ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

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DIARY ARCHIVES (2)

 

2010 to 2013

24th February 2010

O.k. - very long time since the last update, mainly due to paying out the money and accessing the rest of the papers on the British Library site. A similar scheme in America courtesy of the Library of Congress is completely free, although, it must be said, not so easy to use. Anyway, due to the amount of new material, I ended up revamping the Plays section of the site, which took a while, and I’ve also added a Letters to the Press section. To tell the truth I’ve been adding things here and there over the last eight months that I’ve forgotten a lot of it, but among the ‘highlights’ are reviews of Buchanan’s first two books of poetry, reviews of his first Poetry Readings in Glasgow, an interview with Harriett Jay from the Omaha Daily Bee, the issue of Play Pictorial which featured When Knights Were Bold, and (my favourite) a death metal version of ‘The Ballad of Judas Iscariot’.

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31st March 2010

Additions to the site:

Selections from Mary Buchanan’s album.

The photograph album given to Buchanan’s wife, Mary by Colonel Campbell while they were living in Ireland in 1876, is part of the collection of the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. I’m very grateful to Rita S. Patteson, Director of the Armstrong Browning Library for allowing me to add a selection of these photographs to the site.

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I’m still working through newspaper clippings and have added several reviews to the Book Reviews-Poetry section.

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I haven’t checked the Internet Archive for a while so I thought I should list the following Buchanan titles which have now been added:

Poetry:
The Drama of Kings

Novels:

The Martyrdom of Madeline
Matt: A Story of a Caravan
That Winter Night: or, Love’s Victory
The Heir of Linne
Woman and the Man
Diana’s Hunting
A Marriage by Capture
Father Anthony

Short Stories:

Red and White Heather

Plays:

The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown

Miscellaneous:

Wayside Posies: original poems of the country life (edited by Buchanan).
The Life and Adventures of J. J. Audubon (the original version edited by Buchanan).

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2nd May 2010

Additions to the site:

I’ve added a few more reviews of Buchanan’s novels and essays and I also came across an article in a San Francisco newspaper from 1897 about the Maybrick Murder Case which contains two poems by Buchanan, one of which I’ve not found elsewhere, and the other a reworking of ‘The Jew Passes’.

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13th May 2010

News:

The 1936 film version of When Knights Were Bold, starring Jack Buchanan and Fay Wray, is now on DVD - although it does only seem to be available from the Turner Classic Movies site and is, consequently, a bit expensive. I also came across a poster for the Spanish version of the film on ebay.

knightspostlt

24th June 2010

Additions to the site:

Buchanan’s letters to Tennyson.

Seven letters written by Buchanan to Tennyson have survived and are held at the Tennyson Research Centre in Lincoln. They include Buchanan’s request to Tennyson for a loan of £200, which he made in June 1871, when he was living in Oban. According to The National Archives’ currency converter, £200 in 1870 would be worth just over £9,000 today. There are also two letters which relate to the ‘Fleshly School’ scandal, in which Buchanan seems to lay the blame for his exposure as the writer of the original article at the door of James Knowles, Tennyson’s friend and the editor of the Contemporary Review.

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19th July 2010

Additions to the site:

Buchanan’s letters to the Brothers Dalziel.

Four letters to the Brothers Dalziel, for whom Buchanan provided the poems for three illustrated books: Wayside Posies: Original Poems of the Country Life, Ballad Stories of the Affections: from the Scandinavian and North Coast, and Other Poems. Three of the letters were found in Edward Dalziel’s copy of North Coast, and I’m grateful to Alan Hewer for providing me with scans of the letters and allowing me to put the transcripts on the site. Alan also collects literature of the First World War and has a quite fascinating site at www.greatwardustjackets.co.uk
which is well worth a visit.

I should also like to thank Andrew Stauffer of the University of Virginia, who sent me a copy of his essay, ‘Another Cause for the “Fleshly School” Controversy: Buchanan Versus Ellis’ which was published in the Journal of Pre–Raphaelite Studies (Vol. 11 (2002): 63–67). Originally I thought this might shed some light on Buchanan’s financial difficulties relating to Tennyson’s loan of 1871, but it actually refers to an earlier debt from 1867. Four days after receiving the essay, Alan emailed to ask if I’d like to see the Dalziel letters, one of which refers directly to this debt. When coincidences occur I think they should be noted.

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14th August 2010

Additions to the site:

The Devil’s Case (London: Robert Buchanan, 1896.)

To some extent a companion piece to The Wandering Jew (1893), The Devil’s Case was published (by Buchanan himself) in February 1896, although, according to a letter to Dr. Stodart Walker quoted in the Jay biography, he had completed it a year earlier, shortly after the death of his mother, to whom it is dedicated.

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I’ve also added G. H. Lewes’ review of Idyls and Legends of Inverburn to the site. This 16 page review, in which Lewes declares (with reservations) that Robert Buchanan is a genius, appeared in The Fortnightly Review on 30th June, 1865.

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19th August 2010

Additions to the site:

Having acquired Buchanan’s letters from the National Library of Scotland, I’ve started a new section on the site:

Letters from Collections.

Eventually I hope to collect all of Buchanan’s letters together and present them in chronological order, but until then I will add things here as I acquire them. There are several interesting items in the N.L.S. collection. Two early letters shedding a little more light on Buchanan’s activities prior to his move to London. Then his letter asking Hepworth Dixon for work at the Athenæum, several letters to Professor Blackie and Dr. Stodart Walker, and yet another begging letter - this one to the Prime Minister, Lord Rosebery, following Buchanan’s bankruptcy in 1894. However the highlight of the collection is undoubtedly the letter to the father of David Gray, responding to the news that his son has died.

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3rd November 2010

Additions to the site:

Letters from America

I’ve added three letters from the Houghton Library at Harvard University and thirteen letters from the Folger Shakespeare Library of Washington to the site. The most interesting letter in the Harvard group is one to Nicholas Trübner, dated 27th February, 1880, concerning The City of Dream, a poem which was not published until eight years later. The Folger Library collection includes eight letters to the American theatre manager, Augustin Daly, and a letter to Alexander Strahan from February 1873, which confirms Buchanan’s continued use of pseudonyms, despite all the criticism of ‘Thomas Maitland’.

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El Dorado

One alter ego that Buchanan used to fool the critics for a few years was the anonymous author of poems on American subjects. I came across one of these poems, ‘By the author of “St. Abe”’, running over three issues of The Saint Paul’s Magazine: July, September and Ocober 1872. Since it was not published in the collected editions of Buchanan’s poetry, I’ve added it to the Poems from other Sources section of the site:

John Mardon, Mariner: his Strange Adventures in El Dorado.

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Buchanan’s Funeral

I must thank Lisa Hawker for sending me two cuttings from the local Southend papers concerning Buchanan’s death and funeral. There is an obituary from the Southend Standard and Essex Weekly Advertiser which is a little odd, containing several mistakes and a long extract from Buchanan’s novel, Andromeda, but also providing some fascinating information about the original grave of Buchanan’s wife, Mary. And there is a very detailed account of Robert Buchanan’s funeral from the Southend Telegraph.

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22nd December 2010

Additions to the site:

Coming to the end of another year, I thought I should mention a few odd things that I’ve added to the site. I’ve been working on the ‘Fleshly School’ section and have started a page of Press reaction to Buchanan’s essay, which includes an early review in The Examiner of 7th October, 1871, which, perhaps coincidentally, links Buchanan’s name to that of Thomas Maitland. I’ve also extended the section on the 1876 ‘Jonas Fisher’ libel case, which now includes the original review of ‘Jonas Fisher’ from The Examiner and Swinburne’s ‘Devil’s Due’ letter. I also came across a variation in the essay, ‘Criticism as One of the Fine Arts’, originally published under the pseudonym, Walter Hutcheson, in The Saint Pauls Magazine of April 1872, then reprinted in Buchanan’s Master-Spirits in 1873, with a paragraph referring to Swinburne removed, so I’ve added the original version to the site.

I’ve also added a page to the Essays section called ‘Robert Buchanan and the Magazines’ which has some reviews of Buchanan’s contributions to the literary magazines of the day, plus some adverts for his own short-lived journal, Light.

And I came across an interesting review of the Complete Poetical Works in the January, 1902 edition of The Humane Review by the Rev. A. L. Lilley, which begins:

“After nearly forty years of ceaseless literary toil, Robert Buchanan has passed away, leaving the world in a mood of pathetic perplexity as to what it ought to have made of him or even what it is to make of him now. It could not even in its dullest moods fail to realise the tempestuous and overwhelming force of the man. But it continued hesitant whether that force represented a permanent and vital power or the self-consuming throes of a fever-fit.”

Since it is more of a general assessment of Buchanan’s life than a mere book review I have added it to the Critical Writings about Buchanan section as well.

There are various other additions here and there, nothing major, but I should mention that I have added three more letters to the site. These were originally listed on the Random Letters page as being for sale on the David J. Holmes Autographs site and all I had were brief descriptions. However, this month they appeared on ebay, with photographs, so I’ve now added those to the page (I’m sure this isn’t how proper people do it). One of the letters was to the Dalziel Brothers, concerning Wayside Posies which reveals that Buchanan was paid £150 for that job.

Right, that’s it, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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9th March 2011

News:

It seems a bit late to say ‘Happy New Year’ but I’ve only just realised I haven’t updated the site since December. January was a very strange month, and February always flies by, so now it’s March, and, for perhaps the only conceivable time, there is some real news to report regarding Robert Buchanan.

Southend Council have renovated the churchyard of St. John the Baptist and at noon on Tuesday, 15th March, a new bust of Robert Buchanan will be placed on his grave. If you’ve read the page relating to the Buchanan gravesite then you’ll know that the original monument was surmounted by a bust of Buchanan, which at some time was lost. The new sculpture is by Lisa Hawker and I’m hoping to attend the unveiling and will then add some photos of the ‘new’ Buchanan to the site.

Additions to the site:

The trouble with leaving a long time between updates is that I forget what I’ve added to the site. I did try the Daily Express archive, which only runs from 1900, in case it shed some light on Harriett Jay’s career after the death of Buchanan. However, although there were several stories relating to When Knights Were Bold (including obituaries for James Welch and Bromley Challenor), there was not much else about Harriett Jay, apart from her own obituary. In fact, it was obituaries all round, since I also found Buchanan’s.

Talking of When Knights Were Bold, I came across another programme (for 99p) on ebay from the 1923 production at the Criterion Theatre, so I’ve added that to the site - interesting if you like old adverts.

I’ve added Buchanan’s reminiscence of W. E. Forster, Liberal politician and Secretary for Ireland, to the Essays section. It was published in The Pall Mall Gazette on 9th April, 1886, three days after Forster’s death. It’s not a particularly important piece, but I do like the opening paragraph - Buchanan in his Pooterish mode.

And, finally, the other day I came across John Coleman’s memoirs, Fifty Years of an Actor’s Life, which mentions his first meeting with Buchanan and Jay, and includes quite detailed descriptions of them both.

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26th March 2011

On Tuesday, 15th March, 2011, the new bronze bust of Robert Buchanan (by sculptor, Lisa Hawker) was unveiled in the churchyard of St. John the Baptist, Southend-on-Sea. I attended the ceremony, took some photographs, and have now finished updating the Buchanan gravesite page:

The Grave of Robert Buchanan

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17th April 2011

After the unveiling of the new bronze bust of Buchanan in St. John’s Churchyard, I thought I should take the opportunity to get Buchanan’s name mentioned in the papers since this seemed likely to be the only time that he could be linked to a news item. I submitted a piece to the ‘My Cultural Life’ section of The Observer, which they printed on April 3rd, and I also sent an article to the local paper here in Stoke, The Sentinel. Unfortunately The Sentinel insisted on doing an interview with me - ‘Local man makes website’ being deemed more interesting than ‘Forgotten local author honoured 110 years after his death’ - which appeared on April 9th. Both items are available on the Buchanan’s Grave page.

I’ve also been trawling newspaper archives again, and I came across an interview with Buchanan in an issue of Black and White from 27th January, 1894, which, considering my recent experience with The Sentinel, seemed a nice coincidence. Unsure where to place it, I started a new section in Miscellanea called Buchanan and the Press. At the moment, as well as a link to Buchanan’s letters to the newspapers, there is a page for interviews and one for articles about Buchanan. The former has the Black and White interview (which also contains a new photograph of Buchanan in more relaxed pose - unfortunately the quality is not too good) and the complete version of Buchanan’s interview with himself, quoted at length in the Jay biography. The latter has an article about Buchanan published in The Echo’s ‘Portrait Gallery’ on 20th October, 1890.

In June, 1891 Buchanan started writing a weekly column in The Echo under the title, ‘Latter-Day Leaves’. There were seven articles in all and I will be adding them to the Buchanan and the Press section shortly.

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28th May 2011

Between 18th June and 30th July, 1891, Buchanan wrote a weekly column for The Echo under the title ‘Latter-Day Leaves’. The seven articles, with some additional material, have been added to the Buchanan and the Press section:

Latter-Day Leaves

I’ve also found another couple of interviews, one from the New York World from 1873, and another from The Echo of 11th June 1889.

And just to keep things in perspective, I've added Maurice Lindsay's assessment of Buchanan from his History of Scottish Literature to the Critical Writings section.

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27th June 2011

I’ve found three more interviews with Buchanan, one from The Echo (17 March, 1896) about becoming his own publisher, and two from his time in America:

New York Daily Tribune (6 September, 1884)

The Buffalo Express (21 September, 1884)

Another article from The Echo (11 December, 1893) about Buchanan the Novelist is not very complimentary (understandably) but does temper the criticism with the following statement:

“It is not a pleasure to hunt for blemishes in the work of one who will be recognised hereafter as one of the chief figures in nineteenth century literature, but it has been necessary in order to account for the remarkable unevenness of Mr. Buchanan’s muse.”

And to confirm how wrong that statement was, I’ve added the brief section on Buchanan from John Hepburn Millar’s A Literary History of Scotland, published in 1903, just two years after Buchanan’s death, and very similar to Maurice Lindsay’s assessment in his History of Scottish Literature, published in 1977, indicating that Buchanan’s reputation did not diminish over the years but was pretty much non-existent to begin with.

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17th July 2011

Short Stories

I’ve expanded the page dealing with Buchanan’s short stories, adding it to the Novels section of the site. This now contains the information about the two collections, Stormbeaten: or Christmas Eve at the “Old Anchor” Inn (1862), which was a collaboration with Charles Gibbon, and Red and White Heather: North Country tales and ballads (1894), as well as several stories which I’ve come across in magazines and newspapers. A Roman Supper from The Argosy of April, 1866, has been on the site for a while but I’ve now added the following:

My Aunt’s Christmas
Illustrated Times
(21 December, 1861)

A Heart Struggle. A Tale in Two Parts
Temple Bar (December, 1861, January, 1862).

Lady Letitia’s Lilliput Hand
Temple Bar (March, April, 1862).

The Heir
The Graphic
(25 December, 1894).

Berinthia
The Manchester Weekly Times
(22 June, 1900).

An Old Reckoning
The St. Paul Globe
(4 August, 1901).

(Although it’s not a great story, My Aunt’s Christmas, has an additional interest for me since it’s set in the village of ‘Caverford’ - an obvious nod to Buchanan’s birthplace, and, since it mentions a train journey, there is a rather frail coincidental link to Borges’ The Garden of Forking Paths.)

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Adam and Eve

This was the title of an unfinished light opera mentioned in one report of Buchanan’s bankruptcy. With no other information I’d assumed it was an alternate title for The Maiden Queen - not so. I came across a description of the plot and it’s a post-apocalyptic tale - Mad Max meets The Day the Earth Stood Still - sort of.

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Buchanan the Actor

In Chapter 8 of Harriett Jay’s biography there is an amusing story of Buchanan and Charles Gibbon performing in their play, The Rath Boys. Given the amount of salt one has to ingest when reading the biography, it was nice to come across confirmation of the story in this advert from The Evening Star - the performance took place on Wednesday 18th June 1862.

rathboysacting02

Buchanan the Reader

I also came across a review of the second poetry reading Buchanan gave at the Hanover Square Rooms in March 1869 which also seems to have been a success.

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Another Buchanan

Since there’s not much in the way of multimedia on this site, here’s Jack Buchanan singing ‘Let’s Put Some People To Work’ from the 1936 film of When Knights Were Bold.

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28th July 2011

Additions to the site:

The Ballad of Mary the Mother (1897)

Buchanan’s penultimate book of poetry. A conversation between Mary Magdalene and Mary, the Mother of Jesus. No virgin birth, no resurrection, and the followers of Christ are “wild-eyed men o’ the sea”.

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Searching the British Library’s EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) I found the following PhD thesis by Christopher D. Murray:

Robert Buchanan (1841-1901) : An assessment of his career.’ Queen Mary, University of London, 1974.

(It is available from EthOS as a free download, but I thought I might as well add it to the site until someone objects.)

It’s 282 pages long and similar to John A. Cassidy’s 1973 Robert W. Buchanan in scope and intent. I wish I’d found it sooner (thanks, Geraldine!) since it does use different sources than Cassidy, including Buchanan’s letters to George Bernard Shaw and Andrew Chatto (which I haven’t got round to yet). I only downloaded it yesterday so I haven’t had time to study it closely, but one thing did jump out at me as I skimmed through it - this passage about Harriett Jay:

“... She died in 1932, leaving all her books and papers to her nephew, whose daughter, Elizabeth Jay, is now the sole survivor of the family. She knows little of Harriett or Buchanan, and nothing of the whereabouts of their library and papers (which, besides the autobiography, would have included, since Buchanan carefully kept such things, letters from such men as Browning, Tennyson, Whitman, Gladstone, Peacock, Dobell, Lewes, Reade, Shaw, Beerbohm Tree and many others). Elizabeth Jay steadfastly refuses to talk about her great-aunt or about Robert Buchanan.”

Ever since I started this site I had a (very faint) hope that one day I would be contacted by some long-lost relative of Harriett Jay who’d just come across an old trunk full of papers in the attic - it seems I can forget that now.

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27th August 2011

Additions to the site:

I’ve re-organised the Poems From Other Sources section of the site, which features those poems (mainly from magazines) which were never reprinted in book form. Most of the new poems that I’ve found are from Buchanan’s early years in London, including a series of nine ‘London Poems’ published in Temple Bar between December 1860 and February 1862. Of course, early work which Buchanan decided not to include in his later collections, might indicate a lack of quality, but there are a few gems in there. My personal favourite is ‘Hugo the Bastard’ (which Buchanan didn’t rate at all) but makes a nice companion piece to ‘Fra Giacomo’.

I also came across an early essay of Buchanan’s from the August 1862 edition of Temple Bar which I’ve added to the site:

Society’s Looking-glass

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29th October 2011

I came across another play of Buchanan’s - Angelina! - which had a number of matinée performances at the Vaudeville Theatre during the run of That Doctor Cupid. The initial adverts for the play mention the author as “W. Cooper”, but there seems to be enough circumstantial evidence to ascribe it to Buchanan. This is not of earth-shattering significance of course, Angelina! was just another Buchanan adaptation of a French play (Une Mission Délicate by Alexandre  Bisson). However, it has meant that I’ve had to change all the pages dealing with Buchanan’s plays (my fault for numbering them in the first place), so I’ve taken the opportunity to add some more reviews to several of them. I’ve also upgraded Agnes (the 1885 adaptation of Molière’s L’École des Femmes) from the Short Plays section (which now contains just the three, one-act, curtain-raisers).

I should also mention the Rudolf Blind page (which admittedly has only a slight connection to Buchanan) which, thanks to Ashley Miller, now has a further example of his work - ‘The Farewell’.

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28th November 2011

I’ve added a few more items to the Letters to the Press section, including:

Harriett Jay’s response in the New York World to the review of her legs in the New York Herald.

Three letters of Buchanan which were later reprinted in The Coming Terror. The first, from The Echo, is a spirited defence of Parnell and a condemnation of the new style of journalism which might be worth re-reading in the light of current events. The other two are Buchanan’s replies to Professor Huxley’s attack on the Salvation Army. Although these have been on the site for a while (in The Coming Terror), I’ve now placed them in context with the Huxley letters.

And Buchanan’s comments on two fascinating criminal cases of the time - the ‘Pearl Case’, and the ‘Southend Murder’ for which James Canham Read was convicted.

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And with regard to last month’s update of the Plays section of the site, I should mention that despite Harriett Jay’s letter to The Era (30 April, 1898) announcing that she and Buchanan were disassociating themselves from all future productions of The Mariners of England on the grounds that “the attempt to celebrate the achievement of a real national Hero has been construed, in some quarters, into sympathy with more ignoble manifestations of the national (or Jingo) spirit”, Buchanan’s name appeared on a cut-down version of the play which consisted of the scenes of the death of Nelson and the battle of Trafalgar, which was first performed at the Glasgow Coliseum on 29th May, 1911 and then went on to tour the country under the title, Trafalgar.

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10th March 2012

Going through the online newspaper archives again for reviews of Buchanan’s novels, I came across a serialisation in The York Herald in 1886 of a novel which was never published in book form and bore the title, A Hero In Spite Of Himself. This was the name of the play Buchanan took to America in 1884, which was rejected by Messrs. Shook and Collier, and which remained unproduced. If this was a discovery of an unpublished novel by Charles Dickens then we’d all be sat on the BBC Breakfast sofa, but, this is Buchanan, so the discovery of another bad novel is hardly earth- shattering news. However, the fact that it is a novelisation of a play which was never produced and thus was never reviewed, does add a few more pieces to the jigsaw. Though why Shook & Collier should have objected to the cowboy scenes in the play remains a mystery, they’re the best bits in the novel, which can now be read here:

A Hero In Spite Of Himself

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And I have to thank Yair Dagan who pointed me in the direction of Oscar Wilde, unearthing Wilde’s quite complimentary review of The Blue Bells of Scotland and his dismissal of Buchanan’s novel, That Winter Night as “quite unworthy of any man of letters”. Both are included in Stuart Mason’s Bibliography of Oscar Wilde (London: T. Werner Laurie Ltd. 1914) which also led me to a curious literary debate in which Buchanan leapt to the defence of Edmund Gosse, and Wilde accused Swinburne of imitating Buchanan.

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11th May 2012

Additions to the site:

I found two more short stories by Buchanan:

Miss Birchington's Love Story from the Nottinghamshire Guardian of 10th December, 1898, which is probably of no great interest, although it is set in the town of Deal, in Kent, where Buchanan and Jay lived for a while in 1900.

A Dream; and a Deduction published in The Zoophilist on 1st June, 1899, which is perhaps more interesting since it is another example of Buchanan’s ‘speculative fiction’. The subject is vivisection and it was attacked in The British Medical Journal, which prompted a letter from Buchanan, and a further comment from the B. M. J., which are available in the Letters to the Press section.

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I’ve also added a number of obituaries to the site from the following sources: The Echo, The Boston Globe, The Glasgow Herald, The Athenæum and Black and White. There’s also an article in this section from The Echo about Buchanan the playwright, which was published only three days after his death and dismisses him as “a second-rate and a quite negligible dramatist.” This contrasts strongly with another article published in The Echo in April 1901, while Buchanan was still alive but in his comatose state, which praises him as “Truly a knight of the pen if ever there was one.” There are also three more combined Besant/Buchanan obituaries from The (New York) World, The Church Weekly and the The Chicago Tribune (via The Daily Tribune of Salt Lake City).

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A couple of smaller finds:

W. B. Yeats’ review of The Wandering Jew from The Bookman (April, 1893).

And the missing verse from Buchanan’s poem about Walt Whitman, ‘Socrates in Camden’. The original version, published in The Academy (15 August, 1885), contained a verse about Herman Melville, which was omitted from the version subsequently published in The New Rome and the 1901 edition of the Complete Poetical Works. The verse and pdfs of the pages from The Academy are included in the notes to the poem in The New Rome section.

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Buchanan met Whitman during the year he was in America and most of my time since the last update has been spent trying to add a little more information to the page dealing with Buchanan and Jay’s American adventure. As well as trying to expand on the two short paragraphs which Jay devotes to the trip in her biography, I have also tried to explain the following statement reprinted in an Albany, N.Y., newspaper:
“When Robert Buchanan came to America he was the most cordially detested literary man that ever left London. When he returned he was the most cordially detested literary man that ever left New York.”

Buchanan’s Theatrical Ventures In America 1884-1885

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20th September 2012

Additions to the site:

Letters to Chatto and Windus - 1881-1899

(British Library: Add MS 52480. British Records Association Collection. Vol. VII (ff. 124). Letters, etc., of, and on behalf of, Robert Williams Buchanan, poet and novelist, to Chatto and Windus; 1881-1899, n.d. Partly printed. Most of the letters are addressed to Andrew Chatto.)

This item from the British Library contains 146 items, including 119 letters, telegrams and notes from Robert Buchanan, mainly to his publishers, Chatto & Windus. As such it is the largest single collection of Buchanan correspondence in existence. However, don’t expect great insights into the soul of Buchanan, this is more of a trip through the dark night of his wallet. The letters do reveal a lot of peripheral information to add to the Buchanan jigsaw - several new addresses, details of how much he was paid - and although it is not a perfect copy of what is held by the British Library (all explained in the introduction) I think it is a useful addition to the site.

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Because it has taken so long to sort out the Chatto & Windus letters, several other things have come along which I should also mention:

Two items, a poem and a short story, were discovered purely because they were mentioned in the Chatto & Windus correspondence:

‘A Canine Suggestion’ (from Belgravia, April 1884) is a neat reworking of Swift’s A Modest Proposal.

My Good Fairy is a short story which I found in a couple of antipodean papers.

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I also came across a couple of poems about Buchanan by the Scottish/American poet, James Kennedy. One was written after Buchanan’s death and I’ve put it on the Obituaries page. The other was written after Buchanan left America.

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Talking of America. I think I’ve finally found out when Buchanan and Jay left on their trip and which boat they sailed on. All is revealed in the Buchanan’s Theatrical Ventures in America section, and it is either very odd, or I’ve got it totally wrong.

Also in the American section I’ve put Walt Whitman’s recollection of Buchanan’s visit from Horace Traubel’s With Walt Whitman in Camden. And I should thank Beverley Rilett for pointing me in the direction of the Walt Whitman Archive where I found it.

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Thanks are also due to Ann McNamara who, way back in 2011, sent me details of where Margaret Buchanan was living at the time of the 1881 census, and Harriett Jay’s entry in the 1911 census. Finally, I’ve added the copies to the Timeline Documents. The reason for the delay is that I’ve been meaning to sort out the Buchanan Timeline for a while now (obviously since last year) but other things keep cropping up. I will get round to it soon. Also, I should add that Ann solved one thing that I never knew. Who was Pelham Walmsley, who attended Buchanan’s funeral? Given the name I’d always pictured some foppish gent. Turns out his name was really Pelham Cazyer Womersley (even better) and he was the husband of Harriett Jay’s niece, Louisa Dear.

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And a final thank you to Councillor Meredith Lawrence who sent me a postcard of Little Hetty Hornsby in the role of Little Paul in a provincial production of Alone in London around 1910.

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21st December 2012

After finishing the Chatto letters, I thought I should clear up some of the material I’d acquired earlier from various newspaper archives, so I’ve mainly been beefing up the Review section of the site. Most of this does not require any comment, but a few items did turn up which I felt should be noted here:

Two poems, not included in the Collected Works:

‘Erôs Athanatos’ (from The Gentleman’s Magazine, May, 1874.)

‘The Waxwork; or, Love and Rumour’ (from The Saint Pauls Magazine, June, 1872.)
Although this was published anonymously, it does strike me as by Buchanan, so until I find evidence to the contrary, it will remain on the site.

Two obituaries, one from The Bookman, which, after blaming the ‘Fleshly School’ business for Buchanan’s later  failures, concludes:
“After that he never recovered any real position. He wrote much—plays, criticisms, novels, verses, and obtained occasional successes. His native brilliancy and force never quite deserted him. Until very near the end there was some market for his wares. But he did nothing to redeem his early promise, and though he was ever ready for a fight, few cared to fight with him. It was not that his antagonists were afraid of him, not exactly because they despised him; it was because they pitied him.”

And one from The Academy which inevitably compares Buchanan with Sir Walter Besant, and concludes:
“Neither by his writings nor in his practical literary life did Sir Walter Besant add to the romance of letters; but he was in harmony with his age in bringing commercial common sense to bear on the literary life, and in seeking to widen the portals which lead to it. All his own work was sound, and nearly all of it had a high market value; and this gave him authority with younger writers, to whom his genuine kindliness and optimist views were a great encouragement. His death leaves a gap in the organised literary life of London which will not soon be filled, or filled so worthily. No such gap is created by the death of Robert Buchanan; but in the world of ideas, and in the literature of sincere but vexed spirits, his vacant place is very noticeable.”

A set of photographs from the original production of Joseph’ Sweetheart.

A poster for That Doctor Cupid.

A copy of a page from the manuscript of Clarissa, published in The Strand Magazine.

And finally, perhaps the most interesting item. The 1936 film version of Charles Marlowe’s play, When Knights Were Bold, starring Jack Buchanan and Fay Wray, is now available online. I wish I could acclaim it as a lost classic of British cinema, but it’s not. Going by the reviews of the play, a lot of the plot and several of the characters have been jettisoned, but (if you can make it that far) the mediaeval sequence is still fairly amusing. The film is available to stream or download from the Free Classic Movies site:

When Knights Were Bold (1936)

More information about the film is available in the When Knights Were Bold section of this site.

knightsfilm202

19th January 2013

Additions to the Site:

The Outcast (1891).

***

7th May 2013

Additions to the Site:

The City of Dream (1888)

The Moment After (1887 newspaper serial version)

‘The Newest Thing in Journalism’

A poem, a novel and an essay:

The City of Dream is part of the ongoing process of trying to put all of Buchanan’s poetry on this site.

The Moment After has always intrigued me and is one of the few Buchanan novels unavailable at the Internet Archive. This is the version (more novella than novel), published in The York Herald in January, 1887.

‘The Newest Thing in Journalism’ was published, anonymously, in the September, 1877 issue of The Contemporary Review and was an attack on the ‘society journals’ of the time. With all the recent fuss surrounding the Leveson Inquiry, it’s odd to read Buchanan’s description of these forerunners of the British tabloid press, all that’s missing is the Page 3 girls, everything else - the kowtowing to royalty, the obsessive interest in celebrities, the search for scandal, the denigration of the working class - seems to be covered in Buchanan’s attack in his original article, and the note at the end of his second article, ‘Fashionable Farces’, which appeared in the November, 1877 issue of The Contemporary Review.

‘The Newest Thing in Journalism’ provoked the response from Edmund Yates in The World on 26th September, 1877: ‘A Scrofulous Scotch Poet’. Although I haven’t seen the original, I did come across a reprint of Yates’ article in a New Zealand paper, which is now available in this section.

*

The process of adding material I’ve gathered from online newspaper archives continues and has led to some changes on the site. The old ‘Magazines’ page has now become Robert Buchanan and the Magazines. I’ve also added three poems to the ‘Other Poems’ section:
‘A Blind Man’s Love’, ‘The Last Poet’ and ‘The God-like Love’. Other additions are mainly minor, although I did like this (from a Tasmanian (?!?) paper):

‘In “Theodora,” which is now going the rounds of the English provinces, a tame lioness plays a prominent part, and recently while performing at Sheffield her ladyship gave birth to a beautiful pair of cubs which were named respectively “Theodora, Empress of Sheffield,” and “Robert Buchanan, the poet laureate of all the lions of England.”’

I did come across one item which led to changes in the Buchanan bibliography. One of Buchanan’s more obscure novels is The Wedding Ring, which was published in America in 1891. The novel is not available online and I had only found one review. However, The Wedding Ring was serialised in provincial newspapers in Britain, or at least The Bristol Mercury from January 10th to March 28th, 1891. Reading the serial, it was immediately obvious that The Wedding Ring is actually an earlier version of Woman and the Man, published by Chatto & Windus in 1893. The serial version is available on the Novels page and the Bibliography has been amended accordingly.

*

Finally, I have to thank Cees Schumacher for sending details of the 1923 Norwegian performance of When Knights Were Bold at the National Theatret, Oslo (under the title, Blandt bolde riddere) with incidental music by Johan Halvorsen.

_____

 

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