Date Published: 1888 to 1940
Binding: No binding
John Coulson Kernahan was an English novelist, essayist, poet and editor. He also served as the copy-editor of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891). Kernahan’s wife, Jeanie Gwynne Bettany (née Mary Jean Hickling Gwynne), was a prolific novelist who often wrote under the name, Mrs. Coulson Kernahan
The collection is comprised of 33 letters dating from 1888 to 1940.
33 letters - Autographed Letters Signed (ALS) & Type Letters Signed (TLS):
• 10 ALS and 3 TLS, approximately 23 pp., various sizes and addresses, 20 April 1888 to 7 February 1940, from different literary or historical figures to Kernahan. Most letters rather foxed; several with tape at margins; some edgewear, together with one envelope (signature cut away) addressed to Kernahan in an unknown hand.
The correspondents include:
Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930; prime minister of England and philosopher), TLS, 1 August 1911, marked “private”, offering thanks for “your letter” and “its kind terms, which have given me much pleasure." -Charles Garvice (1850-1920; prolific, best-selling English writer of romance novels who also used the female pseudonym Caroline Hart), ALS, 17? March 1902, he is thinking of leaving his publisher, Sands: “It was so good of you to speak of my books as you did… but for you 'Just a Girl' might not have come to England!”
-W.L. George (1882-1926; French-born English journalist, chiefly known for his fiction, which included feminist, pacifist, and pro-labor themes), 2 ALS, 12th and 15th of June, “I return `In Good Company’ and thank you for having given me the opportunity to read it; the Swinburne part is most interesting….” “I was pleased and flattered to have your long letter, flattered let me say that a man of long and honourable literary regards should think it worth while to read so closely these essays written mainly for my won pleasure.”
-Winifred Graham (1873-1950; popular English novelist), ALS, 9 October, re her serial, “You are angelic, & so prompt!”
-Richard Kearton (1862-1928; British naturalist and manger of the publicity department of Cassell & Co.), ALS, 20 February 1903, thanking Coulson for his letter, understands why Coulson was not at home, “However boastful it may sound I think I may honestly assert that your friend Kearton is too sensible to look at the matter in any other than the right light.”
-Bart Kennedy (1861-1930; English novelist, memoirist and journalist), ALS at Coulson at Ward, ock & Co. Limited, 28 July 1904, “I'd be awfully obliged if I could get a decision on 'Slavery' today.”
-H.A. Kennedy (1885-1905; artist, designer, and writer). ALS, 18 May 1892, thanking Coulson for his kind letter and appreciative consideration of his manuscripts.
George Washington Moon (1823-1909; English writer and poet), ALS, 20 April 1888, sending thanks “for so faithfully criticizing my friend’s poem.”
-Thomas Seccombe (1866-1923; English literary scholar and biographer), ALS, 4 November 1904, letterhead of Archibald Constable & Company Ltd., saying he has “just heard from Professor Maitland of Downing College, Cambridge & he expresses the keenest desire to see the [Leslie] Stephen letters.”
-Captain Frank H. Shaw (1878-1960; prolific English novelist, the “Captain Marryat of modern boy's fiction”), TLS, 7 February 1940, saying that Coulson is an authority of literature “not the pot-boiling stuff that I write!”, mentions that his brother-in-law has written a long poem in blank verse, Shaw’s two sons in the RAF, no word from Britten Austin for ages.
Percy White (1852-1938; English writer, novelist), ALS, 7 December 1897, “I shall not forget so pleasant a prospect. I am coming up from Brighton tomorrow….”
• ALS addressed Dear Sir, 10 November 1900, responding in a jocular fashion to a request for an autograph. “You are quite welcome to my autograph - as long as you don't ask for it at the front of a cheque.” He apologizes for not replying to the “first letter”: “Let me make amends by sending this by return of post.” Signed “Autographically | Yours, | Coulson Kernahan”.
• 9 ALS and 2 TLS (18 pp.) to the author Cecil Starr Johns, with 9 TL (unsigned) from Johns to Kernahan, 1927-30, mainly on literary connections. Most of Kernahan’s letters have the year added in pencil in another hand, of the other two letters without a year, one (from Fawndene) is dated 2 January ; and the other (from Frognal) has no date at all [January 1928?]. The following extracts give a taste of this gossipy correspondence. In the undated letter, he writes that he is “sad about Hardy whom I knew. And poor Jerome K Jerome”). The correspondence is also of interest for Kernahan's comments on the poets Philip Bourke Marston (1850-1887, whose executor Kernahan was, and Stephen Phillips (1864-1915), and for his account of the dinner in honour of Sir James and Lady Roberts, on the occasion of their gifting Haworth Parsonage to the nation. The earliest letter, dated 2 January , concerns a tribute by Johns to Phillips, with Kernahan beginning: “I believe you are the writer of the beautiful, and finely, fearlessly true (some of us are too nervous to speak God's truth, lest some little carper cries!) description in the Outlook of Stephen Phillips exquisitely beautiful rendering of poetry.” He asks permission to name Johns as the author, and discusses Phillips’s work, concluding with a recollection of his last conversation with the poet, which concerned the progress of the war: “`Are we winning through? Or are we bound to win through Jack?’ he asked `Is the news good to-day?’ `We are winning dear old man slowly. It is true and at terrible cost, I fear, but winning, winning, winning, Stephen, to dead certainty.’ I said. `Thank God!’ he said with his heart”. On 21 May 1927, Kernaghan writes that Phillips was “such a lovable man, as well as a sincere poet”. Later in the letter, after responding to commendation of his own work, he reports that the previous day he “had tea with a friend [Sir James Roberts] who knew Charlotte Brontë & is the anonymous donor who has bought her old home & presented it to the Trustee”'. He remarks that “Many interesting people live in Hastings. Alas our friend Sir Rider Haggard died not long ago, but Lady Haggard comes to St Leonards. Mrs Andrew Haggard (her sister in law) & the Baroness d'Anethan (her sister) we have among our friends, for the former lives here”. On 28 May 1927, he anticipates with pleasure a meeting with the Johnses, continuing: “Sir Henry Lunn (1859-1939, leading Methodist and founder of Lunn Poly] came up to see me today & to tell me of his many meetings in America whence he has just returned. He returns to the subject of Hastings social life, naming several individuals, before stating that he “had the honour to HR.H (whom I had met previously) at Ore, & was sorry to see him tired looking”. He is glad Johns is “an admirer of de la Mare[.] He writes me that he is only just back from a nursing Home & still something of an invalid”. On 13 August 1928, he thanks him for offering to review his new book Five More Famous Living Poets, while sending a copy of his new book The Garden of God. He reports that he has “been to Yorkshire with our friends & neighbours Sir James & Lady Roberts [Sir James Roberts (1848-1935), industrialist] of Fairlight Hall & Strathallan Castle, Perth. They munificently purchased Charlotte Brontë's old home, Haworth Parsonage, & presented it to the Brontë Society in effect to the nation. On my unworthy self devolved the task of moving the address of thanks. The occurrence was historic, for Sir James saw & with Charlotte Brontë, when he was a lad at school in Haworth where he was born. I lunched with Mr Holland, grandson of Mrs Gaskell & met Capt.”
Collection on consignment with LDRB.
Good. Item #8521