Trivium Pursuit

William Clark Russell Research from John Addy

Update on William Clark Russell research from John Addy — # 3, Dec, 2011

1. Clark Russell’s 3-vol ‘The Hunchback’s Charge’ sold for £12,500 at Sotheby’s 2010. In The Book Collector for Autumn 1965, Robert Lee Wolff said this book was ‘issued in a very small edition, of which Clark Russell later bought up and destroyed all he could find.’ Subsequently, only two other copies of this book are known to exist, and the book hasn’t come on the market for 35 years, hence the price a collector paid for it at auction!

2. Clark Russell helps Samuel Plimsoll’s widow. I discovered a letter in The Morning Post UK newspaper for 4 April 1899 showing that Harriet Plimsoll, Samuel Plimsoll’s widow wrote to Clark Russell less than a year after her husband’s death asking if he could use his powerful pen to campaign against the Lloyd’s Committee that had altered part of the load line (Plimsoll Mark) on merchant ships to the detriment of crew safety.

3. Is She a Wife? Book title riddle solved. A fellow literary researcher, Jeremy Parrott, asserted that this Clark Russell title never existed. There are no holdings anywhere in the world although several bibliographies list it. My hunch was that this was the original title for Perplexity published the same year (1872). I read Perplexity online via www.archive.org and discovered that the plot about a wronged wife who finds out her husband is already married matches the original book title that must have been changed by the publisher, but not before the original title was placed on a book list. Riddle solved!

4. Article published. My article on Selden the Notting Hill Murderer [Selden was the convict on the moor in The Hound of the Baskervilles] was published in The Torr, the journal of The Poor Folks on the Moor Sherlockian society. The article quotes from Clark Russell’s writing about convict prison ships in his book The Convict Ship (1895).

5. An Atlantic Tragedy and Other Stories – rare book found. For many years I have search in vain for this illusive title to ascertain what these ‘other stories’ were so I could add them to my bibliography of Clark Russell’s works. I finally found a copy! And two of the three ‘other stories’ are, as yet, uncollected.

6. Uncollected Clark Russell stories. I have now scanned and edited 12 Clark Russell short stories that appeared in various magazines 1890-1908 that have not been collected in volume form. I am therefore looking at the idea of publishing this series as a small booklet with a short accompanying introduction to Clark Russell. Watch this space.

7. Jack’s Appeal and Port after Stormy Seas. I’ve discovered two examples of appeals written by Clark Russell to support charitable institutions for seamen. Jack’s Appeal was a leaflet appealing on behalf of the Royal Alfred Institution for Aged Seamen (reproduced in the Otago Witness NZ newspaper 18 Feb 1908). Port after Stormy Seas was another appeal that appeared in the 1908 Annual Report of the Royal Alfred Institution and was kindly found for me in the Institution’s archives by the curator.

8. Clark Russell can’t bear music! I found an article in the Bruce Herald NZ newspaper for 25 May 1900 stating that, ‘Clark Russell, the novelist, can’t bear music of any kind. When he was living in a square in Ramsgate he used to pay a man specially to keep all piano-organs, German bands, etc., away from the vicinity of his house.’ This from a man who had written several songs and whose father was the singer and composer, Henry Russell!

Regards to you all,
John Addy (john.addy22@btinternet.com)

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