Friday, May 30, 2008

Edward White and All the Bensons

I first heard of the Benson boys, A.C., E. F., and R. H., through my reading in Rolfe, who was for a time fast friends with Robert Hugh Benson, sometime writer of ghost tales and Monsignor of the Catholic Church. As with all of Rolfe's friendships there was a falling out although, unusually, it seems that in this case it may have been the friend, rather than Rolfe, who was most at fault. Be that as it may, it soon became clear that all three 'boys', sons of an Archbishop of Canterbury all, were a little bit queer in one way or another. So, although I'm not an expert on the Bensons I do have a small corner of a bookshelf reserved for books by and about them. I was genuinely chuffed therefore to be given the above as a present from a grateful bookseller who knew it would tickle my fancy.

It's the biography of Archbishop Edward White Benson, written by his son Arthur Christopher and published by Macmillan in London in 1899. A. C. Benson would also go on to write a memoir of his younger brother, Hugh, who predeceased him. The book is in two volumes and in moderately good condition but what makes it particularly appealing is that it is the biography of one Archbishop which has been owned by at least two others. The bookplate is that of Frederick Temple who was Archbishop of Canterbury 1896-1902. On that bookplate is written, in her own hand presumably, 'Given to The Old Palace Canterbury by Mrs William Temple, 1945', William Temple was Frederick's son but was also Archbishop, this time between 1942-1944 and he died in office. Old Palace is the Archbishop's residence in Canterbury and so one surmises that Mrs Temple left the book there on her departure after her husband's death. There is also, laid in the book, a small, bookplate sized piece of paper with just the words, 'Geoffrey Francis Fisher Archbishop of Canterbury 1945-1961'. This is not a bookplate and I can't say that this means the book was owned by Fisher as well, although as he followed William Temple, clearly the book was in his custody after it was given to The Old Palace. Anyway, it's a nice set of two volumes with a nice ecclesiastical history to it.

PS. I have been neglectful of people's comments and responses to the blog - my apologies.

John C., I should be fair to Delany, his criticism was reserved entirely for the art directors and editors of early pulp paperback publishing houses such as Ace, not the artists themselves, your points are well taken but I fear they are more apposite to my misrepresentation of Delany than to what he was actually getting at. The point is, of couse, now moot anyway since the improvement of printing techniques since the 60s and 70s.

When I posted a while ago about a printing block I had found at at antiques fair from the pubisher 'Longmans Green and Co.,' I was grateful to receive two 'off camera' responses, both very helpful. Jim D. Thank you for the reference to the new history of Longmans, I may see if I can find a copy of that. Nicolas from the Old Stile Press also responded: I had mused what the deeper cut section might have been at the bottom of the block and Nicolas was able to tell me that this was a regular feature on such blocks to prevent the ink pooling in areas where there was no text or line to print. Also, Nicolas suggested that this block may have been to head up the catalogue of other books 'from the same publisher' which often appear bound into the back of books of this period. It was a good idea but I have since had a chance to look at some of those from Longmans at this time and it doesn't check out. I still don't know what it was used for but I will keep on looking from time to time.

I was also delighted to hear from Daz of who commented on an older post of mine recenlty in which I mentioned and blogged some of the flyers and postcards I had picked up on a visit to the sauna in London. It turns out that Daz designed the Alternative Bear Night flyer I put up there. He doesn't say but I assume he might have designed the 'splattered paint' logo on the flyer and on the website which I thought was particularly clever and rather sweet in a way.

I never acknowledged properly the very eloquent and detailed tribute to Derek Jarman which Clixchix added to my recent 'virtual exhibition'. I would encourage you to go and read what he had to say.

I do hope I've now managed to catch up with you all and apologies if anyone's comment has been left out.


J said...

What a nice present! A fan of E.F. Benson myself, I enjoyed this item (the Benson-Corvo connection is bizarre), and really liked the recent Holywell posting, too.

Congratulations on the blog anniversary...


Mike said...

You may also know that Robert Hugh Benson was a friend of Auston Osman Spare, whose work is incredible. See. e.g. Ima ges and Oracles of Austin Osman Spare p. 11-12

bookdartsbob said...

How many brothers did the archbishop have and what were there names?

My family here inn the US has always told me he was my great great great uncle, and I am trying to see if this is true.

Who links to my website?