of the  article.

I came across copies of The Idler on Project Gutenberg and as well as the photos mentioned above I also found an illustrated version of Buchanan’s poem, ‘The Dismal Throng’, which I’ve added to The New Rome section.

*

I’m currently working through Buchanan material from the archives of The Stage which will mean that I’ll have to split the site again for want of space. In the meantime I’ve removed the play, The Roll of the Drum, from the bibliography since it appears to be a rejected title for The Trumpet Call. In the bibliography of John A. Cassidy’s Robert W. Buchanan (New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1973) The Roll of the Drum is listed, whereas The Trumpet Call is not, but this was the only reference I’d found to that title until I came across the following in The Stage (28 May, 1891 - p.11):

“The new drama written for the Adelphi by George R. Sims and Robert Buchanan is, says The Referee, provisionally called The Roll of the Drum. This is the play that is to follow The Streets of London. It has been already read to the company, and so you may expect to hear of its being speedily placed in rehearsal.”

According to The Adelphi Theatre 1806-1900 site, The Streets of London closed the 1890-91 season on 20th June 1891 and The Trumpet Call opened the 1891-92 season on 1st August 1891. Presumably the original title was rejected to avoid confusion with the 1843 play by Thomas E. Wilks.

*

I’ve also added Buchanan’s obituary from The Stage and a review of what was probably the only performance of a short play by Buchanan called The Night Watch.

*

Thanks to the Internet Archive I came across three reviews of Buchanan’s plays by George Bernard Shaw in Dramatic Opinions and Essays - Volume Two:

A Man’s Shadow
The Romance of the Shopwalker
The Wanderer from Venus

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Finally, and thanks again to the Internet Archive, I’ve extracted the chapters relating to Buchanan from the autobiographies of George R. Sims and Henry Murray. Although they do tend to repeat the same anecdotes and ocasionally ramble off in other directions, there is still some fascinating material about Buchanan in these memoirs which I’ve added to the Biography section.

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21st August 2008

And it’s “all change” yet again. Since this site went online I’ve been using some free webspace from an old dial-up account I first had with Freeserve. Then Freeserve were taken over by Wanadoo, then Wanadoo were taken over by Orange, and a couple of weeks ago Orange decided to take down all their sites and replace them with groovy colour-co-ordinated, user-friendly sites. I know when I’m not wanted, so I packed my bags and left for pastures new. So now there’s a new address and lots of space and even more shaking of heads and pitying glances from friends and family as I’m now having to pay money for my Buchanan obsession.

One of the oddities of the Freeserve/Wanadoo/Orange site was the fact that you could have up to five sites of 30 megabytes each, so as the site grew I had to split it up between different addresses. I’d done this once with the poetry section and was in the process of doing it again with the theatre section. So, when I left Orange I had to tie everything back together - so I apologise if I’ve missed a few links here and there.

The reason for splitting off the theatre section was due to the archives of The Stage going online. This provided a lot of new reviews of Buchanan’s plays and one rather exciting (to me at least) article which revealed that what I had always believed to be Harriett Jay’s only solo effort as a playwright, When Knights Were Bold, was actually based on an 1896 collaboration with Buchanan called In Days of Old. So, although I won’t attempt to list all the new reviews from The Stage, I have extended the When Knights Were Bold section of the site.

And since I was throwing money around with gay abandon, I also threw some in the direction of one of the genealogy sites and came up with another revelation, that Harriett Jay lied about her age. At the moment I’m working on a more extensive biography of Miss Jay which should be finished in the next week or two.

Finally, since the site has moved house, I’ve archived the old diary entries on another page. So, if you want to know where it all came from click the link for the Diary Archives.

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13th September 2008

Just thought I’d mention this item which turned up on a random search. It’s a letter from an 18 year old Buchanan to William Makepeace Thackeray, sent from Scotland in February 1860. It’s being offered for sale at the moment by Ximenes Rare Books Inc. (for the princely sum of £900) so I’ve added their description, which seems to include a full transcript, to the Random Letters page.

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28th September 2008

Additions to the site:

Three poems published in Once A Week in 1862:
‘Sir Tristem’, ‘Wife And I’ and ‘Maid Avoraine’.

Photos from The Theatre of the first American production of When Knights Were Bold.

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15th October 2008

Additions to the site:

William Michael Rossetti’s account of the Fleshly School Controversy and its effect on his brother (from Dante Gabriel Rossetti: His Family-Letters) and his reaction to Harriett Jay’s account in her biography (from Some Reminiscences of William Michael Rossetti) have been added to The Fleshly School Controversy section.

Three more poems from journals (which, as far as I know, were never printed in book form):

‘Hermioné’ and ‘The Bachelor Dreams’ from The Argosy and ‘The Skein’ from the Broadway Magazine.

A short story, ‘A Roman Supper’, from The Argosy.

And an encounter with Buchanan (and family) from the autobiography of Isabella Fyvie Mayo.

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23rd November 2008

The Internet Archive has added a number of new titles relating to Robert Buchanan. The majority of these seem to have their origin at Google Books so they don’t have the usual .pdf format to download, but they appear as uncorrected text versions and in the streaming ‘Flip Book’ format. I have heard that although most of Buchanan’s works are listed on Google Books, they are only accessible from America, because of copyright problems. The new titles are as follows:

Poetry:
Balder the Beautiful
Ballads of Life, Love, and Humour
The Earthquake

Novels:

The Shadow of the Sword
God and the Man
A Child of Nature:
Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3
Annan Water: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3
Come Live with Me and Be My Love
Lady Kilpatrick
Effie Hetherington

Essays:

The Fleshly School of Poetry and Other Phenomena of the Day
The Hebrid Isles: wanderings in the Land of Lorne and the Outer Hebrides (a revised edition of The Land of  Lorne.)
On Descending into Hell: a letter addressed to the Right Hon. Henry Matthews, Q.C., Home Secretary, concerning the proposed suppression of literature

Play:

Corinne

The Internet Archive also has Poems of the Hon. Roden Noel. A selection, for which Robert Buchanan provided the introduction, and the score of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s 1902 work, ‘Meg Blane, a rhapsody of the sea.

Several of Harriett Jay’s novels have also appeared on the site:
The Dark Colleen
Madge Dunraven:
Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3
The Priest's Blessing, or Poor Patrick’s Progress from this World to a Better
Two Men and a Maid:
Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3
My Connaught Cousins: Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3
Through the Stage Door: Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3

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10th January 2009

I’ve added a Robert Buchanan timeline to the site in order to clear up some of the inconsistencies in Harriett Jay’s biography. The timeline includes links to copies of various documents including the birth certificates of both Robert Buchanan and Harriett Jay, and census returns for 1851, 1861 (the Jay household), 1891 and 1901.

Robert Buchanan Timeline

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1st February 2009

A biography of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, whose Opus 48, Meg Blane, a rhapsody of the sea, was inspired by Buchanan’s poem, was published last year. Black Mahler by Charles Elford, is available from amazon etc., and the book has its own website which gives a lot more information about Coleridge-Taylor than I had room for on my Buchanan’s Music page.

blackmahler02

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18th February 2009

Additions to the site:

Balder the Beautiful: a song of divine death (London: William Mullan and Son, 1877)

*

Several items from The Theatre.

Reviews of:
Storm-Beaten, Lady Clare, A Sailor and his Lass, Sophia, A Dark Night’s Bridal, The Blue Bells of Scotland, Fascination, Partners, Joseph’s Sweetheart, That Doctor Cupid, The Old Home, A Man’s Shadow, Theodora, Man and the Woman, Clarissa, Miss Tomboy, The Bride of Love, Sweet Nancy, The English Rose, The Struggle for Life, The Sixth Commandment, The Gifted Lady, The Trumpet Call, The White Rose, The Lights of Home, The Black Domino, The Piper of Hamelin, The Charlatan, Dick Sheridan, A Society Butterfly.

Two spoofs of Buchanan plays (still quite funny despite never having seen the originals):
Condensed Dramas:
The Black Domino, Dick Sheridan.

And a portrait of Buchanan from December 1889.

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The Charlatan (Buchanan’s novelisation of his 1894 play, written in collaboration with Henry Murray) is now available on the Internet Archive, (Volume 1, Volume 2).

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15th March 2009

Additions to the site:

Programme for Bromley Challenor’s production of When Knights Were Bold at the New Scala Theatre, 22nd December 1926.

*

Several items from the Brooklyn Eagle, including Buchanan’s obituary (combined with that of Sir Walter Besant) and reviews of:
Lady Clare, Constance, Alone in London, Fascination, Partners, “Roger la Honte”, Squire Kate and the novel, Father Anthony.

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25th March 2009

Additions to the site:

I’ve added the census returns for 1871 and 1881 to the Timeline and although I’ve been unable to find out where Robert Buchanan was in 1861, I’ve added the returns for his father and David Gray to prove he wasn’t with them.

I’ve also come across reviews of antipodean productions of Alone in London and When Knights Were Bold.

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2nd May 2009

News:

Douglas DaSilva’s ‘Song of the Slain’, a setting of the Buchanan poem for soprano and piano, was performed at Jan Hus Church, 351 East 74th Street, New York on Sunday, April 26th 2009 by Angela Scherrar (soprano) and Alexandra Frederick (piano) as part of the Vox Novus Composer’s Voice concert series. I’ve added the piece to the Buchanan’s Music page and more information about Douglas DaSilva, including samples of his other compositions, can be found on his Myspace page.

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9th May 2009

News:

I’ve just come across another comic opera written by Robert Buchanan. This one is The Maiden Queen, written with Harriett Jay, with music by Florian Pascal. It was given a copyright performance at Ladbroke Hall, London on 6th April, 1905. The libretto was published (London: Joseph Williams, Ltd., 1908.) and extracts are included in Writers, readers, and reputations: literary life in Britain, 1870-1918 by Philip J. Waller (Oxford University Press, 2006). It was presumably written around the time of the novel, The Rev. Annabel Lee: a tale of to-morrow (1898), since it is also set in the future and the Rev. Annabel Lee makes an appearance. According to Philip J. Waller, it is set in the 1970s when women have taken over the running of the country (for those who need to be reminded, Mrs. Thatcher came to power in 1979). More details are in the Other Plays section and some information on the composer, Florian Pascal is on the Buchanan’s Music page.

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22nd June 2009

Additions to the site:

I’ve finally finished reorganising the Harriett Jay section of the site. This now includes a biography, bibliography, reviews of her novels and plays, two magazine contributions (one in her own hand, the other a short story called ‘My Luggage’) and some information on the first Literary Ladies’ Dinner of 1889.

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I’ve also acquired (from Rob Wilton’s site) a programme from Tulip Time, the 1930s musical which was based on The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown by Buchanan and Jay. Cigarettes by Abdulla.

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25th June 2009

Going through the back issues of The Graphic (available free, courtesy of the British Library) I came across a mention of Buchanan in relation to a play called Lottie. This turned out to be an adaptation of Harriett Jay’s novel, Through the Stage Door, and was produced at the Novelty Theatre in November 1884, when Buchanan and Jay were in America. The play went out with no author’s name attached but was subsequently attributed to Buchanan. I have listed it in the Buchanan bibliography and added two reviews in the Theatre Reviews section of the site. Since it was an adaptation of Harriett Jay’s novel I have also assumed that she contributed to the play and have therefore listed it in her bibliography as well.

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Diary Archives - continued:  2010 to 2013

 

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