Monday, November 19, 2012

George Frost

George Frost (b. Clapham, London, 25 August 1857; d. Banstead, Surrey, 23 December 1944)

The British Museum Catalogue attributes three books published as by “George Frost” to Mrs. Octavius Eddison, the mother of fantasist E.R. Eddison.  Closer study of the three volumes show that one, The Troubles of Monsieur Bourgeois (1890), is erroneously attributed to her, and in this instance the pseudonym “George Frost” was used by George E. Vail, an Englishman resident in Paris, and author of L’Art du Patinage (1886). The other two “George Frost” books were certainly authored by Mrs. Eddison.

She was born Helen Louisa Rücker, the fifth of six children of Daniel Henry Rücker (1813-1890), a merchant of colonial produce, and Mary Antoinette Williams (1824-1905), the eldest daughter of a Dublin merchant, who were married in Dublin on 4 November 1847.  Helen had three brothers and two sisters.  Her eldest brother was Arthur William Rücker (1848-1915), who was educated at Oxford and became a distinguished professor of physics at the Royal College of Science, London, and later the first principal of London University from 1901 to 1908.  He was knighted in 1902. 

Helen was apparently educated privately, and she married Octavius Eddison (1850-1916), an Oxford-educated solicitor, at the Holy Trinity Church, Clapham, London, on 2 March 1882.  They settled in Adel, near Leeds, and had two sons, Eric Rücker Eddison (1882-1945), a civil servant and fantasist, and Colin Rücker Eddison (1889-1957), who was for many years active in promoting Christian Science.

Both of Helen Eddison’s books came out the same year, one in the summer and the other in the autumn:  Where Is Your Husband? and Other Brown Studies (London: Thomas Burleigh, [June] 1901), and A Medley Book (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., [November] 1901). Despite her second book appearing from a major London publisher, it is by far the rarer of the two.  Both books are a mix of fiction and meditative essays, with the essays dominating the contents. The first book reprints items from The Leeds Mercury.  A Medley Book contains one novella, “What Mrs. Dunn Knew”, which borders on the fantastic, and could be considered a psychological ghost story. Mrs. Dunn’s friend Margaret loved one man but married another, who, a few years later on his death bed, threatened that he would never allow her to marry again. Over time, Margaret’s relationship with her first love is rekindled, and on the evening of their wedding she is found dead. Margaret left a letter for her friend Mrs. Dunn in explanation, but the interpretation is left open for the reader as to whether Margaret’s haunting was real or merely psychological. The author of the tale did not interest herself in stylistic effects or atmosphere, but primarily in the young woman’s melodrama. Thus the story has a curiously flat tone to it. 

Helen Eddison also published a serial Fate and a Fiddle in The Yorkshire Post Weekly (beginning circa October 1906), and contributed to The Academy, Country Life, and other publications.  Late in life she accompanied her son Colin on trips to the United States for his work on promoting Christian Science.


  1. Very interesting to learn about Eddison's family. Do you know why the elder brother took Rücker as a surname instead of Eddison?

  2. I've reworded the entry slightly to make it clearer that Helen Louisa Rücker was her birth-name, and thus Arthur William Rücker was her brother's birth-name. Thanks for writing.