Wednesday 6 November 2013

Jeffery Farnol: Not a Morning Person

The other night - or rather in the small hours of the other morning - I became dozily aware that a swashbuckling drama was being enacted on Radio 4 Extra. It was a corker too - a full-on melodramatic pirate adventure set on the Spanish Main, with lashings of romance and strife and smiting of villainous dogs. What on earth is this, I wondered, and listened on fascinated - after all, it's not often you come across such stuff on the radio these days. At the end I discovered that it was a dramatisation (dating, susprisingly, from a mere five years ago) of Martin Conisby's Vengeance by Jeffery Farnol. There's an amusing review of the novel (a sequel to Black Bartlemy's Treasure) here...
  Jeffery Farnol. There's a name that's a regular presence on the charity bookshop shelves (and nowhere much else) - The Broad Highway, The Money Moon, The Amateur Gentleman... Wikipedia describes Farnol as the co-founder, with Georgette Heyer, of the Regency romantic genre - which is odd, as Farnol (born 1878) was already an established bestselling author before Heyer had published anything. And now quite forgotten (unlike Georgette Heyer, who is still read and valued).
  This blog is in danger of becoming a refuge for forgotten authors - most of them deservedly forgotten - but it's always heartening to muse on how the perceived giants of one age can be headed for oblivion in the next. The portrait of Jeffery Farnol in Wikipedia is pretty dry, but he seems to have been - at least in his younger years - quite as rambunctious as his heroes. There's a vivid account of him by his younger brother Eward here. I particularly like this detail:
He who had always been a sunny tempered and happy fellow, became gloomy and quite beastly tempered before he had had his breakfast in the morning so that no one--not even Mother--could say a word to him without being swamped by his rage and nasty sayings. Alas this failing stayed with him through his life. After he had eaten and smoked his first pipe the gloom would pass away and he became his normal self again. Never once did I hear him offer any apology to anyone. He seemed to think it quite part of normal life. '
Clearly not a morning person, our Jeffery.

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