Stratford D. Jolly (b. Scotland, 7 September 1881; d. Mombasa, Kenya, 2 March 1948)
Stratford Dowker Aird Jolly was the only child of Benjamin Stratford Robert Jolly (1856-1915) and Beatrice Jolly, née Williamson (1853-1911), who were married in 1880. He was educated at the Glengarth Boys School in Cheltenham, and at the Westminster School in central London. In autumn 1908 he married Maud Lyndon Bateman (c.1868-1940), and served in the Royal Air Force in France from September 1917 through January 1919. The Soul of the Moor: A Romance of the Occult (London: William Rider & Son, ) was his first book and only novel. His two other books include The Treasure Trail (1934), which recounts Jolly’s treasure hunting in Central and South America, and South American Adventures (1938), which is a condensation of the earlier book. After he returned to England, Jolly married a second time in the spring of 1933, settling around Liverpool, where with his second wife Eileen Margaret Stead (1901-1984) he raised two children. He died at the European Hospital in Mombasa, Kenya, at the age of 66.
The Soul of the Moor, issued by the early twentieth-century’s foremost British publisher of books on esoteric philosophy, mysticism, psychical research, and the occult, is unfortunately not a very good as a specimen of occult romance. The recently wed narrator (whose name is belatedly revealed to be Harvey Langford) is devoted to his wife Lucy, who is oddly afflicted by a debilitating weakness. Langford uses occult hypnotism to put his wife in a deep sleep and to impart to her his vitality. In this deep sleep Lucy’s more knowledgeable soul is able to explain to as well as assist her husband in his various endeavors on her behalf, for she is much higher than her husband on the spiritual ladder of knowledge that everyone must climb. Lucy is haunted by a Moor, who according to Lucy is her “other self” who worships her. There follows various adventures and abductions and chases, after which Lucy is perilously close to death. The Moor suddenly transforms from enemy to loyal friend, and by his superior psychic strength he is able to restore Lucy’s health and sanity, working this miracle even after his death. The novel has some narrative drive but so much of its content is sheer silliness, when it isn’t overfilled with pompous occult explanations, that the reader is left smirking at the spectacle instead of enjoying the show as presented.
NB: A portion of this entry originally appeared in my column “Late Reviews” in Wormwood, no. 14 (May 2010).