Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Crossing the Color Line –

 Stanley Ketchel's Challenge for 

Jack Johnson's Heavyweight Crown

Crossing the Color Line is the result of impressive and exhaustive research, whereby we follow Stanley Ketchell, Jack Johnson, and Ketchells manager Willis Britt’s movements almost day by day, leading to the big fight on October 16, 1909 in San Francisco and its immediate aftermath. Ketchell would be murdered less than a year later and Johnson would go on to beat heavyweight James J. Jeffries in Reno, Nevada on July 4, 1910. 

The background details on the managerial negotiations, with accurate figures of the money spent and lost, is meticulously unearthed. Crossing the Color Line honestly and fairly documents a part of boxing history that is usually neglected in favor of the more sensational slant taken by several Ketchell biographers. A great addition to boxing history, richly illustrated with vintage photographs and cartoons.

Above is the trailer for the upcoming release Crossing the Color Line: Stanley Ketchel's Challenge for Jack Johnson's Heavyweight Crown (Valigor Press, 302 pages, 8x10, paperback, photos).

This book will be issued in paperback and as an eBook on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Barnes & Noble link

Amazon link

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Early London Detective Fiction and Police News


by John Adcock

The Victorian era detective story began with the publication in the April 1841 issue of Graham's Magazine of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue which gave the author a Parisian reputation.Poe’s popular volume Tales of the Grotesque spread the story throughout Europe. Dickens introduced the first private eye in English literature in 1843, Mr. Nadgett, in Martin Chuzzlewit. Angus B. Reach featured a detective as a character in Clement Lorimer: or, The Book with the Iron Clasps: A Romance, published by D. Bogue in 1849 with illustrations by George Cruikshank. Dickens Bleak House, first published as a serial between March 1852 and September 1853, marked the arrival of the first police procedural hero, as well as the first calling together of all the suspects in a murder for the unravelling of a crime. [Bill Blackbeard in a post on the now defunct Yahoo group Bloods & Dime Novels.]

Charles Dickens was the first author to experiment with monthly instalments of his three-volume novels, and the first to begin issuing weekly instalments in All the Year Round. On April 30, 1859, A Tale of Two Cities, In Three Books, commenced serialization in All the Year Round. The Woman in White, “a continuous original work of fiction” by Wilkie Collins began serialization in All the Year Round on Nov 23, 1859. Great Expectations was announced on November 3, 1860, it was “to be continued from week to week until completed in about eight months.”  The Times review of Great Expectations labelled these weekly instalments “a great experiment”

The first of these fictions which achieved a decided success was that of Mr. Wilkie Collins — The Woman in White. It was read with avidity by hosts of weekly readers, and the momentum which it acquired when published in fragments carried it through several large editions when published as a whole.[i]

Dickens and Collins successes with sensational serials in literary magazines, usually connected with penny and halfpenny journals, led to sensation novels, books and serials calculated to entice a market on the move. Railway libraries, cheap books such as The Travellers’ Library, The Parlour Library, and The Popular Library, came into being in the 1850s to satisfy the demand for light railway reading. Men, women and children bought reading material to leaf through on long train rides, or when waiting in line for admittance to restaurants and clubs. Continuous serials attracted a traveling audience and so were designed to build a weekly readership. The Times, again…

Lingering over the delineation of character and of manners, our novelists began to lose sight of the story and to avoid action. Periodical publication compelled them to a different course. They could not afford, like Scheherazade, to let the devourers of their tales go to sleep at the end of a chapter. As modern stories are intended not to set people to sleep, but to keep them awake, instead of the narrative breaking down into a soporific dullness, it was necessary that it should rise at the close into startling incident.

Fictional detectives began surfacing in yellow backs for railway reading in the 1860s. Recollections of a Detective Police Officer by “Waters” (William Russell) was the earliest of these detective fictions, first appearing in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal in 1849. It was then published between covers by J. & C. Brown in 1856, Kent in 1857,[iii] and finally by Charles H. Clarke on Dec 15, 1859. This was followed on October 16, 1860 by A Skeleton in Every House, More Mysteries by Waters, in Clarke’s The Parlour Library series whose copyright had been purchased in January from Darton & Co. The next was Tom Fox; or, The Revelations of a Detective, “Comprising Adventures, Disguises, Perils, Escapes, Captures, and Intrigues.” This was issued April 1860 by George Vickers with 158 engravings.

The author of Tom Fox; or, The Revelations of a Detective was John Bennett. Bennett published his first work, Night and Day; or, Better Late than Never in 1858. In 1860 Bennett wrote The Career of an Artful Dodger; his Art and Artfulness for George Vickers. One of his serials about a London street boy was issued in penny numbers by Henry Vickers as The Life and Career of a London Errand Boy

By 1873, three companies were named in an article on cheap literature as purveyors of the “largest proportion of criminal literature of the present time.” Those were The Newsagents’ Publishing Co., Edward Harrison and Henry Vickers. 

The author of the uncomplimentary article identifies the author of The Life and Career of a London Errand Boy, John Bennett, as the “Editor of the Police Record.”[iv] He was probably referring to The Illustrated Police News, Law Courts and Criminal-Record, begun Feb. 20, 1864, which ran to 3862 numbers, ending on Mar 3, 1938. The first publisher was John Ransom and the owners were Lee and Bulpin. It has been suggested that this was Henry Lea and Edwin Bulpin.[v] The Publisher’s Circular told the facts on April 15, 1868.

A curious instance of the vicissitudes attending literary property is given in the Press News of the current month, in the case of the Illustrated Police News, which was originally projected and started by a small machine-printer in London, who, getting into financial difficulties soon after, had to arrange with his creditors, and the publication in question, which was just beginning to pay, was sold out and out for £150.

George Purkess junior had published Purkess’s Penny Library of Romances in January 1863. He was named as proprietor and publisher of the Illustrated Police News in November 1865[vi] and the Illustrated Police Gazette on Feb. 9, 1867. In 1871 he published the Halfpenny Police Gazette; or, London by Gaslight, which was incorporated into the Illustrated Police News after the sixth number. A dubious character named Edward Henri Todé was identified on September 24, 1869 as the editor and publisher of the Illustrated Police News by The English Mechanic, who had previously employed him as an editor. 

If Todé had any connection at all to the Illustrated Police News it was as a one-time editor. The periodical also claimed Todé was the editor of The New Newgate Calendar, a penny dreadful which was serialized by Edward Harrison from 1863 to 1865. In 1870 The English Mechanic wrote that Todé “was no more the creator of this publication than an empty coal barge on the Thames creates the tides on which it rides.” 

Palmer’s Index to “The Times” Newspaper for 1872 shows an inquest had taken place on the body of Edward Henri Todé “who Died of a Fit on the Streets” on May 26 of that year.


[i] Times, October 17, 1861

[ii] On the Sensational in Literature and Art, G.A. Sala, Belgravia, Vol.4, 1867/68, p.445

[iii] Catalog of an Exhibition arranged to illustrate New Paths in Book-Collecting, Nov 1934, p.33

[iv] Cheap Literature Past and Present, John Pownall Harrison, The British Almanac of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, 1873, p.60

[v] Cruel Deeds and Dreadful Calamities:  The Illustrated Police News, 1864-1938, Linda Stratmann

[vi] Pennies, Profits and Poverty, Robert J. Kirkpatrick, 2016, P.69

[vii] Cheap Literature Past and Present, The British Almanac 1873, p.78

[viii] Sensational Literature, The Reader, Nov. 12, 1864. P.597

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Turn of the Century Lustige Blätter Illustration –

by Lyonel Feininger











[k] Kin-der-Kids, Chicago Tribune, 1906

[l] Lyonel Feininger, Chicago Tribune, May 13, 1906

Read the full issues at Heidelberg University Library HERE