Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Harry Hazleton

HARRY HAZLETON is an interesting author to me because he has for many years been said to have written Charley Wag, the New Jack Sheppard by the author of “The Woman with the Yellow Hair,” “Somebody Else’s Wife,” &c. first published by the London Romance Company in November 1860. All these titles were written by London penny dreadful author Charles Henry Ross and/or Ernest “Uncle Inkpen” Warren.

The attribution to Harry Hazleton, whose source I have never been able to identify, is made by the British Library and appears in their catalogue as: Charley Wag [by Savage, George, pseud. [i.e. Harry Hazleton] and refers to the George Vickers re-issue in 1865 which stated ‘by George Savage’ on the title page. Ross/Warren’s Fanny White is also attributed to Harry Hazleton by the British Library, probably because it was ‘by the author of “Charley Wag.”’

Muddying the waters is another Charley Wag attribution to FREDERICK HAZLETON, a British actor and dramatist. Jay writes of Frederick Hazleton in Peeps into the Past: “Fred Hazleton, author of “Charley Wag,” “Captain Jack,” and “The Pirate King,” wrote a drama entitled “Sweeney Todd, the Barber of Fleet Street; or, The String of Pearls,” in three acts, founded on the popular work of the same title, which was produced at the Old Bower Theatre, Stangate, Lambeth, during 1862, Mr. Richardson taking the character of Sweeney Todd.”

With all due respect to Frank Jay some of this is balderdash. I happen to own a copy of Captain Jack; or One of the Light Brigade and it states right on the title-page that the author is George Emmett. Jay was probably basing his story on In My Life (1917) by George R. Sims, who says that when the play “Sweeney Todd” was produced “it was announced as “Sweeney Todd, the Barber of Fleet Street, or The String of Pearls, a Drama in three acts founded on the popular work of the same title by Fred Hazleton, Esq., Author of ‘Edith The Captive,’ ‘Charley Wag,’ etc.””

The Bower Theatre is key to this conundrum. H. Barton Barker wrote of the Bower in The London Stage (1889): “Between twenty and thirty years ago it was nothing better than a “gaff,” to use a slang theatrical word for which there is no equivalent, and the audience was principally composed of the gamins of the New Cut and the back slums of the Surrey side; the actors were on a par with their patrons, while every kind of entertainment was given, from Maria Marten to Macbeth. The managements were usually extremely brief, the actors seldom paid, and the theatre more frequently closed than open. The Bower Saloon finally disappeared in 1879, but long previous to that it had been a thing of the past.”

One Bower production was Felix Heron; or, the Early Days of Blueskin, an adaptation of James Malcolm Rymer’s penny dreadful Edith the Captive. Fred Hazleton was featured in the play as an actor (he played Blueskin), and presumably authored the play as well. The British Museum Catalogue gives the name of Fred Hazleton as the author although it was certainly Rymer. Almost all the plays produced at the Bower in the sixties were based on popular penny dreadfuls and from 1855 to 1876 it was managed by Victor Hazelton (note slightly different spelling which is also used on some registered plays by Frederick). What seems obvious is that if Hazleton had anything to do with writing Charley Wag it concerned the stage adaptation, which also played the Bower in 1866. Summing up: Frederick Hazleton was probably the house dramatist at the Bower where he spent all his time ‘nailing up’ dramas from current penny dreadfuls.

The mystery here (and one I can’t answer) is how HARRY HAZLETON, an American author, became associated with Charley Wag and its associated titles. Harry Hazleton wrote Civil war and frontier stories for Beadle Dime Novels, American Tales and the Fireside Series. The Dime Novel Companion lists ‘Lieut. Col. Hazeltine’ as a pseudonym used by the author. There was also another dime novel author publishing during the same period named HARRY HAZEL whose real name was supposedly Justin Jones.

Hazleton is mentioned in the Putnam County Courier, Carmel, NY, on 27 Aug 1870:

The Monitor announces the withdrawal of Mr. C. H. Byington from the position of Associate Editor of that paper. Mr. B. is a spicy, pungent writer and we think the readers of the Monitor will miss the effusions of his ready pen. We understand it is the intention of Mr. B. to continue in Carmel, and to resume his labors as a contributor to the popular literary periodicals of the day, in which field he is not “unknown to fame”, under his nom de plume of Harry Hazleton.”

The Buffalo Courier had a short note on Hazelton on 4 Sept 1872:

“Charles Weeks, who gained considerable reputation as a novelist, under the nom de plume of Harry Hazleton, obtained work in Albany at his trade -- a printer -- some five weeks since, and worked steadily until Sunday last, when he left for New York. After his departure it was discovered he had forged the name of the proprietor of the New York Mercury to a check for fifty dollars, and Daucby & Co., of New York, to a check for twenty dollars.”

And so we learn that ‘Harry Hazleton’ and ‘Lieut. Col. Hazeltine’ were pen names used by a check-forger named Mr. C. H. Byington or Charlie Weeks. Was Byington/Weeks the well-known author Harry Hazleton, or was a drifting con man using Harry Hazleton's identity?

Newspaper Work:

The Cobbler of Gotham, by Harry Hazleton (serial) The Parlor Casket story paper, 1856

The Bloody Rescue, an Incident of Ocean Life, by Harry Hazleton (short story) 4 Aug 1858, Northern Journal, Lowville, New York

The Terrible Recognition, a Tale of the Ocean Wildness, by Harry Hazleton (short story), 21 May 1859, Genessee Weekly, Batavia, New York

The Female Spy of Algiers, by Harry Hazleton (serial), 21 Dec 1867, Putnam County Courier, Carmel, New York

*These may have been reprints. Advertisements (Sept 1859) show that Harry Hazleton wrote serials for Street & Smith’s New York Weekly alongside Justin Jones (Harry Hazel), and Augustine J. H. Duganne. Harry Hazel had top billing. He also wrote for George Munro’s Fireside Companion story paper (15 Aug 1868) alongside Kenwood Philp, “The Old Trapper,” Capt. Carleton and Capt. Mayne Reid.

Other Harry Hazleton titles from COPAC and WORLDCAT >

The Trail of Blood, a Tale of New York, Glasgow,1867

Reggolio the Renegade; or, the Minstrel Girl of Mexico, a Spanish American Tale, New York,1867 (originally published Frank Leslies Pleasant Hours, Vol. I. No. 1 Aug 1866 HERE).

The Gambler's Last Pledge, a Revolutionary Tale, Ward & Lock 1885, Fireside Series no. 8 Glasgow, 1867

Life among the Red Indians: an Indian Romance, Fireside Series no. 9 1867 Glasgow

Quindaro; or, The Heroine of Fort Laramie, a Tale of the Far West, NY: Beadle, 1865

The Silver Bugle; or, The Indian Maiden of St. Croix, NY: Beadle 1864

The Mad Hunter; or, the Mystery of a Ruined Life, a Romance of the Great West, NY: Ornum & Co. (Munro)

Venetia, or, the Gambler's last Pledge, a Revolutionary Tale, American News Co., 1865

*The Fireside Series were published in Glasgow by John S. Marr.

From The Era:

August 19, 1866. Bower Theatre. Lessee Mr. Victor Hazleton.- This Elegant Little THEATRE TO BE LET for Amateur Performances, on the most reasonable terms. Dresses &c., provided without extra charge. Saturday, August 18th and Monday, 20th, the performance will commence with the New Drama, entitled FELIX HERON; or, The Early Days of Blueskin. Felix Heron, Mr. Alfred Raymond; Blueskin, Mr. Fred Hazleton; Jonathan Wild, Mr. D. Richardson; Lord Warringdale, Mr. Frank Gordon; Sir John Tarleton, Mr. F. Dorrington; Sir Dominick Brown, Mr. H. Freeman; Ogle, Mr. J. W. Warlow; Snackman, Mr. J. Lovett; Toby, Mrs. Ellington; Bill Whalley, Mr. Walters; Jacobson, Mr. Ellis; Jailor, Mr. J. Sharpe; Edith Tarleton, Miss Hemmings; Mary, Miss Ida Sinclair. To be followed by the Third Act of THE CORSICAN BROTHERS. Fabian Del Franchi, Mr. F. Hazleton; Chateau Renaud, Mr. Alfred Raymond; Montgiron, Mr. Frank Gordon. To conclude with a farce. Tuesday for the Farewll Benefit of Mr. F. Hazleton. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Amateur Performances. Doors open at Quarter to Seven; commencing at Half past Seven.

August 26, 1866. Bower Theatre. Lessee, Mr. Victor Hazleton.- This Elegant Little THEATRE TO BE LET for Amateur Performances, on the most reasonable terms. Dresses &c., provided without extra charge. Saturday, August 25th, and Monday, 27th, the performances will commence with the great Drama entitled THE SKELETON HORSEMAN; or, The Shadow of Death. Lord Glendore, Mr. Alfred Raymond; on Monday, Mr. D. Richardson; - (the Skeleton Horseman), Mr. F. Hazleton.

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