Wednesday, January 23, 2019

H. Frankish

H. Frankish (b. Kirmington, Lincolnshire, England, 12 March 1873; d. Hampstead, London, 24 June 1918)

The byline "H. Frankish" appeared on only one book, and has long been thought to be a pseudonym, but an entry in The Literary Year-book for 1917 confirms that the author was indeed named H. Frankish.

Harold Frankish was the second son of William John Frankish (1840-1886), a gentleman farmer, and his wife Louisa Ann, née Raven (1849-1914), who were married in 1869 and who settled in Kirmington, Lancashire. He had three brothers and two sisters. 

Harold matriculated at Worcester College, Oxford, in October 1892 (B.A. 1896), and was further educated at Oxford (Bachelor of Medicine, 1900; Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, 1906). He also received the Diploma of Fellow at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1906.  He married Ethel Beatrice Symons in Dunton-Cum-Doughton, Norfolk, on 18 April 1897.  His book was published in 1913, and he died at the North Western Hospital in Hampstead in 1918. His estate of over eight thousand pounds was probated to his youngest brother, Arthur Rupert Frankish (1884-1960).

His single book was Dr. Cunliffe, Investigator (London:  Heath, Cranton & Ouseley, [May 1913]).  It is a collection of seven stories about the titular Dr. Cunliffe, an egotistical Oxford-educated medical doctor who has developed extraordinary physical strength. Cunliffe investigates strange happenings, often assisting Scotland Yard.  The seven adventures are sensational, and mostly science fiction of some sort. In one, a scientist has invented a machine that disintegrates people. In another a strange creature has emerged out of a recently fallen meteorite, and the creature is killing local children. Another story tells of a partial brain transplant from a death-row criminal into an ape's cranium. A contemporary review of the book notes:
"The quality of imagination is not lacking in these rather blood-curdling detective stories, but the author has not troubled greatly about plausibility, and he generally discloses the plot too early. The investigator himself, who relates the adventures, is somewhat pretentious, and the writing is not improved by the frequent use of cliches." The Atheneum, 1913
The publisher Heath, Cranton & Ouseley is believed to have been a vanity press, so the print-run was probably very small, and Dr. Cunliffe, Investigator has been a legendary rarity for many years, particularly among detective fiction collectors.  The short-lived small press Thomas Loring announced in 2006 a forthcoming reprint, but it never appeared. And unfortunately none of the seven stories have ever been anthologized.

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