ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

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BUCHANAN AND THE LAW (5)

 

Robert Buchanan’s Bankruptcy

 

Robert Buchanan was declared bankrupt in 1894. More information about the immediate cause, the production of A Society Butterfly, can be found in Henry Murray’s A Stepson of Fortune and the reviews of the play.

In addition. an intriguing item mentioned in Buchanan’s bankruptcy hearings is dealt with on the following page:

‘The World’s Desire’ by Rudolf Blind

And I’ve also added a page dealing with the bankruptcy of Buchanan’s father in Glasgow, in 1860, since there are similarities between the two cases - not least the criticism of Buchanan Snr.’s taste for champagne and his son’s castigation for gambling:

The Bankruptcy of Robert Buchanan Snr.

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From Chapter XXIV of Robert Buchanan by Harriett Jay:

“By this time he was not only far off independence, but heavily in debt. His last stake was a comedy of which he was part author, and for which he engaged the famous Mrs. Langtry, then anxious to return to the stage. Having secured a small financial backing, quite inadequate as the issue proved, he took the Opera Comique, and produced there in June, 1894, the “Society Butterfly,” with Mrs. Langtry in the chief female part, and such excellent artistes as Mr. Fred Kerr and the late Miss Rose Leclercq to support the leading lady. All would have gone very well, but for one unfortunate  contretemps. The fate of the play absolutely depended on a certain dance to be performed by the leading actress at the end of the third act, but at the last moment Mrs. Langtry was unable to do the dance, and some ineffective tableaux vivants had to be substituted in a hurry. These tableaux provoked a stormy reception and led to very adverse criticisms in the Press. The play, however, ran for some weeks to very fair business, and was actually promising to develop into a popular success when the managerial exchequer was found to be empty. At that moment a creditor served Mr. Buchanan with a petition in bankruptcy. His house of cards collapsed, and a few months later he was standing in the bankruptcy court, a practically ruined man.”

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The Derby Daily Telegraph (12 June, 1894 - p.3)

FAILURE OF ROBERT BUCHANAN.

     At the London Bankruptcy Court to-day a receiving order was made against Robert Buchanan, author, of Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead. The act of bankruptcy alleged is non-compliance with the requirements of a bankruptcy notice. No particulars transpired.

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The Standard (13 June, 1894 - p.2)

COURT OF BANKRUPTCY.

. . .

(Before Mr. Registrar GIFFARD.)

     RE R. BUCHANAN.—Upon the application of Messrs. Sherman and Rayner, the Registrar made a receiving order under a petition presented against Mr. Robert Buchanan, described as of Maresfield-gardens, South Hampstead, author. No particulars were given.

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Pall Mall Gazette (14 June, 1894 - p.7)

THE BANKRUPTCY OF MR. ROBERT BUCHANAN.
NO ASSETS EXCEPT SOME COPYRIGHTS.

     Under the failure of Mr. Robert Buchanan, author and playwright, which took place on Tuesday, it appears that the liabilities are between £14,000 and £15,000, part of which is secured. He states that he has a lease of 25, Maresfield-gardens, of which there is two years to run, the rent being £195 per annum, and that the landlord is in possession for £97.10s. There is also £52 due for Queen’s taxes. The furniture (£100), he states, was his, and was assigned to trustees about four years ago in trust for his wife’s sister, Miss Harriet Jay; that he has no assets except some copyrights, and no cash in hand, and the bank account is overdrawn. Messrs. Shearman & Rayner are the solicitors to the proceedings.

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The Times (15 June, 1894 - p.14)

     THE AFFAIRS OF MR ROBERT BUCHANAN.—A receiving order having been made on the 12th inst. against Mr. Robert Buchanan, described as an author, and residing in Maresfield-gardens, South Hampstead, the debtor has since attended the Court for preliminary examination, and has given some details with reference to the position of his affairs. He estimates his liabilities at from £14,000 to £15,000. His residence is rented at £195 per year, and in consequence of the payments having fallen into arrear the landlord has entered into possession. The furniture had been assigned, and the debtor states that he has no available assets except some copyrights, his banking account being overdrawn. The receiving order was granted upon the petition of a judgment creditor.

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The Yorkshire Herald (15 June, 1894 - p.4)

     Considerable curiosity is expressed both in literary and dramatic circles as to the causes of the failure of Mr. Robert Buchanan. Both as a novelist and dramatist, Mr. Buchanan has earned large sums of money, and it was thought that he was quite a wealthy man. He lives in a beautiful house in South Hampstead, which is furnished in the most artistic style.

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The Aberdeen Journal (15 June, 1894 - p.5)

THE FAILURE OF MR ROBERT BUCHANAN.

LIABILITIES, £14,000; ASSETS, NIL.

     The accounts under the failure of Mr Robert Buchanan, the well-known author, show that the liabilities are over £14,000. The debtor states that his landlord is in possession for rent due, and he has no assets except some copyrights, no cash in hand, and that his account at the bank is overdrawn.

     The appearance of Mr Robert Buchanan’s name in the Bankruptcy Court will probably surprise most people, though it has been known for some time that his affairs were embarrassed. For many years Mr Buchanan made a large income by his writings—particularly by his dramatic writings—and it was thought he was drawing continuously a considerable sum in royalties. It is understood, however, that he has sold outright the most of his plays, so that he receives little from that source. Mr Buchanan has £200 a year from the Civil List.

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The Dundee Evening Telegraph (15 June, 1894 - p.2)

MR ROBERT BUCHANAN.

     The appearance of Mr Robert Buchanan in the Bankruptcy Court comes upon most people as a surprise. A story is now being told that in response to inquiries as to how he came into debt Mr Buchanan responded that “a man must have a living wage.” It was s shrewd stroke of humour by a man who understands the time in which he lives. Mr Buchanan is a man who has had many ups and downs. He must have made a good deal of money at one time or another, but, as the proverb says, making is not the same as keeping. There are many who believe that if Mr Buchanan had gone on as he began there would now be no question about the Poet Laureateship. But all the great poets, you will notice, if you make the necessary mental reference, have been poets before and above everything. They have only written poetry—very occasionally anything else at least—and Mr Buchanan has written everything—poems, plays, novels, volumes of description, newspaper and magazine articles, and pretty nearly whatever tempted him. Twenty to thirty years ago there was

A REMARKABLE CIRCLE OF YOUNG SCOTSMEN

in London—all of them friends, all of them working together in a way, and all having a separate ambition. One had determined to be a great novelist, another a great poet, a third a great physician, riding in his carriage, and a fourth a great anything that offered. This last was considered to be the most brilliant of the set, but he did nothing in particular, and died early. The aspiring physician arrived at his carriage and also died. The young Scotsman who proposed to be an editor was driven into novel writing, and became known to the world as Charles Gibbon. He, too, is dead. The surviving members of the little circle are William Black and Robert Buchanan.

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The Era (16 June, 1894 - p.10)

Mr. Buchanan’s Bankruptcy.

     In the Bankruptcy Court, on Tuesday, before Mr Registrar Giffard, the registrar made a receiving order under a petition presented against Mr Robert Buchanan, described as of Maresfield-gardens, South Hampstead, author. It appears that the liabilities are between £14,000 and £15,000, part of which is secured. The debtor states that he has a lease of 25, Maresfield-gardens, of which there are two years to run, the rent being £195 per annum, but that the landlord is now in possession for £97 10s. There is also £52 due for Queen’s taxes. The furniture, valued at £100, belonged to the debtor, but was assigned to trustees about four years ago in trust for his wife’s sister. The debtor adds that he has no assets except some copyrights and no cash in hand, the bank account being overdrawn.

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The Aberdeen Journal (16 June, 1894 - p.4)

     FOR the recent extraordinary asperities of Mr Robert Buchanan’s tongue and pen there is now sufficient explanation by his appearance in the Bankruptcy Court. The Bohemian Bob has always been distinguished for his eccentricities — perhaps of late years more for these than for products of genius — but within the last few months he has out-Buchananed Buchanan. He has transformed himself into a literary Ishmael, whose hand is against every man, with the inevitable consequence that every man’s hand is against him. The quarrel with Clement Scott is not a solitary instance. One of the latest and worst acts of his Philistinism is burlesquing the revered dead. This is done in “A Highland Pass,” the principal story in a collection of north country tales and ballads from his pen. In this story he stoops to write a satirical sketch of Alexander Smith. The deceased poet figures as “Walter Syme,” pattern designer, Paisley, but the references are so thinly disguised, and the leading incidents of the poet’s life so closely followed, that identification is all too easy. Making “Walter Syme” Registrar of the University of Aberdeen instead of Alexander Smith actually occupying a similar post in Edinburgh is pretty transparent transplanting. References in the very worst taste to Smith’s wife and her relatives in the Highlands are perfectly inexcusable. It ill becomes Robert Buchanan to do this sort of thing. No one denies his claim to talent. His “God and the Man” and “The Shadow of the Sword” are vastly superior to the ordinary run of novel. But he is not in the same boat with Alexander Smith. He is scarcely worthy of the honour of being allowed to place a flower on the poet’s grave; and therefore he should never have attempted to plant upon it stinging thistles and undergrowth. For purity of diction and sublimity of thought alone the author of “Dreamthorp” and “City Poems” far outstrips his critic. Let the latter remember, and be humble, what Byron said of the Edinburgh reviewers—

A man must serve his time to every trade
Save censure—critics all are ready-made.

In the same work Buchanan satirises the late George Gilfillan as Professor Glenfinlas, mentioning some failings and foibles of that worthy old man. As if not satisfied, he also tilts at Carlyle as “Thomas Ercildoune.” Only two things could account for such wretched conduct—either colic or creditors. It turns out to be the latter.

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The Entr’acte (23 June, 1894 - p.5)

     Mr. Robert Buchanan is a poet, a novelist, a dramatist, and an excellent all-round writer; but just now he is seeking that coat of whitewash which has been instituted more for the benefit of debtors, perhaps, than for creditors. Well, I wish him a happy issue out of all his financial troubles. Robert is a literary man; but he is not a dunce as a man of the world, as may be gleaned by scanning the details of his liabilities.

     By the way, I don’t see his debt to Mr. Clement Scott mentioned in the schedule.

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Aberdeen Weekly Journal (27 June, 1894)

     Scots living in London say that Robert Buchanan is not treated fairly by the English press. Whenever he lays himself open to criticism for something said or done, as is the case once in a while, the papers speak of him as a cantankerous Scotsman. But whenever he does anything that is worthy of praise he is spoken of as “the brilliant English writer.”

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The Kokomo Tribune (Indiana) (28 June, 1894 - p.4)

ROBERT BUCHANAN A BANKRUPT.
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His Books Have Been Successful, but His
Plays Were Uniformly Unprofitable.

     Bankrupt authors are no novelty in London, but when a mau like Robert Buchanan, who has been for 30 years a popular poet, for 15 years a successful novelist and for 10 years a professional playwright, becomes insolvent it causes special wonder. Mr. Buchanan is an unusually gifted man, and his literary work, which has been prodigious in volume and uniformly good in quality, has been quite profitable.

kokomopic

     His plays, however, have been less successful, and his recent appearance in the bankruptcy court is probably due to ill considered dallying with the drama. Our London dispatches attribute it partly to the failure of the play “A Social Butterfly,” which he wrote in collaboration with David Christie Murray, and which was lately produced at the London Opera Comique with Mrs. Langtry in the leading part. The critics were very severe on the production, and Mr. Buchanan, in turn, was very severe on the critics, but the public would not accept the play.
     Mr. Buchanan has turned out a large number of plays during the past 10 years, and most of them have been failures, partial or complete. He has scored a few successes, however, notably “Alone In London,” a melodrama well known in this country, and “Sophia,” a play founded on Fielding’s “Tom Jones,” which ran for several hundred nights at the Vaudeville.
     Robert William Buchanan was born in Staffordshire, England, in August, 1841. His father was first a socialist missionary and afterward proprietor of a newspaper iu Glasgow. Robert was educated at the high school of Glasgow and Glasgow university and in his father’s newspaper office. In 1861 he went to London and secured employment on the newspapers, and his pen has been busy ever since. His first volume of poems, “Undertones,” appeared in 1860 and was followed by others in rapid succession, which soon established his reputation as “one of the minor choristers of Victorian song.” His first novel, “The Shadow of the Sword,” appeared iu 1876, and the list of stories which followed it is too long to here enumerate.
     It is safe to predict that Mr. Buchanan's financial difficulties will not interrupt his literary activity, for his pen is as versatile and his mind as vigorous as ever, and his is a spirit that cannot be conquered by adversity.

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Pall Mall Gazette (30 June, 1894 - p.4)

     As a curious instance of how a tale often gets perverted in the repeated telling, may be quoted the following paragraph from the Börsen-Courier, of Berlin:—“Robert Buchanan, the famous English writer of farces, (Schwankdichter), has gone bankrupt. His liabilities amount to 300,000 marks, his only assets being some comedy ideas.”

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The Omaha Daily Bee (1 July, 1894 - p.4)

With Libel Suits, Bankruptcy Proceedings
and a Damage Suit against Langtry,
Playwright Buchanan is Having
a Lively Time.
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(Copyrighted, 1894, by the Associated Press.)

     LONDON, June 30.—

. . .

ROBERT BUCHANAN’S TROUBLES.

     It would be a graceful act on the part of the anti-gambling league to grant Mr. Robert Buchanan, in his present perilous state, a substantial annuity for having so thoroughly exemplified their contentions. His bankruptcy to the tune of some £57,000 was mainly the result of turf transactions. He caught the gambling fever, it appears, at the time he was writing a melodrama in collaboration with George R. Sims, and after heavy losses became more and more deeply involved. In a short time Mr. Buchanan will be revelling in the law courts. Besides this cross action with Clement Scott and the libel action he is bringing against the “Sketch” on account of a criticism of “A Society Butterfly,” it is said that he intends to institute proceedings against Mrs. Langtry for breach of contract. The season at the Opera Comique has in fact been most eventful from the outset. Some unpleasantness was caused at the very beginning by Mrs. Langtry’s failure to perform a certain dance which she considered unsuitable for her. Matters have now reached a climax and Mrs. Langtry is no longer in the cast. The reason of her withdrawal is said to be that she received a check which differed from Caesar’s wife in its essential property. She recently went to the management informing them that if this were not remedied by 4 o’clock on the following day she would not appear at the theater. The protest was disregarded and she fulfilled her threat. Before the play commenced the manager came before the curtain and announced without further explanation that he had just heard from Mrs. Langtry; that she declined to fulfill her engagement.
     This is one account of the affair—it remains to be seen what Mr. Buchanan’s version of the circumstances will be. Meanwhile Mrs. Langtry has placed herself in the hands of Sir George Lewis. It has been repeatedly announced that she proposed to visit America in the autumn. This is not the case, but she may possibly enter the management of a London theater.

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The Times (6 July, 1894 - p.3)

(Before MR. E. LEADHAM HOUGH, Official Receiver.)
IN RE BUCHANAN.

     This was the first statutory meeting held under a receiving order recently granted against Mr. Robert Buchanan, the well-known author and theatrical manager. From the preliminary examination of the debtor it appears that he resides in Maresfield-gardens, South Hampstead, and during the last 15 years he has written several books and plays, and has also acted as manager of theatres in London and also in America. In June 1890 he produced two plays written by himself, the Bride of Love and Nancy, first at the Lyric Theatre, and subsequently at the Royalty, but they did not prove successful, and he incurred losses and liabilities to the amount of about £5,000 in respect of them. He subsequently entered into contracts for the production of other plays. The debtor states that his income has averaged about £1,500 per year, derived from royalties and from general literary work, and that his expenditure has amounted to about the same sum. About 20 years since a Civil Service pension of £100 was granted to him by Mr. Gladstone in recognition of his merits as an author. He believes that he effected a private arrangement with his creditors about ten years ago, paying them a composition of 10s. in the pound. The debtor ascribes his present insolvency to losses and liabilities incurred in connexion with theatrical speculations, to heavy payments of interest on borrowed money, and to the non-production in America of the play Dick Sheridan, and to damaging newspaper attacks on his dramatic works, also to losses by betting.
     Several proofs having been dealt with, including one for £805 supported by Mr. J. A. Bartram (solicitor) on behalf of Mr. G. R. Sims, and which was admitted for voting purposes for £782,
     The OFFICIAL RECEIVER said that a statement of affairs had been rendered, but it was in a very incomplete and imperfect form. The figures showed unsecured liabilities £5,980, in addition to Messrs. Chatto and Windus, who were treated as fully secured for £120. The debts of partly-secured creditors amounted to £8,750, and, as the debtor could not estimate the value of the securities, the whole sum was treated as likely to rank. There appeared to be practically no assets except bad debts, and for some time past there had been a deficiency, which was attributed to losses by bad debts and to other causes. The debtor had submitted a proposal to set aside one-third of his future income for the benefit of the creditors until they should be paid in full, but the Official Receiver pointed out that no security was provided for payment of the minimum statutory composition of 7s. 6d. in the pound.
     Some discussion followed, in the course of which the debtor said it was very difficult for a man who lived by his wits to find security for a composition. An endeavour was then made to pass a resolution for bankruptcy, but without  success, and the proceedings resulted eventually in an adjournment for three weeks to enable the debtor to formulate a proposal with security, his statement of affairs to be amended in the meantime.

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The Standard (6 July, 1894 - p.2)

(Before Mr. E. HOUGH, Official Receiver.)
THE FAILURE OF AN AUTHOR.

     RE R. BUCHANAN.—The first statutory meeting was held under the failure of Mr. Robert Buchanan, the well-known author and playwright and theatrical manager. Mr. Bartrum, representing Mr. G. R. Sims, lodged a proof for 805l., which was admitted for voting purposes for 782l.—The Chairman said that a statement of affairs had been filed showing unsecured liabilities 5980l., in addition to Messrs. Chatto and Windus, who were treated as fully secured for 120l. The debts of partly-secured creditors amounted to 8750l., and as the debtor could not estimate the value of the securities, the whole amount was treated as expected to rank. There appeared to be practically no assets except bad debts, and for some time past there had been a deficiency, which was attributed to losses by bad debts and in royalties, and to household and personal expenses. The debtor had submitted a proposal to set aside one-third of his income for the benefit of his creditors until they should be paid in full, but security was not provided for payment of the minimum statutory composition of 7s.6d. in the pound. It appeared that the debtor had previously failed, about 25 years ago, when a composition of 10s. in the pound was paid.—The debtor said that it was very difficult for a man who lived by his wits to find security for a composition; but eventually the meeting was adjourned for three weeks to enable him to bring forward a proposal, with security, which was likely to be accepted by the creditors and approved by the Court. The debtor stated that he resides at Maresfield-gardens, South Hampstead, and during the last 15 years he had written various books and plays, and had also acted as manager of theatres in London and America. He estimated that his income had averaged 1500l. a year, derived from royalties and general literary work, and he had expended about the same amount. About 20 years ago a Civil Service pension of 100l. was granted to him by Mr. Gladstone in recognition of his merits as an author. He attributed his insolvency to losses and liabilities in connection with theatrical speculations, to heavy interest on borrowed money, to the non-production in America of Dick Sheridan, and to damaging newspaper attacks on his dramatic work, also to losses by betting.

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Aberdeen Evening Express (6 July, 1894 - p.2)

THE AFFAIRS OF MR ROBERT BUCHANAN.
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     Very few creditors in person attended the meeting at the London Bankruptcy Court yesterday to consider any proposal that the debtor might make to settle his affairs. Eleven proofs for £805 were put in. Some discussion arose upon the proof of Mr G. R. Sims, which had been tendered for £805. The Chairman pointed out that the debtor had only returned Mr Sims as a creditor for £350. Mr C. A. Bartrum said that at the private meeting he stated his client’s debt was £850, and for that amount he had proved. The Chairman—Mr Buchanan, do you know how much you owe Mr Sims? No, I do not, sir. Mr Bartrum said that one of the bills was that of Mr Sims, which the debtor had not taken up. The proof was admitted for £782. The chairman stated that the accounts had been filed; but that they were defective. They showed unsecured debts £5980. There was one fully secured creditor, Messrs Chatto & Windus, £120, secured upon the novel, “Rachel Deane.” Then there were creditors partly secured £8750, and the debtor stated that he was unable to place a value upon the securities held. There were charges held upon “Light of Home,” “The Pied Piper,” “Lady Gladys,” and “A Woman’s World.” Creditors also held charges upon “Dick Sheridan,” and a Mr Moore held a charge upon “A Society Butterfly,” in the shape of a one-eighth share of the profits. There were no assets, except some bad book debts £564. The deficiency account showed £1229 household expenditure, but over what period did not appear. He had stated that he had lost £1000 in connection with the American rights of “Dick Sheridan” and £600 over “A Society Butterfly.” The debtor had proposed a scheme to set aside one-third of his net earnings until the creditors had been paid in full, payable half-yearly. There were difficulties in the way of the scheme being confirmed by the Court. First of all there were the statutory difficulties of assets not equal to 10s in the £, and a previous failure many years ago; but in addition to that there was no security for 7s 6d in the £. Some discussion ensued upon this, Mr Bartrum pointing out that an adjudication of bankruptcy would absolutely deprive the creditors of any chance of a dividend. On behalf of the debtor it was stated that if an adjournment was granted the scheme would be amended, and an endeavour would be made to get it secured up to 7s 6d in the £. This was put to the vote and carried, and an adjournment for three weeks was agreed to.

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The Era (7 July, 1894 - p.10)

MR. ROBERT BUCHANAN’S BANKRUPTCY.
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     In the bankruptcy Court on Thursday, before Mr E. Leadham Hough, Official Receiver, the first statutory meeting was held under a receiving order recently granted against Mr Robert Buchanan. From the preliminary examination of the debtor it appears that he resides in Maresfield-gardens, South Hampstead, and during the last fifteen years he has written several books and plays, and has also acted as manager of theatres in London and also in America. In June, 1890, he produced two plays written by himself, The Bride of Love and Nancy, first at the Lyric Theatre, and subsequently at the Royalty, but they did not prove successful, and he incurred losses and liabilities to the amount of about £5,000 in respect of them. He subsequently entered into contracts for the production of other plays. The debtor states that his income has averaged about £1,500 per year, derived from royalties and from general literary work, and that his expenditure has amounted to about the same sum. About twenty years since a Civil Service pension of £100 was granted to him by Mr Gladstone in recognition of his merits as an author. He believes that he effected a private arrangement with his creditors about ten years ago, paying them a composition of 10s. in the pound. The debtor ascribed his present insolvency to losses and liabilities incurred in connection with theatrical speculations, to heavy payments of interest on borrowed money, and to the non-production in America of the play Dick Sheridan, and to damaging newspaper attacks on his dramatic works, also to losses by betting.
     Several proofs having been dealt with, including one for £805 supported by Mr J. A. Bartram (solicitor) on behalf of Mr G. R. Sims, and which was admitted for voting purposes for £782,
     The Official Receiver said that a statement of affairs had been rendered, but it was in a very incomplete and imperfect form. The figures showed unsecured liabilities £5,980, in addition to Messrs Chatto and Windus, who were treated as fully secured for £120. The debts of partly secured creditors amounted to £8,750, and, as the debtor could not estimate the value of the securities, the whole sum was treated as likely to rank. There appeared to be practically no assets except bad debts, and for some time past there had been a deficiency, which was attributed to losses by bad debts and to other causes. The debtor had submitted a proposal to set aside one-third of his future income for the benefit of the creditors until they should be paid in full, but the Official Receiver pointed out that no security was provided for payment of the minimum statutory composition of 7s. 6d. in the pound.
     Some discussion followed, in the course of which the debtor said it was very difficult for a man who lived by his wits to find security for a composition. An endeavour was then made to pass a resolution for bankruptcy, but without success, and the proceedings resulted eventually in an adjournment for three weeks to enable the debtor to formulate a proposal with security, his statement of affairs to be amended in the meantime.

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The Edinburgh Evening News (10 July, 1894 - p.2)

     I hear that Mr Robert Buchanan feels himself rather aggrieved about the conspicuous attention which his bankruptcy has received. It must be rather awkward for Mr Buchanan if he is aware, as I have learned, that there is a very strong feeling in literary circles that Civil List pensions of £100 were never intended to be held by authors with such a large income as Mr Buchanan has been making.

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The Dundee Evening Telegraph (11 July, 1894 - p.2)

ROBERT BUCHANAN’S “MORAL PHILOSOPHY.”

     Far be it from me, says Truth, to hit a man when he is down, but I have been so long accustomed to regard Mr Robert Buchanan as, besides being an eminent dramatist, one of our leading contemporary lights in religious social ethics and moral philosophy that I hope I may be allowed without offence to allude to the shock it gave me to read the report of the proceedings in connection with his bankruptcy. It may happen to the best of us to get into difficulties; it may even be the fate of a good man after having paid 10s in the £1 to find himself in difficulties once more 25 years later; but what of a newspaper prophet accustomed to preach to the public from the loftiest moral elevation in the Telegraph and the Chronicle, who, after making for years £1500 a year, besides drawing a pension of £100, finds that he has spent every penny and got into debt to the tune of over £14,000, and has to admit that this state of things is due, not merely to bad theatrical speculations and “damaging newspaper attacks on his dramatic work,” but also horresco referens, to “loses by betting.” Poor prophet!

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The Standard (19 July, 1894 - p.2)

COURT OF BANKRUPTCY,
(Before Mr. Registrar GIFFARD.)
THEATRICAL SPECULATIONS.

     RE R. BUCHANAN.—This was a sitting for the public examination of Mr. Robert Buchanan, the well-known author and playwright and theatrical manager.—The Debtor furnished an amended statement of affairs, showing liabilities to the amount of 15,672l. and no available assets. He attributed his insolvency to losses and liabilities in connection with theatrical speculations, to heavy interest on borrowed money, to the non-production in America of Dick Sheridan, and to damaging newspaper articles on his dramatic work. The deficiency account shows an excess of liabilities over assets on June 12, 1893, of 13,843l.; losses by bad debts, 564l.; and a loss of 600l. at the Opera Comique on the play the Society Butterfly.—The Assistant Receiver (Mr. Chapman) said that an adjournment was necessary, as the first meeting of creditors was not yet concluded. The Debtor was stated to be unwell, and unable to attend on the present occasion. —Adjourned accordingly to August 8.

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The New York Times (19 July, 1894)

Robert Buchanan’s Debts.

     LONDON, July 18.—The amended statement of the author and playwright, Robert Buchanan, was presented to the Bankruptcy Court to-day. The statement shows the liabilities of Mr. Buchanan to be £15,672 and says that there are no available assets. Mr. Buchanan was unable to appear in court owing to illness.

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The Dundee Evening Telegraph (20 July, 1894 - p.2)

     Mr Robert Buchanan’s case in bankruptcy affords a new reading of the old proverb that curses, like chickens, come home to roost. No one has flourished with greater zest the critic’s “scalping knife,” and now he is obliged to confess that his heavy losses (£15,672 and no assets) are largely due to “damaging newspaper articles on his dramatic work.”

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The Era (21 July, 1894 - p.8)

     IN the Bankruptcy Court, on Wednesday, before Mr Registrar Giffard, took place the public examination of Mr Robert Buchanan. The first meeting was recently adjourned to enable the debtor to try and find security for 7s. 6d. in the pound. Upon the case being called, Mr Chapman, the assistant receiver, stated that the debtor had sent a letter setting out that he was too ill to attend for examination, and he had been requested to send a medical certificate. However, the case could not have been proceeded with, inasmuch as the first meeting had not been concluded, and he therefore asked for an adjournment, and the case was adjourned till Aug. 8th.

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Y Genedl Cymreig (Caernarvon, Wales) (24 July, 1894)

     Druan o Robert Buchanan! Yn y bankruptcy court y mae y cernodiwr gwaedwyllt hwn. Swn ei ddyledion yw 13843p, ac nid oes ganddo ddim i dalu. Er ei holl gieidd dra milain y mae Buchanan yn awdwr o allu, a gresyn ei fod yn y fath drybini. Fe ddylai’r wladwriaeth siorhau eu bara a’u caws i lenorion a beirdd.

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The Pall Mall Gazette (25 July, 1894)

IN THE LONDON BANKRUPTCY COURT TO-DAY.

THE AFFAIRS OF MR. ROBERT BUCHANAN.

     The Official Receiver reported upon the affairs of Mr. Robert Buchanan, author, playwright, and theatrical manager. It appears from the debtor’s statements that his present insolvency is attributable to losses in connection with theatrical speculations, to heavy interest on borrowed money, to loss by non-production in America of the play “Dick Sheridan,” and by adverse criticisms on his dramatic work and to losses by betting. The debtor states that he has kept no record of his financial transactions, but he approximately accounts for the deficiency of £15,672 shown on the statement of affairs as follows: Losses incurred in the Lyric and Royalty Theatres in 1890, £5,000; loss at the Opera Comique in 1894, £600; loss by purchase and sale of copyrights, £500; interest on borrowed money, £1,500; excess of household and other expenditure over income, apparently, £4,229; losses by betting, £1,200; money lent and given away, £1,000; loans through acceptances, about £674; loss by debts, £584; other small losses, to balance, £385.

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The Times (26 July, 1894 - p.14)

     THE AFFAIRS OF MR ROBERT BUCHANAN.—Under a receiving order granted on the 12th ult. against Robert Buchanan, author and dramatist, amended accounts have been submitted showing the liabilities to be £15,792, of which £15,672 are unsecured, and the only unencumbered assets disclosed by the debtor consist of his interest in certain books and plays upon which he places no value. From the observations of the Assistant Official Receiver (Mr. G. W. Chapman) and the statements of the debtor, it appears that for many years past he has been engaged in literary work, and has produced a considerable number of books and plays; he has also from time to time acted as manager of theatres in London and in America. His income, derived from royalties and general literary work, has during the last three years averaged about £1,500 per annum. His present insolvency is attributable to losses and liabilities incurred in connexion with theatrical speculations; to heavy interest on borrowed money; to loss by non-production of a play (Dick Sheridan) in America; and by adverse criticisms on his dramatic work and to losses by betting. The debtor states that he has kept no record of his financial transactions, but he approximately accounts for the deficiency of £15,672 shown on the statement of affairs as follows:—Losses incurred at the Lyric and Royalty theatres in 1890, £5,000; loss at the Opera Comique in the present year, £600; loss by purchase and sale of copyrights, £500; interest on borrowed money, £1,500; excess of household and other expenditure over income (apparently), £4,229; losses by betting, £1,200; money lent and given away, £1,000; loans through acceptances, £674; loss by bad debts, £584; and other small losses (to balance), £385. The Official Receiver states that the unsecured liabilities (£6,380) include upwards of £4,200 in respect of borrowed money and legal expenses. The creditors appearing as “fully and partly secured” (£8,970) are stated to hold charges on copyrights and royalties in various plays, &c.; the debtor states it is impossible to estimate the precise value of any of these securities. The amount appearing to be owing to “creditors for rent, &c.” (£541) includes £360 for six weeks’ rent of the Opera Comique Theatre. The Official Receiver adds that the first meeting of creditors was held on the 5th inst., and was adjourned until the 26th to enable the debtor to amend his scheme of arrangement by providing reasonable security for payment of not less than 7s. 6d. in the pound. The amended scheme has not yet been lodged.

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The Sheffield Evening Telegraph and Star (26 July, 1894 - p.3)

buchbanksheffbetting

The Standard (27 July, 1894 - p.2)

COURT OF BANKRUPTCY.
(The OFFICIAL RECEIVER’S Department.)

     RE ROBERT BUCHANAN.—This was an adjourned first meeting. The Debtor, the well-known author and playwright, was stated to be unwell and unable to attend. On the former occasion the matter stood over to enable the Debtor to provide security for the payment of the minimum statutory composition of 7s. 6d. in the pound, but he had written to the Official Receiver pointing out that it was more difficult for a man who obtained his living by his pen to find security than an ordinary tradesman.—A Creditor submitted that the proper course would be to adjudge the Debtor a bankrupt, and then there would be a chance of the creditors getting something (laughter).—The Chairman observed that they appeared to be no nearer a secured 7s. 6d. in the pound than they were before. There would be no further adjournment, and he should apply for an adjudication in the usual course.

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Reynolds’s Newspaper (29 July, 1894)

ROBERT BUCHANAN’S AFFAIRS.
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     In the Bankruptcy Court, on Wednesday, accounts were issued under the failure of Robert Buchanan, showing unsecured liabilities £15,672, and no available assets. It appears from the debtor’s statements that for many years past he has been engaged in literary work, and has produced a considerable number of books and plays. He has also from time to time acted as manager of theatres in London and in America. His income, derived from royalties and general literary work, has during the last three years averaged about £1,500 per annum. He attributes his insolvency to losses and liabilities incurred in connection with theatrical speculations, to heavy interest on borrowed money; to loss by non- production of a play (“Dick Sheridan”) in America, and by adverse criticisms on his dramatic work; and to losses by betting. The debtor states that he has kept no record of his financial transactions, but the approximately accounts for the deficiency of £15,672 as follows: Losses incurred at the Lyric and Royalty Theatres in 1890, £5,000; loss at the Opera Comique in 1894, £600; loss by purchase and sale of copyrights, £500; interest on borrowed money, £1,500; apparent excess of household and other expenditure over income, £4,229; losses by betting, £1,200; money lent and given away, £1,000; losses through acceptances, about £674; loss by bad debts, £584; and other small losses (to balance), £385. The unsecured liabilities include upwards of £4,200 in respect of borrowed moneys and legal expenses. The creditors appearing as fully and partly secured are stated to hold charges on copyrights and royalties in various plays, &c., but the debtor states that it is impossible to estimate the precise value of any of these securities. The amount stated to be owing to creditors for rent, &c. (£541) includes £360 for six weeks’ rent of the Opera Comique Theatre. The only unencumbered assets disclosed by the debtor consist of his interest in certain plays and books, upon which he places no value. The household furniture is stated by the debtor to have been comprised in a deed of gift executed by him in 1890 in favour of his sister-in-law. A first meeting of creditors was held on Thursday to enable the debtor to amend his scheme of arrangement, by providing reasonable security for the payment of not less than 7s. 6d. in the pound. Mr. Buchanan, it was stated, had written to the Official Receiver pointing out that it was more difficult for a man who obtained his living by his pen to find security than an ordinary tradesman. A Creditor submitted that the proper course would be to adjudge the debtor a bankrupt, and then there would be a chance of the creditors getting something. (Laughter.) The Chairman observed that they appeared to be no nearer a secured 7s. 6d. in the pound than they were before, and he should apply for an adjudication in the usual course.

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SPECIAL NOTES AND GOSSIP.
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. . .

     It is no very creditable feature in the insolvency of Mr. Robert Buchanan, the author, that his creditors are obliged to lose £1,200, spent by this writer in gambling transactions, connected with the turf. I would have little mercy on the man who returns as an item in bankruptcy proceedings betting losses. It is just like speculation with other people’s money, without their consent. A man of Mr. Buchanan’s age and knowledge ought to be ashamed of indulging in a practice which is only excusable in the imbecile and the unlearned, among whom Mr. Buchanan would not care to be classed.

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The Times (9 August, 1894 - p.15)

(Sittings in Bankruptcy, before MR. REGISTRAR GIFFARD.)
IN RE BUCHANAN.

     A sitting for public examination was held under the failure of Mr. Robert Buchanan, author and dramatist. His amended accounts show liabilities amounting to £15,792, of which £15,072 are unsecured, and the only unencumbered assets disclosed by the debtor consist of his interest in certain books and plays, upon which he is unable to place any value. He ascribes his insolvency to losses and liabilities incurred in connexion with theatrical speculations; to heavy interest on borrowed money; to loss by the non-production of a play (Dick Sheridan) in America; and by adverse criticisms on his dramatic work; and to losses by betting.
     Mr. G. Wreford attended as Senior Official Receiver; Mr. M. Shearman, Mr. J. A. Bartrum, and Mr. Bennett appeared for creditors; and Mr. W. A. Colyer for the debtor.
     In reply to the SENIOR OFFICIAL RECEIVER, the debtor stated that he had resided for the last five years at South Hampstead. He had been connected with the theatrical profession for about 25 years, and during the last 30 years had written a number of books and plays. He had also been engaged as a theatrical manager in London and America. Up to July last he acted as manager at the Opera Comique in connexion with the play A Society Butterfly, which he had written in conjunction with Mr. Murray. He ought to have made money over it, but did not, and the play had now ceased to run. He had created charges upon his copyrights in various works, and only a few of them were free. He was entitled to royalties on The Moment After and The Coming Terror, but both these works had been before the public for some time, and were now rather “flat.” Since 1890 he had lost money on the production of various plays, including The Bride of Love and Sweet Nancy, which were produced at the Lyric and Royalty theatres, and which resulted in a loss of £5,000. The manager of an American theatre had undertaken to produce his play Dick Sheridan, but had failed to do so, and he (the debtor) alleged that the manager had taken the whole body of his play, and, having altered it, used the same title without paying him for it, the manager contending that he had not written the play. He considered that this course damaged his reputation as a literary man and his pocket as well. (Laughter.) He had not lost money on the Stock Exchange, but had incurred losses in other forms of betting, and had lost about £1,200 on the Turf. He had accommodated a friend by purchasing the picture called “The World’s Desire,” but it had never actually come into his possession. He paid for the picture by means of bills, upon which he was still liable. He did not know where the picture was at the present time. It was valued at £1,500, but he gave £450 only for it. He had possessed one horse and a carriage up to a recent date, but the former had been sold, and the latter returned to the person from whom it was hired. He had not defended any actions brought against him for the recovery of debts. He had instituted an action for libel against the Sketch in connexion with the plays Dick Sheridan and A Society Butterfly, and the matter was still pending. He considered that the libel was an attempt to sweep him from the earth of created beings altogether. (Laughter.) He had never kept any books in connexion with his theatrical ventures except a diary.
     The OFFICIAL RECEIVER.—What does your income amount to?
     The debtor said it was difficult to state any particular amount, because it all depended on “luck.” His profession was a gambling one, and if he produced a book which was a success, he would reap considerable benefit, but if it proved a failure he would lose. His average annual expenditure did not exceed £1,500 per annum. He did not consider that he was insolvent, but had been driven into a corner, and he thought he had a reasonable probability of paying his creditors out of his future earnings. Beyond the plays already mentioned he had written The Lights of Home, The Charlatan, and The Piper of Hamelin, and the books “Come Live with Me,” and “Nerissa.” He was desirous of paying a composition to his creditors, but had encountered some difficulty in the matter, as he was not aware of the exact claims against his estate, or of the value of his assets. He hoped to be able, with the assistance of friends, to provide sufficient security for 7s. 6d. in the pound, as required by the statute. For many years past he had been in the receipt of a pension from the Civil List, which was granted to him by Mr. Gladstone. His house was rented at £200 per annum, but he did not consider that this sum was too large considering the amount of his income. For several years past he had experienced “bad luck,” but was certain that he had not lived extravagantly.
     Mr. SHEARMAN also examined the debtor.
     By Mr. COLYER.—His betting losses had extended over a period of two or three years.
     His HONOUR ordered the examination to be concluded.

 

[Note:
I have not found any evidence that the libel action against the Sketch mentioned in the above report ever came to court, so it is not included in this section. Further information is available on the A Society Butterfly page.]

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The Standard (9 August, 1894 - p.2)

COURT OF BANKRUPTCY,
(Before Mr. Registrar GIFFARD.)
THEATRICAL SPECULATIONS.

     RE ROBERT BUCHANAN.—A sitting was held for the public examination of Mr. Robert Buchanan, who for many years has been engaged in literary work, and has produced a considerable number of books and plays. The Debtor has also acted as a theatrical manager in London and America, and he attributes insolvency to losses and liabilities incurred in connection with theatrical speculations, to heavy interest on borrowed money, loss by the non-production in America of the play Dick Sheridan and by adverse criticisms on his dramatic work, and to losses by betting. The statement of affairs shows liabilities expected to rank, 15,672l., and no available assets.
     Mr. Colyer, appearing for the Debtor, said an adjudication of bankruptcy had not yet been made, and it was his client’s intention to bring forward a proposal which he hoped would be satisfactory to his creditors.
     In reply to Mr. Wreford, Official Receiver, the Debtor said he had been in the theatrical profession for 20 or 25 years, and had been an author for 30 years. He had been interested in theatrical matters practically up to the present time, his most recent venture being in connection with the Society Butterfly, a piece which he worked jointly with Mr. Murray. A syndicate was formed, and they were to have a fourth of the profits which might accrue after satisfying the syndicate. He had assigned his share of the profits as security for 200l. He had written numerous plays since 1889, his last one being the Society Butterfly. He had lost money in connection with that piece; also about 3000l. on the Bride of Love, and 2000l. on Sweet Nancy. He had also incurred a considerable loss in consequence of the non-production in America of the play Dick Sheridan. Another piece was produced in imitation of his own, he was thrown over, and his literary reputation had in consequence suffered, the impression being created that his play was not worth producing. He had not lost money on the Stock Exchange, but he had lost about 1200l. on the turf.
     The Official Receiver.—What has been the amount of your income?
     The Debtor replied that the question was not an easy one for him to answer. His was a gambling profession, in the sense that he might make a lot of money by writing a popular book, and, on the other hand, might incur a heavy loss. His expenditure might have amounted to 1500l. a year. He was in the enjoyment of a Civil List pension.
     In reply to Mr. Shearman, the Debtor said it was possible he might, in borrowing money from the petitioning creditor, have stated to him that by making the loan he would save a stout ship from foundering (laughter).
     Mr. Shearman.—You are in the habit, I believe, of riding about in a horse and carriage?
     The Bankrupt: Certainly not in a horse—in a carriage, and I find that a very economical mode of conveyance (laughter).
     The examination was concluded.

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The Morning Post (9 August, 1894 - p.6)

(Before Mr. Registrar GIFFARD.)
THE AFFAIRS OF MR ROBERT BUCHANAN.

     A meeting was held for the public examination of Robert Buchanan, the well-known author and playwright, who appeared to pass upon accounts showing unsecured debts £15,632, and no available assets. Creditors for £8,750, partly secured, hold charges upon his plays, “The Piper of Hamelin,” “Dick Sheridan,” “The Charlatan,” and an unfinished opera, “Adam and Eve;” also charges upon certain of his books, which he places no estimate upon. Amongst the debts appearing in the statement are those of Mr. G. R. Sims for £805; Mr. Albert Chevalier, £150; Mr. Passmore Edwards, £250; Messrs L. and H. Nathan, £200, dresses for “A Society Butterfly;” and Mr J. Willing, jun., £200. A sum of £240 is due in respect of the rent of the Opera Comique. The failure is attributed to loss and liabilities incurred in connection with theatrical speculations in 1890 at the Lyric and Royalty Theatres, £5000; to heavy interest on borrowed money, £1,500; to loss by the non-production of the play “Dick Sheridan” in America, and by adverse criticisms on his dramatic work, and to losses by betting, £1,500. He  states, further, that his loss on the production of “A Society Butterfly” at the Opera Comique recently was £600.—Mr. Wreford, Official Receiver, appeared to examine.—The examination was concluded.

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The Nottingham Evening Post (10 August, 1894 - p.2)

MR. BUCHANAN’S FINANCIAL TROUBLES.

     Mr. Robert Buchanan, says the “St. James’s Gazette,” has a sad tale to tell at the end of thirty years of authorship and twenty-five of theatrical enterprise. His liabilities rank at nearly £16,000, with assets nil. Besides the thousands of pounds he has lost in producing his plays, we see that a sum of £1,200 is accounted for as lost by gambling on the turf. Mr. Buchanan appears to offer an excuse for this gambling on the ground that literature itself is a sort of gamble—he might make a lot of money by writing a popular book, or, on the other hand, might incur a heavy loss. On this principle, however, who could not make out an excuse for gambling? It is to be borne in mind, by the way, that Mr. Buchanan is still in receipt of a Civil List Pension.
     Mr. Buchanan’s financial troubles do not seem, however, to have damped his spirits. He was able to score off an adverse counsel at his public examination in the Bankruptcy Court—
     Mr. Shearman: You are in the habit, I believe, of riding about in a horse and carriage?
     The Bankrupt: Certainly not in a horse—in a carriage, and I find that a very economical mode of conveyance. (Laughter.)

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The Dundee Evening Telegraph (10 August, 1894 - p.2)

     Robert Buchanan under examination cannot restrain the exuberance of his wit. Here is a passage from his examination in bankruptcy—“Mr Shearman—You are in the habit, I believe, of riding about in a horse and carriage? The Bankrupt—Certainly not in a horse—in a carriage, and I find that a very economical mode of conveyance. (Laughter.)” This is the very prodigality of repartee. So brilliant a remark should have been kept for some future “Society Butterfly.”

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Reynolds’s Newspaper (12 August, 1894)

“A GAMBLING PROFESSION.”

     In the Bankruptcy Court on Wednesday, before Mr. Registrar Gifford, a meeting was held for the public examination of Robert Buchanan, the well-known author and playwright, who appeared to pass upon accounts showing unsecured debts £15, 632, and no available assets. Among the debts appearing in the statement are those of Mr. G. R. Sims for £805; Mr. Albert Chevalier, £150; Mr. Passmore Edwards, £250; Messrs L. and H. Nathan, £200; dresses for “A Society Butterfly” and Mr J. Willing, jun., £200. A sum of £240 is due in respect of the rent of the Opera Comique. In reply to questions the Debtor said that he was unable to state with exactness what his income amounted to. His was a gambling profession, in the sense that he might make a lot of money by writing a popular book, or, on the other hand, he might incur a heavy loss. His expenditure might have amounted to £1,500 a year. He was in the enjoyment of a Civil List pensiion. The debtor passed his examination.

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SPECIAL NOTES AND GOSSIP.
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. . .

     Robert Buchanan enjoys a pension from the State in recognition of his literary services. He is now in the Bankruptcy Court, and he admits having lost in two years £1,200 by betting. Surely this man is not entitled any longer to the bounty of the State.

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Northern Daily Mail (18 August 1894 - p.6)

     Mr Robert Buchanan seems, at any rate, to have had the faculty of inspiring confidence in his friends. Amongst the list of creditors filed in connection with his bankruptcy are Mr G. R. Sims for £805 lent; Mr Albert Chevalier, £150, money lent; Mr Passmore Edwards, £250, money lent; and Mr J. Willing, £200, for advertising in connection with the Opera Comique. Messrs L. and H. Nathan also proved the sum of £200 in respect of costumes supplied for “A Society Butterfly.”

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The Times (30 November, 1894 - p.3)

(Sittings in Bankruptcy, before MR. REGISTRAR GIFFARD.)
IN RE BUCHANAN.

     This was an application by Mr. Robert Buchanan, described as an author and theatrical manager, of an address in South Hampstead, for an order of discharge. His amended statement of affairs showed unsecured debts to the amount of £15,672, and no available assets were disclosed.
     Mr. Egerton S. Grey attended as Assistant Official Receiver; and Mr. W. A. Colyer for the debtor.
     From the evidence and the report of the Senior Official Receiver (Mr. G. Wreford) it would appear that the debtor had been connected with the theatrical profession for many years, and that he had been employed as manager of theatres in London and America. He stated that his income derived from royalties and general literary work averaged about     £1,500 per annum, but during the last year or two it had fallen short of that amount. He ascribed his insolvency to losses and liabilities incurred in connexion with theatrical speculation; to heavy interest on borrowed money; to the non- production of the play Dick Sheridan in America, and adverse criticisms on his dramatic work; and to losses by betting. The debtor had not kept any record of his financial transactions, and the Official Receiver asserted that the deficiency of £15,672 shown in the amended accounts was only approximately and imperfectly accounted for, but was partly explained by losses, amounting to £5,000, at the Lyric and Royalty theatres in 1890. The debtor stated that these losses were incurred in consequence of the unsuccessful production of the plays The Bride of Love and Sweet Nancy, of which he was the author and which he brought out personally. The Official Receiver alleged that on the failure of these plays the debtor became aware that he was insolvent. Further, that in March last the debtor, jointly with another person, produced another play, A Society Butterfly, a syndicate being formed for that purpose, but this also proved unsuccessful and he incurred a loss of £1,500 thereby. Amongst the proofs lodged was one for £450, balance of rent at the Opera Comique, at the rate of £250 per month, another for £134 in respect of hire of costumes, and another for £250 for advertising. The Official Receiver submitted that the debtor was not justified in embarking in the undertakings referred to as he was insolvent at the time and had been pressed by creditors. Reference was also made to the circumstance that in 1893 the debtor purchased a picture, “The World’s Desire,” from one Rudolph Blind, to whom he gave his acceptances for £460 in payment. These he was unable to pay at maturity, and he stated that the picture never came into his possession. Further, that his household and personal expenditure had considerably exceeded his income. The debtor also partly accounted for the existing deficiency by losses through betting transactions amounting to £1,200, which, he stated, extended over two or three years. The Official Receiver opposed the application on account of the absence of available assets, and on the ground that the debtor had brought on or contributed to his bankruptcy by rash and hazardous speculations and unjustifiable extravagance in living, and by gambling.
     The report having been read, the ASSISTANT OFFICIAL RECEIVER said he did not desire to dictate the form of order to be made, but he submitted that this was a case in which the Court would direct the debtor to set aside a portion of his income for the benefit of the creditors. He was well known in this country as an author, and it appeared that he had been able to earn £1,500 a year by his writings. He had written a story for one of the Christmas numbers, and it was not to be supposed that he would write for nothing. In his public examination the debtor stated that if time had been allowed him he could have paid all his creditors out of his future earnings.
     Mr. COLYER addressed the Court on behalf of the debtor, and said that he did not dispute the offences alleged by the Official Receiver. It appeared from the statement of affairs that several creditors held charges upon the debtor’s works until their claims were satisfied in full. Those works were now producing large amounts, and it was anticipated that before long the secured creditors would be paid in full and a large surplus would become available for the unsecured creditors. With regard to the charge of rash and hazardous speculation, the debtor was advised by some of the leading men in his profession that A Society Butterfly would prove successful. Had it been so the debtor would not have found himself in his present position. In reference to the picture referred to in the report he submitted that no one had lost or gained by the transaction. Dealing with the application of the Assistant Official Receiver, he asked the Court not to decide the matter at present, as there was no evidence brought forward to support it. The Christmas story referred to was paid for some two years ago.
     MR. REGISTRAR GIFFARD.—But the debtor’s books are widely known, and he is one of the few whose poetry is read.
     Mr. COLYER submitted that no evidence had been given to show that the debtor was still earning a considerable income.
     MR. REGISTRAR GIFFARD, in giving judgment, said it appeared that the debtor had been able to earn £1,500 a year in the past by his writings, and there was no reason why he should not do so in the future. He was a man of great ability and versatility, and his works were very popular, and it was only reasonable that some provision should be made for the creditors. The offences alleged by the Official Receiver had not been displaced, and the order of the Court would be that the debtor be discharged subject to his setting aside one half of his income over and above £900 per annum until the unsecured creditors had received dividends amounting to 7s. 6d. in the pound, the debtor to file accounts annually of his receipts.

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The Standard (30 November, 1894 - p.6)

COURT OF BANKRUPTCY,
(Before Mr. Registrar GIFFARD.)
MR. ROBERT BUCHANAN’S AFFAIRS.

     An application for an order of discharge was made by Mr. Robert Buchanan, the author and playwright. The receiving order was made in June last, the liabilities to rank being estimated at 15,672l., and no available assets were disclosed. It appeared from the Official Receiver’s report that the Bankrupt has been connected with the theatrical profession for many years, having been employed as manager of theatres in London and America. He estimated that his income derived from royalties and general literary work averaged about 1500l. per annum, but that during the last year or two it has fallen short of that amount. He attributed his failure to losses and liabilities in connection with theatrical speculations, to heavy interest on borrowed moneys, to the non-production of a play, Dick Sheridan, in America, and adverse criticisms on his dramatic work; also to losses by betting. The Official Receiver reported that the deficiency of 15,672l. was only approximately and imperfectly accounted for. It was explained partly by the Bankrupt by losses at the Lyric and Royalty Theatres in 1890, amounting to 5000l., in respect of the unsuccessful production of the two plays of which he was the author—viz., The Bride of Love and Sweet Nancy. In March, 1894, the Bankrupt, jointly with another person, brought out a play entitled The Gaiety Butterfly, for which purpose a syndicate was formed, and in May it was produced at the Opera Comique, but, being unsuccessful, was taken off in June. He stated that he incurred a loss of 600l. thereby. In 1893 he purchased a picture called “The World’s Desire,” from one Rudolf Blind, to whom he gave his acceptances for 460l. in payment. The Bankrupt stated that the picture never came into his possession, and, although he was liable on the bills, the picture did not really belong to him, but to Blind, who was to exhibit it in the provinces, and take up the bills out of the profits of the tour. He estimated that the excess of his household and personal expenditure over his income was 3000l. up to 1893, and for the twelve months preceding the receiving order it amounted to 1229l. He accounted for his deficiency, to the extent of 1200l., by losses and betting. The Official Receiver reported as offences that the Bankrupt had brought on his bankruptcy by rash and hazardous speculations, by unjustifiable extravagance in living, and gambling.—Mr. E. S. Grey attended as Assistant Receiver, and Mr. W. A. Colyer on behalf of the Bankrupt.
     The report having been read, the Assistant Receiver submitted that this was a case in which the Bankrupt should be ordered to set aside a portion of his income for the benefit of his creditors.
     Mr. Colyer contended that there would be a surplus available for the unsecured creditors after satisfying the claims of the creditors who held security, and that the allegation as to the absence of assets was, therefore, not well founded. He criticised the Official Receiver’s report in several particulars, and said it was suggested, without any evidence whatever, that the Bankrupt was still earning a considerable income. He was, in fact, now writing a Christmas story, which had been paid for two years ago.
     The Registrar was of opinion that the Official Receiver’s report had not been displaced. The Debtor, as a popular author and a gentleman of considerable ability and versatility, made a considerable income, and it was only reasonable that some provision should be made for the creditors. The discharge would be granted subject to the condition that the Bankrupt should set aside a half of his net income in excess of 900l. a year until he had paid a dividend of 7s. 6d. in the pound to his creditors.—Conditional order accordingly.

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Western Mail (30 November, 1894 - p. 4)

MR. ROBERT BUCHANAN.

     Mr. Robert Buchanan has got well out of his bankruptcy. He is to be allowed to take his discharge on condition that he will pay half of his income in excess of £900 a year until he has discharged 7s. 6d. in the £. Mr. Buchanan owed nearly £16,000, and had no assets. He ascribed failure to a variety of reasons, including “hostile criticism.” Those who know Mr. Buchanan better than he knows himself say one reason will suffice—failure to understand the value of money.

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The Freeman’s Journal (Dublin) (30 November, 1894 - p.4)

     Mr. Robert Buchanan, alleged poet, appears in the newspapers in two somewhat different capacities. In a characteristic letter to the Daily Chronicle he demands the release of the murderer, James Canham Read, the vilest murderer of modern times, of whose guilt the judge and jury had no shadow of doubt, but whom the cocksure Mr. Buchanan proclaims innocent. In another part of the paper the bankruptcy is announced of Mr. Buchanan—debts £15,000, assets nil. It is estimated that his literary income ran close up to two thousand a year, which makes the bankruptcy the less creditable. One would have fancied that his domestic trouble would have diverted his attention for the time being from the vile murderer Read. But Mr. Buchanan is not like the rest of men. We should be glad to have his creditors’ private opinion on the performance.

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Aberdeen Evening Express (30 November, 1894 - p.2)

     THERE are some people in this world who cannot be cowed by adversity. For several months Mr Robert Buchanan, novelist, poet, and general caretaker of public morals, has been under the protecting and watchful eye of the Bankruptcy Court. He has now obtained a discharge on condition that he sets aside one half of his income after £900 a year, until his creditors receive 7s 6d in the pound. Mr Buchanan’s case is not, perhaps, a very exceptional one. He just lived far beyond his income. He speculated, he even indulged in a bet occasionally; but all these matters are quite ordinary accompaniments of bankruptcy. But what singles out Mr Buchanan is the impudent assurance with which he lectures the British public on their lack of morality. If anyone scratches Mr Buchanan he is on his high-horse at once; and if he takes up the cause of a criminal, then everyone who differs from him is at once declared to be utterly destitute of any capacity to understand wrong from right. It will be remembered that over the Maybrick case Mr Buchanan became quite hysterical, abusing judge and jury and a lethargic public in the choicest of Buchananese. Now he has got the Southend murderer on hand. Mr Buchanan, of course, holds that the jury were altogether wrong in returning a verdict of guilty. James Canham Read is, in the eyes of Mr Buchanan, a much injured man. The crime has not been brought home to him, and he declares that if Read is executed “he will have been sacrificed to the Mænads of English morality, not to the stern spirit of Justice which cried ‘a life for a life.’” Hysterical rot of this kind can be repeated too often, and Mr Buchanan is one who has exhausted everybody’s forbearance with his emotional humbug. It is high time that some of Mr Buchanan’s personal friends, if he has any, should undertake the responsibility of telling him that when the British public are desirous of being instructed on questions of morality they will seek a safer guide than Robert Buchanan, poet and novelist.

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The Taunton Courier (5 December, 1894 - p.8)

     An author who goes bankrupt for £15,672, and receives his discharge on condition that he shall pay his creditors 7s 6d in the pound by setting aside half the money he makes yearly over an income of £900, has not done badly for himself in these hard times. Mr. Robert Buchanan, who left the Bankruptcy Court on these terms on Thursday, has given the public so much to entertain them both as Adelphi play-wright, novelist, poet, and letter-writer that everybody will hope that he will always make more than £900 a year; but some people who have not been through the Bankruptcy Court, and are owed money in bankruptcy, and yet make a very much smaller income themselves, may feel just a little jealous. But, then, they are not poets, whose position should be secured against all sordid mundane cares. Mr. Buchanan is a poet; and, moreover, if Mr. Registrar Giffard is right, “he is one of the few whose poetry is read.” But is it?

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The Entr’acte (8 December, 1894 - p.5)

     According to the Official Receiver, Mr. Robert Buchanan’s failure has been brought about by “rash and hazardous speculation, gambling, and unjustifiable extravagance in living,” for which his punishment is not severe, considering that should his income not exceed £900 a year his creditors get nothing; while if it be exceeded, half the surplus is to go towards paying his debts until the insolvent has paid as much as &s. 6d. in the £1. I should have thought that Mr. Buchanan would have arranged to pay his creditors the uttermost farthing sooner or later; but then, I suppose, I ought not to have such old-fashioned notions.

     A poet, playwright, and ethical squabbler, by paying his creditors in full, runs the risk perhaps of placing himself on a level with the honest tinker, and this is a terrible degradation, isn’t it?

     Mr. Buchanan, I doubt not, could find hosts of excuses for himself. The man who can plead the cause of a murderer so eloquently would certainly have no difficulty in condoning the irregularities of a bankrupt.

     But is not Mr. Robert Buchanan the recipient of a Civil List pension to the tune of £100 per annum? If so, ought not this asset be handed over to his creditors?

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The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle (8 December, 1894 - p.11)

TATTLE FROM “TRUTH.”

. . .

     The official Receiver in his report upon the bankruptcy of Mr. Robert Buchanan attributes that writer’s failure to “rash and hazardous speculation, gambling, and unjustifiable extravagance in living.” This being the case, it is impossible to understand upon what principle Mr. Robert Buchanan has been granted his discharge by Registrar Giffard on the easy condition that half of his future income in excess of £900 a year is to be set aside until his creditors have received 7s. 6d. in the £1. What are they to do, supposing that Mr. Buchanan does not make £900 a year? I do not know why a poet, playwright, or novelist should not be treated in a purely business matter, just in the same way as a defaulting butcher of baker.

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Waterloo Daily Courier (Iowa) (15 January, 1895 - p.3)

     Robert Buchanan, the author and poet, who failed for $75,000 not long ago, has been discharged by the bankruptcy court on condition that he pay half of all he earns above $4,500 a year to his creditors till they have recovered 37 cents on the dollar.

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Belleville Telescope (Kansas) (22 March, 1895)

He Lived Well.

     Robert Buchanan’s bankruptcy is ascribed in part to an unwarranted extravagance in living. No American writer has recently been brought into court on account of his debts, but it is noteworthy that successful authors in America frequently adopt a scale of living that seems to be a mere aping of the ways of the rich. Nearly every such author is driven into a variety of avocations to increase his income, and, while few literary men earn more than $5,000 a year by strictly literary work in their originally chosen specialty, several earn three or four times as much in related occupations.

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‘The World’s Desire’ by Rudolf Blind

The Bankruptcy of Robert Buchanan Snr.

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