Friday, January 31, 2014

Boys’ serials by Alfred Sherrington Burrage

[1] Alfred Sherrington Burrage (1850-1906).
by John Adcock

     Very few serials can be attributed with certainty to boys’ author Alfred Sherrington Burrage. His boy’s serials written between 1872 and 1884 were signed Alfred Sherrington, A. Sherrington, A. Burrage, “Philander Jackson, H.N.A.” or “Cyril Hathway.” For The Young Englishman (1873-79) he contributed “Peter Pickle; or, The Adventures of an English Schoolboy,” as Philander Jackson, illustrated by Phiz, and “Tales of my Schoolmates,” and “The Palace in the Sun,” as Alfred Sherrington.

[2] Scene from “Ben Braveall.”
     He was editor of George Emmett’s Comic Annual (HERE) where the portrait of him as Philander Jackson [top] appeared in the only known number in 1877. He edited The Every Boy’s Journal (1884), published by E. Maurice, where he contributed “Tommy Tickleboy’s Troubles,” as Philander Jackson. The last number (No. 9) was published June 7, 1884 when it was incorporated into Every Boy’s Paper which ran to No. 10, August 16, 1884. Burrage contributed “Ragged Dick; or, Lost in the Cold, Cruel World,” as Philander Jackson again. 

[3] Turnpike Dick; or, the Star of the Road.
     His earliest work, “The Fugitive Cavalier” is found in The Young Briton in 1871, signed A. Sherrington. In 1876 he contributed “Ben Braveall” to George Emmett’s Sons of Britannia under his penname A. Sherrington. “Ben Braveall” was reprinted in Charles Fox’s The Boys’ Half Holiday which was edited by A.S. Burrage. In the 1880s he contributed serials to Ralph Rollington’s Boy’s World. He also served on the staff of Charles Fox sometime between 1880 and 1890, where, according to Charles Wright he “rewrote several of Lloyd’s romances.” He edited The Boys Half Holiday for Fox in 1887 where he recycled his own seventies serials from George Emmett’s Sons’ of Britannia.

     Alfred Sherrington Burrage was born in Norwich, Norfolk, England, in 1850. His father Edwin Burrage was a master baker. His mother was Eliza Burrage, and he had three elder siblings, a brother Edwin Harcourt (b. Norwich, June 18, 1839), sister Ellen, 6 years older, and another brother Harry, 5 years older.

He joined his brother E. Harcourt Burrage, creator of the “celebrated Ching Ching,” in what is described by Frank Jay in Peeps into the Past as of “the old bohemian school…” — writers and artists George Emmett, W. Emmett Lawrence,Percy Bolingbroke St. John, Captain Mayne Reid, Charles Stevens, William Stevens Hayward, Phiz, Harry Maguire and Robert Prowse.

     Artist was the occupation he gave in the census on January 15, 1874, when he married Ellen Mayes. His wife may have died soon since he was listed as a boarder at The Crown, a public house, in 1881. That year’s census lists him as  Author. He remarried on February 26, 1887; Mary Elizabeth Parsons was his new wife’s name. In 1891, still an author, he was living at Margreen Cottage, Uxbridge Common, Middlesex with wife Mary, a one year old son, Alfred M., and his 29 year old sister-in-law Laura Parsons. He died at 1 Park Villa, Newbery, Berkshire in 1906.

[4] “As Spring-Heeled Jack appeared a terrific explosion shook the building…”
     In its catalogue the British Library lists the author of Spring-Heeled Jack, the Terror of London, published by Charles Fox around 1885, as “Charlton Lea,” a pen name used by Alfred Sherrington Burrage, brother of the famous boy’s writer Edwin Harcourt Burrage. There is a problem with this attribution though; “Charlton Lea” was a pen-name not in use by A.S. Burrage until 1902 when he was employed as a hack writer for the Aldine Company. He died in harness in 1906 still using the Charlton Lea name for the various Aldine libraries.

[5] Spring-Heeled Jack, the Terror of London.
     It’s certain that A.S. Burrage was in the right place at the right time to write Spring-Heeled Jack for Charles Fox. He must have been acquainted with the publisher, but there’s no real evidence that he was the author, and the truth will probably never be known. While all of Charles Fox’s sensational titles, Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Turnpike Dick; or, the Star of the Road, and Jack Sheppard (all of which have been attributed to Charlton Lea) were issued anonymously.

[6] Turnpike Dick; or, the Star of the Road.
Most of A. S. Burrage's verified work was published by the Aldine Printing and Publishing Company, last of the penny dreadful publishers, which was founded by Charles Perry Brown (1834-1916) and ran from 1886 until the early 1930s. He wrote most of the Spring-Heeled Jack, Dick Turpin and Blackbeard libraries as Charlton Lea for Aldine between 1900 and 1903. The Lovecraft Is Missing blog has posted three of four lavishly illustrated articles on Spring-Heeled Jack in the penny dreadfuls beginning HERE.

Thanks to Robert Kirkpatrick

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