A Publication of


Founded 8th May 1999

Newsletter No.53 January 2001
The Feast Day of St Genevieve

A warm welcome to the twenty-first century! Since our last Newsletter in July, the Society has gained five new members, including our first husband and wife team. Interestingly, all five have found out about the Society through the Internet.

Page and Allan Life have joined from the USA. Page has been Romance Languages cataloguer since 1981 and Allan a teacher of Victorian literature since 1974 - both at the University of North Carolina.
Ray Russell runs a successful small publishing firm in North Yorkshire - Tartarus Press - and is publishing JMF's The Lost Stradivarius, A Midsummer Night's Marriage and Charalampia in single book form.
Mark Valentine, has written a new Introduction to the volume, and is also the joint author, with Richard Dalby, of the article on JMF in the December 1995 Book and Magazine Collector.
Michael Morello, from Connecticut, is currently a Masters of Education student at Columbia University. Whilst at New College, Oxford, he completed a critical piece on The Lost Stradivarius.

Anastasia Noble
Under the heading "Laird's daughter of decided character who spent her life breeding deerhounds on the shore of Loch Fyne", The Daily Telegraph recently had a fulsome obituary to Anastasia Noble - daughter of Sir John Noble, JMF's one-time pupil and closest friend. Born on Christmas Day 1911, Anastasia Mary Elizabeth Noble led a fascinating life. Sent to a succession of boarding schools (being expelled from one for telling the girls about the facts of life), she became a superb horsewoman, breeder of hackney horses and deerhounds and renowned as a judge at shows of the latter. At her 80th birthday party the villagers of Cairndow, near her home at Ardkinglas, danced to a new composition The Miss Noble of Ardkinglas Waltz. I only wish I had met her, when I visited Ardkinglas with Christopher Hawtree in April 1992.

Fleet Old Church
One of the founding aims of this Society is "to support buildings associated with Meade Falkner". Possibly the most famous, as far as the general reader is concerned, is the one that has a central part to play in Moonfleet. Although the tiny church bears little resemblance to that described in the novel, there is a vault and the immediate hinterland does indeed convey something of the atmosphere so well conjured up by JNE particularly in bad weather.
I have been in correspondence since the early autumn with various individuals who have responsibilities for the present parish and the old church: Mr John Coombe, Churchwarden of Holy Trinity, Fleet, who told me that the village had taken on the task of maintaining the building, and Mrs Del Whitfield, Secretary of Holy Trinity.

Fleet Old Church
They feel that the present plaque to JW is part of the church's history and do not want it replaced, even though it is in a poor state - the brass is discoloured and corroded. However, they are very amenable to a small green slate plaque being placed underneath with a suitable inscription. Grassby & Sons Ltd., Stonemasons and Memorial Sculptors since 1861 (did JMF know of them?), of Dorchester have given an estimate for the following:

JMF Plaque

Supplying a Green Slate Plaque 6" x 5" xl", face and four edges fine rubbed finish.
Inscription cut and dowelled in Gold Leaf.
Fixed and dowelled to wall directly beneath existing brass plaque.
Total (including VAT) Pounds 189.72

This allows for the following inscription:

The above plaque
was erected in
memory of
John Meade
1858 - 1932

I would like to add, in smaller letters below:The John Meade Falkner Society This will mean, of course, it will be a bit more expensive - say Pounds 200 - 210.

Thanks to a most generous donation by a member, of Pounds 1OO, we are already half way there. This is our first appeal - to both members and anyone else reading this Newsletter on the Internet. Any cheques to be made payable to The John Meade Falkner Society. They will all be formally acknowledged. PLEASE give generously.

When I visited Fleet, Dorchester, Buckland Ripers and Manningford Bruce in August, I took several photographs of the various JMF sites. Kathleen Falkner also kindly sent prints of both churches in Fleet. If members are visiting places such as Burford, Durham, Weymouth and other related JMF sites - and have cameras with them - I would be grateful for copies of any photographs they take. I am building up quite a Society archive as it is and would like to add to it where possible.

Internet links:

When I used the YAHOO search engine for John Meade Falkner last August, it found 291 Web Pages with his name.

Many of the other sites simply mention him in passing. However, there are a few helpful and, in one case, unusual, links.

Sandro Caparrini, from Orbassano in Northern Italy, got in touch with me in November to say that Chapter 2 of Moonfleet - the episode of the noises from the vault under the church - brought back memories of a similar story, told by E.F. Russell in his Great World Mysteries (1962, Chapter 7) as if it were true. It was supposed to have taken place in 1844, in the small town of Arensburg in Germany. Sandro was also reminded of Lt. R.T. Gould's Oddities (1928, Chapter II). Thank you, Sandro.

World's Classics
None of The World's Classics paperback versions of JMF's three novels are now in print. This is a poor state of affairs - keep asking for them at your local bookshops - this might persuade the OUP to reprint them.

Tartarus Press
This firm, run by one of our members - Ray Russell, is publishing this month The Lost Stradivarius. Ray sends the following information:

The Lost Stradivarius is a fine novel of the macabre, and
very much a product of the 1890s. Hugh Walpole inscribed in his own
copy of the book (previously owned by Thomas Hardy) that Falkner "was
a real abnormal romantic". Also included are two elusive Falkner items,
A Midsummer Night's Marriage and Charalampia.
Introduction by Mark Valentine.
Sewn hardback book of 233 + xvi pages. Pounds 25/$50.

Tartarus Press, Coverley House, Carlton-in-Coverdale, Leyburn, North
Yorkshire, DL8 4AY tel/fax: 01969 640399
Email: tartarus@pavilion.co.uk.
Website: http://freepages.pavilion.net/users/tartarus

Subscriptions to December 2001

Now the Society is firmly up and running, we will have to become a little more formal with "subscriptions." So far, I have received Pounds 5 each from eleven members. In order to be fair to them, I have decided that these will take effect from January 2001 and run until December 2001. I would greatly appreciate it if those of you who have not contributed so far could send the same amount to cover this year's sub. I am keeping a careful tally of all expenditure and will send out a Balance Sheet to members with the May Newsletter. I have kept the donation for the Fleet Church plaque as a separate figure. I do hope this payment will not affect any of you adversely, as it is only levied to pay for paper, inkjet, printing, postage/e:mail costs. If the Society gets much bigger, then we will have a separate Treasurer, if members think this is the next stage. I am presently putting money in a Nationwide Building Society Account denoted "The John Meade Falkner Society".

Articles and The Journal

Accompanying this Newsletter is an article by Peter Davey - "Accident or Foul Play?" This is the first of two studies by Peter on The Nebuly Coat; the second of which I have already been privileged to read and which will be one of the articles in this summer's Journal. In future, I would be glad to print members' letters in Newsletters, particularly if they have comments on the Society's articles. Of course, articles themselves are always very welcome. I have hopes of others from Edward Wilson on one of JMF's poems, Michael Morello's research on The Lost Stradivarius, Christopher Hawtree on JMF in Reference Books and Raymond Moody on JMF and Burford Church. I am also still tinkering with an idea of exploring JMF's links with Derbyshire. I await.

The New Year I expect we will agree to differ on when the Millennium started, but we can all join in celebrating JMF's poem on the subject of a change in the year. Those of you who have a copy of his Poems will already have read what follows. I have not transcribed it in full.

New Year, 1892
TO M. D. N.

MY Lady in that midnight hour
When the year faints and dies,
Magicians spoke the word of power
And bade the curtain rise.

The curtain of the future rise
On all that unseen play,
Which each of us or vain or wise
Must act as best he may.

But we, I wot, less hopeful grown,
Might scarcely brook to see,
The unknown record open thrown
Of what our role shall be.

But rather trust that He whose pen
Our parts has written there
Will give us strength to act like men,
To plan, to do, to bear....

.... And borne upon the tremulous air
A sad soft melody swells,
The voice of valedictory prayer,
The song of muffled bells.
The muffled peal a mournful sound
That tells his race is run,
The grave is digged, the shroud is wound
For dying '91....

Keep all the hearts you love from ill,
Keep your friends staunch and true,
Health, wealth and honour bring you still
In 1892.

Best wishes for 2001 to all readers.

Kenneth Hillier

Greenmantle, Main Street, Kings Newton, Melbourne, Derbyshire DE73 1BX
Tel.: 01332 865315
E-mail: moonfleet@greenmantle63.freeserve.co.uk

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