Thursday, September 16, 2021

Ivo Pakenham

Ivo Pakenham (b. 4 December 1903; d. reg. Brighton, Sussex, July-September 1980)  

His name at birth was registered as "Robert Ivo Raymond Lygon Pakenham," but he evidently always went by Ivo, and usually gave his name as Ivo Robert Raymond Lygon Pakenham.  He was the oldest child of an Irish-born military officer, Captain Robert Edward Michael Pakenham (1874-1915), who served in the Boer War and died in France in the Great War, and his wife, Nancy Fowler (1881-1934), who were married on 12 September 1900. Ivo had a younger brother (who died as an infant) and a younger sister. 

He was educated at Wellington College, and in the mid-1930s gave his occupation as "interior decorator," with his special interests being medieval and classical history, as well as hunting, shooting, British numismatics, heraldry, genealogy, history and travel. He was a long-time friend of Ivy Compton-Burnett, and was known as a knowledgeable antiques dealer in Kensington. He died in a Brighton nursing home at the age of 76, survived by his male partner.

He published only one book, Fanfaronade (London: Rich & Cowan, [September] 1934). It is a time-slip fantasy set in France. It begins in 1928 when a brother and sister go to visit a very old chateau in France. The brother, Lucius, simply disappears from his room, and awakens as a young amnesiac in 1474. The reader follows this man, now called Blaise, for six years, until his memory awakens, after which time an epilogue returns the reader to 1934, where some lost rooms are discovered in the chateau, and there a manuscript is found in Lucius's hand from over four hundred years earlier. The book is dedicated to Pakenham's mother, "who did not live to see it published," dying about six months before the book was published, and to Maurice Lincoln (1887-1962), a "fellow-author," of novels and journalism, without whose "kindly sympathy" Pakenham says he might never have finished the book. 

Pakenham's short forward lists a number of his favorite historical works  that he used as background for the novel, and gives some relevant opinions:

I have quite frankly, for the purposes of my story, emphasised the colour and splendour of the dying Middle Ages, but I hope that I have not shown myself altogether unaware of the other side of the tapestry--of those loose threads of squalor, discomfort and superstition which were such an integral part of a brilliant period. 
     Against that stumbling-block of the historical novelist, the question of dialogue, I have come up in full measure. To use modern language seems to me to be a slovenly way of working, while that of the "cloak and sword" school is unquestionably worse. . . . All I have tried to do, therefore, is to endeavour to catch the cadence and intonation of fifteenth-century speech, in the hope of conveying to the ear some faint impression of what it probably sounded like. 

Pakenham concludes by noting that the poetry at the end of the book was verbally handed down in his mother's family for generations. "It is not known for certain who wrote it, but it has never, to my knowledge, before been published." The lines closely echo the published poem titled "The Falcon" in An Old Story and Other Poems (1868) by Elizabeth D. Cross

The dust-wrapper blurb entices the prospective reader with the following:

The author has painted for us a magnificent picture with a wealth of colour which should entrance even the non-historical reader. On his canvas, courtiers, priests and lovers, banquets, tournaments and pageantry glow against a dark background of treachery and witchcraft, politics and war. . . . There is about Mr. Pakenham's writing a beauty and fineness that mark him out as destined for big things. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Mrs. Richard S. Greenough

Mrs. Richard S. Greenough (b. Boston, Massachusetts, 19 February 1827; d. Franzensbad, Austria [now Františkovy in the Czech Republic], 9 August 1885)

Sarah Dana Loring was the first of several children of William Joseph Loring (1795-1841) and his wife, Anna Thorndike (1804-1872), who were married in Boston in 1825. 

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 26 September 1846, she married Richard Saltonstall Greenough (1819-1904). They had two children, daughter Anna Loring (known as "Nina") Greenough (1847-1897), and son, an artist, Richard Gordon Greenough (1851-1885) 

Her husband was a well-known sculptor, as was his older brother, Horatio Greenough (1805-1852). The Greenoughs split their time between Europe and America, but spent much of the time in Rome. Richard Saltonstall Greenough's best-known work is an eight-foot bronze statue of Benjamin Franklin, erected in 1856, that still stands in front of Boston's Old City Hall. Novelist Henry James was close with several members of the Greenough family, who inspired various characters in his fiction. 

Mrs. Greenough published five books during her lifetime. The first was an anonymous novel, Lilian (Boston, 1863). This was followed by Treason at Home, published in three volumes in London in 1865, as by Mrs. Greenough. It was a sensational novel of mystery and crime. (A one-volume severely abridged pirated version came out from a Philadelphia publisher; a review in March 1873 called it "mutilated" with "pages left out, apparently at random," and concluded it was "a great injustice to the author".)  

With her third book her byline settled into being Mrs. Richard S. Greenough. Arabesques (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1872 [but published in December 1871]) is a collection of four romantic, imaginative stories of knights, goblins, and necromancers. Reviewers compared the stories to works by the German romantics, to Phantastes by George MacDonald, and to Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving. The four tales are each illustrated by a medallion head design, uncredited but by the author's son. The four tales have suitably romantic titles, "Monarè"; "Domitia"; "Apollyona" and "Ombra." (The illustration for "Monarè" also appears on the book's front cover.) E.F. Bleiler thought the book "well-sustained, imaginative; among the best late 19th century fantasies" but that is a generous assessment, as the stories are a bit too pious and predictable and the prose a bit dull. 

Her final novel was In Extremis (1872), which originally appeared as a serial in the Christian Union. It  is described as "the voluntary and unacknowledged sacrifice of a daughter for her parent's sake", noting that "the picture is a sad one, nothing relieving its pathetic sombreness but the touches at the close which show the brilliant hues of the glorious heaven just beyond shining upon the closing hours of Helen" (Harper's New Monthly Magazine, March 1873). Her final book was Mary Magdalene: A Poem (1880). In 1887 it was combined posthumously with two other poems to make up Mary Magdalene and Other Poems.

Mrs. Greenough was buried in Campo Cestio, Rome.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Bertha L. Gunterman

Bertha L. Gunterman in 1968
Bertha L. Gunterman (b. Louisville, Kentucky, 8 May 1886; d. Louisville, Kentucky, 3 October 1975) 

Bertha Lisette Gunterman was the daughter of Peter Anton Gunterman (1842-1898) and his wife, Elizabeth Margaret Jansing (1853-1919), who were married in October 1874. Bertha grew up with one older sister, one older brother, and one younger brother. 

Bertha studied at the University of Louisville between 1911 and 1914, and worked at the Louisville Free Public Library from 1912-1919,  followed by a short stint at the Los Angeles Public Library. For interludes she worked as a bookseller in Berkeley, and in New York City. She joined the publisher Longmans, Green and Company in New York in 1922, and she headed their newly established children's department beginning in 1925. At the time, Longmans, Green was only the fourth publisher to have established their own children's department, the first having been started by Macmillan in 1919. Gunterman ran the department for forty-two years until her retirement in 1967. (In 1961, Longmans, Green had merged with the David McKay Company.) After her retirement she returned to her native Louisville.

Gunterman herself had only three books with her byline. All three came out from Longmans, Green in 1928. In August, her edited version of the 1880 book  Edwy the Fair: The First Chronicle of Aescendune by A.D. Crake, with illustrations by Richard L. Holberg, came out, as did her selection of Tartan Tales from Andrew Lang, eight stories of loyal Scots in the Stuart cause, with illustrations by Mahlon Blaine. Lang's stories were derived from The True Story Book (1893), The Red True Story Book (1895), and The Red Book of Heroes (1909). The third book, which came out in September, was her most significant: Castles in Spain and Other Enchantments: Spanish Legends and Romances, with illustrations by Mahlon Blaine. Gunterson had long been interested in Spanish fantasy, and though she spoke no Spanish, she would take a friend with her to the New York Public Library to translate stories as she worked her way through some Spanish originals. The book contains some sixteen folktales.

It is Gunterman's work as a publisher for which she is best remembered. In late 1925, Padraic Colum, who had come to America from Ireland in 1914,  told her excitedly of some writings by Ella Young, a fellow Irish writer who had just arrived in America. This led Gunterman to pursue Young's works, and she published successfully The Wonder-Smith and His Son (1927), illustrated by Boris Artzybasheff; The Tangle-Coated Horse (1929), illustrated by Vera Bock; and The Unicorn with Silver Shoes (1932), illustrated by Robert Lawson. Each book went through a number of printings. In 1945 she published Young's autobiography, Flowering Dusk: Things Remembered Accurately and Inaccurately. And it was through Ella Young that Gunterman came to publish Book of the Three Dragons (1930) by Kenneth Morris, illustrated by Ferdinand Huszti Horvath.

Gunterman also worked with Frances Jenkins Olcott on a series of Wonder Tales, comprising Wonder Tales from China Seas (1925), illustrated by Dugald Stuart Walker; Wonder Tales from Windmill Lands (1926), illustrated by Herman Rosse; Wonder Tales from Pirate Isles (1927), illustrated by Herman Rosse; Wonder Tales from Baltic Wizards (1928), illustrated by Victor G. Candell; Wonder Tales from Fairy Isles (1929), illustrated by Constance Whittemore; and Wonder Tales from Goblin Hills (1930), illustrated by Harold Sichel.  Another book of special interest is Merriam Sherwood retelling of The Cid as The Tale of the Warrior Lord (1930), illustrated by Henry C. Pitz.