Many penny bloods were supposed to have been pirated by unscrupulous publishers in the United States, but that was not always the case. In Reynolds's Newspaper for 15 Jun 1851 there is a short article titled 'Testimonial from America to G. W. M. Reynolds' in which a letter "accompanied by a ring of massive value and exquisite workmanship" was received by the author. H. Long may even have been supplied the original Henry Anelay woodblock illustrations >
Monday, June 27, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
“The body of Rufus was found, at two P.M. in the depths of the forest, when a medical man was immediately sent for. The restoratives usual in such cases were speedily applied, but it was found that the vital spark had fled. The King is said to have fallen by the hand of some monster in the human form.”
Thursday, June 23, 2011
This Charles Jameson Grant newspaper cartoon is from Cleave’s Gazette, published by Benjamin Davy Cousins on 10 Feb 1838. I asked Mathew Crowther to identify the knavish personages depicted.
“Grant seems to have been quite fond of producing satirical 'line-ups' in which caricatures of four different political or social figures are represented and their various faults highlighted either via speech bubbles or captions. He issued a number of very similar prints to this one as part of the Political Drama series and as stand-alone satires.
The first two figures are Wellington and Cumberland; then comes Sir Robert Peel whose association with the "blue devils" of the Metropolitan Police led Grant to portray him either as a rat catcher, or in police uniform; next comes Earl Grey, whose increasing conservatism is derided as apostasy and I think the final figure is Viscount Melbourne. The Devil appears in a number of Grant's satires and is usually portrayed as a mischievous figure rather than a symbol of outright evil or menace. I would guess that Grant's decision to portray Melbourne in this way may be a satirical reference either to the Prime Minister's decision to introduce reforms to the established Church of England and to further relax laws governing Nonconformists and Roman Catholics, or to his decision to rebuff demands for a second reform act to introduce a more radical overhaul of the British political system.
Images like this give us some idea of Grant's own political leanings as, the fact that he hits out at the reformist Whigs as much as the Tories, suggests he sat somewhere at the radical end of the British political spectrum.”
Friday, June 17, 2011
By John Adcock
Thursday, June 16, 2011
CORPORAL PUNISHMENT AND PRIVATE PERVERSION
A disturbing theme in many school stories that appeared in English boys’ journals was the spectre of flogging. The nineteenth century, despite Victorian genteel stereotypes, was full as brutal an era as those which had gone before. William Hogarth’s graphic “Four Stages of Cruelty” could easily have been redrawn with different costumes and lost none of their accuracy a century later. Both animals and people groaned under the whips, fists and boots of brutal masters. Horses, dogs sailors and slaves often died as a result.
Violence in many forms was perfectly acceptable in adventure yarns, but sexual topics were strictly taboo, except indirectly. Samuel Bracebridge Heming (1841-1901) had begun his career as a novelist with mildly racy adult fiction in the “Railway yellowbacks” after assisting sociologist Henry Mayhew with a penetrating study of London prostitution. Even after concentrating on juvenile adventure serials, Heming included elements of both sex and extreme sadism in his famous Jack Harkaway stories and other works.
Implied sex rears its head fairly often in the Harkaway saga. Jack and Emily have a son, Dick and Hilda have a daughter, Monday and Ada have a son, while Mr. Mole has several offspring by various non-caucasian wives. At least one illustration shows Mole and wife number three in bed together. Among the secondary characters, Smiffins/Bigamini is a fugitive bigamist. In continuations of the Harkaway series by Philip Richards and others, Captain Monastos seduces the wife of Petrus, while Thyra, a Greek dancing girl rescued from a Turkish harem, literally throws herself at Young Jack. Jokes about polygamy and Mormonism are plentiful in the series.
The initial story, Jack Harkaway’s School Days, contains some restrained and properly Victorian material about Jack’s estranged parents, but also some curiously sado-erotic scenes between adolescent Jack and his headmaster’s cruel wife. In consequence of careless stone throwing, Jack manages to injure Mrs. Crawcour’s hand and is condemned to a flogging by Mr. Mole, while Mrs. Crawcour watches. Mole trusses Jack to a wall and stretches him in the best style of a Torquemada:
“Get a cane out of Mr. Crawcour’s study. You shall punish him. I would do it myself if I could.”
Her face assumed the expression of a handsome but enraged tigress.
Mr. Mole...soon returned with a long, glistening, lithe-looking cane...
“Let him take off his jacket and waistcoat, and then tie his hands with that string, and haul it up tight, so that his hands will be over his head, and he will be standing upright and unable to escape you...”
...The cord ran through a brass ring firmly fixed in the wall about nine feet from the floor...Mr. Mole tied Jack’s wrists firmly together, and then hauled up the cord until his arms were drawn up over his head and he stood almost on tiptoe, so great was the tension.
The other end of the cord he made fast to a leg of the piano.
“He cannot move much now,” he said, with a grim smile.
“That will do,” replied Mrs. Crawcour, leaning back in the chair with an approving nod.
“Cane the little wretch as severely as you can, and go on until I tell you to leave off. It will be some satisfaction to me to see him suffer what he so well deserves.”
Jack’s face was to the wall, but he turned his head half round with a reproachful look.
How could one so lovely be so great a savage?
He could not understand it.
She made a sign to Mr. Mole to begin.
The senior master was a tall, thickset, well-built man, and a very strong blow from his hand was one which made itself felt,
He swung the cane round, and it descended upon Jack’s shoulders with a dull thud.
The boy set his teeth firmly together.
“She shall not have the satisfaction of hearing me cry,” he said to himself.
With well regulated sweep the cane descended time after time.
At every blow the victim’s frame quivered.
Still he did not cry out.
Mrs. Crawcour was annoyed at his fortitude.
“Harder,’ she said. “He doesn’t feel it. These boys have no feelings for themselves or others, it seems to me.”
Mr. Mole redoubled his exertions.
A low sob, and then another, which he could not repress, broke from Jack.
It seemed as if the tension of the rope was dragging his arms out of their sockets.
First one thin red line, and then others made their appearance.
It was blood which the cane had drawn forth.
Alarmed, Mr. Mole suggests stopping the flogging, but the headmaster’s wife is adamant. Finally, Jack faints.
“Dear me,” said Mrs. Crawcour, rising from her chair; “I had no idea that he was ill. How obstinate he is to be sure.”
Instead of feeling ill-used and vengeful, Jack falls in love with his tormentor. Jack Harkaway’s School Days is unique in that its obligatory punishment episode involves sexual gratification on the part of the headmaster’s wife. Mrs. Crawcour is described as
“...a very lady-like and not at all bad-looking woman, between thirty and forty years of age.
“Her hair was dark, her features regular and classic. “Her complexion pale, her eyes full, but wicked.
“Being a slight judge of character, Jack saw at a glance that she could be a firm friend, but a most determined enemy.
“It was a beautiful, but a very cold, cruel face.
“Yes; cruel is the word to be used in describing Mrs. Crawcour’s expression.”
This formidable succubus archetype recurs in much popular Victorian fiction, most notably as Ayesha, or “She Who Must Be Obeyed,” in H. Rider Haggard’s imaginative novel, She. She personally nurses the lad back to health, and he falls in love with her, (or at least becomes “spooney.”) At one point she confesses:
“Oh! if you only knew what a dreadful curse my temper has been to me all my life. Had it not been for my temper, I should not now be the wife of a schoolmaster in a country town.
“... I have been called a beautiful pythoness before now.
“She lowered her head, and her hair, escaping from a pin that held it, fell over her face, and she kissed his forehead.
“She smiled, and with rather a sad air, left the dormitory, her rich silk dress making music as it went along, and hanging gracefully about her symmetrical figure.”
Pretty hot stuff for a Victorian teenager!
In a later chapter, Jack breaks his collar bone in a football scrum against the rival boarding school and is nursed once again by the bewitching headmaster’s wife. She asks him,
“Have I been kind? Are you satisfied with me?”
“Oh, yes, ma’am. I should like to be ill forever, if I might always have so kind a nurse as yourself.”
She put her arms round his neck, and kissed his forehead, while she pushed back his curly chestnut hair from his temples.
“How would you like to have me for a mamma?” she asked.
“I would rather have you for--for----”
“Well, dear, for what? Speak out,” said Mrs. Crawcour in an encouraging tone.
“I was going to say for a sweetheart, ma’am.”
...”You are so lovely,” replied Jack.
“Am I lovely?” Mrs. Crawcour repeated, looking at her handsome and majestic figure in the glass with some satisfaction.
The hot blood mounted to Jack’s face, and made it burn.
“How you blush. Why do you blush so?” she asked.
“I don’t know, ma’am. It’s because I’m talking to you, I think.”
When combined with her husband’s fondness for his cane collection (about fifty of assorted sizes: “I call them my little persuaders,” he smirks,) these sequences are closer to Heming’s earlier boudoir yellowbacks than they are to Tom Brown’s Schooldays.
We have no record of the readers’ reactions to this kinky relationship, but it is never alluded to again. Jack goes on to rescue and woo Emily Scratchley (and rescue, and rescue her, ad infinitum) and finally to marry her after finishing his university course.
Interestingly, the flogging scene was not illustrated in any of Edwin Brett’s editions of the tale. In its first appearance in Frank Tousey’s Wide Awake Library, in 1879, the cover illustration depicted a scene that did not even apply to the story, showing a water fight in a school dormitory. Not until 1895, when Tousey reissued the Harkaway series, would the scene be illustrated, and never afterwards. Although stylized and almost mannered, the Wide Awake cover echoed a savage illustration for Boyhood’s Battles; or, the Ups and Downs of a Runaway (Hogarth House, ca. 1885,) showing “Mr. Hackchild” mercilessly beating an emaciated boy.
As at Eton schoolboy from 1853 to 1857, Bracebridge Heming was all too familiar with the frequent castigations administered by heavy-handed masters. On page 403 of Sir H. C. Maxwell Lyte’s A History of Eton College (1440-1898), published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd., London, 1899, appears a woodcut of the infamous birch and block upon which so many boys suffered.
Heming’s Dick Lightheart, The Scapegrace of the School, provided another example:
Whenever a boy was caned, it was Venner’s duty to “horse” him; that is to take him on his back and, holding his wrists around his own neck, keep him in a favourable position for the head master’s blows…
In an instant Venner gave a quick jerk, and Dick found himself perfectly helpless and tightly held.
Then Venner turned around, and took up a position in an open space, so as to give the professor’s arm full play.
Swish went the cane through the air, descending on the offender’s back with a dull thud.
At first these were the only sounds to be heard, but as the pain increased to positive torture, and the elastic cane bent double and twisted around his jacket, actually cutting the cloth, Dick began to add his cries to the noise.
At length he screamed with pain, and kicked violently, receiving the blows on the calves of his legs…and it was not until the cane broke off at the top, by coming in contact with the boy’s boots, that the professor desisted from his efforts.
Adding imprisonment to injury, Dick is thrust into a mouldy cell to reflect upon his conduct, the object being to bring him to a proper sense of the duty owed to those who are set in authority over him.
“one and all, appealed to the very seat of honour...flogging, used with sound judgment, is the only fundamental principle upon which our large schools can be properly conducted. I am all the better for it and am, therefore,
ONE WHO HAS BEEN WELL SWISHED”
Bondage and “nursery games” have long been a mainstay of brothels. Public school corporal punishments seem to have created a burgeoning market for this form of gratification. To the schoolboy readers of Jack Harkaway, however, the subject probably struck too close to their own reality to be enjoyable as fiction. Later penny school stories retained the birching scenes, but concentrated on humorous schemes for avoiding the pain and “getting square” on the pedagogue.
George Emmett’s Hogarth House had "scooped" Edwin J. Brett in 1867 with the first true penny-dreadful school story entitled The Boys of Bircham School. This piece set the style for most other English boarding school serials, consisting of equal parts of adventure, cruel slapstick humor, and descriptions of more or less sadistic punishments administered by the faculty of "Birch ‘em” School. Later stories would feature "Thrashemwell College," “Stingwell School,” “Dr. Rodwell’s School,” “Dr. Whackley’s Lexicon College,” “Thrashem’s Public Grammar School,” "Scarum School," and so on, echoing Dickens' "Dotheboys (Do the boys) Hall" and its cruel master, Wackford Squeers (with the emphasis on “whack!”) from Nicholas Nickleby.
“Dominie Dobbs,” a schoolmaster character in Marryat’s Jacob Faithful (1834), observes:
In short, I have a...pleasure in hic, haec, hoc; and even the flourishing of the twigs of that tree of knowledge, the birch, hath become a pleasurable occupation to me, if not to those upon whom it is inflicted.
An early English poem, printed around the year 1500, called “The Birched School-Boy,” reveals the antiquity of floggings in the educational process:
I wold ffayne be a clarke
But yet hit is a strange werke;
the byrchen twyggis be so sharpe,
hit makith me haue a faynet harte...
My master pepered my ars with well good speede...
he wold not leve till it did blede.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Frederick Gleason, born in Germany c. 1817, is regarded as the founder of illustrated journalism in the United States. The Congregationalist had a different opinion. “The first illustrated newspapers in this country were The Illustrated New York News, which appeared on June 8, 1851, and Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-room Companion, which was started on July 2, 1851, by Frederick Gleason.” This turns out to be wrong since Volume I No. 1 of Gleason’s Pictorial was published on 3 May 1851.
“I commenced the publication business in 1842, in the old Solly Building, Boston, issuing from there a number of novelettes and other cheap works.” These cheap romances of pirates, knights, and smugglers were written by Sylvanus Cobb Jr., Ned Buntline, Osgood Bradbury, A. J. H. Duganne, Dr. J. H. Robinson, Lieutenant Murray, and Harry Halyard.
“In 1843 I established the Flag of Our Union, the first really literary publication of its class, which soon brought hosts of imitators. Among these were the True Flag and the American Union… About 1850 the Flag of Our Union had a large circulation from which my income was $25,000 per annum.”
Inspired by the Illustrated London News Gleason issued 25,000 copies of Gleason’s Pictorial in 1851. One of his early employees was Henry Carter, known as Frank Leslie, who joined him in 1851 in the engraving department and remained two years. He later sold the newspaper to Maturin Murray Ballou in 1854 with circulation at 110,000 copies. Four years later the renamed Ballou’s Pictorial failed and Gleason took over publication once again.
In 1892 Gleason was publishing The Home Circle and Gleason’s Monthly Companion from 47 Franklin Street.
“When I commenced the publication of the Pictorial I published a paper of facts and not of fancy, as most of the illustrated journals of today do. If there was a disaster in mid-ocean I did not have my artists on the spot. In 1853 the artists of the United States presented me with a solid silver service valued at several thousand dollars.”
Gleason died 6 Nov 1896, the inmate of a home for the aged in Boston.
* “He was the Pioneer. Gleason Founder of Illustrated Journalism.” Weekly Argus News 3 Dec 1892.
**Images courtesy E. M. Sanchez Saavedra
Friday, June 10, 2011
Did Dr. Frederick Wertham use a ghostwriter? According to this 1954 letter-to-the-editor that claim was made by none other than Gershon Legman, who gave his own first anti-comic book lecture in New York to a 19 March 1948 symposium on The Psychopathology of the Comic Books. Wertham and his colleague Dr. Hilde Mosse were also speakers. Legman published The Psychopathology of the Comics in Jay Landesman's Beat magazine Neurotica 3 published between 1948 and 1952. It's not clear if Legman was claiming to have ghost-written Wertham's 1948 Good Housekeeping article or Seduction of the Innocent from 1954. The writer was right on about the Communists. They did spearhead the attack on comic books in England, Canada and the United States before the opposition went mainstream.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
“Every other year or so, when the new crop of youngsters comes along, we can repeat many of these things again. Generation after generation, as sure as the kites and skipping ropes that blossom in the spring.” These were the words of a “premium specialist” recorded in a newspaper article, in October 1948, titled
Millions spent to get Junior to eat through Premiums
According to the article “the No. 1 headliner for the kids was that atom bomb ring. When you put your eye close to the plastic bomb you could see a radiant substance inside that sparkled as if alive. More than 3,500,000 children sent 15 cents and a box top for that one.”
On September 4, 1950 there was a science-fiction convention (Dianetics was a popular discussion) in Portland, Oregon. Attending was a famous fan turned science fiction author, E. E. “Doc” Smith. Smith was a chemist, and general manager of a Chicago manufacturer of doughnut mix. In 1914 he wrote a story about an atom bomb used to destroy a planet. The story was not published until 1928.
“I blew that planet completely to hellangone. I made a nova out of it. It was roughly comparable to what the hydrogen bomb would be if they used a ton of lithium hydride. I got $75 for it.”
Those were the good old days; between 1954 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, every kid born in Canada after1940 went through yearly air raid drills -- heading for the basement to lie in a fetal position and await the Commie bombs and oblivion. We may have been irradiated already since we lived over the border north of the Hanford nuclear plant at Richland, Washington which leaked and sent airborne radiation ‘downwind’ between 1944 and 1949. No doubt much of it went upwind to British Columbia as well. We lived in Trail, B.C. by 1956, a five hour drive from Richland. The smelter where heavy water for the bombs was manufactured (my mother worked there during the war) poisoned the Columbia at Trail with zinc and lead while Hanford was poisoning the Columbia with radioactive cooling water at its confluence. The present owners have cleaned the Columbia river considerably since then.
Government pamphlets available at libraries were a hoot -- one image that stuck in my head was of a nondescript-looking man caught outside during a nuclear attack. The artist depicted the flash in the sky which was a signal to lie down in a shallow ditch -- supposedly radiation would float over top of you and be dispersed in minutes. Then you could get back on your feet and continue with your morning walk.
By 1962 Dr. James Van Allen, who had discovered the radiation belt named after him, said that a “huge new radiation belt in the lower reaches of the Van Allen belt has been formed around the earth as a result of the July 9 high-altitude nuclear test conducted by the United States over the Pacific.”
*Top: Bert the Turtle (April 25) reassures the kiddies in one of seven comic strips published in 1952. Bottom: American Bomb pamphlet.
**Selection from Albert E. Kahn's 1953 Game of Death HERE.
Friday, June 3, 2011
by John Adcock