29 November 2007

Peter Martin and Lionel Britton

I usually look at google/books once a week, and I'm very rarely disappointed. Today, I learned that a forgotten writer — possibly more forgotten than Lionel Britton — wrote a novel entitled The Building in 1960. As usual, only a snippet of the book is included, but it is a fascinating one:

'Philip found the book extremely difficult, but impossible to discard. He kept it in the bathroom, reading steadily in it. He knew the author, Mr. Lionel Britton, had overwritten but refrained from skipping as much as possible lest he miss one of the frequent flashes of towering'...

And there it tantalisingly ends. This is obviously a reference to Lionel Britton's Hunger and Love, and there is perhaps not a great deal more said about the novel or the fictional Philip's reaction to it, but I had to find a copy. The British Library doesn't have one, though, and COPAC failed to turn it up in any British university. Neither abebooks.co.uk nor Amazon had a copy, although I found a number for sale in the USA on abebooks.com. Helpfully, a few dealers on bookfinder.com told me that the novel concerns a Jewish American family's struggles in the 1930s. There was also an earlier Martin novel — The Landsmen — which was published in 1952; and I was surprised to discover that Southern Illinois University Press in Carbondale had re-published The Landsmen in 1977 in its 'Lost American Fiction' series.

But just who was Peter Martin, who, perhaps like his character Philip, was influenced by Lionel Britton? Unfortunately I don't know, because there doesn't appear to be a great deal of information out there. The Library of Congress lists The Landsmen and The Building (both editions), and gives his date of birth as 1907. There is also an interesting paragraph posted anonymously as a review of The Building, a copy of which is for sale via Amazon. The poster — 'A Customer' — claims that The Landsmen describes a 'small village in pre-revolutionary Russia [that] springs to life', and also notes that this was intended as the first novel of a trilogy: but Martin died in 1961, a year after the publication of the second novel.

I can find no further information on Peter Martin (1907—61), but would welcome any that anyone has. (The main problem, of course, is that the name is very common and can easily be confused with others.)

11 November 2007

William Baines

Richard Bell has provided me with an interesting link: his Wild West Yorkshire website includes information about Karl Wood's friend, the composer William Baines (1899–1922):

Further information about this relationship can be found in:

Roger Carpenter (with decorations by Richard A. Bell), Goodnight to Flamboro’: The Life and Music of William Baines (Rickmansworth: Triad Press, 1977; rev. ed. Upminster: British Music Society, 1999).

Fiona Richards, 'William Baines and his Circle', Musical Times, Vol. 130, No. 1758, 1989,, pp. 460–63.

Tony Shaw, Windmill Wood: A Biography of Midlands Artist Karl Salsbury Wood (Nottingham, 1995) will be re-published and considerably expanded in either 2008 or 2009 under a slightly different title.

Tony Shaw, Windmills of Nottinghamshire : A Historical Account of Existing Mills and Mill Remains (Nottingham : Nottinghamshire County Council Planning and Economic Development, 1995) includes a large number of sketches by Karl Wood, the vast majority of which were made in the 1930s.

Tony Shaw, 'A Yorkshire Genius?: William Baines and Karl Wood', Yorkshire Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 2 , 1996, pp. 87–88.