Friday, February 13, 2009

Old Boys' Book Collectors Part Two

The Founding of the Old Boys' Book Club

Part One HERE.

In 1913 we find Ralph Rollington, an old-time boys periodical publisher, has authored “A Brief History of Boys’ Journals with Interesting Facts about the Writers of Boys’ Stories.” The London publisher was H. Simpson and the book appeared in July 1913. Volume II of Ralph Rollington’s “Our Boys’ Paper” had previously carried an article entitled “The History of Boys’ Literature a Bibliographic Review of Twenty Years Progress” in 1882.

Ralph Rollington's real name wasJohn Allingham (actually Albert John Allingham), the younger brother of James William Allingham, and uncle of Herbert John Allingham. He was known as “Wild Uncle John” to his family.

Occultist Arthur Edward Waite published “Byways of Periodical Literature” in Walford’s Antiquarian Magazine and Bibliographic Review Vol. 12, July 1887. Walford's was edited by Arthur Machen. Waite also penned “Dealings in Biblomania” which was not published until 1997 under the title “Quest for Bloods.” The publisher was Ferrett Fantasy.

In 1909 boys author E. Harcourt Burrage presented Frank Jay with an inscribed copy of “The Ruin of Fleet Street,” and, in 1913, was reported to be writing his memoirs. Burrage was an enthusiastic friend of the collectors to the end of his days.

On 23 Feb 1906, in the pages of T. P.’s Weekly, a series of letters had been published on the bygone boys papers of the Victorian era. Approximately six years later, on 20 Dec 1912 the old boys book brigade returned with fresh correspondence which ran through the early days of 1913.. At first the letters and articles were merely initialled but soon the authors gave their full names. The man who opened the conversation signed himself F.J. In a later post he admitted to the opening missive and signed his full name: Frank Jay.

Another squib appearing on the same page, not about boys books, was signed Desmond Coke. “Penny Dreadfuls,” an illustrated article by Desmond Coke, (1879-1931) appeared in The Connoisseur, November 1930. Coke was author of Sanford of Merton and the Smart Set by Belinda Blinders, edited by Desmond Coke, London: Chapman and Hall 1909, and Beauty for Ashes: a Comedy of Caste. (Dates appear at the top of the title bar when illustrations are enlarged.)

Now we have a series of posts in T. P.’s signed G.F. (Weedon), W.W. (Derby), before the articles begin to appear fully signed (for the most part) by William Taylor, Harold Simpson, Harry Ward, and F. C. W.

Harold Simpson may have been the publisher of Ralph Rollington's "Brief History." On 24 January 1913, Harold Simpson, 33 Queen Street, Leicester, appeared in the letter column of T. P.’s Weekly and queried “Can any reader inform me whether Ralph Rollington was the real name of the writer, or a nom de plume?”

A few months later in July 1913, Ralph Rollington‘s “A Brief History of Boys’ Journals” was published and the title-page states “(Copyright) H. Simpson, Grove Road, Leicester England.” H.S. added an Appendix to Ralph Rollington's book. Quote: "In the following pages I have endeavored to give a little further information concerning E. J. Brett’s and G. Emmett’s papers, and also some notices of journals which do not find mention in Mr. Rollington’s work."

“Tales of the Old Boys” is signed by J. J. Wilson. He contributed "M. J. Errym" to Bootle Times, a newspaper (probably to a Queries column) and “Penny Dreadfuls and Penny Bloods” an illustrated article by John James Wilson appeared in The Connoisseur, April 1932. We also have E. Blair and Joseph Hayes.

John James Wilson and Frank Jay contribute their thoughts on “Old Boys Books.” Further articles appear by Reginald G. Berry, S. E. Hillis, and J. S. G. and then > [This correspondence is closed. - Ed.] Still two more contributions are published. R. R. (Dollar) contributes “Boys Magazines” and on 20 June 1913 John James Wilson announces the founding of the Old Boys’ Book Club.

Continued in our next…

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