20 May 2013

Isabella Banks and The Manchester Man

The above sketch is from a photo of Isabella Banks, a writer most noted for her triple-decker novel The Manchester Man (1876). She is also sometimes called – as a fusion of her birth name and her married name – Isabella Varley Banks, although here she self-effacingly calls herself Mrs G. Linnæus Banks. (Which incidentally is also the appellation used after a quotation from the same novel on Tony Wilson's headstone in Southern Cemetery, Chorlton-cum-Hardy – post to follow in due course.)

There's a bar and nightclub in Princess Street called the Joshua Brooks after a prominent character in The Manchester Man, although it's unfortunate that there's a slight orthographical difference – in the book his name is Brookes.* Interestingly, this bar is almost next door to the Lass o' Gowrie, which is the name of a poem by Carolina Nairne, and that pub also has the poem written above what I assume used to be a corner door. (It's also very close to the Peveril of the Peak pub, which of course is the title of a novel by Sir Walter Scott.)
What's more, there is also another pub about a mile away, in Portsmouth Street, called the Jabez Clegg after the protagonist in The Manchester Man. I still have to take a photo of that place.
*Banks bases the character on a real Rev. Joshua Brookes (1754–1821),  an eccentric – sketched below from a photograph – who also briefly appears in Richard Parkinson's novel The Old Church Clock (1843) as the Reverend Joseph Rivers.

 Below is a link to an online edition of the complete novel.
ADDENDUM: On receiving an email from Keith Johnson of New Zealand, I include a related link to a blog post by him here.

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