Saturday, September 3, 2011

I finished reading ‘Cecilia’ which I really enjoyed, mainly because of the writing rather than the story itself and have now just finished reading the most delightful book, John Frazer’s autobiography, ‘Close Up’ and all I can say is, having read his book, I wish I had met and got to know the man, and higher praise than that I don’t think I can give. However as we were both born in the same year 1931 I hardly think that is likely to happen now. Once started I simply could not put the book down and whipped through it at the rate of knots enjoying every page, every anecdote, and every out loud laugh at the humorous bits of which there are plenty.

At the end of ‘Cecilia’ Macmillan & Co advertise their six shilling novels by writers I know and writers I had never heard of. Six shillings in 1902 was quite a lot of money - £18 today - average price I suppose for a hardback.

I know Marion Crawford now and of course Jack London and Rudyard Kipling whose entire output seems to have been published by Macmillan, and Owen Wister author of ‘The Virginian’ one my school set books, a book I really loved. “Smile when you call me that,” but I had never heard of Rhoda Broughton, Gilbert and Marian Coleridge, Gertrude Atherton, an Australian, Rolf Boldrewood (real name Thomas Alexander Browne so why he wrote under a pseudonym I have no idea) who wrote at least eighteen novels and is ‘Robbery Under Arms’ not a well-known book? Yes, indeed, an Australian classic filmed twice, in 1957 starring Peter Finch and in 1985 with Sam Neill. Then there is Rosa N. Carey, Harold Vallings, Charles Major, S.R.Crockett, Egerton Castle, Stephen Gwynn, A.C.Farquharson, Una L.Silberbrad, Evelyn Sharpe, E.Frances Poynter and more and I am sure somewhere their books are still available.

One famous name amongst them is Winston Churchill but not to be confused with bulldog breed Churchill. This one was an American novelist (‘The Crisis,’ ‘Richard Carver,’ - sold over two million and made him very rich, ‘The Celebrity’). The bulldog wrote one novel ‘Savrola’ and it seems the two men did have some contact.

One book Macmillan did not publish, or certainly it’s not advertised in this volume, is a book I’ve been looking for for years. I must have mentioned it before but I’ll mention it again. It is called ‘Lost On The Prairie’ it is a Victorian publication but I have no idea who the author was. I haven’t as yet even managed to find it on Google so if anyone knows of a copy please let me know.

Going back to the all things bright and beautiful,. I am now well into Paul O’Grady’s second fascinating autobiography, ‘The Devil Rides Out’ and I learn that when still quite young he spent three years working in a convalescent home for children. This is quite an eye-opener. Among his charges were fifteen boys ranging from eleven to thirteen and then later he looked after eleven boys seven to nine. ‘Out of the eleven there was a case of muscular dystrophy, three asthmatics, two boys with colostomy bags, a diabetic, assorted skin diseases including a lad covered from head to toe in psoriasis and a spina bifida, in other words all the beautiful perfect things God made. Hallelujah, praise the Lord and all that jazz. Do read this book. It is well worth it.

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