Letter in TLS

I’m feeling mildly chuffed that my letter about James Douglas and his 1918 attack on the novel Despised and Rejected has been given pride of place on the Times Literary Supplement letters page today.

The TLS website has been redesigned, so that it looks snazzier, but no longer offers a PDF of the week’s letters page. The gist of my letter, including the text of Douglas’s London Opinion piece, can however be found in a post on this blog, which also speculates about Douglas’s attitudes to women.

A couple of years back, I blogged about some of the things I discovered in the publisher’s archive, over in Amsterdam. Also Lord Harberton’s response to the prosecution, and the Manchester Guardian‘s grudging review of the novel.

I’d like to write a full paper on the publication and prosecution of the novel, and what I’d most like to see  are the official (DPP?) documents about the decision to prosecute. Has anyone any idea where I might find these? At the National Archive in Kew, maybe?


  1. Posted September 28, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    When one has a letter printed in the TLS, there is one piece of feedback that inevitably follows, because the paper prints your address.
    It arrived on my doormat today, an envelope full of little religious pamphlets. One, headed ‘Satan versus Christ’, urges me ‘Never worship the deceiver, Satan, or demons.’ O.K. I’ll try not to.
    I assume that the envelope is not sent by the editor of the TLS, but by a reader of limited mental stability. I try to imagine him, poring over the TLS each week, choosing a nicely appropriate selection from his vast store of pamphlets, and posting them off in the hope of saving the souls of the learned and the pontificating.
    One of the pamphlets is headlined with a quote from James 4:14
    ‘For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.’
    Too true. But has this poor chap really nothing better to do with his few and precious hours?

  2. Posted August 8, 2014 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Welcome to the club of TLS letter writers in receipt of such cryptic offers of souls saved by Royal Mail, in which I have just as of this morning renewed my membership from three years ago. First, from an email of mine to friends dated April 29, 2011 and titled “Apostle Post”:

    “Just now at the post office, where I check my mail once a month or so, I might have been forgiven for thinking one of you had moved to England and become an Evangelical.

    “Among the mail in my P.O. Box, there were two envelopes sent by Royal Mail from the UK, one larger and bubble-wrapped and hand-addressed, and the other letter-sized and apparently addressed on an old typewriter, one dated April 7 and the other dated April 16, neither with a return address.

    “Each envelope was chockablock with Evangelical flyers and pamphlets printed in England, Canada, the United States and Northern Ireland. One asked me if I was destined to be going UP or DOWN.

    “Odd. I have no dealings with UK folk or businesses whatever, save for my subscription to the TLS and my having just therein published a letter, with my P.O. Box appended per the usual custom in the London weeklies. I speculate that some crank saw my P.O. Box therein and decided for some reason, having nothing whatever to do with the content of my letter, that I was worth both the saving and the *Par Avion* Royal Mail postage. Flattered, I’m sure?”

    Three years on, as a result of my letter in the July 4, 2014 number of the TLS, I in my rented mailbox this morning retrieved one (rather than two: perhaps the drain on funds over the three years since the first mailing tells the tale) such envelope, chockablock with eighteen such wafer-thin and diminutive pamphlets and circulars, from presumably mid-July during a till-now hiatus in my mail pickups.

    I have written at length elsewhere (see, e.g., my 20x expansions, from 2012 and 2013 respectively, of the Wikipedia entries for Encounter [magazine] and politics [journal]) on some of the differences between literary journalism in New York and in London. In the present precincts, those differences entail that my three letters published in 2011 in The New York Times Book Review, signed off with town and state only rather than with full street address, triggered no attempts at my conversion unto the called and chosen of the next life whatever. Perhaps my next letter to the TLS will do the trick, and force a final reckoning with my misspent middle age of heathen torpor under the influence of that passel of pastel homiletics destined for mid-Atlantic paper-planing that, even now I think in hope, is being tenderly proofed with me once more in prospective mind.

  3. Posted August 15, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    August 2014.
    Another letter in the TLS, and another delivery of pamphlets assuring me of the reality of Hell and the need to repent immediately. The envelope is addressed (with an ancient manual typewriter) to exactly the address as it appeared in the TLS (which does not include the post code).
    Still, it could be worse. many years a go i had a letter printed in the Guardian, and soon received through the post a cyclostyled sheet full of mad-conspiracy anti-Semitic stuff. Soon after that the Guardian stopped printing addresses, I think.
    Maybe the TLS crank is the last of the old-fashioned loonies. These days more modern maniacs use the Internet. They go straight to the Comment button and unleash their mental issues directly online.

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