Aside Arthur Conan Doyle: Twenty Original Tales By Bertram Fletcher Robinson by Paul R Spiring (Editor)

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Aside Arthur Conan Doyle: Twenty Original Tales By Bertram Fletcher Robinson by Paul R Spiring (Editor)

Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Van der Kiste
Reviewed by John Van der Kiste
Summary: A collection of short stories by Bertram Fletcher, a contemporary and colleague of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose career was cut short by his premature death.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 246 Date: February 2009
Publisher: MX Publishing
ISBN: 978-1904312529

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The shortlived Bertram Fletcher Robinson is sadly little more than a footnote in British literature. His fame rests largely on having contributed to, and helped to inspire, a couple of Sherlock Holmes stories – and, if you believe the conspiracy theorists, having been bumped off by Conan Doyle for threatening to claim authorship of one of them and denounce Doyle as a fraud. (Don't go there).

This book, published in large (almost A4-size) format, reproduces twenty of his stories, exactly as they originally appeared in journals such as Windsor Magazine, Pearson's Magazine and Cassell's Magazine. One, 'How Mr Denis O'Halloran transgressed his code', is set in England at about the time of Culloden and the exploits of the Young Pretender. Another, 'The Battle of Fingle's Bridge', set on Dartmoor, is a kind of fairy story narrated by a boy who falls asleep on the moor and dreams of a battle between tiny Lilliput-like figures. Yet another, 'The Chronicles of Addington Peace', is a detective story featuring an escaped convict intent on revenge. Some of it takes place at or near the Princetown Inn, which was evidently modelled on the Duchy Hotel at Princetown, now the High Moorland Visitor Centre, where he and Conan Doyle had stayed while researching local background for 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. Why waste a good idea?

At least two other stories appear to be set on the Cornish coast. Conan Doyle meets Daphne Du Maurier. It's no criticism to say these tales are very much of their age, and to some readers may appear somewhat outdated. Nevertheless much the same can be said of any author writing at that time. Some, such as Doyle and Oscar Wilde, are still widely read nowadays; others, like Eden Phillpotts (a prolific novelist and playwright also particularly associated with the westcountry) and Warwick Deeping, are not so well remembered though they still have their followers. Yet Robinson's work has a delightful charm, enhanced by the excellent quality of reproduction of the original pages, complete with those wonderful ornate title headings and illustrations. This really is a book that takes you back in time, as well as one which makes you wonder what he would have gone on to achieve had he not died of typhoid while in his mid-thirties.

Our thanks to MX Publishing for sending us a copy of this delightful volume.

For more in the same vein, why not also try Graphic Classics, Volume 17: Science Fiction Classics by H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle; or for more about the man himself, Bertram Fletcher Robinson: A Footnote to The Hound of the Baskervilles by Brian W Pugh and Paul R Spiring.

Buy Aside Arthur Conan Doyle: Twenty Original Tales By Bertram Fletcher Robinson by Paul R Spiring (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Aside Arthur Conan Doyle: Twenty Original Tales By Bertram Fletcher Robinson by Paul R Spiring (Editor) at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Aside Arthur Conan Doyle: Twenty Original Tales By Bertram Fletcher Robinson by Paul R Spiring (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Aside Arthur Conan Doyle: Twenty Original Tales By Bertram Fletcher Robinson by Paul R Spiring (Editor) at Amazon.com.


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