Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Aside Arthur Conan Doyle

This fine compilation by Paul R. Spiring does a great deal to reinstate Bertram Fletcher Robinson and bring him before a wider public. A prolific journalist, it details the surprisingly large and varied amount of work Robinson published: and raises the question how much more he might have accomplished if his life hadn't been so tragically cut short. His detective Addington Peace, although no Holmes, is competent and interesting and demonstrates the nineteenth century fashion (along with Sherlock) for giving odd names to one's sleuth. The editor of 'The Lady's Home Magazine' (later renamed 'Home Magazine of   Fiction') in which Peace appeared, made full use of Robinson's connection with Doyle, something which has been rather played down over the years, by  repeating at the head of each tale that he was "Joint author with Sir A. Conan Doyle of his [Doyle's] best story, 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. Other stories from such magazines as Pearson's, Cassell's, The Windsor and the lesser-known Appleton's are also included in this book - some of them whimsical ('The Battle of Fingle's Bridge'), others more dramatic; but all a good read and giving a fair  idea of Robinson's range. The size, almost A4 and with a floppy cover, makes it difficult to handle and the punning title is decidedly  off-putting. But, once inside, the reader is rewarded by a large number of interesting illustrations and the charm of a writer rescued (thanks to Mr. Spiring) almost from oblivion.

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