Sunday, December 25, 2011

G. S. Tancred

G. S. Tancred (b. Christchurch, New Zealand, 19 October 1868; d. Kensington, London, 8 February 1959)

Gwendoline Sybil Tancred was the second of six children of Sir Thomas Selby Tancred (1840-1910), a railway and mining engineer, after 1880 the 8th Baronet of Boroughbridge in the County of York, and Mary Harriet Hemans (1846-1918). Gwendoline had one older sister, two younger sisters and two younger brothers. Her family moved back to England when she was young, and Gwendoline was educated at Fauconberg House, the Cheltenham Ladies’ College in Gloucestershire. Of her sisters, Edith Mary Tancred (1873-1953) was active in the women’s police service.  Her brother Thomas Selby Tancred (1870-1945) became the 9th Baronet. He married the eldest daughter of Sir John Grant Lawson, the 1st Baronet of Knavesmire, and in 1914 assumed by deed poll the name Sir Thomas Selby Lawson-Tancred.  Her other brother Francis Willoughby Tancred (1874-1925), dabbled in poetry, and was a member of the Poets’ Club established by T. E. Hulme.  As F.W. Tancred, he published a single, slim volume Poems in 1907. 

 G. S. Tancred also published a single book, an anthology of poetry, Realities: An Anthology of Verse (Leeds: At the Swan Press, London: Gay and Hancock Limited, 1927), which is most notable for the inclusion of an original poem “The Nameless Land” by J. R. R. Tolkien (reprinted, for those interested in reading it, in The Lost Road, pp. 98-100, published in 1987). A slim book of only 32 pages, it contains 21 poems (plus verse by the editor used as epigram).  Compiled as a benefit anthology for the Queen’s Hospital for Children in Hackney, Bethnal Green.  The hospital had originally been founded under another name by two Quaker sisters in 1867, becoming the Queen’s Hospital for Children in 1907.  In 1942 it amalgamated with another hospital to become Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital for Children, operating until 1996 when services were moved elsewhere and the buildings left vacant. Realities is dedicated by Tancred to her nephews and nieces; she never married.

The Swan Press was a small publishing outfit run in Leeds from 1922 through 1929 by S[ydney] Matthewman (1902-1970), whose father ran a printing firm.  Many of the five or so dozen publications that issued from the Swan Press were poetry collections, often written by Matthewman himself or some of his friends; some of the chapbooks had very small limitations. Many names recur in the various little collections, like Wilfred Rowland Childe, Alberta Vickridge, Lorna Keeling Collard, Lady Margaret Sackville, Albert Wainwright (for art and decorations), and even J. R. R. Tolkien.  In Realities, there are two poems by S. Matthewman, two by Alberta Vickridge, and one each by Wilfred Rowland Childe, and Margaret Sackville.  As "Gwendoline S. Tancred" the editor contributed three poems (plus the epigrammatical verse).  Other better-known contributors include Oliver St. John Gogarty, L.A.G. Strong, and Evelyn Underhill.  The poem by G.K. Chesterton is reprinted from his volume Poems (1915). Several of the Swan Press volumes issued in 1927 and 1928 were co-published with the London firm Gay and Hancock. 

The frontispiece (no artist is credited) illustrates the editor's epigrammatical poem, which reads in part:
Now wireless with music the world has united
     To England, Dominions, and Youth,
May the earth by our words, our deeds, and our writings,
     Be ringed by Love, Beauty and Truth.  

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