I loked for Frederic Manning in the 1921 census, and found him at Edenham, near Bourne in Lincolnshire:

Click the image for a lerger version.

He was lodging with the family of Joseph Kirby, a farm labourer, and probably starting to write Her Privates We. He named the hero of the novel Bourne, the same as the village. He must have liked the place.

Arnold Bennett and the census

Where was Arnold Bennett on census day?

On his yacht, of course, enjoying the fruits of his literary success.

Here’s the census return submitted form Bembridge, Hampshire.

Clisk the image to see a larger version.
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Over the time I’ve spent with Rose Allatini, author of Despised and Rejected, and so frequently disappointed by life, I have found her using several names:

R. Allatini, A.T. Fitzroy, R.L. Scott, Mrs Cyril Scott, Lucian Wainwright, Eunice Buckley…

Rose Allatini

Now, in the 1921 census, she has yet another name. The census was taken just a month after her marriage to the composer Cyril Scott, and he filled in the form for 24 Newton Road, Paddington. (This had been his home before the wedding.)

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The 1921 Census

I’ve already posted about Evadne Price’s interesting appearance in the census, and will be adding a few more details about other writers in due course.

I consulted the census at the Manchester Central Reference Library, a place dear to me since my BA student days, nearly sixty years ago. Apart from the National Archives at Kew, this is the only place where the census records can be accessed free of charge.

Getting access is easy – but you will need to become a member of Manchester Libraries. A driving license, utility bill, or similar proof of address is needed. A very pleasant lady explained the procedure to me, and I was logged in very quickly. There is a large bank of computers in the Family History section, where advisors are on hand to help (but where there is a limit of two hours per session.) Other computers in the Library can also be used, without a time limit.

I began by finding my parents, both only twelve years old when the census was taken. No surprises, except that my grandfather, about whom I have written previously, was listed as a ‘manufacturer’s agent’. What’s going on here? He had his own business before.

Then I began loking for authors. One I found was T.S. Eliot, whose entry at 12 Wigmore Street is rather painstakingly printed:

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Evadne Price tells the truth (to an extent)

A life-story that I’ve been interested in for a long while is that of Evadne Price, who as ‘Helen Zenna Smith’ wrote Not So Quiet…, one of the most striking pretend-memoirs of the war.

By now it is accepted that she is the Eva Price who was born in Australia in 1888, married a man called Henry Dabelstein and worked there as an actress before the First World War. The ODNB, which earlier accepted her own account that she was born at sea in 1896, has now altered its entry to match the evidence.

Throughout her career Evadne Price was a resourceful and imaginative liar, and I don’t blame her. As a young woman, especially when she moved to England, she had her way to make, with nothing but her talents to rely on. So she made up a story, with birth at sea explaining the lack of proper documentation for her early life; late in life she would claim strongly that she she had never been to Australia till she retired there with her husband in 1975.

Until now, the evidence for her Australian birth has been circumstantial. The 1921 census, however, shows her (perhaps for the last time?) telling the truth about her place of birth. In June of that year she was a visitor of the Lamington family, and she is listed thus:

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Merry Christmas

Season’s greetings to all:

Listening to Kipling

Yesterday I spent a very enjoyable evening listening to Kipling.

The Kipling Society has for a while organised regular Zoom get-togethers where memebers and enthusiasts take turns to read favourites from the Kipling canon – poems, or parts of stories, or songs. Yesterday, there were about twenty of us reading, and I came away with renewed respect for Kipling – both the variety of his work and the quality of his writing in so many genres.

Excerpts from the Just-So Stories worked their ususal magic. Are there any pieces better-designed bor reading aloud? And it was good to hear lesser-known poems such as ‘His Apologies’ and His Disciple.

The highlight of the evening, however, was Alex Bubb singing a setting of Poor Honest Men – a reminder of how very funny Kipling can be.

My own contribution was to read a poem that I have previously mentioned on this blog – ‘The Sons of the Suburbs.’ This was a poem commissioned by the editors of Blighty, a magazine for soldiers. Kipling came up with a poem celebrating the metamorphosis of respectable young men from the suburbs into fearsome soldiers, and packed it with the sort of humour that would appeal to soldiers of the type who enjoyed the Wipers Times.

Unfortunately, the editorial board of Blighty contained some respectable ladies and clergymen for whom Kipling’s realism was too much. They rejected his poem, and printed a dreadful one by the Poet Laureate, Robert Bridges, instead.

Here’s Kipling’s poem:

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It’s November 11th, but are we remembering?

I took a walk round the centre of Huddersfield today, counting. Of the hundreds of people I passed, only five were wearing poppies. All were elderly.

There were no medalled veterans waving poppy trays and jingling collecting tins at you, as there used to be. Eventually I came across a stall selling poppies quietly in the Kingsgate Centre. It was not getting much business.

On the other hand, I was in that excellent store, Wilco’s at 11 a.m., when a voice came over the tannoy announcing that the tills would close for two minutes for Remembrance. (It didn’t say remembering what.) Most of us stood still, but come people were still wandering about the aisles. One lady was striding busily with her shopping basket until she came across a few of us standing still, towards the end of the two minutes. She rather shame-facedly slowed herself down.

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Handbook of British Literature and Culture of the First World War

It’s arrived.

This Handbook has been a long time in the preparation. The editors, Ralf Schneider and Jane Potter, originally hoped to publish it during the centenary period, but problems had to be overcome, and contributors had to be coordinated, so it has only recently arrived on Amazon – and my contributor’s copy arrived today.

It is a hefty volume, and part of an authoritative series published by De Gruyter, very much aimed at the bookshelves of university libraries. (Prosperous university libraries, I should say – the book’s price is ridiculous, alas. But that’s academic publishing.)

The book starts with seven hefty essays surveying general topics – poetry, novel, film and so on, giving an overview of changing perceptions of the war over the past century. These are followed by thirty-two readings of significant texts, by a variety of authors, and this is where I come in. I contributed two pieces, on Arnold Bennett’s The Pretty Lady (the best novel of wartime London) and Ernest Raymond’s Tell England (an epic of fervent idealism and sexual confusion). As soon as the book arrived, I read through these two essays again, and thoroughly enjoyed them.

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John Bull

Insofar as Horatio Bottomley’s magazine John Bull is remembered in the history books it is as a purveyor of rabid Jingoism and hatred of the ‘Germhuns’. For a while I’ve been developing the idea that there was more to it than that, and that it was a strong populist voice, critical of the status quo. Recently I took a look at the British Library’s microfilms of issues from 1917.

The Jingoism and prejudice are definitely there. Look at this short item from a January issue. It is on the same page as a demand that British internees in Holland should receive a better diet:

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