Google+ Followers

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Charles Frederick Higham

According to his friend, Ethel Mannin: "At twenty-four he (Charles Frederick Higham) was a salesman earning three pounds a week; within two months he was earning ten pounds a week writing advertisements; within two years he was earning a thousand pounds a year as manager of one of America's largest department stores. By the time he was thirty he had had twenty-nine jobs. His own explanation of this was that he could never endure to stay long enough in one job to risk getting into a rut." Higham also claimed he was "sacked into success."

Higham eventually established his own advertising agency, Charles F. Higham Ltd. Nothing is known of his first marriage but he was described as a widower on his second marriage to Jessie Munro (1882–1925) on 15th December 1911. According to his biographer, Gordon Phillips: "Higham was a rumbustious, fiercely energetic, and indefatigable self-publicist, but though he understood the power of advertising, he failed to accept the growing trend for sophisticated market research." A friend claimed that "without that dynamic personality, that consuming egotism, that colossal faith in himself, he could not have risen from literally nothing to his present position."

Friday, 24 December 2010

Julia Strachey, Stephen Tomlin and Dora Carrington

Julia Strachey married Stephen Tomlin in July 1927. The married couple rented a stone cottage at Swallowcliffe in Wiltshire. Carrington was a regular visitor: "Really its equal to Ham Spray in elegance and comfort, only cleaner and tidier." Carrington was in love with both Stephen and Julia. She told Gerald Brenan that she was strongly attracted to Julia and that she was "sleeping night after night in my house, and there's nothing to be done, but to admire her from a distance, and steal distracted kisses under cover of saying goodnight." In October 1929 she sent a letter to her complaining: "Julia, I wish I was a young man and not a hybrid monster, so that I could please you a little in some way, with my affection. You know you move me strangely. I remember for some reasons every thing you say and do, you charm me so much."

Stephen Tomlin and Virginia Woolf

In July 1931 Stephen Tomlin began working on a bust of Virginia Woolf. Her biographer, Hermione Lee, argued that being sculpted by Tomlin "made her think of herself as an image, a thing: she hated it, even more than sitting for her portrait." Quentin Bell added: "For somehow Virginia managed to forget, in agreeing to the proposal, that the sculptor must inevitably wish to look at his sitter and Virginia should have recollected that one of the things she most disliked in life was being peered at. A very few friends had been allowed to make pictures; some were made by stealth." Despite this, Bell believes that it was a successful work of art: "It is not flattering. It makes Virginia look older and fiercer than she was, but it has a force, a life, a truth, which his other works (those I have seen) do not possess."

Friday, 10 December 2010

Ethel Mannin

Unfortunately, Ethel Mannin is now much forgotten. Her first novel, Martha, was published in 1923. According to one critic, the novel "elaborately plots the life of the lovechild of an unmarried woman and the price the child has to pay for the sins of the parents." This was followed by the Hunger for the Sea (1924), Sounding Brass (1925) and Pilgrims (1927). The author of The Feminist Companion to Literature in English has argued that "these are socially and politically conscious works, alert to women's oppression" She wrote over 100 books during her lifetime.

Most of her books are now out of print but she is worth searching out.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Radclyffe Hall and Havelock Ellis

In 1928 Radclyffe Hall published the novel, The Well of Loneliness, about the subject of lesbianism. The publisher, Jonathan Cape, argued on the bookjacket that: "In England hitherto the subject has not been treated frankly outside the regions of scientific text-books, but that its social consequences qualify a broader and more general treatment is likely to be the opinion of thoughtful and cultured people."

Havelock Ellis, the author of argued: "I have read The Well of Loneliness with great interest because - apart from its fine qualities as a novel - it possesses a notable psychological and sociological significance. So far as I know, it is the first English novel which presents, in a completely faithful and uncompromising form, one particular aspect of sexual life as it exists among us today. The relation of certain people - who, while different from their fellow human beings, are sometimes of the highest character and the finest aptitudes - to the often hostile society in which they move presents difficult and still unsolved problems. The poignant situations which thus arise are here set forth so vividly, and yet with such complete absence of offence, that we must place Radclyffe Hall's book on a high level of distinction."

There was a campaign by the press to get the book banned. The Sunday Express argued: "In order to prevent the contamination and corruption of English fiction it is the duty of the critic to make it impossible for any other novelist to repeat this outrage. I say deliberately that this novel is not fit to be sold by any bookseller or to be borrowed from any library."

Behind the scenes the Home Office put pressure of Jonathan Cape to withdraw the book. One official described the book as "inherently obscene… it supports a depraved practice and is gravely detrimental to the public interest". The chief magistrate, Sir Chartres Biron, ordered that all copies be destroyed, and that literary merit presented no grounds for defence. The publisher agreed to withdraw the novel and proofs intended for a publisher in France were seized in October 1928.

Several writers, including, Arnold Bennett, Vera Brittain, John Buchan, T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Victor Gollancz, George Bernard Shaw, Lytton Strachey, Leonard Woolf, Virginia Woolf, Julian Huxley, Violet Markham, T.S. Eliot and Harley Granville-Barker, signed a letter of protest about the banning of the The Well of Loneliness to The Daily Chronicle.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Olive Schreiner and the First World War

During the First World War Olive Schreiner was a member of the Union of Democratic Control and the Non-Conscription Fellowship. In a speech she gave on 11th March, 1916: "Our Union of Democratic Control has two objects. The one is to draw together into an organised body those English men and women of whom, as in every other country engaged in this war, there are many hundreds of thousands, who have not desired war, and who are determined that when the peace comes it shall be a reality, and not a hotbed for the raising of future wars. We feel that the Governments have made the wars - the peoples themselves must make the peace! We are organizing ourselves, that, when the time comes, we may be able effectively to act. Our second aim is to educate ourselves and others to this end."

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Rudolf Ihlee

Rudolf Ihlee left Slade School of Fine Art in 1910 and had two solo exhibitions at the Carfax Gallery in 1914 and became a member of New English Art Club in 1919. After the First World War Ihlee settled in Collioure. In 1926 he had a solo show at Chenil Galleries. Ihlee died in 1968.

Adrian Allinson

After the war Adrian Allinson travelled widely, painting landscapes and still life subjects in Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Majorca, Ibiza and Spain. He became a member of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1933 and of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 1936. In the 1930s he designed posters for the London Underground. This included Windsor Castle (1934), Hampton Court (1934), St Peter's Church (1937) and Wooton Church (1940). Allinson also worked for the Empire Marketing Board.

Edward Wadsworth

Edward Wadsworth was a very talented artist and won first prizes for landscape in 1910 and for figure painting in 1911. He was considered to be one of the leaders of the Coster Gang. The author of A Crisis of Brilliance (2009) has argued: "They all had their own theories on how great art could be produced, with Maxwell Lightfoot and Edward Wadsworth amongst the most fervent in advancing their ideas and advising their peers." One of their teachers, Henry Tonks, recognised their talent but found them too rebellious and later commented: "What a brood I have raised."

Maxwell Gordon Lightfoot

An interesting fact: The artist Maxwell Gordon Lightfoot, was named after his mother. According to the Tate Gallery: "His mother had acquired her unusual name on the wishes of her sea captain father who prior to being lost at sea during a voyage and, expecting a boy, had left instructions that the baby should be named Maxwell Gordon. The name was bestowed upon the newborn in his memory despite the fact that she was a girl." I wonder how she coped with that.

On 27th September 1911 Lightfoot cut his throat with a razorblade. Apparently, he discovered that his girlfriend, an artist model, had been sleeping with one of his friends. The inquest passed a verdict of "Suicide whilst of Unsound Mind". Despite the fact that he was preparing for an exhibition of his work to be held at the Carfax Gallery, no paintings were found in his studio after his death and it is possible that Lightfoot destroyed them all before killing himself. On announcing his death, The Times claimed that: "All artists and critics.... were united in believing that Lightfoot would enjoy a most distinguished career in the highest rank of painting". Michael Sadleir considered Lightfoot's early death "a disaster to art in England."