Thursday, September 21, 2006

Five Pound Challenge Update

Well, both items on R's Five Pound Challenge (see below) sold. So the accounts stand thus:

Postcard of Edwardian Woman Graduate : £2.70
Postcard to a Seaforth Highlander: £2.20
Paypal fees: £0.65
Total in the bank: £7.35

... a good start, now he has to find the next item(s) to sell...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

David Aronson

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable, and therefore, not popular."

That quote from Carl Jung is the very appropriate way that artist and illustrator David Aronson introduces his slightly more than twisted artwork on his website: Alchemical Wedding - which I've decided to share with you.

PS. R's Five Pound Challenge faces its first test today as his first two auctions end. I'm pleased to report that both items have a one or two bids and yes, Ben, feel free to bid as much as you like!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Introducing R's Five Pound Challenge

Well, this blog is nothing if not eclectic...!

R was constantly complaining that we spend huge amounts of time at antiques and collectables fairs and he never buys anything whilst my bags are bulging. At the same time, he does have a habit of looking over my should while I'm listing things on ebay and mumbling things like 'why don't you put this...?' or 'shouldn't you have the word X in the title...?' So, things coming to a head as they do I have issued a challenge.

From five pounds I have given him: how long will it take to raise £500...

On my birthday we were at a fair in Chichester. There he bought the first two items for his challenge. He opted for two postcards (not things I would have picked out so it begins to get interesting!). The first is a fairly ordinary postcard but addressed to a member of the Seaforth Highlanders during the First World War with a wonderfully terse message on the back (see here). The second is a real photo postcard of a female graduate. I couldn't hazard an accurate guess for the date of this photo but it could be early, particularly in terms of women in further education. The Ebay listing is here.

The money so far:
Opening balance = £5.00
Two postcards = £0.75
Ebay listing fees = £0.40
Current Balance = £3.10

With a starting price of £1.99 each, there's a chance of a little profit by the end of the auctions on Sunday.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Horatio F. Brown

Mentioned below, Horatio F. Brown was at the very centre of literary life in Venice in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In many ways he seems a peripheral figure but once begins to dig around one finds him making connections between all kinds much better remembered people today. He was a boy at Clifton College when John Addington Symonds gave his lectures on Greek literature and culture and was one of the group of boys who became intimate with Symonds and the friendship continued until Symond's death, after which HFB became Symonds' biographer and literary executor.

He was an long time friend of such diverse figures as Lord Roseberry (Prime Minister), Henry Scott Tuke, and Robert Louis Stevenson. In fact Stevenson wrote (at least one) poem for Brown. In Venice Brown held regular 'at homes' in Venice and entertained all the visiting English. He aso appears regularly in the diary of Lady Layard - one of the most complete records of ex-patriate life in Venice of that period.

Brown was also a discreet (closeted might be a little unfair) homosexual who wrote a volume of poetry on the beauty of youth and who installed his gondolier and the gondolier's family in his Venice home along with Brown's own mother.

I've been looking for a medium-long term project for some time which would enable me to bring together my interested in Victorian queers in a way which would contribute something new to the available knowledge and I think I may have found it in Brown. My aim is to write at least a monograph (if not a biography depending on how much material I can find) and in the hunt for such I came across the most unlikely item the other day. A menu for the 60th Anniversary run of "The Great Western" in 1964 with, on the back, a poem by HFB.

So! I chall never see you more,
You mighty lord of railway-roar;
The splendid stroke of driving-wheel,
The burnished brass, the shining steel,
Triumphant pride of him who drives
From Paddington to far St Ives.
Another year, and then your place
Knows you no more; a pigmy-race
Usurps the glroy of the road,
And trails along a lesser load.
Drive on then, engine, drive amain,
Weap me, like love, yet once again
A follower in your fiery train.

Drive on! and driving, let me know
The golden West, its warmth, its glow.
Pass Thames with all his winding maze;
Sweet Clifton dreaming in a haze;
And, father yet, pass Taunton Vale,
and Dawlish rocks, and Teignmouth sail,
And Totnes, where the dancing Dart
Comes seaward with a gladsome heart;
Then let me feel the wind blow free
From levels of the Cornish sea.

Horatio F Brown. May 1901.

PS. Will, I would love to email you but I can't find your email address anywhere. Do drop me a line using the email link to the right hand side of this page. And Norah, thanks so much for being in touch about the cover of The Einstein Intersection, likewise I'd be delighted if you'd like to drop me a line via the email link.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Two images of the young martyr, Saint Tarcissus. The bottom one I used as the title page device in my edition of the Frederick Rolfe poem. The top image is one I bought just recently.

S. Baring-Gould has this entry on S. Tharsicius (the spelling has always been problematic):

"Tharsicius, an acolyte, was bearing the body of Jesus Christ in the B. Sacrament tot he Christian prisoners during the persecution of Valerian and Gallienus, when he was arrested by the pagan rabble on his way, and asked what he bore so reverently. But he refused to reveal the sacred mystery, whereupon he was assailed by the mob with sticks and stones. He hastily consumed the sacred gift he was bearing and then sank covered with blood on the pavement. The mob rushed on him, tore his arms apart, rent his clothes, and sought, but found nothing. He was taken up by some of the faithful, and buried in the cemetary of S. Calixtus on the Appian Way. A touching picture of his martyrdom has been drawn by Cardinal Wiseman in his story of Fabiola. The sepulchre of S. Tharsicius was adorned and inscribed with an epitaph by Pope S. Damasus." - Lives of the Saints

Rolfe's Childhood Playground!

At an antiques and collectables fair I recently found this postcard of Cheapside in London. Cheapside was where in 1860 Frederick Rolfe was born and where his father and grandfather ran a piano manufacturers and retailer. The business was in decline even when Rolfe was born and continued to struggle until Rolfe's father died and his mother and sister ended up running a small school. Rolfe tried for a while, whilst living in Boadhurst Gardens - see below - to do what he could to salavge some income from the business for his mother after his father's death but Rolfe was never great at money-matters and was desparately poor himself. It seems likely that it was precisely because Rolfe was trying to sell pianos to help his mother that The Royal Literary Fund became suspicious of Rolfe's financial status and refused him continued support (someone came across a flier for the pianos and assumed that Rolfe himself was benefitting from the sales). This postcard shows Cheapside in 1906, a little late for Rolfe but I don't imagine it had changed all that much.

PS. Will, I do know of Corvines in NY but I'm afraid one has to guard the privacy of one's customers. Seeing as New York has quite a collection of Corvine material, including manuscripts and letters, in various libraries and universities I'd hope that Rolfe might not be without admirers there... thanks for dropping by :-)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The House Were Rolfe Lived

Last week on a rain-speckled, windy and warm Saturday I joined about 20 other people for a walk around places of Corvine significance in London. A lovely eclectic group from the young woman with a passion for Beardsley in her Brighton-lanes attire, to the city gent with his cravat and walking stick.

Between 1899 and 1904 Frederick Rolfe, aka Baron Corvo, was a lodger at 69 Broadhurst Gardens in London. Broadhurst Gardens in West Hampstead is a long, long road of mainly Victorian red-brick houses, two or three storeys tall, and you only have to squint your eyes slightly to get the 'gaslight and carriages' feel of the place. Of course, as luck would have it, the Victorian ambience breaks between no.s 59 and 97 where a WW2 bomb was dropped and a hideous post-war bungalow development stands in it's place. My guess is though that No. 59 is close enough to imagine the steps Rolfe walked up on his way home each night to his tempestuous landlady.

Happy Birthday to Me :-)

Thirty-five today... time to grow up I suppose...
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