21 July 2009

Lionel Britton, Cecil Thomas, and Adam Stanley Keith Make a Publishing Deal

The photo below shows Lionel Britton between his cousin Cecil Thomas and Adam Stanley Keith, both of Tweedsmuir Ave, Toronto, Canada. It was taken in London on 26 May 1964, on the occasion of the signing of a contract between the three men. The aim was to establish a publishing company - later known as the Park Group Ltd after Park House, 66 Tufnell Park Road, where Britton lived - to re-publish all of Britton's out of print works, and many of his unpublished ones. They all had great hopes that Britton's name would be written large on Broadway. Unfortunately, Britton insisted that his amplification of Bernard Shaw's play, Why She Would Not, be published first, but the other men obviously feared legal recriminations, as The Society of Authors refused to allow publication. And Britton had had a very long and bitter, almost insane, feud with the Society over this.

Cecil later adopted Adam as his son, and he became known as Justin Thomas. Justin had been abused by his parents, and although illiterate until well into his twenties, went on to gain a PhD in Psychology. He wrote an autobiography with the glorious title How I Overcame My Fear of Whores, Royalty, Gays, Teachers, Hippies, Psychiatrists, Athletes, Transvestites, Clergymen, Police, Children, Bullies, Politicians, Mothers, Fathers, Publishers, and Myself, which gives several pages of informaton on Britton's ancestors. Justin established Label Liberation and still lives in Canada. When I had a long telephone conversation with him last year, he told me of how Britton rode to the above occasion on a bicycle, and that he met Herbert Marshall and his wife in London shortly after Britton's death in 1971, when they were arranging to have all of Britton's literary effects shipped to Southen Illinois University, Carbondale, where Marshall was a professor.

Many thanks to Justin Thomas for ferreting about in wherever he had to ferret about to make this photo available, and to Robert Hughes for passing it on.

1 comment:

Snatch51 said...

Having researched my family tree for nearly two years now, I freely concede that this photo is huge!

I started with Lionel, because he was the one Britton whom I supposed was known, and in due course I discovered Cecil and Justin.

May it not stop here.

I want to know what happened to Newton Thomas (b. 1883 and died presumably in New Zealand), to Samuel Francis Thomas, (b. 1900, and died presumably in Canada), and George Albert Thomas, (b. 1915 in Coventry; who may well have been in the Air Force in WW2).

Over these last couple of years I have found that we are linked to the Nimmo family of Auchenblain, Ayrshire; the Thomas family of Redditch, Worcestershire; the Waddams, Smith, and Britton families of Birmingham; and the Showells and Hortons.

Check out the full extent of Dr Shaw's blog, and you will see my ancestry...my great-uncle Lionel Britton called them the "beast-men". I doubt they were that bad: I think they were just involved in a huge evolution in industrial civilisation. They made stuff: was it any worse than what we willingly go out and buy today?