Filson Young

Filson Young: The first media man (1876-1938), by Silvester Mazzarella

Table of contents

10. The Sands of Pleasure

In October 1903 Filson and Minnie had left Epsom for 36 Roland Gardens, a tall, heavily built terraced house off the Brompton Road in South Kensington. This move coincided with the publication by Grant Richards of Filson’s book Ireland at the Cross Roads. Richards, just over thirty, ran a small publishing business at 48 Leicester Square. An elegant bon viveur, he is portrayed as ‘Barfleur’ in the American novelist Theodore Dreiser’s A Traveller at Forty:

He is a sort of Beau Brummel with literary, artistic and gourmandising leanings. He loves order and refinement, of course, – things in their proper ways and places – as he loves life. I suspect him at times of being somewhat of a martinet in home and office matters; but I am by no means sure that I am not doing him a grave injustice. A more even, complaisant, well-mannered and stoical soul, who manages to get his way in some fashion or other, if it takes him years to do it, I never met. He surely has the patience of fate and, I think, the true charity of a great heart. (108)

Dreiser also wrote of him: ‘He is magnificent, with a gleaming monocle, and behind it a shrewd inquisitive eye.’ (109)

The son of an Oxford don, Richards (1872-1948), like Filson, left school at fifteen. Working for the journalist W.T.Stead on his paper The Review of Reviews he came into friendly contact with leading writers, and by 1897 felt able to launch his own publishing firm with financial backing from his uncle Grant Allen and others. In 1898 he married the Countess Elisina de Castelvecchio, an intelligent and vivacious Italian beauty who was a collateral descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte. (110) In their first four years of marriage Elisina and Grant had a daughter and two sons, and after a slow start the publishing business did well too. Richards was the first to publish the plays of George Bernard Shaw, and he also secured Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh and A.E.Housman’s A Shropshire Lad. But a love of good books and good living did not mix well with limited capital, and by 1904 dependence on a professional money-lender, caused him a nervous breakdown just when the firm needed him most. (111) Declared bankrupt in April 1905, he could not legally operate again under his own name until the bankruptcy was discharged. Since he had no intention of giving up publishing, he moved from Leicester Square to more modest premises just off Regent Street at 7 Carlton Street, and for two years published under the name of his wife, ‘E. Grant Richards’, who played as active a part in helping him run the business as small children allowed. Filson, abruptly expelled as editor by the Outlook, promised to work exclusively for Richards for the foreseeable future as author, reader, copywriter and general factotum.

Richards had published Ireland at the Cross Roads, basically a product of Filson’s work as a reporter for the Daily Mail, in October or November 1903. In a way that was to become increasingly characteristic of him, Filson had made difficulties about details of the contract, even a month after he had signed it and when the book was already in the press. Richards, also characteristically, had realised that the way to get the best out of Filson was to give way wherever possible. (112) Ireland at the Cross Roads was widely read and discussed and quickly went into a second edition. When Richards was declared bankrupt another publisher, Alexander Moring, took over the remaining unbound sheets of the second edition and substituted his own title page, while Filson became one of Richards’ creditors, presumably for unpaid royalties.

Richards and Elisina had a country home in western Cornwall, Carleon (or Caerleon) Cottage at Ruan Minor, an attractive small village with an open, airy atmosphere not far from the sea on the Lizard peninsula. Richards had known the place since childhood, when his father would bring down a carefully selected party of undergraduates during the summer vacation. On becoming a publisher, Richards would put writers up at a nearby cottage run by a Mrs Dening, who thus kept house for a line of literary people including Laurence Binyon, E.V.Lucas and Bernard Shaw. (113)  In the spring of 1905, Grant, Elisina and Filson retired to Ruan, with or without Minnie, to lick their wounds. Richards planned a comeback under his wife’s name, and with Filson’s help. Filson’s books were attracting attention, and he had an idea for a first novel. Richards liked it, and Filson promised Richards the finished product for his next List. Methuen (publishers of The Relief of Mafeking and The Complete Motorist) and Murray were also interested in the projected novel, but Filson wanted Richards to have it. He also decided Richards should have Mastersingers and Ireland at the Cross Roads, as soon as these could be retrieved from Reeves and Moring respectively.(114)  Elisina fell pregnant again in about May, and in June Minnie (who had no children) reluctantly agreed to a request from Filson for a year’s trial separation. It was probably now that Filson went to Paris to search the demimonde for material for his novel, which he planned to write in the autumn at Ruan. Meanwhile Richards, no doubt anxious to save money on London accommodation and concentrate on his business without distractions, decided to park his pregnant wife and three young children at Ruan. Minnie, in London, called one day on the wife of Filson’s cousin Hugh Chisholm (115). Mrs Chisholm, a mother of three young sons (116), was not immediately available, and while Minnie waited, two of the small sons played tiddly-winks on the floor at her feet. After a while, bored with Minnie’s uninteresting ‘adult female presence’, they started throwing they improved the game by throwing the tiddly-winks at her instead, and when this alarmed her, began to pelt her so fiercely that she fled from the house. Fortunately Mrs Chisholm appeared in time to fetch her back, and it transpired that the reason for Minnie’s visit was to offer to take the boys to the Royal Tournament. Despite the rough treatment she had received she bravely persisted in her invitation, and the boys were so excited when the day came and Minnie was late, that they smashed a window in frustration because they thought they’d been forgotten. Despite these unpromising preliminaries, the day at the Royal Tournament with Minnie was a great success. Looking back seventy years later, the elder child felt he could not have been more than six or seven at the time. (117)

Meanwhile Richards, absent ill from the official proceedings, applied on July 14 for discharge from his bankruptcy, but the Official Receiver reported that his borrowings had been so excessive that they had ‘denuded his business of working capital’, and that he had ‘contributed to his failure by unjustifiable extravagance in living.’ His account books were incomplete and badly kept, and he had spent too much money entertaining authors and booksellers, etc. He must remain classified bankrupt for two more years from the date of this application. (118)

Against this background, Filson installed himself at Mrs Dening’s, and one summer night ‘kept the middle watch’ (i.e. midnight to 4am) in the lighthouse at the Lizard (119) . By the beginning of September he was ready to start writing. Richards promised the novel maximum publicity from the start:

the whole thing is estimated on the principle that you are going to stick to the house, and that the house therefore has to sell your books for all they are worth. Your part in the future will be to write the books, and our part will be to sell every copy that can be sold. (120)

A month later Minnie wrote to Grant to ask how the novel was progressing. She herself, she informed him, was thriving on a mixture of high culture, physical exercise and mountain air at a retreat near Bex in Switzerland. I shall quote this letter at length as it will be almost our only chance to hear her voice:

I am still enjoying being a Jodelhüttite and am not looking forward to the day when I must go – which I am postponing as much as possible. It grieves me to think that you would not like our pretty dress. Think for a moment what ‘the fashionable dress of the moment’ would look like on top of a lonely Swiss mountain! – and then perhaps you will be more reconciled to the idea of our blue blouses and red sashes and kerchiefs. I don’t know what sort of dress the stray men who come here wear, but I am going to suggest to Miss Matzke that they should become Neapolitan fishermen for the time being! It is only artists, however, who come here – men like Poynter, who was here not long ago – and Joachim; even Paderewski has been here. You would be entirely out of the picture, I warn you.

… The only part of the day I really feel warm is when I’m sawing or chopping wood – which I do regularly every day! We are busy now, on fine days, erecting an altar to Pan near the gorge where I do my practising. But our God is kind and bountiful. I am engraving on the altar Socrates’ prayer to Pan – do you remember? – ‘Beloved Pan, and all ye other gods who haunt this place, give me beauty in the mirrored soul; and may the outward and the inward be at one. May I esteem the wise alone wealthy, and may I have such abundance of wealth as none but the temperate may carry’. It’s nice, isn’t it?

I have been twice in to Montreux lately to lunch with people I know who are staying there. It is getting very full and gay now and stands to me for the world. It is quite strange to put on one’s ordinary clothes (changing one’s mountain boots for high heels at Miss Matzke’s agent’s in Bex!) – and go again among the fashionable ladies you so much admire and the gaiety of hotel salles-à-manger and string bands. I enjoy it of course; but I’m glad to get back to the snows and austerities of our mountain life. Oh, but – I’m very, very homesick sometimes. (121)

Some suspected later that Filson was the father of Elisina’s fourth child. It was common knowledge that he was one of her ‘admirers’ (122) and the child grew up very different in personality from his sister and brothers. Years later, Filson delighted in showing his niece the wall and window at Caerleon where, he said, he had regularly climbed in to be with Elisina at night. (123) Judging by the correspondence between Filson and Grant Richards and what little other indirect evidence there is, my own feeling is that the child was probably Grant’s, and that Filson’s affair with Elisina at Ruan probably did not start until 1906 at the earliest. Whatever the truth of the matter, it was never Filson’s habit to let extracurricular activities interfere with his work. The Sands of Pleasure was written in five weeks at a rate of nearly 20,000 words a week. It was apparently finished on October 11 and was in the bookshops by November 22. Some years later, Filson claimed he had never written anything so earnestly or honestly, or so much for sheer joy of artistic expression. Other new novels vying with The Sands of Pleasure for the reviewers’ attention at the time included E.M.Forster’s Where Angels Fear to Tread and, particularly, Marie Belloc Lowndes’ Barbara Rebell.

The Sands of Pleasure remains a very respectable first novel, admired in its own day by both readers and critics. Its central idea is simple, straightforward and strongly expressed in apt imagery. Though verbose at times, it is well constructed in the sense that every episode contributes to the central idea. And it reads as if written from direct experience. The story’s central character, Richard Grey (a name reminiscent of ‘Grant Richards’) is a thirty-one year-old civil engineer who specialises in building lighthouses. As the story opens his new lighthouse off the Lizard is nearly complete, after four years spent raising a stone tower strong enough to withstand the buffeting of wind and waves and pierce the elemental darkness with human light. The time is 1902, the year Filson himself watched and in a small way assisted the building of the Bass Rock lighthouse in Scotland at the entrance to the Firth of Forth, where the engineer in charge was D.A.Stevenson the younger, one of the famous Scottish family of lighthouse builders that had also produced one of Filson’s favourite writers, R.L.Stevenson. There are elements of Filson in Richard Grey, not least his belief that it is never ignoble to act on impulse and throw yourself wholeheartedly into any activity no matter how the world may judge you, so long as you are prepared to accept the consequences. Like Filson, Richard Grey admires R.L.Stevenson’s books but he admires the work of R.L.S.’s lighthouse-building grandfather even more. In Cornwall, Richard meets John Lauder, a sophisticated and slightly jaded man of the world in his late thirties who has been an art student in Paris. Lauder decides Richard has sacrificed his emotional development to his career. When he hears that Richard needs to go to Paris to find lenses for the new light, Lauder sees a chance to remedy this deficiency. So he goes with him and introduces him to the seamy side of life in the French capital. At one level this part of the book reads like a guide to what was on offer and where to find it, and it may indeed have served English readers in this way. We tour the pleasure spots, fashionable and otherwise, including the Café de la Paix, Bal Tabarin, Rabelais, Maxim’s, Moulin de la Galette, Rat Mort and Tour d’Argent. Lauder and Richard experience everything Paris has to offer in the way of food, wine and women. Elsa, an English demi-mondaine victim of a brutal husband back home, describes her life to Lauder:

‘Oh, I hate it! I hate it!’ she said, passionately. ‘I hardly ever let myself think about it, for when I do I send people away, and then I have no money. I must have money – I have people dependent on me; and what can I do? I have tried to get situations as a secretary, but I don’t know enough; I could be a nursery governess, but who would let me come near their children? At the places I went to, some of them said odious things to me, and the kindest said I was too good-looking!’ Her sweet dark eyes brimmed for a moment, but she dashed the tears away. ‘Some women seem to manage better; if I could meet someone I liked, who would keep me and be good to me, it wouldn’t be bad; but somehow I seem to make a mess of things; and if I liked any one, the bare mention of money would make me ill. You gave us a long lecture the other night about how we ought never to be seen at places like Maxim’s, but keep to the smartest places, and wear wonderful clothes, and have a companion, and be exclusive; but you want a cold business head for that – and then, if you only knew the sort of men who pay those prices! Here and there you come across a gentleman, like Toni’s prince; but there aren’t so many of them, and look what a mess she made of that! I was having tea the other day at the Elysée Palace, and I got a note from a man who offered me five hundred pounds if I’d stay a week with him. I wanted money, and it looked like a good chance – but when I saw him! I simply couldn’t; so you see I’m no use at all, and have to manage just the best way I can.’ (124)

Richard falls for a 23-year-old demi-mondaine of mixed German and Polish background called Toni:

As they talked she suddenly came and sat down on his knee, for there was a scarcity of chairs. At her touch his blood leaped with a thrill that astonished his mind no less than his body; he realized suddenly how he had been longing to touch her. There was no special meaning in her coming, except that she wanted somewhere to sit; she rested on his knee as lightly as a bird, and talked animatedly in German to Matilda, about some refractory maid; but her nearness to him was exquisite, and made him happy in a breathless and almost timid way. He put his arm around her, very gently and lightly, as though he feared to frighten her away; he felt the warmth of her limbs through the filmy dress she wore, and trembled at the sensation. She took no notice of him whatever – used him simply as a chair; yet he felt unreasonably happy and dignified by her presence. (125)

Toni is beautiful, lively, intelligent and capable of sensitivity and not unimaginative, but her character is marred by snobbery and a vulgar greed she can never quite conceal. She has the beauty and much of the talent to be a princess of the demi-monde – and was indeed at one time kept by a Russian prince – but the contradictions in her character condemn her to a rootlessness and social (if not economic) insecurity greater than that of many less gifted demi-mondaines. Richard is useless since he has no money beyond what will keep him for a few weeks in Paris, but in responding to the warmth of his feeling for her she enjoys an emotional experience beyond normal range. They live together for a fortnight, but she begins to tire of his earnestness, and hanker after older and richer if uglier men. When she indignantly rejects a particularly beautiful and expensive antique necklace he has bought her as a memento, on the grounds that it isn’t new and its stones are not diamonds but paste, he realizes he will never be able to bridge the gulf between them.

In the last section of the book Richard is back in Cornwall supervising the finishing touches to his lighthouse. The loss of Toni has left an aching void in his heart, and he is tempted to look for her again to try and recapture the happiness of the early days of their love. But when he gets lost on a long walk and is compelled to spend a night in the spartan guest-room of a monastery of ascetic Trappist monks (here no doubt Filson draws on his stay with Trappist monks at Mount Melleray in Ireland in 1903), he realises he must put his life with Toni firmly behind him, but that he can only do this if he first goes back to Paris and sees her one more time no matter how painful this may prove to be. Predictably, he finds her flattering a particularly repulsive rich man at Maxim’s, though he notices that when the café orchestra plays tunes from Tannhäuser (an opera they once saw together), her eyes fill with tears. She does not see him watching her, and he goes away, returning to Cornwall a sadder and wiser man, his sentimental education complete. But this is not quite the end of the story. A suitable wife for the newly mature Richard is waiting in the person of his friend’s sister Margaret Lauder, who on first being introduced to him remarks with no doubt unconsciously erotic symbolism, ‘”I am half in love with your white tower already.”‘ (126) But his feelings for Toni are still too raw for him to respond to another woman. Climbing up to the lighthouse balcony, he watches the new light sweep through the turbulent darkness for the first time:

The heavy gun-metal door on the shoreward side of the lantern was opened, and Richard stepped out once more into the shouting night. With difficulty he made his way around to the seaward side of the balcony, and stood full in the gale. Even above the roaring it made in his ears he could hear it howling and humming against the metal ventilator and crying, with wild, lost cries, around the flagstaff and the slatting cords. Behind him, his mysterious creature circled and shone like a sun; before him lay the storm and the night, with the long pencils of light pointing and wheeling across it. At his feet the glimmer of the foam showed up the angry sea, forever advancing its great dark waves up to the rock, crashing and thundering upon it, and licking hungrily up the white shapely side of the tower. Steadily and powerfully as they marched in, a new one rising where another fell; eternal and infinite as was the force that led their endless ranks to the assault, though they struck, embraced, hurled themselves in solid ranks, shot hissing tongues to destroy, bellowed and foamed in their grand and melancholy rage, yet they crumbled harmlessly against the tower’s smooth sides, and sank back exhausted before its serene immobility. As Richard leaned against the balcony rail looking upon this grand and dark scene, a sense of healing and peace began to inhabit his soul. He stood motionless, entranced, not counting time, unconscious almost of space, alone in the dark firmament with the splendid sun of his kindling.

The wind, now beginning sensibly to diminish in force, poured over him a stream of freshness, soft and mellow for all its weight, and without sting or bitterness. And as it blew, it seemed to blow through and through him, in deep cleansing and renewing draughts. He bared himself to its influence, bared even his secret wound to it, and felt the passion and the poison passing from his heart. He thought deliberately of Toni, and, although he was so far away, in circumstances so utterly different from hers, he felt nearer to her than he had ever felt before. He watched the raying beams of light as in their travel around the horizon they pointed toward France; and even across the wild chasm of night and miles that lay between them, he felt that they flung a bridge, impassable by mortal feet, over which his spirit and hers might pass, and meet in an understanding of truths beyond regret and beyond illusion. He thought now of her loss without bitterness, and saw how inevitable it had always been; yet he still thought of the finding of her, and for so short a time, as great gain. Some part of her, the best of her perhaps, he knew that he had made his own, still possessed, and held forever independently of any action of hers; he felt, too, that she had made something of him that was not there before, something new in him that was her own, and that he could not destroy and take away even if he would. Things that last! He realised how he had always, all through his life, had a passion for them; and he remembered how Margaret Lauder had accused him of caring most for things that ‘did not love him back again’. Was it true? He hardly knew, and yet his work, the things he made with his brain, they did not love him in return; and this Toni of his imagination, she did not any longer love him in return, either; yet he possessed her more completely than when she had loved him. He felt that the sundering of her from himself in the flesh, from the body that he had worshipped with his own, was but the shedding and stripping away of the beautiful leaves and petals, so that the seed, the imperishable heart, might find its place in the soil.

So also, as the dark hours passed, and the light continued to burn and shine like a sun in the stormy sky, he became conscious of an ever-growing kindness for it and for the tower, a feeling of strength rooted in the labour of his hands. Sometimes he went into the light-room and sat for a while with the keeper, watching the regular working of the clockwork, timing the revolving flashes, rejoicing in the pure steady flame within the lens; and sometimes he would go down and stand at the open door, and watch the waves foaming and raging helplessly against the smooth walls of the tower. As the small hours passed away the storm sank and waned, moaning itself away in sobs as its passion exhausted itself. But with the falling of the wind the sea rose, and as the tide rose also about the tower, it was struck repeatedly by heavy seas with a noise like the explosion of artillery. A faint tremor passed through it at the heaviest of these assaults, but it was the tremor of elastic strength, that can bend a little to resist an attack. And whenever Richard looked seaward toward the murk and tumult and waste of desolate sea, he rejoiced in the strong clear beam sweeping over the waters. (127)

There is some nice observation in the minor characters. The aged Cornish labourer Treleath enjoys a marriage founded on rock:

He had a wife, a little fat pillar of a woman as old as himself, who loved him with a romantic worship, and addressed him as ‘tender dear’. She had interviewed Richard on the morning after her husband’s appointment: ‘And you’ll let me sit on the cliffs near that tender dear, sir, where I can see him working, as I’ve always done in times past, wherever he be; and thanking you kindly, sir, but ’tis cheer for him through the long day to look up and see me where I be, and can watch over him while knitting. (128)

Some critics preferred the Cornish sections of the book, some the Parisian, but there was general agreement that the depiction of the struggle of man against the elements and the description of the Paris demi-mondaines had life and vigour. Filson’s treatment of Toni was compared to Bernard Shaw’s writing in Mrs Warren’s Profession, but it was also pointed out that though naturalistic descriptions of the vie de Bohème might be new in English, they certainly weren’t new in French; Filson was indebted to Murger and, for realism, to Daudet and Maupassant. The amoral tone shocked many readers – and certainly did the book’s sales no harm at all (it went into a third printing within two weeks). Reputable American publishers were frightened to touch it, the Standard warned fathers that it was not family reading ‘even in the twentieth century’, and the head of the Army and Navy stores asked Grant Richards’ representative to take back the specimen copy he’d left before it could corrupt his staff. Boots’s library banned it despite an appeal by Grant Richards to Jesse Boot himself, and one bookseller went futher (129). Probably what made the novel offensive to some was precisely what made it meaningful to others: it described real people with real problems and joys in a real world. Minnie, keeping in touch via

Grant, was eager to see it:

I am so glad to hear of the cover and frontispiece for THE book, and if dear Eric approves of them they must be right. How long will it be before I see them too? I hear that the proofs are already being corrected – which is good news. (130)

We don’t know what she thought of the book when she read it, as she presumably did. Filson was due to spend Christmas 1905 at Bramhall in Cheshire with his parents and without Minnie. He prepared the way by sending the novel to his father with an accompanying letter:

My dear Dad

Here is a grandchild for you, in which I hope you will be interested, and, in spite of its extreme modernity, trace some features of your own. It belongs to another literature than that which was current in your young days – a very different literature: one that has become more articulate, and of which the attitude towards life is more comprehensive and less dismayed. You will remember that when you read it, and be indulgent – not for its subject or treatment, as I don’t feel that they need any indulgence – but towards a generation that thinks, or tries to think, a little more bravely, if not more wisely, than its immediate predecessor. It is towards eternal things, although by different paths, that we both try to reach; and you must not – I know you will not – be impatient with me if my way seems a strange and roundabout one. The great thing is that it’s a way, and that I try to get somewhere.

Soon we shall be able to talk about the book.

Yours ever lovingly

Filson. (131)

William may have read the book three times in less than a month, if three dates he pencilled on the last page are anything to go by. (132) He left no record of his reactions, but we know he was not hidebound in his literary tastes; the twentieth birthday present he inscribed to his younger daughter Isabel in August 1891 had been an English translation of Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea. (133) Tom Young was impressed by the novel, but remarked to Hugh Chisholm: ‘I don’t quarrel with the preoccupation with petticoats, but I hope it won’t be permanent. We must try to get him interested in something else next time – but how?’ (134). Filson, writing advertising copy for Richards, described his own work as ‘a profoundly fascinating study of tragic pleasure’ and, in Manchester at the Midland Hotel, he gave a dinner for his old Guardian colleagues with dishes named after the characters in the novel, a dinner still remembered some thirty years later by at least three of the participants. (135)

Richards was famous for brash advertising, and Filson shared his views on the subject. Never shy of praising his own work, he may well have written the puff below, which appeared in the press early in January 1906. The idea of giving the novel extra publicity through an essay competition was thought up by Richards before publication. Filson wanted the winning essays printed in the Times:

EVERY novel has its day, long or short; and in the calendar of novels two months make a long day. But “The Sands of Pleasure”, which was published in November, is still in its meridian. Every day new orders come from the booksellers and the libraries; there is no sign of diminution. Why?BECAUSE “The Sands of Pleasure” is (in the words of “The Standard”) a novel of unusual cleverness and intellectual power. Cleverness – that’s half the battle, the easy half;  power – that’s the other and the hard half. Unless a book has something besides cleverness behind it, it won’t push it’s way into people’s hearts and lives as this book has done. People like it for different reasons. Some for its haunting, feverish charm; some for the sea-picture it contains; some for its love-story; some for its story of labour and struggle; but everyone who reads it, whether he or she likes or dislikes, admires or disapproves, feels the grip of its power. It is not the book of a day or a season; it is the book of a generation.

 WE offered two big prizes for critical essays on this book, and we have now awarded them. The first goes to Mr FRANK SANGUINETTI, 86, High Street, Southall, whom we are sending for a fortnight’s first-class tour in Italy; the second to Mr R.D.GILLMAN, F.R.G.S., Heidelberg House, St Albans, who goes for a week’s holiday in Belgium. “The Sands of Pleasure” is paying for these awards, and it can well afford to.

IF you haven’t read it, go and order it now – that is if you want a book to read, to keep, to read again and again in years to come. If not borrow it from a library and see whether you think this advertisement justified. The price is 6s., and if you are quick you will get a copy of the third edition, if not you will have to take the fourth.


7, Carlton St., S.W.

 In the first few months after its publication, The Sands of Pleasure reprinted three times, making a total of eleven thousand copies. The two winning essays were reproduced in a leaflet, which Richards slipped between the pages of his other books. A.E.Housman commented to Richards: ‘I have read the Parisian part of The Sands of Pleasure: it is interesting and well-written,’ but, he added, ‘The above remark about the novel is not to be regarded as an entry for your prize competition.’ (136)

Long after all the fuss had died down, the critic Gerald Gould acknowledged that The Sands of Pleasure, which he thought a relatively austere and severe novel, had set a new fashion in English for fiction about prostitutes:

But when one says that the new fashion was “set” so recently, one must not forget that Gissing gave to this theme all the bitter realism as well as the unquenchable romanticism which combined in his strange unsatisfied and unsatisfying genius. What was new in Mr Young’s book was the method. He too was both realist and romantic: but in him the two impulses did not conflict. To his realism he conceded a stark objective study of the yielding to physical passion: on the romantic side he drew a noble picture of a different lure, a different goddess – creation in work, as against the expense of spirit: and he wrote of the building of a lighthouse more poetically, more lyrically, than of the pleasures of the senses. This, and the sheer beauty of his style, gave his work a distinction which subsequent handlers of the same subject have missed. (137)


108 [ref]

109 [ref]

110 Apparently the title was created by the French Emperor Napoleon III for an illegitimate son of Louis Napoleon, a brother of Napoleon I and  briefly King of Holland.

111 Richards … had a fatal flaw as a publisher:  he loved books. The successes in the publishing world are people like Jonathan Cape who never opened a book, but simply by balancing it in his hand could tell how many it would sell. Richards, of course, was a professional bankrupt.  – Michael Holroyd to SM, 7 Feb 1976.

112 Grant Richards to FY, 26 Oct 1903.

113 Richards describes the location of the cottage in his memoir Author Hunting [ref?]

114 Grant Richards to FY, 24 and 25 Nov 1905.

115 Future editor of the famous 11th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica and, like his paralysed sister Helen, a particular friend of Filson’s brother Tom.

116 It was said that, after several childless years of marriage and hoping for sons, Mrs Chisholm tried a diet of raw beef with startling success  – Katharine Graham in conversation with SM, Feb 1976.

117 Sir Henry Chisholm (the elder culprit) in conversation with SM, 11 Mar 1976.

118 The Times, 5 Aug 1905, p 4a.

119 Shall I Listen? (1933) p 218, based on ‘The World We Listen In’ [Radio Times, some time in 1932?]

120 Grant Richards to FY, 4 Sept 1905.

121 Minnie Young to Grant Richards, 14 Oct 1905.

122 The word was used by Thomas C. Outram, widower of Grant and Elisina’s daughter Gioia, in a letter to SM of 3 Aug 1977. The novelist Alec Waugh stated firmly that ‘Filson Young did have an affair with Richards’s wife’ (letter to SM of 15 Nov 1974), and in conversation with SM ( Feb 1976) Waugh suggested Filson might well have been the father of one of Elisina’s children.

123 V.Isabel H.Young in conversation with SM, Aug 1974.

124 The Sands of Pleasure, 204-5.

125 The Sands of Pleasure, 171-2.

126 The Sands of Pleasure, 61.

127 The Sands of Pleasure 373-6.

128 The Sands of Pleasure, 20-1.

129 Grant Richards tells the story:  … David Knox of John Smith & Son of Glasgow. His interest in me made him read it, and when he had got well into the Paris chapter he set to work to burn it. It must have been a laborious process but he persisted. And, having succeeded in destroying the accursed thing to the last page, he sat down and gave me his opinion of me and my publication. A year or two previously he and I had provisionally arranged to spend a day or two together in Paris. He had never been abroad and he felt that I should be a good courier. Dear fellow, he told me that he knelt down at the side of his bed that night and thanked God that he had been spared a visit to so scarlet a city! Our friendship outlived the incident.  – Author Hunting (1932), page 255 in the 1960 edition.

130 Minnie Young to Grant Richards, 14 Oct 1905. ‘Eric’ is no doubt Eric Maclagan (1879-1951), one of Filson numerous establishment friends with artictic leanings. Maclagan was the son of an Archbishop of York and a Viscount’s daughter. After Winchester and Oxford (Christ Church) he joined the Victoria and Albert Museum in this same year, 1905. After wartime work with the Foreign Office and Ministry of Information, he became a member of the 1919 British Peace delegation in Paris. returning to the V & A he was briefly its Director and Secretary (1924-5) before holding various academic positions as a lecturer and writer, especially on sculpture and architecture. He and Filson travelled abroad together as young men and shared an  interest in Wagner’s operas. He was the dedicatee of Filson’s second novel When the Tide Turns (1908). Macalagan was knighted in 1933.

131 FY to William Young, 22 Nov 1905.

132 24 Nov, 1 Dec and 20 Dec 1905.

133 In which a wife almost leaves her kindly but conventional husband for an unknown foreign sailor.

134 Tom Young to Hugh Chisholm, 28 Nov 1905.

135 James Agate Ego 1 (1935), 53 (quoting a letter from the Guardian writer Allan Monkhouse. Grant Richards also mentions the Midland Hotel dinner in Author Hunting.

136  A.E.Housman to Grant Richards, 17 Jan 1906.

137 Gerald Gould The English Novel of Today (1924), 92.

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