Readers from the UK of a certain age, and probably the men to be honest, will get a little frisson of recognition at the banner above, I'm sure. Look and Learn was almost ubiquitous in the 1970s in newsagents, libraries and schools: the educational magazine for kids with lots of pictures to "make learning fun". I was surprised therefore to discover the other day that they had, in 1973, a two page article on Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo. For a moment I couldn't think why it would have appeared out of nowhere but then remembered that Peter Luke's play Hadrian VII was contemporary with this and sure enough the popularity of the play is the hook on which the article is hung.
The title is perhaps a little unfair and blunt "The Writer Who Hated Everybody". Look and Learn wasn't the kind of magazine to give bylines but despite a few errors of fact this is clearly written by someone who knows their Corvine apples. And it is worth its paper and ink for the illustrations alone. The one immediately below shows Corvo writing himself as the Pope in Hadrian the Seventh. The image of Rolfe is taken from the same photograph of Rolfe in the study of Dr Hardy at Oxford as was used on the cover of Robert Scoble's recent book, Raven. The Turbulent World of Baron Corvo. The other images illustrate the story of Rolfe falling into the canal that he wrote as one of his three Venetian tales that were originally published in Blackwoods Magazine. How apocryphal the story is we will never know but it seems unlikely that in many years of boating about Venice Rolfe didn't end up in the drink at some point accidentally and as a strong and regular swimmer, getting to the side, pipe still in his mouth, wouldn't have been out of the question. On the whole, a wonderful ephemeral find.