The Fleshly School Controversy
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8. 1891 - 1893







3 January 1891

James Lewis, a travelling showman, is committed for trial at the Central Criminal Court. The case is reported in various newspapers as ‘The Showman’s Courtship’.

I have to admit that Buchanan’s involvement in this case is speculative. His name occurs in only one report and of course could refer to another Robert Buchanan. On reading the reports in the Press, ‘Buchanan’ paid Lewis’ bail and attended his trial on 14th January.

9 January 1891

The Wedding Ring commences serialisation in The Derby Reporter. It is also serialised in The Bristol Mercury (10th January) and The Leeds Times (21st February).

The Pall Mall Gazette publishes a letter from George Bernard Shaw under the heading, ‘Ibsen in Difficulties’, concerning the problems of producing Ibsen on the English stage.


12 January 1891

Buchanan responds to Shaw’s letter about Ibsen in the Pall Mall Gazette. He adds this postscript:
     ‘When State Socialism is fully established, and providential supervision by unwashed legislators extends even to the Drama, some new St. Just will compel the poor actors to perform, and the poor Public to witness, the dramas of back-parlour edification. Adelphi drama, with all its enormities, will be beneficently suppressed, the Brothers Gatti will be compelled to disgorge their ill- gotten gains, Mr. Irving be convinced by physical force that “he is only doing for Scott and Goethe” what Mr. George Edwards “is doing for ‘Carmen,’” and Mr. Bernard Shaw, still with his tongue in his cheek, be elected by his fellow demagogues to the long-coveted office of Licenser of Plays.’
He also sends a copy of the letter to the St. James’s Gazette.


14 January 1891

The case of James Lewis is heard in the Central Criminal Court. According to the report in Reynolds’s Newspaper of 18th January:
‘... On being apprehended the accused said that if he had not been interfered with he would have married the girl, and he now went into the box and declared that he was as ready as ever to lead her to the altar. Mr. Martyn, instructed by Mr. Robert Buchanan, who had bailed the prisoner upon reading the police-court proceedings, urged that an acquittal would in these circumstances be the best possible thing for all parties; and the jury, acquiescing in the suggestion, found Lewis “Not guilty.”’


26 January 1891

Mr. J. Neville Figgis delivers the first of 12 lectures on the subject of modern poetry for the York University Extension Society. The Yorkshire Herald comments on the fact that Robert Buchanan is missing from the list of poets to be discussed:
“... We are surprised also at not finding another name in Mr. Figgis’s syllabus. He does not mention Mr. Robert Buchanan, but he cannot be unaware of Mr. Buchanan’s very considerable merits as a poet. They are merits far greater than can be claimed for any one of the minor poets whose names are given in the syllabus of the last lecture. It is perhaps Mr. Buchanan’s misfortune as a poet that he has acquired fame as a writer of romances and a dramatist. These more tempting branches of literature have more or less interfered with his cultivation of the Muse, but he has nevertheless produced a body of most able work in verse, nearly equal in amount, and with a few solitary exceptions—not of poets but of poems—fully equal in quality to that of any of the poets to whom Mr. Figgis proposes to give a single lecture each. We do not expect Mr. Figgis to agree with this opinion, but we do not advance it without confidence in its approximate accuracy.”

I thought this was worth mentioning since Buchanan at this point was intending to publish his next major poem, The Outcast, and was in the process of buying back the copyrights to his poetry from Chatto & Windus. Although the piece in The Yorkshire Herald does not mention the five minor poets of the final lecture, the ones granted a single lecture were Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Matthew Arnold, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris and Algernon Swinburne. Tennyson and Browning were accorded three lectures each. So, despite the apparent success of The City of Dream, Buchanan’s reputation as a poet had still not recovered.

31 January 1891

Among the adverts in The Era for actors and actresses, both engaged and ‘resting’, is one for Harriett Jay which states ‘Elocution taught’ and gives the Maresfield Gardens address. A second advert appears in the next edition adding “at Liberty. Elocution taught and Pupils trained.” This advert is then reprinted throughout the year until 20th February, 1892.

Buchanan’s review of Edmund Gosse’s translation of Hedda Gabler, ‘The French Novelette as Norwegian Drama’, is published in The Illustrated London News.

This seems to indicate that Harriett Jay had now given up her acting career.

2 February 1891

Item in The Glasgow Herald:
     ‘Mr Robert Buchanan and Mr G. R. Sims have agreed to collaborate in a new English drama, which will follow “The English Rose” at the Adelphi. It is, however, not likely to be produced before the autumn. Mr Buchanan has also written a comedy for Mr Wyndham, with Sir Richard Steele as the hero.’

The next collaboration by Sims and Buchanan was The Trumpet Call. The play about Richard Steele was mentioned in several other papers, but was never produced.

14 February 1891

A receiving order is made against Grace (‘Theodora’) Hawthorne leading to bankruptcy proceedings.


21 February 1891

Item in The Academy:
     ‘Mr. Robert Buchanan’s new poem, The Outcast; a Rhyme for the Time, is now definitely announced for publication by Messrs. Chatto & Windus. The text, which will be illustrated with about a dozen full-page engravings, in addition to vignettes, is divided into four portions, named respectively “The First Christmas Eve,” “Madonna,” “The First Haven,” and “An Interlude.”
Almost simultaneously with the publication of The Outcast, will appear the first number of The Modern Review, the monthly critical organ edited by Mr. Buchanan, which will bear as its motto the familiar quotation, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” The price will be one shilling.’

This announcement is a bit confusing since Buchanan does not reach an agreement with Chatto & Windus to publish The Outcast until the following month. The Modern Review never appears.

2 March 1891

Buchanan writes to Andrew Chatto:
     ““A sudden whirlwind of demands prevented me meeting the £150, which I thought was due some weeks later. I will, however, see to it without delay—unless you are agreeable to place it to the credit of the Outcast’s first 1000 copies. I find the book will cost me far more than I expected, & what with sums to artists, engravers &c. I am much out of pocket– Suppose you made me a clear deal for the 1st edition, delivered complete into your hands?”
According to the original agreement concerning the buying back of his poetical copyrights, Buchanan was due to make his next payment of £150, 30 days after the first payment of £50, made on signing the agreement. On the reverse of this letter is a note from Chatto, dated 5th March, in which he agrees to Buchanan paying another £50 and the remaining £100 to be set against the sales of the first 1000 copies of The Outcast.

According to this letter, Buchanan now has a telephone. The number is 7442.

Another indication of the state of Buchanan’s finances at this time. Also it does seem to confirm that Buchanan was originally intending to publish The Outcast himself.

6 March 1891

Buchanan joins a debate on the changes in legislation regarding theatres and music halls which began in the columns of The Daily Telegraph on 23rd February. The aerialist, Zæo is also involved. A second letter from Buchanan is printed on 9th March.


7 March 1891

Buchanan attends the Booksellers’ Trade Dinner at the Holborn Restaurant.


9 March 1891

Buchanan writes a letter to the St. James’s Gazette in support of Sir Charles Dilke.
     “Who is the most sinful, who deserves most contempt and execration from society—the man who, swept away by the torrent of evil passions, becomes personally a criminal, bespattered from head to foot by filth of his own making; or the man who, scenting the filth from afar off, multiplies it tenfold by filth of his own invention, parades it in the name of virtue, and fills society with ordure from the social sewers? The first man sins and takes his punishment; the second man—the prurient Puritan—stirs the filth and pollutes the very air we breathe.”

A memorandum from Chatto & Windus details the agreement concerning The Outcast.

Dilke’s reputation had been destroyed by a divorce scandal in 1885 and he was now making an attempt to return to politics. As well as giving Buchanan another opportunity to attack the ‘new journalism’ and the self-appointed defenders of morality, the letter is another example of Buchanan leaping to the defence of an old enemy - Dilke was the proprietor of The Athenæum during the ‘Fleshly School’ period.

11 March 1891

Writes a letter to Alfred Henry Miles declining to write a preface to one of the poets (unnamed) in Miles’ The Poets and the Poetry of the Century. Buchanan adds:
     “With regard to my own place in your anthology, I regret to say that I am unwilling to occupy it. As I invariably decline such invitations, you will I hope not attach any importance to my refusal. At the same time, I more particularly object to appear in a work closely associated with the names of individuals who have, at certain periods of my life, done me all the injury in their power—and done in other directions, I may add, incalculable harm to literature.”

Item in The North-Eastern Daily Gazette:
     “Mr Robert Buchanan is at present engaged in preparing for the Press a new edition of his poems. In the forthcoming reprint the attractiveness of Mr Buchanan’s poetry is to be enhanced by profuse and artistic illustrations.”

The following day The Manchester Courier reports on visit to the Institute of Water Colours of the Empress Frederick who “bought a small picture by Miss Dalmaine Hammond, the young lady who is illustrating the new edition of Mr. Robert Buchanan’s poems.”
A similar article is published in The Belfast News-Letter of 16th March and the ‘Ladies’ Column’ of The Preston Chronicle of 28th March, adds this:
‘... Of course, I went to look at the picture purchased at this Exhibition by the Empress Frederick of Germany. I was glad to know that it was the work of a lady, Miss gertrude Demain Hammond. It is a small half-length figure of a young girl whose hands are joined in prayer. The name given to it is “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord!” She has dark hair and expressive eyes, but it is not, of all others, the picture I should have chosen had I been as able to purchase to please myself as was the Empress; but then she too is a good judge of a picture, so I suppose there is more in it than I can see. Miss Hammond and her sister are now engaged in illustrating some of Mr. Robert Buchanan’s poems.’

Buchanan must have changed his mind at some point since his work does appear in The Poets and the Poetry of the Century, Vol. VI: ‘William Morris to Robert Buchanan’ which was published in the autumn of 1891. The preface to Buchanan’s section was written by James Ashcroft Noble.



It would appear from this that Buchanan had also intended to publish a new edition of his poems once he had secured the copyrights from Chatto & Windus.


More information about Gertrude Demain Hammond (1862-1953) is available here. Her elder sister was Christine Mary Demain Hammond (1860-1900), also an illustrator, who used the name, Chris Hammond.

18 March 1891

Item in The Liverpool Mercury:
     ‘Mr. Robert Buchanan is about to publish, through Mr. William Heinemann, a volume entitled “The Coming Terror,” and other essays and letters. Mr. Buchanan, if he is so-minded, should not be short of subjects for a volume with such a title.’


5 April 1891

The date of the 1891 census. Buchanan is living at 25, Maresfield Gardens, South Hampstead, London and the household now consists of Robert Buchanan (widower, 49, author), Margaret Buchanan (mother, widow, 74, ‘living on her own means’) and Harriett Jay (sister-in-law, single, 36, authoress and actress). Also listed is Louise Dear (niece, single, 25 - presumably the daughter of Harriett Jay’s sister, Eliza) and three servants: a housemaid, a cook and a coachman.
Harriett Jay was actually 37 when the census was taken.
Buchanan’s next-door neighbour, at No. 27, was Herbert Asquith, the Liberal M.P. for East Fife and the future Prime Minister.
The annual rent is £195.

1891 census.

8 April 1891

Marmion (an adaptation of the poem by Sir Walter Scott) is produced at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow.
Robert Buchanan does not attend the first night.


11 April 1891

The Coming Terror, and other essays and letters published by William Heinemann.
Reviewed in
The Times (16 April).


15 April 1891

Harriett Jay gives a recitation at the Steinway Hall (according to a report in The Middlesex Courier) at a concert by the pupils of the South Hampstead branch of Harrow Music School, on the occasion of the annual distribution of certificates.


21 April 1891

Item in The Leeds Mercury:
     ‘The first edition of Mr. Robert Buchanan’s new book, “The Coming Terror,” has been exhausted within a few days of its publication.’

The second edition of The Coming Terror included a Note from Buchanan dated April 20th.


22 April 1891

Henry Murray was due to deliver the first of three lectures on the state of English Literature, beginning with “The Vehmgericht of Tradesmen”, dealing with publishers, at the Birkbeck Institute. However, since the venue had had to be changed from the Opera Comique at short notice, the attendance was minimal and Murray cancelled the lecture. According to the report in The Era of 25th April, Robert Buchanan and Harriett Jay were in the audience.

This issue of The Era also contains an account of Grace Hawthorne’s first bankrupcty hearing on 22nd April (which she did not attend since she was in Newcastle-on-Tyne touring with Theodora) and a list of her creditors.

Since the other two lectures in the series were to be on critics and Ms. Grundy, it does seem that Murray has become a follower of Buchanan. The attendance of Buchanan and Jay at the ‘lecture’ could also indicate that Murray had now moved into 25, Maresfield Gardens with them. According to his autobiography, A Stepson of Fortune:
     ‘Buchanan’s influence upon my character, my outlook upon the world, my entire nature, was profound, and will be life-long. It is my most constant and enduring regret that I did not come into intimate contact with him sixteen years earlier, at the outset of my active career. ... I had been for some time a frequent visitor at his house and guest at his table when, originally with the purpose of doing with him some piece of work which somehow never got done, I became an inmate under his roof. I went there for a day or two, like Ned Strong to Clavering Park, in “Pendennis,” and stayed there nearly two years.’

May 1891

The Wedding Ring: a tale of to-day published in New York by Cassell Publishing Co.


The Wedding Ring was a novelisation of the 1889 play, Man and the Woman, and was republished in Britain as Woman and the Man in 1893.

2 May 1891

Final performance (238th night) of The English Rose at the Adelphi Theatre.


24 May 1891

Buchanan writes a letter to The Observer concerning Ibsen.

This is a bit vague - I found a reference to the letter in a footnote to the following passage in The Broadview Anthology of Nineteenth-Century British Performance:
‘Robert Buchanan ... was said to have been incited to anger and jealousy by Elizabeth Robins’s production of Hedda Gabler at the Vaudeville, the theatre where his plays were customarily performed. Although he publicly denied it, he was accused of taking the Avenue Theatre to produce a vengeful attack on Ibsen.’
Presumably the letter to The Observer was his public denial. Although the Observer archives are online, the search engine is abysmal, so this one will have to wait.

25 May 1891

Item in The Derby Daily Telegraph:
     ‘Mr. Robert Buchanan is once again to the front in matters theatrical. It turns out that during his recent quiet spell he has been as prolific as ever. He has his knife in Ibsen and will burlesque the Norwegian’s ideas in a comic skit, entitled “Heredity,” to be played next Saturday at the Avenue. On Saturday he and Mr. G. R. Sims read to the brothers Gatti the joint production they have written for the Adelphi, to be provisionally styled “The Roll of the Drum,” and I hear that Mr. Sothern is about to present in New York a three-act comedy, written by the same pair of dramatists.’

‘Heredity’ was changed ot The Gifted Lady and ‘The Roll of the Drum’ became The Trumpet Call.
I have not come across the New York comedy.

2 June 1891

The Gifted Lady (original title, Heredity) is produced at the Avenue Theatre, London.


7 June 1891

Buchanan responds to a symposium on the subject of ‘Perfect Manhood and the Way to Attain It’ in the New York Herald.

Also in June Buchanan took part in another symposium, this time in the London edition of the New York Herald, on the subject of ‘Ibsen and the English Drama’. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to find the original but The Era of 20th June gave a summary of the discussion, including Buchanan’s contribution.

9 June 1891

Final performance of The Gifted Lady at the Avenue Theatre.

The Gifted Lady was Buchanan’s satire on Ibsen. The reviews were mixed but in general agreed that a three-act play was too long for such a subject. It also suffered because a similar spoof, in one act, Ibsen’s Ghost (written by J. M. Barrie) had opened at Toole’s Theatre a few days before and was a great success.

18 June 1891

Buchanan begins a weekly column in The Echo under the title, ‘Latter-Day Leaves’. The first article is ‘Some Memories of Boyhood’.


26 June 1891

The second in the series of ‘Latter-Day Leaves’ is ‘The Lost ‘Burton’ Manuscript’ relating to the destruction of Sir Richard Burton’s translation of The Scented Garden by his widow.


27 June 1891

Marmion is produced at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh.


2 July 1891

The third in the series of ‘Latter-Day Leaves’ is ‘A Note, and, a Choir of Singing Birds’.


9 July 1891

The fourth in the series of ‘Latter-Day Leaves’ is a reminiscence of ‘George Henry Lewes’.


16 July 1891

The fifth in the series of ‘Latter-Day Leaves’ is ‘Concerning Justice’, linking the recent visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II to London with the philosophy of Herbert Spencer.


23 July 1891

The sixth in the series of ‘Latter-Day Leaves’ is ‘My Father, and the Owenites’.


25 July 1891

Buchanan attends a garden party given by Sir Augustus Harris and his wife at their Regent’s Park residence.


30 July 1891

The last of the ‘Latter-Day Leaves’ in The Echo - ‘Valedictory’.


1 August 1891

The Trumpet Call (written in collaboration with G. R. Sims) is produced at the Adelphi Theatre.

Grace Hawthorne’s production of Theodora opens at the New Olympic Theatre, London for a limited run, ending on 8th September.

As with The English Rose, as soon as The Trumpet Call proved successful, Buchanan sold his share of the rights to the Brothers Gatti and G. R. Sims.

August 1891

The Outcast: a rhyme for the time is published by Chatto & Windus.
Reviewed in
The Scotsman (31 August) and The Times (3 September). The Times’ reviewer calls it “a very mediocre performance.”

This note appears on the Contents page of The Outcast:
“The present volume contains the first of a series of poetic tales dealing with the Amours of Vanderdecken. The other tales will follow at intervals, until the series is completed.”
As with the promised second part of The Earthquake, these additional adventures of Vanderdecken never appeared.

The Outcast also contains a “Letter Dedicatory To C. W. S.” This was Charles Warren Stoddard, the American author of South Sea Idyls (1873). Buchanan had corresponded with Stoddard, but the two never met. A little more information is available in my notes to The Outcast.

18 August 1891

Robert Buchanan is 50 years old.


1 September 1891

Writes to David Christie Murray concerning The Outcast.

A copy of the letter is included in Murray’s Recollections.

9 September 1891

The St. James’s Gazette publishes a letter from Buchanan objecting to their review of The Outcast.


12 September 1891

A paragraph in The Era states that Messrs Howard and Wyndham, who produced Buchanan’s Marmion in Scotland, “are making extensive preparations for the production of a dramatic version by Mr Buchanan of Scott’s ‘Lady of the Lake.’ This never materialised.


16 September 1891

A memorial to Christopher Marlowe is unveiled in Canterbury by Sir Henry Irving. At the ceremony, Canon Fremantle gives a speech in which he asks:
Why it was that our English nation, so capable of literary excellence, had hardly produced any really great playwright in these latter days?”
A letter from W. S. Gilbert appears in The Times on 18th September commenting on the Canon’s remark.

Further information about the Marlowe Memorial is available on the website of The Marlowe Society.

19 September 1891

Buchanan writes to The Echo replying to Gilbert’s letter and adding his own opinion of the Canon’s remark.


6 October 1891

Death of Charles Stewart Parnell.


10 October 1891

Come Live with Me and Be My Love serialised in The Illustrated London News (October 10 to December 26).


12 October 1891

‘The Burial of Parnell’ is published on the front page of The Echo. It is preceded by the following note:
     “When the noble leader of Irish freedom was first offered up to the false gods of moral and religious superstition—when the first foul blow was struck by the accredited High Priest, to be followed by the countless poisoned stabs of the journalists in absolution—one English voice alone arose in protestation. That voice was mine. What I feared has come to pass, so it is not unfitting that I—an alien, but a lover of Irish freedom—should place this poor wreath of verse on the great Irishman’s grave.—R. B.”


26 October 1891

Buchanan writes his first letter to George Bernard Shaw, complimenting him on The Quintessence of Ibsenism.

Buchanan’s surviving letters to Shaw are available here.

27 October 1891

Buchanan writes his second letter to Shaw.


21 November 1891

The Melbourne Argus publishes an article by Buchanan on ‘The Drama In England’. The article was reprinted in The Era on 5th March, 1892.


27 November 1891

Buchanan writes a letter to The Echo protesting at the sentencing of Charles Grande to 20 years of penal servitude for the crime of demanding money with menaces.

The date is provisional - I’ve not seen the original letter yet - but the report of Grande’s sentence appeared in The Times on 26th November, and Buchanan’s letter was referred to in other papers on 28th November.

18 December 1891

Buchanan is in court again, this time at the Westminster County Court, over a claim of non-payment of a bill for £89 for newspaper adverts for the play The Gifted Lady (originally titled Heredity) produced at the Avenue Theatre, London, in June 1891. Henry Lee, the manager of the theatre, had ordered the adverts, but was now in America, so Buchanan was deemed liable for the debt. In the case of Greenberg v. Buchanan, the judge found for the plaintiff for the amount claimed, with costs.


21 December 1891

Alone in London is revived at the Princess’s Theatre, London for the Christmas season.


28 December 1891

Buchanan writes a letter to The Echo about ‘The Great Pearl Mystery’, a current scandal.






A 62 page ‘novelisation’ of Alone in London is published by the Aldine Publishing Company as No. 26 in the series: ‘Home Library of Powerful Dramatic Tales’.


6 January 1892

David Birrell Heggie commits suicide. At the inquest on 9th January, his suicide note is read to the court, and is subsequently published in the papers. Part of it reads:
Good-bye, Robert Buchanan, dramatic author. Remember my ‘Religion of Science,’ and your neglect of me.”


12 January 1892

Buchanan writes to The Daily Telegraph explaining that Heggie first contacted him several years ago, “a young Scotchman ambitious to enter the profession of literature. It appeared to me at our first interview that he possessed little or no capacity for a literary life, and that his mind, moreover, was affected by hereditary physical infirmities. I assisted him to the best of my power with both advice and money.” A few days before Heggie’s death he had sent a messanger to Buchanan’s house asking for help and, Buchanan being out at the time, Harriett Jay had given him some money. “This was the last occasion on which I heard from him, or of him until I read the account of his pitiable end. I owe it to myself to state that, so far from neglecting a fellow creature in trouble, I again and again gave him practical proof of my sympathy. Possibly the expression ‘neglect of me,’ refers to the fact that I could not encourage this unfortunate young man, mentally and physically unfit for literary pursuits, to follow the wretchedest of all professions.”


18 January 1892

Squire Kate (an adaptation of La Fermière by Armand d'Artois and Henri Pagat) produced by Daniel Frohman at the Lyceum Theatre, New York. It stars Georgia Cayvan.

As far as I know, the play was never produced in Britain.

5 February 1892

The Squireen, an Irish drama in 4 acts, by Robert Buchanan and Aubrey Boucicault, is registered for copyright at the Library of Congress.


9 February 1892

Item in The Dundee Evening Telegraph:
     ‘Writing in yesterday’s Echo with reference to the case of Mrs Osborne, Robert Buchanan says:—I hear “Hosannahs!” round the grave of a great preacher who is said, after a life of faith in eternal punishment and hell-fire, to have tranquilly “entered Heaven.” I hear no voice raised in any pulpit demanding that there should be equal justice for rich and poor, and that the rich and honoured, when they fall, should not bear punishment ten-fold greater than that meted to the poor, when they wander astray.’

Another letter from The Echo which I don’t have yet.

20 February 1892

An article about Buchanan is published in Pearson’s Weekly, No. 25 in the ‘Workers and their Work’ series. It begins:
“Mr. Robert Buchanan may very fairly be described as one of the literary giants of the present day. There are few men whose works have been so popular, and who have excited so large an amount of interest both in the wide public who attend his plays, and among the critics who waste much time discussing his theories and opinions.”


March 1892

The Buchanan Ballads Old and New published by John Haddon and Company.
Listed in ‘Recent Publications’ in the Pall Mall Gazette (5 March).
Reviewed in The Glasgow Herald (17 March, 1892).

Priced at one shilling, the title on the cover reads: “Poems for the People. The Buchanan Ballads.” The title page has “Buchanan’s Poems For The People. 1. The Buchanan Ballads, Old and New.”

2 March 1892

Buchanan writes to Shaw asking for a copy of his article on Shaw’s own novels. The letter also contains the following:
“... Personally, I have never been a Puritan, & when long ago I attacked the so-called Fleshly writers, it was on the ground that they pictured, not human carnality, but that of cats on the housetops. They retaliated by classing me with the upholders of ‘common or garden’ Morality, & hence many tears.”


9 March 1892

The English Rose is produced at Proctor’s Theatre, New York.

Item in The Derby Daily Telegraph:
     ‘An interesting drama may shortly be expected from Mr. Robert Buchanan on a subject cognate with that treated by the Danish dramatist, Brandes, in his “Visit,” a translation of which, by Mr. William Archer, the critic, was so notable an event in the Independent Theatre’s performances last week. “The Visit” was rather forestalled some time ago by the production of Mr. Watson’s powerful play, “The Pharisee.” Mr. Buchanan means, however, to preach a different ethical moral. Like the crusader he is, he will drive home the great fact that there cannot be two standards of conduct in judging of men and women. Each sex must be ruled by the same standard, and conversely, Mr. Buchanan says, if it is morally right for a man to sow “wild oats,” a similar line of conduct is justifiable in woman.’


12 March 1892

Final performance of Squire Kate at the Lyceum Theatre, New York, followed by a tour of America.


14 March 1892

The Daily News publishes a letter from Buchanan on the subject of the case of two poachers, Rayner and Eggleton, convicted of murdering two gamekeepers. It begins:
     “So absorbed are we Londoners in the contemplation of our own small universe, of our social vanities, our municipal struggles, and our causes célèbres, that we know little or nothing of what is taking place outside our city in the England of to-day. With barbarism reaching to our very gates, and with feudalism still surviving in the remote corners of the land, we exist in self-satisfied content, save when distant rumours of troubles in Ireland or of coal strikes in the north come to disturb our serenity. It is only at the last moment, therefore, and almost by accident, that I have heard of a criminal trial, which took place some weeks since at Aylesbury, and which resulted in the conviction of two men for wilful murder. The men are now lying in the county gaol at Oxford, and unless the plea for mercy which has been forwarded to the Home Office should be granted they will be executed on Thursday next.”

Buchanan writes a letter to Chatto & Windus protesting that they had agreed to purchase 1,000 copies of The Outcast, not to take them on a sale or return basis. He also points out that there was only one poem in The Buchanan Ballads Old and New for which Chatto &Windus held the copyright. He says he will call on them tomorrow or Wednesday (16th).


15 March 1892

The Pall Mall Gazette takes up the case of Rayner and Eggleton, and the wider subject of the Game Laws, under the heading: ‘The Cult of the Sacred Birds’.


17 March 1892

Rayner and Eggleton are executed.

Buchanan writes to The Daily Chronicle:
‘The judicial murder committed this morning on the unfortunate poachers of Aylesbury leaves another blood stain on our so-called Christian civilisation. I need not hesitate to express, as I have done on more than one occasion, my opinion of the man who is known, and rightly, as “the hanging Home Secretary.” But it is useless to traverse all Mr Matthews’s sophistries. It is enough to know that he has again covered himself and his party with both legal and moral disgrace, that he has again shown an absolutely cold-blooded indifference to all sanctions save those of landlordism and property together with a pitilessness worthy of the cruellest provisions of the old Roman law. Let this last legal murder be remembered as their crowning infamy.’

Buchanan also attacks Queen Victoria for not exercising the royal prerogative of mercy:
“Had the Queen of England lifted her little finger this legal murder would never have been committed.”








A little confusion here, since I’ve not seen Buchanan’s original letter to The Daily Chronicle, and I’m not sure whether, in the Pall Mall Gazette of 18th March, the long extract from Buchanan’s letter refers to the one in the Chronicle, or a copy sent to the P.M.G.

18 March 1892

There is a draft of a letter to Buchanan from Chatto & Windus with this date, indicating that Buchanan has finally completed the process of buying back his poetical copyrights, which began four years earlier in May, 1888.


19 March 1892

The Pall Mall Gazette prints another letter from Buchanan on the subject of the Game Laws.


22 March 1892

200th night of The Trumpet Call at the Adelphi Theatre.


24 March 1892

Final letter of Buchanan to the Pall Mall Gazette on the subject of the Game Laws.


26 March 1892

Death of Walt Whitman.


28 March 1892

Buchanan reads his new play (another collaboration with G. R. Sims) to the company of the Adelphi Theatre.


2 April 1892

Item in The Era:
     “Messrs G. R. Sims and Robert Buchanan’s new drama, Woodstock; or, the Cavalier, was put in rehearsal at the Adelphi Theatre on Thursday, for production, if possible, at Easter. Mr Cartwright is to play Oliver Cromwell, Mr Leonard Boyne will be the virtuous hero, and Miss Millard and Mrs Patrick Campbell are also in the cast.”


21 April 1892

Final (222nd) performance of The Trumpet Call at the Adelphi Theatre.


23 April 1892

The White Rose (an adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's Woodstock written in collaboration with G. R. Sims) is produced at the Adelphi Theatre.


June 1892

Come Live with Me and Be My Love: an English Pastoral (a novelisation of Squire Kate) published in New York by Lovell, Coryell & Co. A subsequent illustrated edition is entitled: Squire Kate, or, Come with me, and be my love: an English pastoral.
Reviewed in The Morning Call (San Francisco) (5 June).


2 June 1892

Harriett Jay attends the fourth annual Literary Ladies’ Dinner at the Criterion Restaurant.

Sophia revived (for one month) at the Vaudeville Theatre, London.


10 June 1892

Final (42nd) performance of The White Rose at the Adelphi Theatre.


8 July 1892

Buchanan’s poem, ‘The Union’ is published in the Pall Mall Gazette.

The poem was reprinted in The New Rome.

29 July 1892

Come Live with Me and Be My Love published in London by William Heinemann.
Reviewed in The Glasgow Herald (4 August).

There is some confusion about the publication date of Come Live with Me and Be My Love since the British Library lists a 2 volume edition from Heinemann, dated 1891. However, the only reviews I’ve found are from the 1 volume edition published just after the American edition in the summer of 1892. According to a note in the Chatto collection, Heinemann purchased the book for a £250 advance on 15 percent royalties.

30 July 1892

The Lights of Home (written in collaboration with G. R. Sims) is produced at the Adelphi Theatre.

The failure of Sims and Buchanan’s attempt to elevate the tastes of the Adelphi audience with The White Rose (probably more due to Buchanan than Sims given the Walter Scott connection) led to their return to standard melodramatic fare.

18 September 1892

Writes to William Sharp mentioning that he has not been paid for something he has submitted for publication.

The letter does not go into detail, but it presumably refers to Sharp’s ill-fated magazine, The Pagan Review.

21 September 1892

Buchanan contributes the first in the series of ‘How I Write My Plays’ in the Pall Mall Gazette.
The article prompts a letter from Randall Davies on which came first, the novel or the play. Buchanan responds (30th September):
Art ever walks most freely when most fettered. The loosest and clumsiest walk of Art is the Novel; its highest and noblest walk is the Play. And that is why the Play fails to be affected by the last new discovery of Disease and Dirt, through which the poor purblind Novel hopes to be saved.”


October 1892

‘The Ballad of Lord Langshaw’ is published in Atalanta.

The poem was later included in Red and White Heather(1894).

1 October 1892

‘The Muses In England: Poets, Poetry, and Poetical Criticism’ published in The Argus (Melbourne, Australia). After giving an account of the recent history of poetry in England, Buchanan launches into an attack on W. E. Henley and Rudyard Kipling:
“... They are worshippers of the god Jingo, men who fail to see any shame in cowardly and ignoble assaults committed on helpless foreign races, or to realise that Bobadilism, Bounce, and Brag are as contemptible in the nation as in the individual.”

Buchanan would return to the subject in his 1899 essay, ‘The Voice of “The Hooligan”’.

6 October 1892

Death of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.


8 October 1892

The Daily Telegraph publishes a poetic tribute to Tennyson by Buchanan.

There is speculation in the Press about who is to succeed Tennyson as Poet Laureate. The Glasgow Herald states:
“... Only two men living are eminent enough to succeed Tennyson—Mr W. Morris and Mr Swinburne—though there seem to be reasons why neither of these may be offered the laureateship, even if their well-known principles permitted them to accept it. After them the most obvious names are those of Sir Edwin Arnold, Mr Lewis Morris, Mr Robert Buchanan, and Mr Alfred Austin, none of them likely to be considered worthy of the coveted honour, though Robert Buchanan was at one time looked upon as a possible successor, and even now is far and away the strongest poetic personality of the four. ...”

Item in the Pall Mall Gazette:
     ‘Mr. Robert Buchanan wishes us to state that the verses which appear from time to time in the Pall Mall Gazette, signed “R. B.” are not from his pen.’


12 October 1892

Item in The Yorkshire Evening Post:
     ‘It is a pity that the succession to the Laureateship should be discussed so freely before we have paid our last honours to the dead poet. Particulars of the funeral are told us side by side with the chances of this and that singer of wearing the laurels. Mr. Swinburne is understood not to be desirous of the honour; and indeed, though he probably is our foremost poet now, it is difficult to see how some of his writings could be reconciled with the position. Mr. Robert Buchanan kindly gives us his views on the question, which are that the offer of the bays to Mr. Swinburne “might make some amends for many years of comparative neglect and misconception.” For those years Mr. Swinburne is surely himself mainly responsible.’


17 October 1892

Item in The Yorkshire Evening Post:
                           “TWO LITERARY ‘SPORTSMEN.’
     Mr. G. R. Sims and Mr. Robert Buchanan have been observed (says the Referee) armed with guns in the neighbourhood of Leighton Buzzard, where the Highland minstrel has a shooting box. Up to the present no casualties are reported, not even to a rabbit. The poet is a most humane man, and whenever by accident his gun goes off and kills a rabbit he always sheds a sympathetic tear before he takes it home and gives instructions about the onion sauce. Mr. Sims assured an interviewer who found him with a gun that he only carried it to exercise his nerves, which have lately gone considerably wrong. He is at Leighton Buzzard with the Bard, collaborating not in game, but play—a play which in the fulness of time will face the footlights at the Adelphi.”


27 October 1892

Poems of the Hon. Roden Noel. A selection (with an introduction by Robert Buchanan) is included in the list of New Books in The Glasgow Herald. A brief review in the Pall Mall Gazette (29th October) includes the following quote from Buchanan’s “prefatory notice”:
“No living poet whatsoever equals Roden Noel in wealth and variety, power and profundity of natural description. That Roden Noel is a poet, no reader of these selections will doubt. That he is a very remarkable and original poet, I personally believe.”


28 October 1892

Item in The Coventry Herald and Free Press:
                                   “THE LAUREATESHIP.
     If the plebiscite instituted by one of the evening papers in reference to the Poet-Laureateship be any test, Swinburne is undoubtedly the first favourite. He receives over 36 per cent. of the votes, while the nearest to him are Sir E. Arnold and Mr. Austin Dobson, with only over 9 per cent. each. Mr. Lewis Morris receives over 8 per cent., and Mr. W. Morris over 7 per cent., for the Laureateship. Professor Blackie and Jean Ingelow are lowest on the list, obtaining only a little over 1 per cent.: while it is remarkable that no votes appear to have been recorded either for Sir Theodore Martin or Mr. Robert Buchanan.”

Although I don’t know in which ‘evening paper’ this poll originated, I thought it worth mentioning since it shows the relative popularity of the poets in’ the race’, particularly Swinburne. It also reveals the lack of Buchanan’s popular reputation as a poet, perhaps due to his now being regarded more as a playwright and novelist.

11 November 1892

Item in The Dundee Evening Telegraph:
     “Perhaps, in all its long history, writes Robert Buchanan in the Echo, literature has never been so degraded and insulted as by the columns of post-mortem comment, at once uninstructed and sycophantic, which have followed the death of Tennyson.

Another item from The Echo which I’ll have to find.

23 November 1892

100th performance of The Lights of Home at the Adelphi Theatre.


3 December 1892

Item in The Era:
     ‘Our contemporary The Bookman has written to “four distinguished poets”—we did not know the country was so rich—to ask their opinions about the Laureateship; and all four have answered. Three of the answers are entirely anonymous, but the fourth is signed “R.B.,” and declares itself to be written by one who has no reason to like Mr Swinburne—the latter clue is vague, but it is obvious that the R. B. cannot well mean Robert Browning. It is, nevertheless, generous of R. B. to say that “the poets of England will vote unanimously for Mr Swinburne”—whether one takes this statement to be an infringement of the secrecy of the ballot or no. Might not Mr Swinburne, who has just wreaked his wrath most sufficiently on the Scottish nation, write to suggest Mr Robert Buchanan as the best of all possible Laureates? It would be a graceful act; and, joking apart, there is no living poet, except Mr Swinburne himself and Mr William Morris, who can rank with the writer of the ballad of “Judas Iscariot.”’


6 December 1892

Prior to December 1892, Buchanan had borrowed ‘a considerable sum of money’ from Samuel French. Buchanan agreed to pay half of the royalties of Dick Sheridan to settle this debt.

Buchanan’s assignment of the royalties of the, as yet unproduced, Dick Sheridan, resulted in a court case in November, 1894. In the reports of that case, The Era dates this agreement as 6th December, the Pall Mall Gazette has the 16th.

17 December 1892

Final (121st) performance of The Lights of Home at the Adelphi Theatre.





3 January 1893

Writes to Andrew Chatto concerning the publication of The Wandering Jew. In the letter Buchanan states that:
“No work of mine ever goes to the Athenæum or National Observer with my consent, & I particularly request you not to send a copy to Mr Clement Shorter.”

Clement King Shorter was the editor of the Illustrated London News.

9 January 1893

The Wandering Jew: a Christmas carol published by Chatto & Windus.
Reviewed in
The Daily Chronicle (11 January) by Richard Le Gallienne.
This review was answered by Buchanan and sparked a debate which ran in
The Daily Chronicle, under the heading, “Is Christianity Played Out?”, until 31st January. The editor of The Daily Chronicle in concluding the discussion wrote:
“The great interest the discussion has aroused is proved by the fact that nearly 2,000 correspondents have contributed to it.”
Among the correspondents were several radical clerics (Charles Marson, J. C. Kenworthy, Percy Dearmer), journalists (J. Morrison Davidson, Arthur Clayden), G. W. Foote of the National Secular Society, William Bramwell Booth of the Salvation Army, the prominent socialist, Ben Tillett, the Marquess of Queensberry and Buchanan’s friend, Roden Noel. Dr. Joseph Parker also exported the controversy to the pages of
The Echo.
“Is Christianity Played Out?” became the subject of several Sunday sermons throughout January and February.
The first edition of
The Wandering Jew sold out (“in little over a fortnight” according to Buchanan) and Chatto & Windus immediately printed a second edition which included a note from Buchanan on the controversy.

Buchanan’s letters to The Daily Chronicle and a selection from other correspondents are available in the following section:
“Is Christianity Played Out?” - The Wandering Jew Controversy.

11 January 1893

Richard Le Gallienne’s review of The Wandering Jew is published in The Daily Chronicle.


12 January 1893

Buchanan replies to Richard Le Gallienne’s review.


13 January 1893

Richard Le Gallienne replies to Buchanan’s letter.


14 January 1893

Buchanan’s second letter to The Daily Chronicle is printed under the heading “Is Christianity Played Out?”


16 January 1893

Buchanan’s third letter to The Daily Chronicle. More correspondents join the debate.


17 January 1893

Buchanan writes a letter to Albert Chevalier praising his work and in particular the song, ‘My Old Dutch’ which he had heard him sing the previous Saturday (14th January).

Albert Chevalier had appeared as Chemineau in The Struggle for Life at the Avenue Theatre in September/October, 1890.
Chevalier was also listed among Buchanan’s creditors in his bankruptcy of 1894, being owed £150.

18 January 1893

Buchanan’s fourth letter to The Daily Chronicle.


20 January 1893

Buchanan’s fifth letter to The Daily Chronicle.


25 January 1893

Robert Buchanan interviews himself in The Echo on the subject of The Wandering Jew.


26 January 1893

Buchanan’s sixth letter to The Daily Chronicle.


28 January 1893

Dr. Joseph Parker replies to Buchanan’s self-interview in The Echo.


30 January 1893

Buchanan replies to Dr. Joseph Parker in The Echo.


31 January 1893

The editor of The Daily Chronicle closes the discussion and gives his summation of the controversy.

Item from The Leeds Mercury:
     ‘Mr. Robert Buchanan’s cheaply original book, “The Wandering Jew,” is occasioning a discussion in which frequent reference is made to the author’s Scottish nationality. Mr. Buchanan’s nationality is of no great import; but if it is to be mentioned at all, it should be mentioned correctly. By blood he is half Scottish and half Welsh, and by birth and upbringing he is wholly English. What his nationality is cannot therefore be easily said. The belief that he is a Scotsman is based upon the facts that he bears a Scottish surname and that he spent a session or two at the University of Glasgow. But this does not mean that the belief is based upon anything very substantial.’

Buchanan sends a letter to Chatto enclosing the ‘Author’s Note’ for the second edition of The Wandering Jew.


1 February 1893

Item in The Dundee Evening Telegraph:
                       ‘THE CHURCH AND THE STAGE
Mr Robert Buchanan, writing in The Morning on the Church and stage, says:—It is a case of two rival shows. The astrologer who tells fortunes and casts horoscopes is angry to see crowds flocking to the booth where Mr Merryman proclaims that the play is “Just going to begin.” It is the boast of many clergymen that they “Know nothing, thank God,” about the theatre. A few with whom I am privileged to be acquainted do know something about it, and heartily approve its best manifestations. But the mass of churchmen execrate the stage because it furnishes better entertainment than they themselves are able to supply. And how can they visit the theatre? how can they enjoy the drama of life with the old gnome of superstition still riding on their backs? It is not the business of the stage to conciliate the Church in any way, but it is the business of the Church, or it soon will be its business, to apologise to the stage for its persecutions, its misrepresentations, its cowardly and unchristian antagonism. Jesus of Nazareth, whose name has been taken in vain so long, loved life in all its fulness, in all its happiness. If He were alive now He might possibly give His blessing to the Church, but I am certain He would give it to the Theatre.’

I have not been able to track down the original of this - in fact I can’t find any information on The Morning and wonder whether it’s missing a final word.

7 February 1893

Buchanan writes another letter to The Daily Chronicle including the following:
My sympathy and reverence for Jesus of Nazareth is purely secular. I altogether reject the idea of his godhead and moral perfection. Until I have put together, as I am now doing, my whole argument on this question, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I class Jesus with the other dreamers of the world, with each of whom, and with all of whom, I deeply sympathise. But my contention from the beginning has been that Christianity is the deadly enemy of human progress, and that for much of its continuous misdoings the transcendental empiricism of its founder is responsible. It is quite true, as Mr Horton affirms, that I believe in the permanence of personal consciousness; but that belief is the common property of both religion and philosophy, and must be founded, if it is to be maintained, on absolute science, not on shadowy documents with as much claim to inspiration as Zadkiel’s Almanack. It is a pity that Mr Horton grows so enthusiastic over the long discredited Gospel according to St. John—a book which no rational inquirer now believes to have been John’s work at all, and which is darkened through and through with the obscurities of Neo-Platonism. This gospel contains, as I shall show in due course, one of the most powerful arguments against the physical Reusurrection. But the whole Christian evidences are too “nebulous” for words. Little wonder that Christianity, relying on such inspiration, has travelled along so slowly.”

This letter is not included in the material preserved by the Liverpool Record Office, which is the basis of the section on the ‘Wandering Jew Controversy’ on this site and since the archives of The Daily Chronicle are not online, all I have is this extract, taken from the Edinburgh Evening News of 8th February, 1893.

9 February 1893

Writes to Chatto asking if the second edition of The Wandering Jew is ready to “please send me a few copies at once - I hope you’ll keep up the advertising”.


10 February 1893

An interview with the Rev. A. H. Smith of the ‘Christian Kingdom Society’ in the Pall Mall Gazette reveals that Robert Buchanan was a lapsed member of the society which had been formed in 1885. The interviewer speculates that “‘The Kingdom’ ... may have furnished him with some of the ideas which he has been exploiting lately”.


11 February 1893

Item in The Dundee Evening Telegraph:
     “Mr Robert Buchanan, replying in the Daily Chronicle to certain attacks upon him, says:—I am neither a trickster nor an infidel nor an Atheist. All my life I have upheld the beautiful verities of natural religion, and have clung to the belief that the only solution of this strange life will be found in another. I have always maintained, however, that to seek for that solution at the cost of self-knowledge and self-respect—to lose oneself in the obscurities of other worldliness—is a simple waste of time. If I am an infidel and an Atheist, then Jesus of Nazareth, who taught that men are to be saved by the conscience within, and who struck with all His strength at established religion, was also an Atheist and an infidel. I have dared to say, while admitting the beauty of His teaching, that it was mingled with errors which have borne terrible fruit. This I believe, and shall attempt to prove; but it is possible to live and sympathise with Jesus of Nazareth without admitting the infallibility of His knowledge. That is my position.”

Whether this refers to the letter of 7th February, or a new one, I have no idea. There is also this item in The Yorkshire Evening Post of 11th February:
     ‘As a publicist Mr. Robert Buchanan is about equal to Mr. Stead; but this posing before the public has its disadvantages. His smashing letters on the question “Is Christianity played out?” have brought him letters not of a complimentary nature. He says he is in “daily receipt of Christian letters informing me that God will punish me for my unbelief, and that I shall burn in eternal Hell,” and this he takes as proof “that Christianity, although moribund, is still strong enough to curse and threaten in the old manner.” Which is nonsense. It is simply proof that the public is tired of Mr. Buchanan as a poseur, and takes this gentle method of telling him so.’

22 February 1893

First provincial performance of The Lights of Home by Mr. Auguste Van Biene’s Company at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth.


16 March 1893

Andrew Chatto offers Buchanan £180 for a 2 volume novel, Woman and the Man.

This is the outcome of a rather confused list of attempts by Chatto to purchase another Buchanan novel (preserved in a note in the Chatto collection) beginning on 30th April, 1891. Most of the note involves Come Live With Me And Be My Love which was published in America by Lovell, Coryell & Co. and in Britain by William Heinemann in the summer of 1892. The note regarding Woman and the Man suggests that Chatto was unaware that the novel had already been serialised in 1891 in several English newspapers and had also been published in America by Cassell as The Wedding Ring.

April 1893

Lady Kilpatrick begins serialisation in The English Illustrated Magazine.

This serialisation of Lady Kilpatrick (which ran in The English Illustrated Magazine until September) would later cause problems for Buchanan with Chatto & Windus. Although it is not certain, it was probably a novelisation of The Squireen, the unproduced play which Buchanan had written in collaboration with Aubrey Boucicault in 1890. However, it is fairly certain that Buchanan did not write the adaptation himself, but gave the work to someone else - perhaps Henry Murray.

1 April 1893

The Black Domino (written in collaboration with G. R. Sims) is produced at the Adelphi Theatre.
This was Buchanan’s final collaboration with G. R. Sims.


May 1893

Buchanan’s contribution to the ‘My First Book’ feature of Jerome K. Jerome’s magazine, The Idler, is published. He concludes the article with the following advice to young writers:
“He will never be able to subsist by creative writing unless it so happens that the form of expression he chooses is popular in form (fiction, for example), and even in that case, the work he does, if he is to live by it, must be in harmony with the social and artistic
status quo. Revolt of any kind is always disagreeable. ... In Literature, as in all things, manners and costume are most important; the hall-mark of contemporary success is perfect Respectability. It is not respectable to be too candid on any subject, religious, moral, or political. It is very respectable to say, or imply, that this country is the best of all possible countries, that War is a noble institution, that the Protestant Religion is grandly liberal, and that social evils are only diversified forms of social good. Above all, to be respectable, one must have ‘beautiful ideas.’”
The article also contains several photographs of the exterior and interior of 25, Maresfield Gardens.

Buchanan enters into an agreement with Mr. Comyns Carr to produce Dick Sheridan at the Comedy Theatre.

Buchanan’s ‘First Book(s)’ in this case are Undertones and Idyls and Legends of Inverburn. He chooses to ignore the two books of poetry which were published in Glasgow before he moved to London, and also his collaboration with Charles Gibbon, Stormbeaten: or Christmas Eve at the “Old Anchor” Inn.

Buchanan’s criticism of the literary life caused much comment in the Press, particularly on the grounds that, judging by the photographs accompanying the article, he himself had done very well by the profession. Some newspapers headed their comments, ‘Is Literature Played Out?’, linking it to the earlier ‘Wandering Jew’ controversy.

27 May 1893

Final (49th) performance of The Black Domino at the Adelphi Theatre.


31 May 1893

Harriett Jay attends the fifth annual ‘Women Writers’ Dinner’ (formerly ‘Literary Ladies’’) at the Criterion Restaurant, London.


5 June 1893

Item in The Morning Post:
     “Mr. E. H. Sothern, whose success on the American stage is maintaining the hereditary celebrity of his name, is to impersonate the principal character in the new play which Mr. Robert Buchanan has written in illustration of the life and times of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The piece will be produced in the first instance on the New York stage, but will doubtless find its way to London in due course.”


23 June 1893

Writes to Andrew Chatto saying he has “been very ill & dreadfully worried.”


July 1893

The Dismal Throng’ is published in The Idler. Buchanan adds the following note to the poem:
     “These verses refer to a literary phenomenon that will in time become historical, that phenomenon being the sudden growth, in all parts of Europe, of a fungus-literature bred of Foulness and Decay; and contemporaneously, the intrusion into all parts of human life of a Calvinistic yet materialistic Morality. This literature of a sunless Decadence has spread widely, by virtue of its own uncleanness, and its leading characteristics are gloom, ugliness, prurience, preachiness, and weedy flabbiness of style. That it has not flourished in Great Britain, save among a small and discredited Cockney minority, is due to the inherent manliness and vigour of the national character. The land of Shakespere, Scott, Burns, Fielding, Dickens, and Charles Reade is protected against literary miasmas by the strength of its humour and the sunniness of its temperament.”

Buchanan assigns all his interest in Dick Sheridan (at the Comedy Theatre) to Mr. W. E. Martyn, despite having already made an agreement with Samuel French to give him half the royalties. This results in the 1894 court case.

‘The Dismal Throng’ was reprinted in The New Rome.

13 July 1893

Buchanan writes a letter to The Daily Chronicle published under the heading ‘Literature and Lucre’ responding to comments made by Walter Besant on his ‘My First Books’ article.
“I have never stood up in the market-place cackling over either losses or gains; I have never taken off my hat to any bogus reputation; and I have chosen in preference to joining any clique of authors or logrollers, the liberty of speaking my mind—with the result that the whole tribe of professional literary men have been up in arms against me. ... I have earned and lost large sums of money, but I have never, up to date, discovered that literature and lucre are convertible terms. It is not for my pen to proclaim what the hand which holds it has done, but I could stake my oath that I have fed more mouths, and helped more struggling comrades, than all the Societies of Authors put together. I care little for Fame, and less for Money. I have known too many famous men to respect them, and too many rich men to envy them.”

Walter Besant’s comments were reported in the Pall Mall Gazette on 4th July, but I don’t know where they originated. Unfortunately, I only have extracts from Buchanan’s letter in The Daily Chronicle (which may have been printed on 14th July).
It is perhaps also worth noting that Buchanan does have a kind word to say about publishers at this point, writing that they have “helped the struggler, boiled the pot, guided the improvident, and sympathised with the deserving. There may be rascally Publishers; there are also rascally Authors. It is quite a mistake, at any rate, to regard the Writer of Books as a benignly innocent creature, absolutely at the mercy of Book-dealers and other Birds of Prey.”

17 July 1893

There is an undated letter from Harriett Jay to Andrew Chatto which reads:
     “Mr. Buchanan desires me to say that the ‘Wedding Ring’ was published serially in Tillotsons syndicate but he does not know in which of the papers it appeared.”
Chatto has added a note: ‘Wrote Tillotson July 17 ’93’.

Whether Chatto had found out about Buchanan’s ‘new’ novel, Woman and the Man, having already been published in several provincial newspapers and had written to Tillotson on 17th July, then contacted Buchanan, or whether the date in Chatto’s note on the letter means that he wrote to Tillotson to confirm the information. I don’t know. However, Chatto went ahead with the publication of the book.

18 August 1893

Buchanan’s 52nd birthday.
In a letter to Archibald Stodart-Walker, written the week before his birthday, and quoted by Henry Murray in Chapter 26 of the Jay biography, Buchanan wrote:
It has been a damnable year for me in every way, and at times I’ve felt quite helpless. ’Tis all very well for me to croak anathemas on the dismal folk, but I’m a dismal, despairing, self-tormenting creature myself and as for the joy of life, my share of it is a flickering candle. Friday next is my birthday. I shall keep it in the coal cellar, a sheet round me, and ashes on my head. Why the deuce was I ever born?”

A reply of sorts to Buchanan’s ‘Literature and Lucre’ letter in The Daily Chronicle is included in an article by Walter Besant in The Times about the Congress of Authors, which he had attended in Chicago in July, 1893:     “Another kind of literary man is he who is continually inveighing against the baseness of connecting literature with lucre. He appears in this country, on an average, once a year, with his stale and conventional rubbish.”

Murray puts this bout of depression down to a bad day at the races but it is fairly obvious that things are not going well for Buchanan at this point. Buchanan’s bouts of illness usually coincide with financial problems. The failure of The Black Domino and the end of his partnership with G. R. Sims and the Adelphi, meant the loss of a regular source of income, which had been very lucrative in the beginning. The serialisation of Lady Kilpatrick, and the possible subterfuge involving Woman and the Man (aka The Wedding Ring) may also point to money problems, which would result in his bankruptcy the following year.

26 August 1893

Buchanan writes a letter to The Era concerning his play, Dick Sheridan, which he had sold to Daniel Frohman in New York in 1892. Frohman had since reneged on the deal and was preparing to produce another play on the same subject by another author: Sheridan; or, the Maid of Bath by Paul M. Potter.


5 September 1893

Paul M. Potter’s Sheridan; or, the Maid of Bath is produced at New York’s Lyceum Theatre.


30 September 1893

The Era publishes an extensive review of Paul Potter’s play. There is also a mention of another letter from Buchanan on the subject, which remained unpublished due to its libellous nature:
     ‘“Sheridan: or, The Maid of Bath,” is still the subject of a bitter controversy. Mr Robert Buchanan recently attacked Mr Daniel Frohman, alleging unfair dealings with his play. Mr Frohman and Mr Paul M. Potter, the author of the American version recently produced in New York by Mr Sothern, have replied. Our own correspondent has thrown some fresh light on the whole business, and now we are in receipt of another letter from Mr Buchanan, who deals out libellous accusations so liberally that we are compelled to refuse him publication. Mr Buchanan was very angry, because from his first letter we expunged matter that was libellous; he will be angrier perhaps when he finds that we have thought it necessary to suppress his second altogether.’

The Era announces that the American actress Minnie Seligman, on a recent visit to England, bought Buchanan’s play, Lady Gladys. No mention is made of the court case involving Lillie Langtry.


7 October 1893

The Era publishes a letter from Daniel Frohman giving his version of the dispute over Dick Sheridan.

This letter (dated 21st September) refers to Buchanan saying that Frohman has ‘pirated’ Dick Sheridan in The Daily Telegraph, so there may be another Buchanan letter out there.

20 October 1893

Buchanan writes to Andrew Chatto (from Parade House, Southend) saying he has been suffering from bronchitis and has been unable to work. He says he hopes to be in London on Tuesday (24th). There is also an undated letter from Harriett Jay to Chatto from the same address, which says that Buchanan “has been confined to his room for the past ten days with bronchitis”.


28 October 1893

Buchanan writes to The Daily Chronicle concerning Hall Caine’s interview in the Young Man, where Caine had attempted to counter some of the bad press Buchanan had attracted by his ‘My First Book’ article, by referring to the dispute between Buchanan and Rossetti.

Caine’s comments on Buchanan and Rossetti were reprinted in the Pall Mall Gazette on 26th October. Extracts from the Chronicle letter were reprinted in the Pall Mall Gazette on 28th October, including the following:
“Flattering as they are to both of us, I trust that they will be accepted cum grano salis. The subject is one which I would rather pass by in silence, except to say that no one knows better than Mr. Hall Caine (of whose loyalty and devotion to Rossetti there can be no question) that the cruellest misrepresentations ever endured by the poet were due to the conduct of his own intimate friends. He was not the weak, querulous, feeble person pictured to his admirers, and capable of being ‘snuffed out by an article.’ He was a man in every sense of the word, and with his great sufferings and untimely end criticism, adverse or favourable, had nothing whatever to do.”

3 November 1893

Woman and the Man published by Chatto & Windus.
Reviewed in The Glasgow Herald (9 November, 1893).


The review in The Spectator ended with the following warning:
“Mr. Buchanan, however, seems to be losing all regard for a once high reputation; and if he perseveres in his cynical indifference, that reputation will soon be little more than a dim memory.”

7 November 1893

The Daily Chronicle publishes a poem by Buchanan under the title, ‘The Devil, Unlimited’ - reprinted in The New Rome as ‘The Charter’d Companie’.

Two verses from the poem were reprinted in The Portsmouth Evening News on 7th November, adding this information:
‘Mr. Buchanan has exercised his muse on the following text:—“We are responsible, I beg to say, to the Shareholders alone!”—QUASI-OFFICIAL UTTERANCE.’
The same two verses appeared in The Edinburgh Evening News the following day with this explanation:
     “Mr Robert Buchanan has a poem of six stanzas in the Daily Chronicle, giving his views of the conduct of the Chartered Company in South Africa.”
More information about the British South Africa Company is available on wikipedia.

24 November 1893

Item in The Glasgow Herald:
     ‘Theatre-goers were rather astonished to hear that the “notices were up” for “The Tempter,” and it seems Mr Jones’s play will be withdrawn form the Haymarket to-morrow week. Its successor, a new play by Mr Robert Buchanan, which at present is entitled “The Charlatan,” is not yet ready, although it has been placed in rehearsal, and will probably be produced in about a month’s time.’


25 November 1893

Both the Pall Mall Gazette and The Era announce that Mr. Comyns Carr is to produce a series of children’s matinées during the Christmas holidays at the Comedy Theatre. Buchanan’s version of ‘The Piper of Hamelin’ will share the bill with Sandford and Merton by F, C. Burnand.

And the Aberdeen Evening Express reports that Henry Murray is “the house-mate for the present of Mr Robert Buchanan, with whom he is now collaborating in writing a play.”



The play is presumably The Charlatan since there is a letter from Buchanan to Chatto & Windus of 7th December, 1894 in which Buchanan asks them to add Murray’s name to the novel of The Charlatan: “In view of the fact that Mr Henry Murray has been of large assistance to me, both on the play & story”.

11 December 1893

The Echo publishes an article on Robert Buchanan as No. 12 in their series, ‘Novels and Novelists’.


12 December 1893

Item in The Echo:
     “A few days ago we hinted that Mr. Buchanan had written the libretto of a light opera. We may state now that it is of the fantastic order, and may be seen at a theatre this season. It is entitled Adam and Eve; or, a Hundred Years Hence. Its theme is certainly original. We are to suppose that the world has been visited with a second Flood, and that all humanity is extinct. Two inhabitants of the planet Mars are entrusted with the task of re-peopling the earth, and of avoiding the errors that have attended the growth of previous civilisations. We are introduced to this interesting couple a few years after their transplantation, and they are engaged when the curtain of the first act rises in looking after their offspring. How an opera in two acts is to be constructed with such a limited number of dramatis personæ is Mr. Buchanan’s secret.”

There had been several mentions in the Press over the years of Buchanan writing ‘operas’ in collaboration with Dr. A. C. Mackenzie and Walter Slaughter, but the only one to reach the stage was The Pied Piper of Hamelin (with music by F. W. Allwood), although The Maiden Queen (music by Florian Pascal) was given a copyright performance in 1905 and the libretto was published. As for Adam and Eve, it is listed among his assets as an “unfinished opera” in the bankruptcy proceedings of 1894.

20 December 1893

The Piper of Hamelin: a fantastic Opera in two acts (with music by F. W. Allwood) is produced at the Comedy Theatre as a series of Christmas matinée performances.


21 December 1893

The libretto of The Piper of Hamelin: a fantastic Opera in two acts (with illustrations by Hugh Thomson) published by William Heinemann.


30 December 1893

The Derby Daily Telegraph reports that:
Mr. Robert Buchanan’s “The Charlatan” is being rehearsed by Mr. Beerbohm Tree at the Haymarket, though I am told by a mutual friend that the last act has not yet left the dramatist’s hand.”


Robert Buchanan Timeline - continued

9. 1894 - 1895



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


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