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Monday, December 22, 2014

Speed & Power (part 1)

When I was eleven years old, a new magazine for boys appeared in newsagents. Speed & Power was dedicated to "Cars, Planes, Ships, Trains, Science Fiction" and I was entranced by the last of these. Or, rather, I was captivated by the illustrations—the magazines were too close to the counter for me to read more than a paragraph before our local newsagent (whose name I doubt I ever knew) was ready with the Saturday paper and my copy of Valiant and his weekly quip.

"Morning, Mr. Netherlands," he'd say, smiling, although I don't know why because it wasn't funny. I would have taken my business—worth 4p a week!—to another establishment had there been another newsagent nearby. But there wasn't, so I put up with the same joke for probably a decade.

For a few months that went up to 14p a week until later in 1974 when I gave up Valiant as it had changed beyond recognition from the paper I had started buying five years earlier.

My pennies were now being saved up and spent on books. I began attending the Grammar School in town, which gave me access to the town library (far bigger than our local village library) and book shops like Clarke's which probably had a selection of 150 different science fiction titles on offer.

I had to dig out my copies of Speed & Power recently, and I thought that the run up to Christmas was a good opportunity to wallow in some nostalgia, so I'll be posting some of the superb science fiction illustrations of Mike Whittlesea over the next few days.

(* Speed & Power © Look & Learn Ltd.)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

W. A. Sweeney

Another "Mysteries That Have Me Mystified" author. W. A. Sweeney was highly active as a short story writer in the 1920s and 1930s, contributing to The Detective Magazine, The 20-Story Magazine, The Passing Show, John Bull, Western Daily Press, Evening News, Daily Mail and Daily Star. Even a quick parse of magazine contents turns up over 115 short stories, his last known tales appearing in Illustrated in 1939-40.

After the war there was a single novel, Murder By Legacy, published by Modern Fiction in 1945. No further novels appeared, nor have any post-war short stories been traced.

Who Sweeney was I have no idea. He was supposedly born in 1895, although I have yet to discover where his year of birth first appeared. The closest possible match in official records is William Albert Sweeney, born in Toxteth Park, whose birth was registered in 1Q 1896. Unfortunately, I believe that William Albert died in South Manchester in 1938, which would preclude him from writing a post-WW2 novel.

The strict use of initials might mean that W. A. was a woman. I did find a Winifred A. Sweeney born around 1895, but she died in 1934 which, again, is far too early.

So who was W. A. Sweeney? 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Justin Atholl

Justin Atholl is one of my long-standing "Mysteries That Have Me Mystified" authors. He appears to be a real person, probably a reporter as he contributed to a variety of newspapers (Reynolds News, Derby Daily Telegraph, Hull Daily Mail, Yorkshire Post) in the decade after the war. In the 1950s he also contributed to Boy's Own Paper.

Atholl came to my attention as an author of slim novels and short stories published during and soon after the Second World War, including a couple of science fiction and fantasy titles. There were nine titles in all, published by Everybody's Books in 1943-44 ranging from the short novels The Man Who Tilted The Earth (1943) and The Oasis Of Sleep (1944), along with shorter novelettes The Perfect Murder (1943), Land of Hidden Death, The Grey Beast and There Goes His Ghost (all 1944) and a number of pamphlets that were barely longer than short stories—Death In The Green Fields, The Trackless Thing and The Swastika Murder (all 1944).

His earliest known non-fiction book is probably Millionaire Crooks: True Stories of Famous Financial Racketeers was published by F. J. Hoskins, which is dated 1931 by some sources online. I'm not convinced this is true. The British Library dates the book "194-?". Hoskins was the manager of Reynolds News and appears to have been the publisher of a number of trade magazines in the 1950s.

Atholl went on to write a number of other non-fiction books, including How Stalin Knows (1951), a story of the atomic spy conspiracy, and three well-received books about prisons and hanging: Prison On The Moor (1953), the story of Dartmoor Prison, Shadow of the Gallows (1954) and The Reluctant Hangman (1956), the story of James Berry, a 19th century executioner.

His last known book was How To Borrow Money (1961), co-written with Leslie Benjamin.


The Perfect Murder
Everybody's Books, 1943, 48pp, 1/-.

The Man Who Tilted the Earth
Everybody's, 1943, 63pp, 1/6.

The Trackless Thing
Everybody's, 1944, 31pp, 6d.

Death in the Green Fields
Mitre Press, 1944, 36pp, 1/-.

The Oasis of Sleep
Mitre Press, 1944, 62pp, 1/6. Cover by Jeff Cook

The Swastika Murder
Everybody's, 1944, 34pp, 6d.

There Goes His Ghost
Everybody's, 1944, 48pp, 9d.

The Grey Beast
Everybody's, 1944, 48pp, 9d. Cover by Douglas

Land of Hidden Death
Everybody's, 1944, 50pp, 9d.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Comic Cuts - 19 December 2014

The race is on to see if everyone will get their copies of the new book before Christmas! As promised last week, I processed all the orders on Saturday and I'm now waiting on news of those orders shipping.

Being a boutique publisher, I don't have huge shipments of books coming to the house—it's hard enough finding space for the books I have without having to worry about finding storage space for boxes of Bear Alley's titles. The beauty of print on demand is that I can have the books shipped directly from the printer to the customer, saving everyone a couple of quid along the way.

On the other hand, I'm at the mercy of the printer, who had a rush of orders in early December and is now taking a few days longer to dispatch books. Add that to the well-publicised problems some firms are having with delivering packages, and I'm left crossing my fingers and my toes that everyone will get their books this side of Christmas Day. The good news is that I think everyone will.

Weight-watchers—or, rather, those of you keeping tabs on my efforts to lose a bit of weight—will be pleased to hear that I'm almost down to where I wanted to be before I destroy my diet with Christmas turkey and pudding. I lashed out on a new set of bathroom scales and had a very nervous first weigh-in: would I weigh the same as I did on the old scales, or were the old scales lying to me. How would I know that the new scales were accurate? What I needed was for both sets of scales to agree that I was a certain weight. And they do.

The new scales are a bit scary as they measure accurate to a quarter of a pound and my confidence in my new weight of 15 stone 9 pounds was shaken when I discovered it was actually 15 st. 9¾ lb. The slight yo-yoing of weight over the course of a day takes me back up to 15 st. 10 lb. regularly, so I need to see if I can shave off at least a quarter of a pound before next week. As I do low-impact exercise (walking and using an exercise bike) to avoid buggering up my back, finding ways to burn off an extra 750 calories is going to be fun... and I use the term "fun" in both an ironic and a completely wrong way.

Updating our Annual watch from two weeks ago, the latest sales figure for Beano Annual 2015 I have is from week ending 29 November 2014. We can now work out sales figures for three weeks:

w/e 15-11-14  11,555 (61, 930 total)
w/e 22-11-14 14,265 (76,195 total)
w/e 29-11014 17,735 (93,930 total)

Sales are rising as people hunt around for stocking fillers, although to give you something to compare these figures to, Zoe Sugg [Wikipedia], a.k.a. Zoella, the video blogger, put out her first (ghosted) novel and it sold 78,110 in the same week, making it the fastest selling novel of all time. If only comics sold the same way (and, yes, I do mean the ones I put out!).

Random scans this week are a quartet of titles from Corgi's junior imprint, Scottie Books, including another Roger Hall (thanks to Phil Richards), plus a couple of John Richards (no relation) and a James McConnell.

All that remains is for me to wish all the folk who visit on a Friday a Merry Christmas. Anyone who visits on a more daily basis, I'll try to post some more bits 'n' bobs while I still have the energy, but expect some post-free days: presents don't wrap themselves and Christmas Pud doesn't eat itself.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Commando issues 4767-4770

Commando issues on sale 18th December 2014

Commando No 4767 – Armistice!
On the morning of the 28th of June 1914, two pistol shots fired in a Sarajevo street had plunged the world into war.
   A little over four years later the guns finally fell silent. An armistice had been agreed. Now the surviving soldiers, sailors and airmen could return home and resume their lives. For some it wouldn’t be as simple as that, though. For some there were still battles to be fought — even if they couldn’t fight them for themselves.

As a tribute to those who served during the years 1914-1918 — on the Home Front or at Front Line — Commando has produced a series of stories of characters caught up in the tumult of the First World War. None of them are real people but we’d like to think that the experiences they have will not be a million miles from what actually happened to so many.
   Over the last 11 months, Jimmy Lomas has been selling newspapers to passing servicemen from his pitch on the railway station. Now, finally, he has been called up and pitched into action in the trenches. How will he fare in this most hostile of environments, facing angers he could only imagine from the snippets passed to him by his uniformed customers.—Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Our Great Warriors series is now finished. We have enjoyed putting it together for you and hope that you’ve enjoyed it too. Perhaps you’d like us to do other series like this, perhaps not. Either way, let us know it’s always good to hear from you.

Story: George Low
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Commando No 4768 – Night Fighter
Above all things, AC1 Bert Barnet, wireless operator, longed to fly a plane.
   Bert got his wish — but in a way that made his worst nightmares seem tame!
   Three thousand feet up in hostile night skies, alone with an unconscious pilot in a shot-up Beaufighter, the completely untrained Bert got his chance to fly a fighting plane — or to die trying!

While we try to keep Commando as authentic as possible, we have taken liberties over the years. Sometimes the plots are well over-the-top, sometimes — like here — they’re just the tiniest bit far-fetched. It’s still very believable but... For all that it is a good yarn, one that’ll have you rooting for the main character. Let’s hope the author doesn’t let you down.
   Inside artist, Medrano, is up there with the best of war aviation artists and his crisp, precise eye for detail adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the story. He’s also not afraid to use a lot of black ink, and does so to good effect.
   No doubt it was Ken Barr’s cover that drew you in, rest assured the contents of the book live up to its promise.—Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Story: Parlett
Art: Medrano
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No 140 (November 1964)

Commando No 4769 – Out For Justice

By Summer 1945 the war in Europe was over but there was still much work for men like Military Police Lieutenant Grant Sim. He helped to keep the peace in a shattered Germany where danger lurked in the form of unexploded bombs, and crime was rife on its ravaged streets.
   Grant had unfinished business, too. His brother, an RAF pilot, had been callously executed after being shot down. Now, with an unlikely ally to aid him, the Redcap was poised to capture his brother’s killer. He was… OUT FOR JUSTICE

Story: George Low
Art: Vila
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4770 – Too Old To Fight
Regimental-Sergeant-Major Burnham Bulworth had been a soldier for forty years. Built like a tank, he was an ogre on the parade ground, a legend on the battlefield; his whole life dedicated to the army.
   Some said he could chase off entire enemy divisions on his own. But the greatest threat to his career wasn’t the Germans…it was a short-sighted clerk with the devastating news that Burnham was now… TOO OLD TO FIGHT

If “Too Old To Fight” were a movie, it could be described as a “Buddy Cop” action film — featuring two characters who initially dislike each other but who, when circumstances force them to work together, resolve some of their differences along the way.
   This is a terrific Commando adventure — script, interior art and cover are all top-notch, thanks to a team of the comic’s finest freelance creators. There are plenty of thrills and spills but at the heart of it is the most important thing of all — wonderful characters.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally No 2262 (March 1989), re-issued as No 3788 (February 2005)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Doreen Smith (part 3)

We must now turn our attention back to the Countess, the former Doreen Lucy Smith who had gone from authoress to publisher to fraudster in only a few years. When she and her husband were arrested in Bristol on 20 August, they were separately charged and while Barry Shafto Leopold Ferdinand Casimir Herbertus de la Feld as he was known, although he was most likely born Francis Roach-Jackson, was sent to Cornwall, Doreen found herself before the magistrates at West London Police Court answering her own charges.

After appearing in court on Tuesday, 31 August 1937, and with the case adjourned for a week, she was present at her husband's court case the following day and he even consulted her when a question arose about a handwritten obituary notice that had been found announcing the deaths of Barry and Doreen de la Feld in a motor accident. When pressed, and after he had spoken to his wife, Barry admitted that it was she who had written the note, although he had not the slightest idea why she had written it.

That they were trying to dispose of their De la Feld aliases was clear. Shortly before being arrested, the two were in Dublin in order to be remarried. "My wife wanted to drop our title and use an ordinary English name. He gave the name of Beaumont to the registrar in Dublin, and asked him to marry them at once."

Did you tell the registrar the reason your wife wanted to change her name was that she would inherit a legacy if she used the name of Beaumont, asked the prosecution. "Yes," said Roach-Jackson before asking, "Was there any harm in that?"

After seeing her husband sentenced to a month's imprisonment, Doreen faced her own trial at West London where she was found guilty of two cases of cheque fraud on Harrods and of obtaining £6 by false pretences from Mr. James Henry Collins, a provision merchant. One of the cheques that were returned marked "Account closed" was for three return tickets to Jersey. 

Appearing as Doreen de la Feld, she pleaded guilty to the three charges and asked for another similar offence committed at Bath to be taken into consideration.

In Jersey, she had obtained a passport in the name of Theodora Craster (given in the newspapers as Custa), having given a false statement to the Governor of Jersey, who had decided not to take any further action after withdrawing the passport.

She was sentenced to three months imprisonment on each of the three charges, the first two to be consecutive.

Doreen Lucy Smith had been educated at Clifton High School and, at the age of 16, began training as a music teacher. She became a convert to Catholicism in around 1927. In 1933 she had entered a convent as a Carmelite novice but remained there for only four months. On leaving, she had started her a publishing business in Bloomsbury Square, but, after two years was forced to put it into liquidation. Later she started another publishing business in New Oxford Street, and that had been wound up in June 1937 after amassing quite a number of outstanding debts.

On her release, and registered as Dorothy Roach-Jackson, she was living at 112 Denbigh Street, Westminster S.W.1, with her husband, now styling himself Francis Bentick Roach-Jackson, and her mother-in-law, Adelaide Roach-Jackson. It was whilst in Denbigh Street that she found herself arrested and brought before Westminster Magistrates on charges of stealing books and obtaining goods by false pretences from a West End store. She pleaded guilty to five charges and asked for 30 others to be taken into consideration. She was sentenced for a second time to six months imprisonment.

Since her marriage, Doreen Roach-Jackson had been living on the proceeds of crime, posing as the wife of a parson, as a baroness and as a countess. She was a very plausible woman and induced people to put faith in her, said Detective-Sergeant O'Sullivan, who had received notification from Ireland that she was wanted for fraud on an allegation of issuing worthless cheques.

The Electoral Roll gives possible later addresses as 30 Gloucester Street, Westminster S.W.1 [1939, living with Stella Maud Smith] and 42 Kingston Ave, Feltham [fl. 1945].

It seems likely that, following the publicity of her rapid downfall in the late 1930s, Doreen had been unable to pick up the threads of her career. Perhaps it is the sharp decline in her career that is the most fascinating aspect of this story. Her interest in religion seems genuine: her earliest published novels were written for Burns, Oates & Co., a prominent Catholic publishing house; she travelled to Genoa (and possibly to Rome) in 1932 and attempted to enter a convent in 1933.

A slim hardcover book, St. Philip Neri by Doreen Lucy Smith, was published by Sands in 1945, a tribute to the life of Philip Romolo Neri, a 16th century Italian priest, known as the Apostle of Rome, who founded the Congregation of the Oratory. Sands & Co. was another religious publisher who had earlier published Doreen's novel The Gates Are Open.

From this we might conclude that Doreen retained her Catholic faith and continued to write. I have found no further trace of her in the UK and it is possible that she moved abroad soon after the war. The only later trace—and I cannot say for certain that it is "our" Doreen—is a "Sea Arrival Card" for a Doreen Lucy Smith who arrived aboard the S.S. Braemar Castle on 17 December 1960. Apart from revealing that she resides in Southern Rhodesia, the card has no other information.

Postscript: There are two books for young girls that caught my eye when I was researching the above. The first is Dorothy Smith's Those Greylands Girls (Nelson, 1944), which the Encyclopaedica of Girls' School Stories describes as a "charming story of an orphanage/school and the girls who inhabit it," and Jenny at Durrington Grange by Doreen Smith (Pickering & Inglis, 1973). Could these be by Doreen Lucy Smith? Let's not forget that she was listed in the 1938 Electoral Roll as Dorothy Roach-Jackson, so linking her to the first book is not a big stretch of the imagination. If she was to have written the latter, she would have been in her early seventies when it was published.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Doreen Smith (part 2)

Barry Shafto Jackson, aged 25, stood in the dock in Truro, Cornwall, on 1 September, and argued that it was his right to call himself Count de la Feld, claiming that his father's grandmother was the last of the house of De la Feld. It was a very old family which had been settled in England for many generations. They had a title bestowed by the Pope and he and his father were the direct descendents.

Whilst using the name Count De la Feld, he  had visited Messrs. Timothy Whites and Taylors in Truro on 26 June, saying that he wanted a three months' account as he and his wife, the Countess, were planning to sail to America in September and that, meanwhile, they would be staying at a small cottage called The Haven, Mount Hawke. He gave as reference a bank in Park Lane, London.

On the strength of this statement he was given on various days goods to the value of £7 17s. 8d.

On around 12 July, the manager had his attention drawn to a London newspapaer dated 8 July, on the front page of which was a photograph of Jackson. He contacted the police and visited the premises at Mount Hawke, but found they were shut up and that Jackson was gone.

Inquiries were made to ascertain that the man in the photograph in the London papers was Barry Shafto Jackson and that he had travelled to Bristol on about 8 July. On 20 August, a Detective Sergeant Arthur Rudge of the Bristol C.I.D., went to a Bristol hotel, where he saw a woman whose age was about 60. He followed her to another hotel, where there was an entry in the register in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont. He visited the room they occupied and there saw Jackson with a woman who presumably was his wife. When cautioned, Jackson said, "You have made a mistake. My name is Beaumont." He then produced a passport bearing the name of R. D. Beaumont.

In a later statement, made after he was taken to Truro, he said that he had gone to Bristol for a short holiday and had intended returning to Mount Hawke; he had also intended paying his account at Messrs. Timothy Whites & Taylors. However, the "dreadful scandal" in the Press had made it impossible to return. He signed this statement "Feld".

In a letter written shortly afterwards, as he was being taken to Exeter Prison, he claimed that his parents had been separated for ten years and he was unsure whether his father, 2nd Lieutenant B. Roche Jackson of the 1st Gordon Highlanders, who had held a commission in the Army during the war, was alive or not. This letter he signed "Roger Beaumont".

Father Edward Charles Taylor, a Roman Catholic priest of St. Mary of the Angels, Bayswater, gave evidence that Jackson had come to him to be received into the Catholic Church and underwent a short course of instruction. Taylor knew the man as Mr. Roche Jackson and refused to agree with the prosecution counsel, Mr. Moore, that Jackson could have been made a papal count as a reward for his services to the Roman Catholic Church—Taylor said "I am not conversant with how papal counts are made or how the titles are carried on. Unless he has inherited the title I cannot see how he can be a papal count because of his short career as a Catholic."

Detective-Sergeant Rudge gave evidence that he had found visiting cards inscribed Rev. Viscount and Viscountess Beaumont of Detroit, Michigan" when he visited Jackson's room at the hotel. He also discovered a notice written on a sheet of paper: "De la Feld. On August 24, 1937. In a motoring accident near Avignon, Barry and Doreen, Count and Countess De la Feld." This obituary notice was in his wife's handwriting.

The Count then gave evidence that he was born Barry Shafto Roche Jackson and he claimed that he could call himself Count De la Feld because his father's grandmother was the last of the house of De la Feld. It was a very old family name and the title had been bestowed by the Pope. He had used the title on and off for about two years.

Jackson admitted that he had had many jobs, that he and his mother had been employed as houseboy and cook on a joint wage of £85 and that he had also been a butler. He also admitted that he had married under the name Barry de la Feld and that he and his wife had gone to Dublin on 16 August and applied to the Registrar of Marriages to be married, in order to "get the tangle of out marriage adjusted. My wife wanted to drop our title and use an ordinary English name." Whilst in Dublin, he obtained a driving license in the name of Viscount Roger Beaumont.

Admitting that he had used a number of different names and that he had posed as a Roman Catholic priest as "a journalistic trick to get our names in the paper," Jackson was found guilty and agreed to have four other charges involving another £23 taken into consideration. He was sentenced to one month's imprisonment.

According to Police-Superintendant Osborne, Jackson was, in fact, born in Dunsmore, Buckinghamshire in 1913. His mother was a housekeeper in Bayswater. His mother had told the police she believed there was a title on her husband's side, but that her husband had left her 11 years ago and she did not know his whereabouts.

There was some truth in Barry Jackson's tale. His father, Bernard Roach-Jackson, had volunteered during the Great War, joining on 14 August 1914, and he served with as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Gordon Highlanders, for which he was awarded a Silver War Badge. He was put on the H.P. (half-pay) list for ill health on 11 June 1916 and soon after, in November 1916, he was acquitted by a general court-martial for exchanging two cheques for £5 and £1 at the Carlton Hotel, knowing that he did not have sufficient funds to meet them.

He was born Bernard Jackson in Yapton, Sussex, in 1880, the son of the Revd. George Jackson (1838?-1903), rector of Ford and vicar of Yapton, and his wife Alice (1849?-1932?). Jackson grew up in Yapton and in Westfield, another Sussex town where his father was vicar. Bernard had some early experience in the military—this is mentioned on his 1914 army papers.

Bernard Roach-Jackson had married to May A. Craster in 4Q 1911 in Fulham, London, but they had not remained together; by 1918 he was living at 58 Portland Road, Holland Park Avenue, W.11, and by 1930 he could be found at 5 Fairholme Road, Fulham, W.14. He was registered as one of the civilian war dead, having died in Richmond, Surrey, on 21 September 1940, aged 70 [actually 60].

What happened to the man known as Barry Shafto Jackson is open to some speculation. His mother, May Adelaide Craster, born in 1872, was the Adelaide Roach-Jackson living at 112 Denbigh Street, Westminster S.W.1, in 1938 along with Dorothy Roach-Jackson and Francis Bentick Roach-Jackson, whom I believe to be Doreen and Barry. Although I haven't been able to nail down a birth certificate (or even registration) for Adelaide's son, I have a strong suspicion that he was originally named Francis.

I can find no further trace of him beyond this sighting in 1938. Perhaps he changed his name again and continued his career as a fraudster.

More tomorrow.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Doreen Smith

My mate John Herrington always sends me the most interesting mysteries. "You like a good story about an author," he said in a recent e-mail, "and this is a good one."

And indeed it is.

The 2 July 1937 edition of the Western Morning News carried a couple of paragraphs under the heading:

Spending Honeymoon In Cornwall

The attached story related how Count and Countess Barry de la Feld, were spending three months honeymooning at The Haven, Mount Hawke, in Cornwall. The Count, the story continued, was a descendant of an ancient German family and he was the son of H.S.H. Prince Bernard de la Feld of the Holy Roman Empire, Chamberlain to the late Emperor of Austria, Franz Joseph. He was also the grandson of H.I.H. the Archduchess Elizabeth of Austria and a great-nephew of the late King of Norway.

The Count had recently married Miss Doreen Lucy Smith, a native of Bristol and the author of a number of books. And Doreen Lucy Smith, an author based at 14 Craven Street, Charing Cross, W.C.2, can be found in The Author's and Writer's Who's Who for 1935-36, to whom the following novels can be attributed:

Quest. London, Burns, Oates & Co., 1930.
East Wind. London, Burns, Oates & Co., 1931.
Lonely Traveller. London, Burns, Oates & Co., 1931
The Gates Are Open. London, Sands & Co., 1933.
May Be Tomorrow (as Clare Craven). London, John Long, 1936.
Four in Hand (as Michael Bairns). London, Stanley Smith, 1936.

The A&WWW notes her birth in Bristol, 1904 (sic), and her recreations as tennis and dancing. She is also listed as the managing director of Stanley Smith (Publishers) Ltd. This was a minor library hardcover publisher active in 1935/36, authors including Vere Hobart, T. R. Morden, G. H. Teed, E. M. Crawford, Paul Dornhorst, Geoffrey Ellinger, Richard E. Goddard, John Marsh, Eugene Thomas, Nigel Vane and Philip Wade. The authors are not especially notable, but include the prolific George Teed (best known for his Sexton Blake stories), John Marsh and "Nigel Vane", better known as Gerald Vernor, and playwrites Philip Wade and Paul Dornhorst, who had the misfortune of drowning shortly after the publication of his book trying to assist a friend in danger. Perhaps  the most memorable of all Smith's books was Richard E. Goddard's bizarre horror-thriller The Whistling Ancestors.

Stanley Smith (Publishers) Ltd. were struck off the register of companies in December 1938. Before then, Doreen, who in 1937 was boasting that she was the only female publisher in England, had been jailed. Twice.

Before we reach that part of the story, let's take a step back to the few earlier traces of Doreen's career.

In 1911, Doreen Lucie Smith was living with her father, Henry Stanley Mundy Smith (1869-1917), a 41-year old auctioneer, valuer and estate agent, and her brother, 15-year-old Reginald Stanley Smith, born in Clifton, Bristol, Gloucestershire, in 1895 and baptized at St Werburgh, Bristol, on 21 September 1895. In the 1930s, Reginald Smith was the manager of the television department at Alexandra Palace.

Stanley Smith, as her father called himself, had been married for 16 years to Clara Smith, nee Colmer (1866- ), the daughter of company chairman James Colmer, who was based in Bristol, and a niece of Cardinal Vaughan. Their second child, a daughter registered as Doreen Lucie Smith, was born in 2Q 1901, in Clifton, Bristol, Gloucestershire. [Not 1904 as her A&WWW entry would have us believe.]

Little is known about her upbringing. She later said that she had lived in Clifton until she was 17. However, the 1911, when Doreen was aged 9, gives their address as 17 Gardnor Mansions, Hampstead, London. Stanley Smith died on 30 April 1917, his probate record giving his address as 4 Connaught Place, Weston-super-Mare.  In 1929, Doreen was living with her mother at 11 Cheniston Gardens, Earls Court, and the following year on the first floor at 9 Hornton Street, Holland Park. I believe Clara Smith died in Kensington in 1932, aged 66.

Miss Doreen Lucy Smith, giving the address 22 Gloucester Walk, Kensington W.8, booked a 2nd class ticket to Genoa, Italy, on a Dutch passenger ship, Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt, departing Southampton on 5 November 1932.

By 1935, she is to be found in the Electoral Roll living at 14 Craven Street, Westminster W.C.2. Her publishing company, named after her father, was active in 1935-36 before publications came to a grinding halt.

She married Barry de la Feld at Caxton Hall in Westminster on 2 June 1937 and within weeks both she and her husband were accused of numerous frauds.

Their activities began immediately as the two travelled around England (Cornwall, Somerset, Avon), Jersey and Ireland as Count and Countess de la Feld, obtaining goods from tradesmen on the strength of their title. In Jersey, Countess de la Feld obtained a passport in the name of Theodora Craster (uusually reported as Custa) and the Count shortly after . It was reported that the two were arrested on Friday, 20 August 1937 and appeared at Bristol Police Court the following day, appearing under the names Roger Beaumont (25) and Theodora Mary Craster (31), also known as the Count and Countess de la Feld, on warrants issued by the Metropolitan and Truro police.

The "Countess" appeared before Mr. Paul Bennett the following Monday charged with obtaining £6 by false pretences on 6 August. On the same day, Barry Shafto Jackson, alias Count Barry de la Feld, was charged in Truro with obtaining goods to the value of £7 17s. 8d. from Messrs. Timothy White and Taylors Ltd. by false pretences between 25 June and 1 July.

In June, the Count and Countess Barry de la Feld, were spending their honeymoon n Cornwall and granting a number of interviews with newspapers. The Count, a former Catholic priest, hoped to go the following month to either St Augustine's, Canterbury, or Wells Theological College, for six or eight months; he was considering subsequently working as a missionary in Africa. When interviewed. the Count wore clerical garb.

The Countess explained how she had met the Count—and the consequences of their marriage—in an interview with the Western Morning News (7 July 1937):
It was five years ago in the Church of San Silvestro in Rome, which is the church for English-speaking Catholics. He was a priest, and I was introduced to him, but did not see him again until six months ago. The Church of Rome does not allow married priests and we have had a lot of trouble in consequence.
    We have been literally hunted to death. There has been quite a scandal about him leaving the Church, and we have had insulting letters from priests and Archbishops.
    That is why, up to now, we have had only a civil marriage in Caxton Hall, London, but we are having a religious ceremony in Bristol Cathedral shortly. Because of this trouble my husband is becoming an Anglo-Catholic.
Giving the story an added twist was the revelation that the Countess was an ex-nun, and the story of the marriage of the ex-priest and the ex-nun travelled widely in local newspapers and even made it as far as the famous Life magazine, which recorded that "Father Leopold" had outraged the Church by marrying and a Papal bull was issued excommunicating both.

It wasn't long before accusations were made against the couple. The Bishop of Bristol declared that the Count was not a member of the Church of England. A London newspaper shortly after claimed that the Count de la Feld was, in fact, named Barry Shafto Jackson and he was the son of a London cook.

The Countess left Cornwall and took a single room at a hotel in Wells, Somerset, on 10 July, signing the register Countess Delafield of 77 Audley Street, London W.1. She chatted easily to the staff and claimed that she was expecting the Count to arrive in Wells by Wednesday. On Monday (12 July) she went to Bristol by bus to visit him. Returning to Wells, she transferred to another hotel.

When interviewed she protested vehemently against accusations published in newspapers. "The statements are libellous," she declared. "This persecution must stop. It is becoming a menace. This morning I seriously considered getting police protection." It was, she said, still the Count's intention to enter the Church of England, but she was not aware of his present whereabouts.

As to the notion that he was really Barry Shafto Jackson, the Countess stormed: "He's a Count. His name has never been Jackson and what's more he can't cook. He has papers to prove who he is."

As mentioned above, the couple were soon after arrested and the Count—under the names Barry Shafto Jackson (reported widely as Barry Shafto), alias Count Barry de la Feld, of no fixed abode—was charged in Truro on 23 August; he was remanded in custody for eight days and bail was refused. At the same time, in West London, the Countess was also remanded for eight days, magistrates accepting a surety in £25.

What happened next will be revealed tomorrow.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Roy Carnon

Roy Carnon is nowadays best known for his work as a storyboard artist and sketcher for the film industry, notably working on 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi. He was also a paperback cover artist, having worked for Corgi Book at least as early as 1956, and had earlier worked in advertising (e.g. for Reed Paper Group).

Roy Frederick Carnon, born 6 July 1911, the son of Frederick Wallace Carnon (a civil servant) and his wife Gertrude Eisdell (nee Lee), grew up in Isleworth, London, and attended art school in Chiswick for a short time. He became an illustrator, working mainly for advertising agencies and was always to be found sketching in parks, or on buses and trains and always carried a small sketch-book or a pack of plain postcards in case inspiration struck.

During the Second World War, Carnon continued to sketch even when he was working as a fireman during the London Blitz; he subsequently joined the RAF ground crew and then became a navigator on Sunderlands, seeing action in Africa, India and the Far East.

After returning to civilian life, Carnon continued to work in advertising, as well as producing book covers. He was responsible for a number of covers for Edgar Rice Boroughs' science fiction novels published by Four Square Books in 1961-63 and illustrated Famous Fighting Aircraft for the Collins Wonder Colour Books series in 1964.

In 1965, Carnon became one of the team responsible for producing concept drawings, sketches and paintings for Stanley Kubrick, then working with author Arthur C. Clarke on the landmark science fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. For this he was responsible for visualising space craft, film sets and the iconic 'wheel' space station.

After this, he worked on many other movies, including the Bond movies, Where Eagles Dare, The Battle of Britain, Frenzy, Superman, The Dogs of War, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Reds, The Dark Crystal, Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi, Ladyhawke and Link.

Roy Frederick Carnon was married to Violet Marian Steer in 1935 (died 1971); he re-married, in 1998, to Margaret J. Harrold. He died in August 2002, aged 91.

(* Photographs of Roy Carnon are from the documentary 2001: A Look Behind the Future (1966), which is available in full on YouTube. Images of Carnon's 2001 artwork are from 2001archive on Flickr.)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Roy Carnon Cover Gallery

Corgi Books
T161 First Blood by Jack Schaefer (1956)
S466 The Dark Light by Bart Spicer (1957)
S471 Come to Dust by Robin Maugham (1957)
S557 The Coal-Scuttle Brigade by Alexander McKee (1957)
GC769 Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye by Horace McCoy (1960)
GB779 All This and a Medal Too by Tim Carew (1960)
SC797 The Telemann Touch by William Haggard (1960)
SN1091 Two Hours to Doom by Peter Bryant (1961)

Arrow Books
515 The Pub Crawler by Maurice Proctor (1958)

Four Square
367 The Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1961)
372 Grounds for Divorce by Bill Mortlock (1961)
613 Thuvia Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1962)
661 The Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1962)
742 Harvest on the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov (1962)
751 The Master Mind of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1962)
820 Pirates of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1963)
842 New Worlds For Old by August Derleth (1963)
871 Breakthrough by John Iggulden (1963)


Friday, December 12, 2014

Comic Cuts - 12 December 2014

It's beginning to feel like Christmas here at Bear Alley. We have the Christmas tree decorated and a strand or three of tinsel dangling around the room. A Dalek is observing our every move from the tree top, having deposed the knitted (weeping) angel who used to look uncomfortably down on us from her spiny branch seat. If you squeeze it, it threatens to exterminate you. The Dalek, not the angel, although being non-religious, I suspect that the angel, too, would have harsh words to say. "How can you have an angel if you don't believe in God?" I hear you ask. And I answer: "For the same reason I can have a Dalek even tho' I know Doctor Who is made up."

With Frontline UK almost out the door—and hopefully everyone will get their copies before Christmas, but I can't guarantee it, what with Christmas postal deliveries being a bit hit-or-miss at this time of year—I'm busy working on the next book, which will be a full-colour collection. Hopefully you'll like it. I'll be announcing the title soon.

While I'm cleaning artwork, I often listen to podcasts as they are free (vital for the broke freelancer!) and often more interesting than what's on the radio. I've kept up with my regular podcasts, which include Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, which this season is available as a video podcast via iTunes, Vimeo and (the first four) on YouTube. This season's interviews have included Katherine Ryan, Mark Gatiss, Brendon Burns, James Acaster, Steve Coogan, Sara Pascoe, Sarah Millican, Rebecca Front, Josh Widdecombe and Andy Zaltzman. Richard Herring's lively, funny style can be serious and silly in the same interview, with the daft questions often eliciting some of the most interesting answers. There's an audio version also available via iTunes and the British Comedy Guide (easier than finding the episodes on Soundcloud, but that's also an option).

I've discovered two new podcasts recently that I'm now addicted to. The Z List Dead List is a celebration of obscure people whose lives were interesting or bizarre and worth investigation. The podcast is based on a live monthly show hosted by Iszi Lawrence that has been running at The Camden Head, Camden High Street, for the past year. The podcast has been running since September but I've only just discovered it. Well worth a try— take a look here for a list of episodes and the subjects covered.

And I've finally caught up with Serial, the ongoing investigation into a true-life case of murder, which journalist Sarah Koenig has been looking into and I can do no better than to quote her: "This murder story we've been working on, it's captivated all of us at Serial for a year. Once we started looking into it, we realized the story was so much messier and more complicated – and more interesting – than what the jury got to hear. We hope you’ll get sucked in the way we have." I found it utterly compelling, listening to the first 10 episodes over the course of two evenings this week. All are available at the website and you need to start at episode one.

This series has been hugely successful and an interesting article by Jon Ronson appeared in The Guardian the other day. The podcast has been picked up by Radio 4 Extra and if you click on the "All episodes available" link, you can listen to the series from episode one on the iPlayer.

This week's random scans are a posse of westerns... well, nearly all westerns... by S. R. Boldero, who has featured on Bear Alley in the past.

Next week: I was planning to run some covers by Roy Carnon in the random scans slot this week, but I ended up making a little list of his work and, as I hate for anything I write to go to waste, I'll run it, along with a cover gallery, over the weekend. After that it's a three-part look at the activities of writer and publisher Doreen L. Smith, whose naughty deeds landed her in prison.