In the biography of Florence Barclay written by one of her daughters, it says "The full-page skit in Punch always delighted her: for she had a keen sense of humour, and appreciated genuine, good-nauted fun, even at her own expense." I can only find two Punch articles mentioning Florence Barlcay, but it does show her as one of the well-known novelists of the time.
Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 146, May 20, 1914
The new proposals with regard to the water supply of the City of Glasgow are causing, we are not surprised to learn, the utmost fury and consternation throughout Scotland. Criticism has concentrated especially upon two points: the imminent risk of submerging Robert the Bruce's Stone and, of course, the danger of tampering in however slight a degree with the birthplace of Rob Roy. The passive resistance movement has already assumed such proportions that one enterprising publisher feels justified in announcing a new cheap edition of the "Waverley Novels," illustrated from local photographs.
There is, of course, another side to the question. As far as the stone goes it is contended:—
(1) That no one knows why it should have belonged to Robert the Bruce, where he got it or what he did with it when he had it.
(2) That the fact of its being under water would not impair its value in any way and at the same time would give an historical flavour to every glass of mitigated whisky thereafter drunk in the City of Glasgow.
(3) That it could very easily be shifted a bit up the hill if it is desired to keep it dry, and a small permanent umbrella erected over it.
With regard to Rob Roy's birthplace the contention is that it is practically impossible to construct a new reservoir in these days anywhere north of the Tweed which will not interfere in some way with one or other of the places where Rob Roy was born.
It is not only Scotchmen, however, who have been touched to the quick by this irreverent and thoughtless proposal. The whole literary profession is up in arms. A memorial is being prepared to be presented to the Prime Minister, under the heading, "Hands off Rob Roy!" Mr. Punch himself has not been idle in the matter. He has spent the last week in eliciting the opinions of some of our leading writers on this vital question.
Mr. William de Morgan (in a charming, if rather discursive, letter of 32,000 words) demands legislation. "Who knows," he asks, "to what lengths this modern craze for water supplies may go? It is even possible that, within a century, attempts may be made to submerge that delightful little cottage in the county of Essex where Ghost met Ghost."
Mr. Bernard Shaw, interviewed on his doorstep, derided the action of the Glasgow Corporation. No amount of water, he told our representative, could have the least effect in making our modern cities less beastly than they were. For his part, however, he was taking no risks. He had that morning arranged for the erection of a spiked iron fence twenty feet high round the (supposed) birthplace of Eliza Doolittle.
Mr. Arnold Bennett writes:—"I have every sympathy with the widespread indignation of my fellow-authors, but personally I am not very closely concerned. My position is secure: no one is likely to tamper with the Five Towns in an attempt to improve their washing facilities."
"Might I suggest to the learned pundits of the House of Lords, if it is not too late," writes Mrs. Florence Barclay, "that a writer who, in his day, enjoyed such a circulation as that of Sir Walter Scott—this is, of course, fundamentally a question of circulation—is not to be treated in this cavalier fashion? For oneself, whatever fate may be in store for the precious local associations of one's past work, it is fortunately possible to make the future secure. I am laying the scene of my new romance, of which the fifth chapter is almost completed, on the top of an inaccessible hill."
Mr. H. G. Wells points out that there is no particular need in his case to take action. He hopes that by the day when the conditions in time and space of his latest novel come into being every household in the country will be supplied with its own water by a process of filtered absorption from the atmosphere.
It is anticipated that something definite will be done by the special committee of the Authors Society which has been appointed with the view of extending the law of copyright so as to secure the author's undoubted property in his local associations.
Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 158, June 30th, 1920
MR. COMPTON MACKENZIE has found it necessary to state publicly in a dedication that his books have not been written by his sister.
The following extracts are taken from possible future dedications by various authors:
Mr. H.G. WELLS to the Bishop of LONDON.
As I have seen it stated in various journals that you are the author of my book, The Soul of a Bishop, I hereby take the opportunity of informing your Lordship most definitely and emphatically that you are not. That book and also The Passionate Friends were written without any assistance from the episcopal bench. To avoid future misunderstanding I may say that all my books are written by myself. If at any time it is suggested that any publication of your Lordship has been written by me, I shall be glad if you will immediately issue a contradiction.
Mr. BERNARD SHAW to the Editor of 'The Morning Post.'
You have not written my books. You have not written my plays. Any statement to the contrary is an infamous falsehood. No one else, dead or alive, could ever have written anything which I have written. When I have become an imbecile, which is not likely to happen yet, as I am a vegetarian and do not read your rag, it will be time enough for other people to lay claim to my work. Nor have I ever assisted you in conducting that which you call a paper, nor have I ever written an editorial for its columns. Please let this matter have your futile attention.
Miss DAISY ASHFORD to Lord HALDANE.
If I did not believe your Lordship to be really innosent I should be very vexed with you. But let me explain. I have heard it said in reliable quarters that you are the auther of The Young Visiters. Oh, my Lord! my Lord! I thought everybody knew by now that no one helped me even to spell a word. I have read your Lordship's books with pleasure and of course realise their promise. But it is all very diferent stuff from The Young Visiters. Please in the future disclaim all credit for giving me my idears, and in return I can assure you that your skemes for the better education of the people shall have my enthoosiastic suport.
Mr. ARNOLD BENNETT to The Man in the Street.
The last thing that I wish is that you should he misunderstood; all my life I have laboured to explain you to yourself. That my explanation has pleased you is shown by the fact that you buy my books. But you have commenced to give yourself airs, my man, and it is time you were put in your place. My books are so much to your taste that you have been led to believe yourself the author. Now please understand my books are written for you and not by you. You merely exist - thanks to me - and pay. I have been told that I once wrote a book called The Old Wives' Tale. If so, that was in earlier days, and you have long since forgiven me. And do you not owe me something for The Pretty Lady? Have I not shown you that your love is both sacred and profane? As I have enough to contend with from those who care for literature I hope any further word from me on this subject will be unnecessary.
Mrs. FLORENCE BARCLAY to Lord FISHER.
The phenomenal success of our recent volumes has, I understand, led a certain section of our public to believe that you are the author of several of my books. In particular it has been stated that The Rosary was written by your Lordship. As you know, I have a great respect for the aristocracy, and I do not suggest that you have deliberately put yourself forward as the author of my books. You will, however, understand me when I say that only your Lordship could express all that I feel about the matter. The mixing up of our identities is probably explained by the fact that we are both stylists and seekers for the mot juste. Will you please assist me in making it clear that we work independently? As I am staying in a country parsonage and it is our custom to read one another's letters over the breakfast-table, I shall be glad if any reply you may wish to make should be sent to the Editor of The Times.
Sir ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE to Sir OLIVER LODGE.
Our common concern with the life beyond has become so well known that our interests in this present life are in danger of becoming involved. In a volume of Sherlock Holmes stories recently purchased abroad I find you described as the author, and another book assures me that I have written extensively on the Atomic Theory. You will, I am sure, see the harm which I am likely to suffer through such mistakes. Nor does the confusion end here. I find that my novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, is now stated to be by Sir CONAN LODGE, and another book of mine, The Lost World, to be by Sir OLIVER DOYLE. Also I have seen myself described as 'The Principal of Birmingham University,' and yourself as the well-known detective of Baker Street. May I solicit your aid in helping me to suppress any further confusion of our respective genii? My best wishes to you and the good work.
Lord Fisher may be John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher, but I'm not sure what the "recent volume" was that he wrote. He did write some reports on naval reform earlier: "In 1912, Fisher was appointed chairman of the Royal Commission to enquire into Liquid Fuel, with a view to converting the entire fleet to oil. Classified "Secret", Fisher's Commission reported in on 27 November 1912, with two follow-up reports on 27 February 1913 and 10 February 1914." The Rosary was written in 1909. This article is dated June 30th, 1920, and Lord Fisher died on 10 July 1920, so perhaps it was rather tactless.
© Jo Edkins 2015 - Return to Beddome index