The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay

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5. 1882 - 1884








According to Chapter XXIII of Jay:
“After the death of his wife he wished to remain quietly at Southend, but instead of following his own inclination he listened to the advice of his friends and again took to roaming. After a few months spent in France he returned to London, settling again in a furnished house, and taking from time to time various trips to Southend, which little town had by association become very dear to him.”


28 January 1882

A full column advert praising Harriett Jay’s talents as an actress is printed in The Era. Under the heading, “Miss Harriett Jay will shortly reappear in London”, there is a poem, from Life (22 January, 1881):


Lay not aside so soon, we pray,
     That pen thou art so skilled to wield,
Though Art would summon thee away,
     To tempt another field.

Where thou hast given such delight,
     The crown of praise essay again,
Or on the already-conquered height
     Victorious remain .

But Genius, with prevailing voice,
     Hath bid thee to another shrine,
For, of her Vestals, none rejoice
     In brighter lamp than thine.

Good speed be thine! yet lay not by
     The promise of thy earlier fame,
Two Muses seek to beautify
     Their records with thy name!

At the bottom of the advert it gives a “Town address” as:
38, Queen Anne Street, Cavendish Square, W.

The page from The Era with the advert is available here.

March 1882

Ballads of Life, Love, and Humour published by Chatto & Windus.
Advertised in
The Graphic 11 March, 1882.
Reviewed in
The Pall Mall Gazette 8 April, 1882.

The book mainly collects Buchanan’s poems previously published in magazines, although there are a couple of selections from Idyls and Legends of Inverburn. The book is dedicated to Harriett Jay with the following verse:


Here at the Half-way House of Life I linger,
Worn with the way, a weary-hearted Singer,
               Resting a little space;
And lo! the good God sends me, as a token
Of peace and blessing (else my heart were broken),
               The sunbeam of thy face.

My fear falls from me like a garment; slowly
New strength returns upon me, calm and holy;
               I kneel, and I atone. . .
Thy hand is clasped in mine—we lean together. .
Henceforward, through the sad or shining weather,
               I shall not walk alone.”

The book also includes an announcement of the planned reprint by Chatto & Windus of Buchanan’s poetry in five volumes:
Vol. I: London Poems.
Vol. II: Meg Blane, and other narrative poems.
Vol. III: The Book of Orm, etc.
Vol. IV: Balder The Beautiful.
Vol. V: St. Abe, White Rose and Red, etc.


2 March 1882

Writes to Chatto & Windus informing them of a change of address to: 16 Langham Street, Portland Place, W.


3 March 1882

The following sentence is printed in an article in The Daily Graphic, a New York newspaper:
“In a story which THE GRAPHIC republished recently from the London Truth, called “His Wife’s Sister,” Mr. Labouchere has shown some of the misery which arises under the English law, and it is said that the poet, Robert Buchanan, who has recently married his deceased wife’s sister in Switzerland, has joined the army of agitators against the existing law.”


7 March 1882

Writes to the Rev. Frederick Langbridge replying to a request to use ‘quotations’, but suggests he contact Chatto & Windus, “who have just taken over all my copyrights.” Buchanan adds that he would help in the selection “but I am just now up to my ears in work.”

A letter from Buchanan published in Study and Stimulants; or, the Use of Intoxicants and Narcotics in Relation to Intellectual Life, as Illustrated by Personal Communications on the Subject, from Men or Letters and of Science edited by A. Arthur Reade (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and Co., Manchester: Abel Heywood and Son, 1883) gives his views on smoking and drinking:
“I am myself no authority on the subject concerning which you write. I drink myself, but not during the hours of work; and I smoke—pretty habitually. My own experience and belief is, that both alcohol and tobacco, like most blessings, can be turned into curses by habitual self-indulgence. Physiologically speaking, I believe them both to be invaluable to humankind. The cases of dire disease generated by total abstinence from liquor are even more terrible than those caused by excess. With regard to tobacco, I have a notion that it is only dangerous where the vital organism, and particularly the nervous system, is badly nourished.”

This is the only other letter from the Langham Street address and neither has a year in the date, but the mention of Chatto & Windus ‘just’ taking over the copyrights suggests 1882. In 1883 Rev. Langbridge produced two anthologies of poetry (Love-Knots and Bridal-Bands and The Tablets of the Heart) which contained poems by Buchanan.

22 March 1882

Writes to Chatto & Windus from a new address: 12 Buckingham Palace Road, S.W.


April 1882

Selected Poems published by Chatto & Windus.
Advertised in The Pall Mall Gazette 8 April, 1882.
Reviewed in the The Morning Post 29 May, 1882.

This volume mainly contains selections from Buchanan’s other books of poetry (Inverburn, London Poems, North Coast, Orm, Balder and White Rose and Red). It also includes ‘The Ballad of Judas Iscariot’ and ‘The Story of David Gray.’
Buchanan dedicates the book to his late wife:


Weeping and sorrowing, yet in sure and certain hope of a heavenly resurrection, I place these poor flowers of verse on the grave of my beloved Wife, who, with eyes of truest love and tenderness, watched them growing for more than twenty years.

                                                   ROBERT BUCHANAN.
Southend, February, 1882.”


8 April 1882

Lucy Brandon (adapted from Bulwer-Lytton’s Paul Clifford) produced at a matinée at the Imperial Theatre, Westminster, with Harriett Jay in the title role. It runs for a week of afternoon performances.

The Shadow of the Sword produced at the Olympic Theatre, following a provincial tour.


9 April 1882

Death of Dante Gabriel Rossetti on Easter Sunday.


12 April 1882

Buchanan writes to The Era (from the Imperial Theatre) pointing out that The Shadow of the Sword had been substantially altered by John Coleman. With regard to Lucy Brandon he writes:
“Although some of your contemporaries have been kind enough to attribute the lavish applause on its first production to a claque of friends (who must have been present also on the second afternoon, since the same enthusiasm was repeated and the author called and recalled again), I really think they are exaggerating. If not, I have more friends than I dreamed of. I never counted London dramatic critics among them, however; nor do I expect fair play when gentlemen of the press, on account of some slight inconvenience, loudly proclaim at the doors their intention of having vengeance.”
This begins an exchange of letters with John Coleman in The Era.


17 April 1882

Item from The Evening Telegraph (Angus, Scotland):
     “Mr Robert Buchanan, the poet and novelist, was recently married in Switzerland to Miss Harriett Jay, the sister of his deceased wife.”

This item is copied in several provincial newspapers over the next few days.

It should be pointed out that it was illegal for a man to marry his deceased wife’s sister (hence the trip to Switzerland); a law which was not repealed until 1907. More information on wikipedia.

20 April 1882

Final performance of The Shadow of the Sword at the Olympic Theatre.


22 April 1882

Buchanan places an announcement in The Era (dated 20th April) stating that Lucy Brandon has been withdrawn from the Imperial Theatre “but will shortly be reproduced elsewhere, with the original Cast. The withdrawal of the Play is due to causes entirely unconnected with its dramatic success or failure.”

In November the managers of the Imperial Theatre, Charles May and Richard Mansell, ended up in the bankruptcy court due to an unpaid debt to Buchanan of £76 in regard to the production of Lucy Brandon.

Lucy Brandon was not “reproduced elsewhere”.

23 April 1882

Buchanan writes a long letter to Andrew Chatto:
“The failure of my drama, on which I had staked so much, has so broken my peace of mind, that I wish to go away at once into the wilderness, & see what solitude & quiet thought will do to restore me. The stage is a will-of-the wisp, from which I want to divert my gaze, for some time at least.”
Buchanan had been paid £300 for The Martyrdom of Madeline and £250 for God and the Man the previous year, and he had also been paid a £250 advance for Foxglove Manor which was due to be serialised in Chatto’s Gentleman’s Magazine. Now he proposes that for another £250 he will write “such a story as will transcend all my previous efforts in fiction” (The New Abelard) for serialisation in The Gentleman’s Magazine and will finish Foxglove Manor and The City of Dream for publication in the autumn.
“To do this, I must get away from this worry & hurly-burly at once, & busy myself, with pen and books, far away in the solitude. Last year I was sadly hampered by domestic sorrow; this year, I hope to work as I have not worked for years before—with, I hope, golden results.”
As a guarantee against loss, Buchanan proposes to give Chatto a life insurance policy for £500.
On the reverse of the letter, Buchanan’s proposal has been agreed to, but the sum offered is £300 for The New Abelard (to be completed by 15th June) and The City of Dream is to be published at half profits (i.e. no advance).

The drama Buchanan refers to is Lucy Brandon.

Of The City of Dream Buchanan writes:
     “As to the City of Dream, I dont like to blow my own trumpet, but I only wish I could impress you, as I am myself impressed, with the importance of that work. Of this I am convinced—that no work of equal magnitude & daring has been attempted in this generation. I am perfectly certain that it will mark an epoch in my literary career, & quadruple my popularity. But, I hear you say, ‘it is poetry!’ So it is, but poetry on a theme which interests every modern man who thinks & feels.
     However, great as it my faith in this opus, I dont want you to risk anything on it. I am quite content to await the result—certain that the thought & labour of 15 years will not be thrown away.”

The mention of the life insurance policy is interesting since Buchanan’s father (made bankrupt in 1860) used life insurance policies as security for loans for his newspaper publishing business.

25 April 1882

Robert Buchanan writes to The Era (published 29th April) protesting at the rumour which has appeared in several papers stating that he and Harriett Jay have been secretly married in Switzerland.
My wife, beloved by all who knew her, and most beloved by her to whom she was (as it were) both sister and mother, died only last November, and the public are asked to believe that her husband has already forgotten her, and that her noble-minded sister, sharing this forgetfulness, is also oblivious to the love, the self-sacrifice, and the saintly devotion of the departed. How this cruel report arose, and by whom it was originated, I am at a loss to guess; but I write this letter to affirm that it is without the faintest shadow of foundation, and in the name of public decency to protest against such violations of the sanctity of great and enduring grief.”


29 April 1882

The Era publishes a reply from John Coleman and another letter from Buchanan in which he offers two words of advice to his fellow authors. The first:
‘“Never under any circumstances allow an actor or manager, however ‘experienced,’ to alter your text at his own wild will, and never, at any rate, have your name attached to a production which is one-third your own and two-thirds interpolation, which is cast and rehearsed without your supervision, and which, when produced, seems like some hideous nightmare, instead of your own sane invention.” If this advice is listened to, authors will avoid my cruel experience during the performance of
The Shadow of the Sword at the Olympic Theatre.’
The second:
‘“Avoid business transactions with managers whom you discover, after a brief acquaintance, to be in pecuniary difficulties.” Some months ago the managers of the Imperial Theatre accepted my play of
Lucy Brandon, agreed to mount it liberally, to procure a first-class company, and to “run it for, at least, five weeks.” As a guarantee of good faith they introduced me to their “monied” partner, who also subscribed my agreement. To make a long story short, this man of money turned out in good time to be a man of straw—or a man, at all events, who cared not a straw for his liabilities; and the piece was hardly produced when the storm burst. In the innocence of my heart, I had disbursed considerable sums, to tide the management over “temporary” difficulties while their capitalist was “realising.” Every penny of the first week’s takings was spent in paying old arrears, and when Saturday came there was no “treasury” either for the unfortunate author, who was so much out of pocket, or for the still more unfortunate artistes, who had laboured so zealously to make the drama the success I still affirm it to have been.’


May 1882

The Martyrdom of Madeline published by Chatto & Windus.
Advertised in
The Standard 6 May, 1882.
Reviewed in
The Academy 17 June, 1882.
The reviews are generally disappointing and Buchanan is criticised for including characters who are lightly disguised satirical versions of real people.


1 May 1882

The Daily News prints part of a letter from Buchanan, explaining the failure of his two plays and also mentioning the rumour of his marriage to Harriett Jay:
When I tell you that my dear wife died only last November, and that of all human beings her sister was most devoted to her, you will understand how much pain the report has given to all concerned. I will say nothing of my own feelings in the matter, save to say that the bitterness of my personal loss is renewed by the mere thought of such a want of respect for the beloved wife who was my friend and helper for 20 years.”


4 May 1882

Writes to Chatto & Windus (from the Buckingham Palace Road address) about The Land of Lorne suggesting he could write a new preface “& just now, when the public is exercised so much about the Skye evictions, the book should sell well.”

Item from The Evening Telegraph (Angus, Scotland):
     “The statement that Mr Buchanan, the poet, had married Miss Harriet Jay was originally made, with the utmost particularity, in a London letter to one of the New York papers, the writer explaining that the marriage ceremony had been performed in Switzerland on account of the state of the law in England respecting marriage with a deceased wife’s sister. It now turns out that the story was a pure fabrication, the work, it is conjectured, of some private enemy of the poet.—N. B. Mail.”

The original preface to The Land of Lorne had been heavily criticised for Buchanan’s attack on the Duke of Argyll.

6 May 1882

Another letter from John Coleman in The Era continues the argument over The Shadow of the Sword and also gives the following account of his own involvement in Buchanan’s theatrical affairs:
‘... I introduced him and his dramas to Mr Neville, who accepted
The Queen of Connaught. I brought Mr Buchanan’s sister-in-law on the stage, giving my tuition without fee or reward. I paid him for The Shadow of the Sword before the play was produced in London; in addition to which I gave him my adaptation of The Mormons. “On their own merits modest men are dumb,” and you will doubtless observe that my amour propre as author, adapter, what you will, is not excessive; therefore, when this drama failed, although convinced it would have succeeded under other auspices, I did not think it generous to direct public attention to the (with one or two exceptions) inefficient cast, the injudicious alterations, and bungling stage-management which murdered The Mormons.’


9 May 1882

Buchanan replies (from the Grosvenor Club) to John Coleman’s letter in The Era (published 13th May):
“I owe you my best thanks for your insertion of Mr John Coleman’s last letter in your columns; since I gladly purchase for a little coarse abuse the admission that Mr Coleman
did alter and mutilate my play, and that he is the author or adaptor of The Mormons.”


14 May 1882

Buchanan is now in France. He writes to Chatto & Windus from the Hôtel de la Grande Bretagne, 14 Rue Caumartin, Paris, thanking them for the money and asking if they would send a copy of The Martyrdom of Madeline to his mother, who is back in the Westward Ho boarding house in Southend.

In his letter to Andrew Chatto of 23rd April Buchanan expressed a wish “to go away at once into the wilderness, & see what solitude & quiet thought will do to restore me.” Considering he was well-acquainted with the wilderness of Scotland and the west coast of Ireland, it seems strange he should choose Paris.

18 May 1882

Writes to Chatto & Windus from 30 Boulevard Ste. Beuve, Boulogne-sur-Mer, requesting copies of Selected Poems and The Martyrdom of Madeline. He also asks for copies of the latter and Ballads of Life, Love, and Humour be sent to George Barnett Smith. Buchanan will be in Boulogne until Sunday (21st), then he returns to Paris.

Buchanan also writes a letter to Hall Caine prompted by the death of Rossetti and Caine’s memorial piece in The Academy. Buchanan writes:
I have often regretted my old criticism on your friend, not so much because it was stupid, but because, after all, I doubt one poet’s right to criticise another. For the rest, I have long been of opinion that Rossetti was a great spirit; and in that belief I inscribed to him my ‘God and the Man.’
     I suppose it was lack of courage which kept me from putting his name boldly on the preprint of my book; but had I dreamed he was ill or ailing, how eagerly would I not have done so! Still, I cannot conceive anyone mistaking the words of that dedication. Some people have been foolish enough to take it as addressed to Swinburne; but every line of it is against that supposition. I wonder now, if Rossetti himself knew of, and understood, that inscription? Perhaps you could tell me, and to ask you I write this letter. It would be a sincere satisfaction to me to know that he did read it, and accepted it in the spirit in which it was written.”

A couple of vintage postcards of Boulogne-sur-Mer.



This letter is published in Hall Caine, the Man and the Novelist by Charles Frederick Kenyon (London: Greening & Co., Ltd., 1901 - p. 79-80). In Hall Caine’s autobiography, the letter is ‘dramatised’ as Buchanan’s first meeting with Caine.

25 May 1882

Writes to Chatto & Windus from the Hôtel de la Grande Bretagne in Paris about revisions to The Land of Lorne.


28 May 1882

Item from The Sunday Herald of Syracuse, New York:
     ‘“The English law which prevents a man from marrying the sister of his deceased wife has caused Robert Buchanan to take a matrimonial journey to Switzerland, where that absurd regulation is not in force. His new wife and former sister-in-law is—or rather was—Miss Jay, author of the “Queen of Connaught.”’

Buchanan’s denial of his marriage to Harriett Jay was reported in various newspapers in Britain and put an end to the rumour. In America, however, the story did seem to persist. This paper referred to Harriett Jay “formerly the sister-in-law and now the wife of Robert Buchanan” in October 1882, and the nature of Buchanan’s relationship with Jay did cause problems on their American trip in 1884.

2 June 1882

Buchanan meets Edmund Clarence Stedman in Paris. In a letter to Hall Caine (20 December, 1882) Stedman writes:
‘This reminds me that Rossetti was annoyed that Buchanan was grouped, under the caption “Latter- Day Poets,” with Swinburne, Morris and himself; and indeed in the same chapter with himself. But this was a mere exigency of my book (“Victorian Poets”), of which but two chapters were devoted to the four most prominent “Latter-Day” singers—of whom Buchanan certainly then was one. Besides, I drew the sharpest possible contrast between his genius and method and those of the other three, and disposed of his case first—so that he might in no wise be thought of in my discussion of Rossetti, Swinburne and Morris. A glance at the volume will explain the whole situation. I tried to do full justice to Buchanan’s genuine quality as an idyllic poet of Nature, but deprecated his “poetry with a mission,” and intimated that his controversies and preachments had done him poor service. At all this he took some umbrage, but we met by chance in Paris last June, and parted good friends.’

The date of this meeting is taken from the inscription on a copy of The Martyrdom of Madeline which Buchanan gave to Stedman and which I came across on ebay - further details here.

Buchanan’s poem, ‘The White Robe; or, Zola in a Nutshell’ (published in The New Rome, 1898) is dated “Paris, June, 1883”, but I think this is probably a mistake and should be June, 1882.

8 June 1882

Back to Boulogne and another letter to Chatto & Windus. Buchanan writes:
     “I should have posted you the M.S. yesterday, and kept the letter of my promise; but the English governess in Paris, to whom I gave part of Vol II to copy, as well as Vol I (which you have already seen) has been slower that I expected, & moreover, her copy is, I find, full of blunders. I shall, however, send you without fail the entire story ready for press early next week; and I hope you will consider that, though I have rather broken the letter, I have kept the spirit, of our agreement.”
This is The New Abelard, which Buchanan had agreed to complete by June 15th. Buchanan queries whether the story, “the hero of which is a naughty clergyman” might be “a little strong for a family magazine or paper”


27 June 1882

Still in Boulogne, Buchanan writes to Andrew Chatto concerning The City of Dream. As per his earlier letter to Nicholas Trübner he wants the poem to be published anonymously in three volumes.


1 July 1882

Buchanan writes to The Academy objecting to their review of The Martyrdom of Madeline and pointing out that the character of Blanco Serena was not based upon D. G. Rossetti:
To show the injustice of this supposition, I will simply ask your readers to compare the lineaments of my Blanco Serena, a society-hunting, worldly minded, insincere, but good-humoured, fashionable painter, with the literary image of Mr. Rossetti a solitude-loving, unworldly, thoroughly sincere and earnest, if sometimes saturnine, man of genius, in revolt against society. The blundering of windmill-criticism could surely go no further. I wish to have no mistake on this, to me, very solemn matter. What I wrote of Mr. Rossetti, ten years ago, stands. What I wrote of Mr. Rossetti in the inscription of God and the Man also stands.”


4 July 1882

The London correspondent of The Liverpool Mercury attributes a highly critical article on Rossetti’s poetry in the July edition of The British Quarterly Review to Buchanan.

Although this might be an isolated case, it is symptomatic of the difficulty Buchanan had in drawing a line under the whole ‘Fleshly School’ affair. Further details here.

5 July 1882

The publishers, Chapman and Hall, write to Chatto & Windus objecting to the new edition of The Land of Lorne since they own the copyright.


6 July 1882

Writes to Chatto & Windus (from Boulogne) saying his agreement with Mr. Chapman is “among my papers in London, but I can assure you that I have described it to you exactly.” He says he will be back in England on Saturday (8th July) and can show them the agreement then, if required. He also asks that the cheap edition of God and the Man should include a new preface and the name of Rossetti in the dedication.


8 July 1882

Still in Boulogne, Buchanan writes to Chatto & Windus:
“I am writing to Messrs Chapman & Hall by this post. The copyright of Land of Lorne does not belong to them. My agreement gave them leave to print & sell a library edition of 1200 copies, in sets of 2 vols. Shortly after the publication, when the library edition was still in the market, I wanted to print a cheap edn & Mr Chapman said I might do so if I paid him a small sum; but of course he has now no right over the book.”
He goes on to say that he has received no reply from Andrew Chatto regarding The City of Dream and requests copies of God and the Man, A Child of Nature and “Mr Swinburne’s new poems”.


20 July 1882

The Liverpool Mercury prints an apology for associating Buchanan’s name with the Rossetti article in The British Quarterly Review.


21 July 1882

The London correspondent of The Liverpool Mercury adds his apology to Buchanan.


11 August 1882

Writes to Chatto & Windus telling them to hold all correspondence since he is leaving Boulogne for England.


15 August 1882

Still in Boulogne, Buchanan writes to Chatto & Windus:
The copy of New Abelard will be posted to-morrow – It should have reached you Saturday, but for an accident to some of the slips (made by a servant in London) which made re-writing necessary.”


20 August 1882

Buchanan is back in England. He writes to Chatto & Windus from the Westward Ho boarding house in Southend enclosing the new preface and dedication for God and the Man.

The new edition of God and the Man contained a second verse dedicated to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and a new preface. The new verse is dated ‘August 1882’ and the preface, ‘August 18, 1882’. More information here.

7 September 1882

The German publisher, Freiherr Christian Bernhard von Tauchnitz, writes to Chatto & Windus concerning the German rights of God and the Man.

According to Mark Twain in England by Dennis Welland (Chatto & Windus, 1978):
“Robert Buchanan sold to Tauchnitz the rights in his God and Man which Chatto, to whom Buchanan’s contract had explicitly assigned all rights, had disposed of to Grädener. This problem was resolved by Chatto’s agreeing to relieve Tauchnitz of the copies already printed and to find a market for them.”


8 September 1882

Writes to Andrew Chatto (from Westward Ho):
     “Since I saw you I have been very ill with a sort of influenza-fever, which has altogether interfered with Part 3 of the Story. I am still very shaky, & am going out to-day for the first time. If you will suffer me, I will deliver two parts in a week or two, & so overtake the delay—instead of hurrying the completion of one part now.”
Buchanan also asks that the new edition of God and the Man be given a separate advert and requests copies of the Hebrid Isles when ready.

The title of the new edition of The Land of Lorne: including the cruise of the ‘Tern’ to the Outer Hebrides was changed to The Hebrid Isles: Wanderings in the Land of Lorne and the Outer Hebrides.

October 1882

Chatto & Windus publish a new, cheap edition of A Child of Nature.


25 October 1882

Charles May and Richard Mansell of the Imperial Theatre appear in the Bankruptcy Court due to a petition from Buchanan for a debt of £76 in regard to the production of Lucy Brandon.


4 November 1882

A letter in The Era from Buchanan explains his reasons for taking May and Mansell to court. The money had been a loan, prior to the production of the play and the bankruptcy of May and Mansell was not due to any failure of Lucy Brandon. Buchanan adds:
“... I have also been mulcted in large sums on guarantees given by me to several tradesmen and to Captain Hobson, of the Aquarium; and all this in connection with a speculation in which I had no share, save as the author of a piece accepted for performance. Those who know me are aware how little disposed I am to be exacting in money matters; those who do not know me may be assured that the action I have taken was absolutely necessary, and in no sense arbitrary.”


11 November 1882

Buchanan attends the first night of Tennyson’s play, The Promise of May, at the Globe Theatre.

Buchanan mentions this in an article he wrote for the New-York Daily Tribune (11/10/1885) on the subject of ‘Theatrical First Nights’.

22 November 1882

Harriett Jay appears in a special matinée performance of A Madcap Prince at the Gaiety Theatre. The last act of The Nine Days Queen is also performed.


29 November 1882

Harriett Jay appears in a matinée performance of The Nine Days Queen at the Gaiety Theatre.


December 1882

My Connaught Cousins by Harriett Jay, published by F. V. White and Co.
Advertised in The Times 5 December, 1882.
Reviewed in The Daily News 29 December, 1882.

The Hebrid Isles. Wanderings in the Land of Lorne and the Outer Hebrides. A revised edition of The Land of Lorne published by Chatto & Windus.
Reviewed in The Scotsman 5 December, 1882.

Love Me For Ever published in the Christmas supplement of the Illustrated London News.

The short story, ‘Sandie Macpherson’, is published in December issue of Belgravia





9 December 1882

Annan Water; or, Wife and No Wife commences serialisation in the People’s Journal.


16 December 1882

Annan Water; or, Wife and No Wife commences serialisation in The Liverpool Weekly Mercury.


21 December 1882

Chatto & Windus’s edition of The Shadow of the Sword contains a new preface by Buchanan written in Southend on this date.


28 December 1882

Buchanan writes (from Westward Ho, Southend) to Theophilus Marzials, asking if he “Would care to do a little music for my new Adelphi play? There is a part song, and some other pieces;; and I should be very proud of your co-operation.”

Although the letter is actually dated ‘February 28th’, I believe it is more likely to have been written in December, since a second letter from Buchanan to Marzials is dated 3rd January and contains an apology about misdating his previous letter.
Marzials did contribute a part-song to Storm-Beaten.




January 1883

The New Abelard, begins serialisation in The Gentleman’s Magazine.

Items in the press mention that Buchanan is preparing two plays for production - one for the Adelphi (Storm-Beaten), the other for the Globe (presumably Lady Clare).


16 January 1883

Writes to Andrew Chatto from 36, Craven Street, Strand:
     “I have given Messrs Chatto & Windus as a reference to a lady from whom I am taking a tenement. When she writes, will you kindly let her know that I am not a Ticket of Leave Man?”

This is also the address of Buchanan’s letter to Theophilus Marzials of 3rd January. Craven Street is just off the Strand, round the corner from the Adelphi Theatre.

February 1883

Love Me For Ever published by Chatto & Windus in their cheap Piccadilly Novels range.
Advertised in the Pall Mall Gazette 3 February, 1883.
Reviewed in The Derby Mercury 21 February, 1883.

New cheap editions of The Shadow of the Sword and The Martyrdom of Madeline are also advertised.


13 February 1883

The Ipswich Journal reports that Mrs. Beere is “about to abandon the Globe Theatre” due to ill health, although the real reason is financial problems. Mrs. Beere, the manager of the theatre, was to appear in Buchanan’s play for the Globe (still unnamed, but presumably Lady Clare) which was in rehearsal.


1 March 1883

A report in The Edinburgh Evening News reveals that Buchanan’s theatrical adaptation of God and the Man has run foul of the Lord Chamberlain, who has objected to the title. The play is renamed Storm-Beaten.


11 March 1883

Sends two tickets to Andrew Chatto for the opening night of Storm-Beaten (an adaptation of God and the Man, originally published by Chatto & Windus). Buchanan writes:
The performance would indeed be incomplete with you, who first took my bantling under your protecting wing – Everybody seems to expect a big success, & putting the construction & effects out of the question as my own work, I think you will find the scenic effects superb.”

The address on the letter is 62 York Terrace, Regents Park.

14 March 1883

Storm-Beaten (based on his novel, God and the Man) produced at the Adelphi Theatre.
First theatrical success for Buchanan.


26 March 1883

Item in The Dundee Evening Telegraph:
     ‘Mr Robert Buchanan has taken the Globe Theatre, with the view of producing a new play which he has written, but which has not yet been named. The right of performing “Storm Beaten” in America, which Mr Buchanan sold for £600, has just been resold for £2000—the increased value being due to the favour with which the play has been received in London.’

According to an item in The Derby Mercury of 4th April, Buchanan had “taken over the remainder of Mrs. Bernard Beere’s lease of the Globe Theatre”.
The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette of 6th April says that Buchanan has taken the theatre for a month.

4 April 1883

According to an item in The Derby Mercury, Buchanan has “taken over the remainder of Mrs. Bernard Beere’s lease of the Globe Theatre”.
The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette of 6th April says that Buchanan has taken the theatre for a month.


11 April 1883

Lady Clare (adapted from Georges Ohnet’s Le Maître de Forges) produced at the Globe Theatre, with Harriett Jay in the cast playing her first male role, the Hon. Cecil Brookfield. Of Harriett Jay’s performance the critic of The Scotsman wrote:
“Miss Harriet Jay played a lad with infinite truth and many pleasant touches of humour. This lady has, indeed, rarely been seen in a part which showed her to so much advantage.”


This is Buchanan’s second theatrical success and is also the first real success for Harriett Jay, actress.

15 May 1883

The Glasgow Herald reports that Augustus Harris, manager of Drury Lane, has purchased the provincial rights of Lady Clare and will also be producing Buchanan’s next play.


22 May 1883

Writes to Chatto & Windus (from the York Terrace address) asking if the enclosed story would be suitable for one of their magazines. The story is ‘A Daughter of the Deep’ by Mr. Haddow, “a person in whom I am interested”.

More of Mr. Haddow later.

8 June 1883

Last night (75th performance) of Storm-Beaten at the Adelphi Theatre.


9 June 1883

A notice addressed to provincial theatre managers in The Era states that Augustus Harris is responsible for Lady Clare, whereas Buchanan is organising the provincial tour of Storm-Beaten.


27 June 1883

Writes to Chatto & Windus asking if the publication of Annan Water could be delayed until September and then The New Abelard in November. Buchanan says he has had “an unpleasant attack of illness—which alarmed me for the time being, & necessitated a visit to the seaside.”

Annan Water had been advertised in the Pall Mall Gazette on 28th April.
The address on the letter is 11 Park Road, Regents Park. Buchanan complains about the housekeeper of York Terrace not sending him the proofs of The New Abelard, which would indicate that he had moved.

29 June 1883

Last night of Lady Clare at the Globe Theatre.


30 June 1883

Buchanan stages a version of J. B. Buckstone’s 1847 play, The Flowers of the Forest at the Globe Theatre, London. Harriett Jay is in the cast as the gypsy boy, Lemuel.
The play runs for a week and, according to the review in The Era of 7th July, the production was due to the withdrawal of Lady Clareby the desire of Miss Ada Cavendish, who felt the need of a rest prior to commencing her provincial tour.”


8 July 1883

According to an item in the New-York Daily Tribune the American rights of Storm-Beaten had been acquired by Messrs. Shook & Collier of the Union Square Theatre for the sum of $10,000.

According to The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser of 2nd October, the American rights were sold for £3,700. And a piece in The New York Times (6th January, 1884) mentioned the figure of $12,000. The exchange rate in 1883 was $4.85 to £1. According to earlier reports, Buchanan had sold the American rights for £600 ($2910), so he would not have benefited from the later sale. Buchanan’s practice of selling the rights to his plays at the earliest opportunity would continue throughout his career.

August 1883

Lady Clare starts its first provincial tour under the direction of Augustus Harris, with Kate Pattison in the title role.

Lady Clare continues to tour the country for the next six years. Other ‘Lady Clares’ are Marie de Gray, Mrs. Digby Willoughby, Ada Cavendish and Janette Steer.

Storm-Beaten is less successful in the provinces.

October 1883

A Poet’s Sketch-Book. Selections from the prose writings of Robert Buchanan published by Chatto & Windus.
Advertised in
The Times 13 October, 1883.
Reviewed in
The Pall Mall Gazette 13 November, 1883.


1 October 1883

Buchanan attends the opening night of Lady Clare at the Pavilion Theatre, London.


13 October 1883

Dramatic critics are invited to a full dress rehearsal of A Sailor and his Lass.

A Sailor and his Lass was due to open on Thursday, 11th October but was postponed until the following Monday. Reasons given for the postponement in the Press were the collapse of the supports for the ship used in the shipwreck scene and problems with the Lord Chamberlain over the dynamite scene.

15 October 1883

A Sailor and his Lass (written in collaboration with Augustus Harris) produced at the Drury Lane Theatre. Harriett Jay plays Mary Morton (the ‘Lass’).
According to the review in The Glasgow Herald there was ”
an audience of nearly 4000 people”.


19 October 1883

A letter from Buchanan is published in The Standard which had objected to the ‘revolting’ execution scene in A Sailor and his Lass. Buchanan sees no difference between showing executions in historical plays and in those set in modern times. Buchanan writes:
From the beginning of my literary career I have been among the strongest opponents of capital punishment; and if, in the drama already named, I picture that horrible blot on our civilisation as it is, I do so, both as artist and man, in the confidence that the representation can shock no truly tender heart, or otherwise do anything but good. Nowadays, our judicial murders are done in secret, and nowadays the super-sensitive nerves of certain playgoers are “revolted” by any reproduction of the stern and terrible facts of human suffering. Though such things are, they must not be spoken of or seen.”


27 October 1883

Buchanan joins an argument between Sydney Grundy (over his play, The Glass of Fashion) and the dramatic critic, Clement Scott in The Era saying:
The protection of us authors, when we are beset by the rancour of the dramatic “ring” and the contumely of the critical coterie, is the fair play of the public at large, and the independence of the newspapers in general.”
He goes on to say that he wrote the ‘Newest Thing in Journalism’ article and continues:
“When, in the current number of Truth, Mr Labouchere scarifies A Sailor and his Lass as he scarified Storm Beaten and Lady Clare, I feel no indignation; it would be cowardly to resent a violence which I myself have provoked, and which comes from a source which I have consistently held up to derision. Mr Labouchere has the courage of his opinions.”
And concludes:
“The public is not to be misled; the bulk of critics holds aloof from coterie conspiracy; and the practical illustration of the impotence of personal malice is to be found in the fact that
The Glass of Fashion runs merrily at the Globe, and that crowds are turned away nightly from the doors of Drury-lane.”


30 October 1883

Writes to Andrew Chatto saying he has two new books “ready for publication”: a collection of his plays (two full-length: The Nine Days’ Queen and Stormbeaten and two one-act curtain-raisers: A Dark Night’s Bridal and The Night-Watch) and a new poem, The Great problem: a new Decameron (which would eventually be retitled The Earthquake). Buchanan asks for a £105 advance on the two books.

Buchanan’s collection of plays was never published.

November 1883

Through the Stage Door by Harriett Jay, published by F. V. White and Co.
Advertised in The Morning Post 8 November, 1883.
Reviewed in The Spectator 15 December, 1883:
“This is a regrettable book. The coarse vices of bad men are not material whereof women should weave their fictions.”
And in The Spectator (again) 2 February, 1884:
We are inclined to think that this is the best, as it is certainly the pleasantest, story that Miss Jay has yet given to the world.”

Annan Water published by Chatto & Windus.
Advertised in
The Graphic 10 November, 1883
Reviewed in
The Academy 22 December, 1883.
The book is dedicated to “Miss Leigh, of the English Mission, Paris.”


The two contrasting reviews in The Spectator prompted Harriett Jay to write letters to The Standard (4th February, 1884) and The Academy (9th February, 1884) and this incident was later referred to in George Gissing’s New Grub Street.



3 November 1883

The Era prints three letters, one from Augustus Harris distancing himself from Buchanan’s remarks in his last letter, one from Buchanan stating that the opinions he expressed were his own, and a final one from Clement Scott stating:
A letter appears in your last number signed “Robert Buchanan.” I can add nothing to the chapters of contempt that have been devoted to this writer by the powerful pens of Algernon Charles Swinburne and Edmund Yates, except a public expression of absolute and, I trust, dignified silence.”


7 November 1883

Writes to Andrew Chatto:
     “Had I not been considerably prest for money, I should not have offered the other day to part with the ‘Great Problem’ on such terms, for it is the book into which I have put all my strength & soul. I now find myself so circumstanced, on account of a heavy payment I have to meet, that I am compelled to apply to you once more, in the hope that, as no money has passed between us for so long a time, you will get me out my scrape.”
Buchanan asks for £150 for a new novel and will let Chatto & Windus publish The Great Problem on their own terms.
     “I am making this offer at what I know is a great sacrifice, but indeed it is a matter of life & death to me; for if I dont settle the claim to which I have alluded, it will be disastrous. Should you prefer it, & will let me have the money, I will repay it to you in cash on 15th December, when a large sum is due to me from Mr Harris”.

This sequence of letters to Chatto & Windus gives another example of Buchanan’s hopeless inability to manage his finances. With Storm-Beaten, Lady Clare and now, A Sailor and His Lass, Buchanan had written three successful plays. He had also sold the American rights to Storm-Beaten (albeit for less than they were eventually worth) and the provincial rights to Lady Clare. Presumably his debt of £150 related either to his lease of the Globe Theatre, or his own management of the provincial tour of Storm-Beaten. There is a possible clue in this footnote to Christopher Murray’s appendix on the Chatto correspondence in his 1974 thesis:
“In one of his letters, in the present writer’s possession, Buchanan bemoans the fact that he ‘lost fearfully by Stormbeaten, owing to the dreadful expenses.’”
Since Storm-Beaten had been produced by the Gatti brothers at the Adelphi, it could be that Buchanan is referring here to the provincial tour.

In his proposal regarding the new novel, Buchanan stipulates that he will retain the English serial rights, which might indicate that the reason he wanted Chatto & Windus to delay their publication of Annan Water (in the letter of 27th June) was the fact that it was still being serialised in the provincial papers.

8 November 1883

Agreement with Chatto & Windus for £150, which will be repaid by Augustus Harris on the 50th performance of A Sailor and His Lass.


26 November 1883

Storm Beaten is produced at the Union Square Theater, New York.


28 November 1883

Writes to Chatto & Windus from Glasgow apologising for not completing the next part of The New Abelard, due for publication in the December issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine. Buchanan blames illness but it should be pointed out that he was probably in Scotland overseeing the tour of Storm-Beaten which was produced in Edinburgh and Glasgow during November, before moving down to the north of England in December.
The next part of The New Abelard did not appear until the February, 1884 issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine, with the concluding part in March.


8 December 1883

Last night of A Sailor and his Lass at the Drury Lane Theatre.

Following the London run, A Sailor and his Lass tours the provinces. The latest date I’ve come across for a provincial tour is 1898.

22 December 1883

Robert Buchanan attends the first night of Musette at the Opera Comique starring the American actress, Lotta.


27 December 1883

Writes to Chatto & Windus after they have sent him a copy of a letter they have received from Robert Haddow in which he claims to have written parts of The New Abelard. Buchanan explains:
     “Mr Robert Haddow, whose letter you enclose in copy, is a person I picked from the gutter, fed, clothed, & made my secretary many months ago. Six weeks ago I discovered he was a drunkard & a thief, & dismissed him from my employment. He thereupon wrote me the enclosed, & I was afterwards foolish enough to assist him further. Finding that there was a limit to my generosity & patience, he resorted to threats—one of which he has carried out by communicating libellously with you.”
Buchanan encloses a copy of a letter from Haddow in which he apologises for an incident, and begs for forgiveness. Buchanan admits that Haddow did some research for The New Abelard but the novel “is in every respect an original work invented and written by me”.

This letter is interesting on two counts. It confirms the stories of Buchanan’s generosity ro impoverished writers, but it also brings up for the first time the question of whether Buchanan would farm out some of his work, specifically his novels, to others. Although in this case the contribution of Haddow (if genuine, Buchanan denies it) was minor, the question would occur later in his career, especially with Lady Kilpatrick.

29 December 1883

The Era publishes two letters pointing out the similarities of the recent production of Georges Ohnet’s Le Maitre de Forges at the Gymnase, Paris, and Buchanan’s Lady Clare, one of which suggests that Georges Ohnet “has been largely indebted to Mr Buchanan’s play.”





5 January 1884

The Era publishes a letter from Georges Ohnet in which he states:
Lady Clare was taken entirely from Le Maître de Forges. Mr Buchanan, following a common enough custom (against which old English loyalty is constantly protesting, though vainly, I own) confined himself to merely changing the names of the characters in my novel. His work, in fact, is a downright plagiarism.”
And a letter from Buchanan admitting:
‘The English drama (announced by me in the original programmes as “founded on a well-known French romance”) was suggested by M. Ohnet’s highly popular novel, and was written by me in Paris some two years ago.’
And concluding:
Lady Clare has now been played in England several hundred times, with almost unvarying success. Since last June it has been the property of Mr Augustus Harris, who “travels” it with beautiful scenery, expressly painted for the tour, and an excellent company. It is important, therefore, to point out in how many cardinal respects it differs from M. Ohnet’s French drama so recently produced at the Gymnase, and how it is in no sense of the word a reduplication of that drama, but a freehand English version of a French novelist’s subject, with new characters, fresh incidents and situations, superadded comedy, and dialogue which I may call (quoting Touchstone) “a poor thing, but mine own.”’
And, finally, a letter from ‘A Dramatic Critic’:
‘The notion of Georges Ohnet, the novelist and dramatist, stealing a plot from Robert Buchanan, poet and playwright, is surely “enough to make a cat laugh.”’

Buchanan and Jay occupy a private box at the first night of Ada Cavendish’s revival of The New Magdalen at the Novetly Theatre.

This will not be the last time Buchanan is accused of plagiarism. In his defence, it should be pointed out that the copyright laws were more flexible in those days - in fact the Pall Mall Gazette (20th February) suggested that when the official English version of Ohnet’s play was performed in England that it would “be open to Mr. Buchanan to claim his English rights over a story that he admittedly appropriated without permission from its author, and according to precedent the law would be bound to pronounce in favour of Mr. Buchanan.”

7 January 1884

Buchanan suffers an attack of gastric fever. The Era reports he was “prostrate and quite delirious” and caused his friends grave anxiety.


14 January 1884

Writes to Chatto & Windus:
“I am still in bed, tho’ much better.
     I send you herewith the bulk of City of Dream. Miss Jay has kindly promised to copy the remainder under my direction, & to let you have it at once. Finish of N. Abelard I hope to have ready on Wednesday, though it is painful work for me in my condition.”
He then goes on to ask for the £100 advance, complaining that the “smaller sum wont leave me a farthing to quit Town”. He offers to write a short novel (presumably Matt) and reveals that he wrote Love Me Forever in a week and the Illustrated London News paid him £120 for it.

The letter is sent from the Park Road address and it does suggest that Harriett Jay is also living there, although she could be looking after him during his illness.

16 January 1884

The Pall Mall Gazette reports that Buchanan “is now convalescent from a slight attack of fever.”


21 January 1884

Writes to Andrew Chatto sending the conclusions of both The City of Dream and The New Abelard. In the letter Buchanan suggests that The City of Dream should be published anonymously, simultaneously with The Great Problem (i.e. The Earthquake) obviously intending to duplicate the effect of publishing St. Abe and His Seven Wives and The Drama of Kings together in 1871.


22 January 1884

Item in The Bury and Norwich Post and Suffolk Herald:
     “Mr. Robert Buchanan’s attack of gastric fever has retarded the publication of his new volume of poems which will contain the ripest and most recent work of his pen. It will be entitled “The Great problem; or, Six Days and a Sabbath.”


25 January 1884

75th performance of Storm Beaten at the Union Square Theater, New York.


27 January 1884

Item in the New-York Daily Tribune:
     ‘The bad play of “Storm Beaten” has at last expired at the Union Square Theatre. No flowers.’


28 January 1884

Writes to Chatto & Windus saying he has “been worse since you last heard from me, & this is my first day ‘up.’”


2 February 1884

Annan Water, begins serialisation in The Manchester Weekly Times.

Although I won’t mention every time one of Buchanan’s novels appears in serial form in the provincial Press (apart from the occasions when it precedes publication in book form) I thought it worth pointing out that although Chatto & Windus was Buchanan’s publisher during this period, he seems to have retained the serial rights for some of his novels and used it as an additional source of income.

4 February 1884

Writes to Andrew Chatto asking him to send two books, one on Cornish dialect, the other on Cornish mines, suggesting that Buchanan was working on his novel The Master of the Mine at this time. He also complains about the proposed typeface for The City of Dream.


13 February 1884

Lady Clare produced at Wallack’s Theatre, New York. Lester Wallack having bought the American rights.


17 February 1884

From the Brooklyn Eagle:
“Lady Claire” is the solitary success at Wallack’s this year. It has caught the public fancy and is doing an immense business.’


19 February 1884

Writes to Arthur Locker, editor of The Graphic, offering a “one vol. story” for £120.

This is presumably Matt: A Story of a Caravan, which was serialised in The Graphic from 3rd January to 14th February, 1885.

23 February 1884

Foxglove Manor begins serialisation in The Glasgow Weekly Herald.


March 1884

The New Abelard published by Chatto & Windus.
Advertised in the Pall Mall Gazette 22 March, 1884.
Reviewed in The Times 11 April, 1884.


16 March 1884

Foxglove Manor begins serialisation in the New York Sunday Mercury under the title, The Rector’s Temptation; or, Passions of the Human Heart.


25 March 1884

Writes to Andrew Chatto asking him not to send review copies of The New Abelard to Truth or World, and also to send complimentary copies to the Archbishop of Canterbury and Mr. Gladstone.


April 1884

The poem, ‘A Canine Suggestion, is published in Belgravia.
An attack on vivisection, inspired by Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’, it is dated 9th February, 1884 and has the following footnote:
As remotely bearing on the humanitarian question involved in the topic of vivisection, may be recorded the fact that Mr. Labouchere’s notice of a bill to class Bears as domestic animals, and so save them from brutal torture, was greeted with ‘laughter’ by the House of Commons. I have been so often at issue with Mr. Labouchere that I should like on this occasion to do homage to his courage,—a courage all the more noble that it overcame the possessor’s own characteristic dread of ridicule. The senior member for Northampton is likely to be remembered, not as a society journalist, but as a politician of the most unselfish kind.”

In his letter of 13th February to Chatto & Windus accompanying the poem, Buchanan writes:
“The suggestion has at least the merit of oddity & boldness, & may cause some amusement.”

2 April 1884

Edmund Yates is sentenced to four months in prison for libel.

According to this article on the Victorian Secrets site:
In 1883 the Earl of Lonsdale sued Yates for criminal libel because of an article in the World on his lordship’s supposed elopement with a young lady at a time when his wife was in a delicate state of health. Yates denied authorship of the article but refused to disclose the name of the ’regular contributor’ who had written it (and who had since been dismissed). On 2 April 1884 Yates was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment, and following an unsuccessful appeal he was incarcerated in Holloway gaol on 16 January 1885. After serving just under two months of his sentence, he was released on grounds of ill-health.”

10 April 1884

The Pall Mall Gazette prints a letter from Buchanan in support of Edmund Yates. It concludes:
“This sending of journalists to prison is at the very best a barbarous business, and unworthy of the civilization under which we live.”


11 April 1884

Death of Charles Reade.


13 April 1884

The following item appears in the Brooklyn Eagle:
“Harriet Jay, the novelist and actress, is going to the United States under the management of Colonel Sinn, of Brooklyn. She will appear in Mr. Robert Buchanan’s historical dramas.”

Although Harriett Jay did not appear in “Mr. Robert Buchanan’s historical dramas” “under the management of Colonel Sinn”, this item does indicate that Buchanan and Jay are considering the American trip at this point. It also marks an earlier connection with Colonel Sinn than the Philadelphia production of Alone in London.

15 April 1884

Buchanan attends the funeral of Charles Reade at Willesden Churchyard.


16 April 1884

Buchanan’s ‘Personal Recollections of Charles Reade’ published in the Pall Mall Gazette.

This was later included in A Look Round Literature.
In the article Buchanan states that Harriett Jay was “still a very young girl in her teens” when she wrote The Queen of Connaught, although she was actually 21 when it was published.

17 April 1884

Arthur Wing Pinero’s authorised adaptation of Georges Ohnet’s play, Le Maître de Forges, with the title The Ironmaster, is produced at the St. James’s Theatre, starring Mr. and Mrs. Kendal. Pinero retains the French setting.


26 April 1884

Stormy Waters (a ‘novelisation’ of A Sailor and His Lass) begins serialisation in The Liverpool Weekly Mercury.


18 May 1884

Item in The New York Times:
“Mr. Robert Buchanan, the adapter of “Lady Clare,” has written a new comedy which he is trying to get produced in London. Mr. Buchanan is led to this reckless course through the success of “Lady Clare” and the large royalties which have poured into his pocket from this country ever since the production of this piece. In London Mr. Buchanan is not regarded with enthusiasm by theatrical managers. In the first place he has written a large number of pieces, none of which, barring “Lady Clare,” has been successfully performed in the English metropolis. In the second he has a sister-in-law named Harriet Jay, who is the cause of travail and sorrow in managerial circles. Whenever Mr. Buchanan writes a play he insists, as far as he can, upon having Miss Jay perform the principal character. The lady is an amiable and interesting person when she does not try to act. But the quickest preparation for a London exodus lies through the appearance of Miss Jay in public. It is because Mr. Buchanan, metaphorically speaking, goes around with a bundle of manuscript under one arm and his sister-in-law under the other that he is not enthusiastically regarded by English managers.”


5 June 1884

According to an item in The Derby Mercury of 18th June, Buchanan attended a “very pleasant afternoon party” at the house of Mrs. Henry Reeves (Miss Helen Mathers), 78, Grosvenor Street, W.:
“A notable but not unpleasant innovation was the absence of music, but in its stead much pleasant talk went on during the afternoon.” Henry Irving and Miss Iza Duffus-Hardy were among the guests.


16 June 1884

The Yorkshire Post reprints an article about Buchanan from the Fifeshire Journal, written by the editor of that paper, Mr. W. Hodgson. It includes some fresh information about Buchanan’s early life in Glasgow:
“The sub-editor of his father’s paper, you get to hear, hates the boy for his impudence, and shies the inkstand after him when he can get the chance. Undeniably the lad is given to idleness, and, unless something happens, will develop into that lowest of all characters, the character of the young man about town. The required something does happen in his father’s misfortune. As when a hawk disperses the cushats in the fir thickets, so flee away all his acquaintances and boon companions to the dirge of his father’s ruin. Of all the people in Glasgow, I am taken into his confidence. I listen to his tale of petulance, grief, bombast, and ambition, powerless to help him, but struck with his self-evident sincerity, and with the possibilities for good work that he will do if only he can get a lane into it. The lane, is made by a distinguished citizen of Glasgow, the late Mr Robert Dalgleish, M.P., who sends the young dreamer for some months abroad.”

I have not seen the original of this article, but I suspect The Yorkshire Post prints it in its entirety. I’ve not come across Robert Dalgleish, M.P. and the story of the trip abroad in any of Buchanan’s memoirs or in Jay’s biography, so I’m hesitant to add it to this Timeline as fact until I find further evidence.

12 July 1884

Harriett Jay’s novel, A Marriage of Convenience, begins serialisation in The Lady's Pictorial: A Newspaper for the Home.


16 July 1884

Harriett Jay appears as Lemuel, the gipsy boy, in a scene from The Flowers of the Forest at a matinée benefit for Mr. Charles Kelly at the Prince’s Theatre, London.


19 July 1884

Item in The Liverpool Mercury:
     ‘Mr. Robert Buchanan is writing a play for the Union-square Theatre, New York. His “Lady Clare” was the great success of Wallack’s last season. We understand that Mr. Buchanan intends to go over to America in order to superintend the production of his new piece. This will be, we think, his first visit to the West, though “Saint Abe” and “The White Rose and Red” led readers to suppose that Mr. Buchanan must be as familiar with America as with the islands of Scotland. For some years Mr. Buchanan has had a considerable following in America both as poet and novelist, and it is probable that the forthcoming visit may excite a good deal of interest.’

The play in question was A Hero In Spite Of Himself, which Jay states was never written, but which became the subject of a court case in 1888 when the managers of the Union Square Theatre, Messrs. Shook and Collier, succeeded in retrieving their £150 advance for the play. Buchanan described his meeting with Shook and Collier in a letter to The Era of 9th March, 1889. The play was never performed, but it was ‘novelised’ and appeared as a serial in The York Herald (2 October - 24 December, 1886). It was never published in book form but the serial version is available here.

22 July 1884

Writes to Chatto & Windus saying all proofs of The City of Dream and the Collected Poems have now been returned and he will send a complete revision of Foxglove Manor tomorrow.


7 August 1884

Buchanan and Harriett Jay go to America, embarking on the steamship Eider from Southampton.

I have found no newspaper reports either in Britain or America of Buchanan’s departure or arrival. However, checking the New York Passenger Lists I also found no mention of Harriett Jay or Robert Buchanan, but I did come across a ‘Miss Emily Jay’ (25) and, next on the list, a ‘Leonhard Buchanan, merchant’ (38) who sailed on the Eider on this date. I feel this is too much of a coincidence to be anything other than a mistake of the person compiling the list, or some odd attempt of Buchanan to travel incognito. More information is available in the Buchanan’s Theatrical Ventures in America section.

16 August 1884

Buchanan and Jay arrive in New York.


25 August 1884

Buchanan attends a performance of Storm Beaten at the Grand Opera House, New York.


September 1884

Foxglove Manor published by Chatto & Windus.
Advertised in The Times 15 September 1884.
Reviewed in The Academy 20 September, 1884.

Another reminiscence of Charles Reade by Buchanan is published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine.


1 September 1884

Bachelors (written in collaboration with Hermann Vezin, adapted from a German play by Julius Roderich Benedix) produced at the Haymarket Theatre.


6 September, 1884

An interview with Buchanan is published in The New York Daily Tribune. which reveals that Buchanan is staying both at the Hoffman House in the city and also the Pavilion Hotel, New Brighton, Staten Island. Apart from the play for Shook & Collier, he also mentions arranging the American production of “a new comedy, which will be produced in London late this fall, with one of our brightest actresses, Miss Kate Vaughan, in the leading part.” But he says that he also wants to produce his “best play, the ‘Nine Days’ Queen, with my sister-in-law, Miss Harriett Jay, in the title rôle ... I consider Miss Jay simply perfect as Lady Jane Gray, in addition to which she is facile princeps as a representative of stage boys—e.g., Cecil Brookfield, in ‘Lady Clare,’ a performance which was the talk of London. Last season she was leading lady of Drury Lane, but she will not appear again in melodrama.”

It would seem that Buchanan gave this interview before A Hero In Spite Of Himself was rejected by Shook & Collier. The comedy for Kate Vaughan never materialised.

14 September 1884

The New York Daily Tribune prints a letter from Buchanan under the heading of ‘American Authors and English Criticism’.


21 September 1884

Another brief interview in The Buffalo Express, reiterated Buchanan’s intention to produce The Nine Days’ Queen in America.


22 September 1884

Buchanan sends a copy of The Martyrdom of Madeline to Edmund Clarence Stedman. In the accompanying letter, Buchanan explains that “Since my arrival here, however, I have been up to the neck in business, & I had to postpone our meeting.” Buchanan also writes that “I am located here in a flat with my sister-in-law, who will very likely act in New York this season.” The address on the letter is 42 East 23rd Street, Madison Square.

Buchanan also writes to the publishers, Fields & Osgood, offering them the poem, ‘Schopenhauer; or, the New Buddha’ for the Atlantic Monthly, for the sum of $100.


27 September 1884

Item in The New York Mirror:
Robert Buchanan will remain in America all Winter. He has taken rooms on Madison Square, where he is at work on his plays. He hopes to produce The Nine Days’ Queen here, with Harriet Jay in the title rôle. He is writing a play for Adelaide Detchon.”

As well as indicating his decision to stay in America, the renting of an apartment in the city, rather than splashing out on two hotels, could indicate that Buchanan was now in financial difficulties again after the deal with Shook & Collier fell through. They rejected A Hero In Spite Of Himself on the grounds that they had commissioned a society drama (probably along the lines of Lady Clare) and objected to the scenes set in the Wild West (complete with gunfights).
The play for the American actress, Adelaide Detchon, turned out to be a two-act adaptation of Molière’s L’École des Femmes which was produced at London’s Comedy Theatre on 21st March 1885.

2 October 1884

Writes to to Augustin Daly offering him two plays, a comedy which “is still without a home over here, and has as yet been submitted to no one” and A Madcap Prince, of which he says “I am going to make an effort, at any rate, to get that play done in New York while I am on the spot.”


6 October 1884

Buchanan and Jay attend the opening night of The Artist’s Daughter by Elliott Barnes at the Union Square Theatre, New York. This was the replacement for Buchanan’s play, A Hero In Spite Of Himself.


11 October 1884

Buchanan sells a new play, Constance, to Lester Wallack. Accoring to an item in The New York Times of 16th October:
“Mr. Wallack declares himself satisfied after going through the manuscript several times that it is a much stronger piece than ‘Lady Clare,’ which proved the greatest success last season at this house.”

It is not surprising that after failing to sell a play to the producers of his first theatrical success in America (Storm Beaten), Buchanan would turn to the producer of the second (Lady Clare).

19 October 1884

A précis of the plot of Constance is given in The New York Times.


26 October 1884

The New-York Daily Tribune prints a letter from Buchanan under the heading of ‘The Exodus Out Of Houndsditch’. It is another attack on Thomas Carlyle.


1 November 1884

The New York Mirror questions Buchanan’s originality:
     “Mr. Buchanan made an agreement with the Union Square management to write them a new and original play, and at once set to work and ground it out. When the piece was delivered it was discovered to be an adaptation of a German play called Good Luck, which had been adapted some years since by Julian Magnus when he was at Wallack’s. Mr. Wallack himself assisted in putting it in shape, but owing to the death of Mr. Montague it was not produced. Mr. Collier did not accept the play, and now Mr. Buchanan and he never speak as they pass by. This is all very sad, but worse is to come, for Wallack’s new play (?), The Duchess’ Boudoir, to which the Times last Sunday devoted a column, is alleged to be an adaptation of La Duchess de Montemajor, written about thirty-three years ago by Leon Laya, and could probably have been purchased, in much better form and for infinitely less money, by Mr. Wallack from A. M. Palmer, who has, or had, an admirable adaptation, entitled Lady Betty, which was made by the talented Foublanque, and which he obtained some years ago from a gentleman named Ballantyne. But the piece has already been seen in this city, as Sardou stole his Maison Neuve from it, and Mr. Daly presented an adaptation of Sardou’s work, which, by the way, did not prove a success.”
The article then turns to Harriett Jay:
It is alleged that Mr. Buchanan has been endeavoring for some time to foist upon the Messrs. Mallory and other managers, his sister-in-law, Miss Harriet Jay, as an actress. Miss Jay has considerable reputation in England as an authoress. Having read one of Mr. Buchanan’s plays, the Mallorys decided that it was unsuitable. He then proposed that Miss Jay should appear at a matinee in some well-known play, and thus be able to display her talent. Lady Clancarty was selected as a suitable piece, and some people were asked to offer their services. Of all those invited, W. J. Lemoyne was the only one who had the courage to refuse.”

I have not come across any other mention of Good Luck in relation to A Hero In Spite Of Himself, but the similarity of Constance to various other plays was confirmed in various reviews. What was not picked up on by the reviewers was the fact that the play, since 12th July, had been running as a serial in The Lady's Pictorial under the title, A Marriage of Convenience by Harriett Jay. So which came first, novel or play? I would suggest that Buchanan, desperate after the failure of his dealings with Shook & Collier, dusted off an old adaptation of a French play and offered it to Lester Wallack as a new ‘society drama’ along the lines of Lady Clare. This seems more reasonable than Buchanan suddenly deciding to adapt Harriett Jay’s novel for the stage. It also gives more credence to the later revelations about Lady Kilpatrick and Buchanan’s attitude to newspaper serialisations of his work.

Buchanan’s desire to stage The Nine Days’ Queen in New York to display Harriett Jay’s acting talents came to nothing. Presumably Tom Taylor’s Clancarty (in which she had toured the provinces in 1881) was a safer option.

This article in The New York Mirror is a good example of the vaguely hostile attitude toward Buchanan and Jay in the American Press which persisted throughout his visit.

11 November 1884

Constance, produced at Wallack’s Theatre, New York. Buchanan and Jay attend the first night. The review in the Brooklyn Eagle of 16th November gave this description of the couple:
“Mr. Buchanan, the ‘author’ of the play, sat in a proscenium box ready to receive the calls for the author. He was not called. His sister in law, Harriet Jay, sat with him. She is very tall, blonde, and has rather sharp features. For some extraordinary reason the audience thought she was Ellen Terry, and the play was forgotten during the half hour following her arrival, while they gazed at her. She shielded her face with a huge white fan, so that people were a long while finding out that it was not Miss Terry.”


20 November 1884

Lottie (an adaptation of Harriett Jay’s novel, Through the Stage Door) produced at the Novelty Theatre, London. There was no author’s name attached to the play but it was subsequently attributed to Robert Buchanan.


25 November 1884

Final performance of Constance at Wallack’s Theatre.

Constance was not a success.

26 November 1884

Harriett Jay makes her American début at a matinée performance of Tom Taylor’s Clancarty at the Madison Square Theatre, New York. According to the review in The New York Mirror of 6th December:
“Miss Jay is tall and good-looking. Her pronunciation is refined and her manner ditto. But there is an awkward constraint in her movements and a weakness about her voice which combine to thwart her efforts to simulate the more intense emotions. Her acting was certainly dominated by intelligence. Indeed, we scarcely expected less from such an intellectual woman as Miss Jay. But if her performance of Lady Clancarty was a fair specimen of her abilities, we cannot predict success for the lady in the profession.”

Item in The Methodist:
     “Mr. Robert Buchanan has written his autobiography, and it is shortly coming out under the title of ‘Reminiscences of a Literary Career.’”







This is the earliest mention of Buchanan’s autobiography that I’ve found. It would be mentioned in the Press throughout his career, but was never published (perhaps never written).

December 1884

The Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan published by Chatto & Windus.
Advertised in The Times 22 December, 1884 as “The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan. Carefully revised by the Author.”
Reviewed in The Derby Mercury 24 December, 1884.


6 December 1884

The Era prints a letter from the actress Kate Munroe pointing out the similarities between Constance and Harriet Jay’s A Marriage of Convenience.


12 December 1884

According to an item in The Daily Graphic, Robert Buchanan has been invited to speak at the Nineteenth Century Club on 23rd December.


21 December 1884

The New York Daily Tribune prints a letter from Robert Buchanan under the heading ‘The Stage of To-day’.

This ‘letter’ was later incorporated in the essay, “A Note in 1886”, included in the section, “The Modern Stage”, of A Look Round Literature (London: Ward and Downey, 1887.)

Robert Buchanan Timeline - continued

6. 1885 - 1887



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