Saturday, 13 May 2017

Raymond Sheppard and Gunby Hadath

GUNBY HADATH (1871-1954)

Raymond Sheppard from Boy's Own Paper April 1940
In my first Sheppard blog article I showed a lovely colour cover by Sheppard of a charging tiger. I was wondering what to write about next and realised I haven't returned to Boy's Own Paper (BOP). Collecting magazines like BOP one starts to get to know artists very well but also author names (turn up again and again). One that appears a lot in the issues where Sheppard began illustrating is Gunby Hadath (1871–1954), or John Edward Gunby Hadath as he was christened. He also had pseudonyms, such as John Mowbray, Shepherd [or Shepperd] Pearson, James Duncan, and Felix O’Grady and was born in Owersby, Lincolnshire. Caistor, is also in one account but this is incorrect. However, both towns are roughly eight miles apart so one can understand why this confusion occurs. He began as a journalist, a correspondent for provincial papers, then London correspondent for the Italian press. He also wrote many lyrics to music (five of which are mentioned on the Havergal Brian Society pages as being 'lost') and 46 catalogued in the cooperative WorldCat.  He also wrote a number of songs such as 'Today and Tomorrow' [c1895-6], 'At Candlelight', 'Without You' and 'Song of Betrothal' and his most lasting, "Down the vale"

Raymond Sheppard Boy's Own Paper July 1938, p. 492

However he is best known for his public school stories as well as his adventure stories (as was another name seen with Hadath, Percy F. Westerman - more on him another day!). The British Library, at a very quick glance, lists 67 books with annuals, compilations etc, attributed to him and I suspect there's a lot more. Some sites quote 100 titles. If we add the "Pamela" series of books written under his female pseudonym, Florence Gunby Hadath (his wife's name, thus causing a lot of confusion for bibliophiles!) we easily get a bigger total and that leaves out all the short stories that were not reprinted in book form! He wrote "in periodicals such as ChumsHappy Mag., and The Captain". From: He also had stories serialized in The Children's Newspaper.

He was athletic, and Captain of his school, St. Edmund's Canterbury and won College Colours for cricket, rugby and soccer at Peterhouse College, Cambridge University and was awarded his Master of Arts on January 16, 1896 (see Times 17 Jan. 1896, p.6). He followed a sporting career until his trial for Paignton Rugby Club when he had an accident which put paid to his sporting career.  He became Senior Classical Mas­ter at the Guildford Grammar School *.

Raymond Sheppard Boy's Own Paper July 1938, p. 494
"Planting his feet, he stationed himself in front of her, gripping his stick"

The Musical Times (1 August 1900 p.528) contains an appeal and update on a collection for Signor Piccolomini "the well known song composer, is, we are sorry to learn, seriously and distressingly ill. He is sixty-six years of age and, through the misfortunes of ill-health and failing powers, he is unfortunately without means. As his wife and her three young children are totally unprovided for, a fund has been started with a view of procuring a livelihood for Madame Piccolomini and her little ones, and of providing a home for her husband should he become sufficiently restored to be able to return to it. Nine donations already received, amounting to forty-two guineas, have given the fund a good impetus, and further subscriptions will be gratefully received and acknowledged by Mr. Gunby Hadath, 39, Chichele Road, Cricklewood, N.W" In the same year, he played cricket for the Authors against the Publishers at Lord's in 1911 and 1912 as well as appearing in a charity match for W. Strutt-Cavell's XI against XVIII of Twickenham in 1900.

Boy's Own Paper April 1940 p.307
"There had slipped out, brushing greasy elbows with him, two men who were whispering together"
After teaching for a while he appears to have been declared bankrupt in 1910. "The bankrupt had been a schoolmaster, the secretary of companies, a director of companies and journalist and since 1896 had earned between £1,300 and £1,400 by song-writing" The Times of February 11 1910 goes on to say "the bankrupt stated his failure was due to him having lost £1,985 17s 5d. through speculating on the Stock Exchange". In July (29th) that year it was further reported that despite clearing a lot of the outstanding debt the Registrar suspended the discharge for two years.

I like to think this is what prompted Gunby Hadath to start writing stories about his happier (?) times as a schoolmaster. Jack Cox writes in his history of BOP (Take a Cold Tub, Sir!) "His first story, "Buffle's Brolly" was published by Hutchinson in [...] 1909-10 and his last, "The decent old bird", was written for me [as Editor] in late 1953"

Boy's Own Paper April 1940 p.308-309
"Within the space of a breath the reptile had moved and wound its coils 
into a spiral, with neck extended and vicious head reared and swaying"
He also wrote to the Observer (February 18, 1923) requesting that London be given a "cleaning and painting" in honour of Sir Christopher Wren's bi-centennial
A somewhat unusual distinction has just come the way of Mr. Gunby Hadath, the writer for young people, who has been presented with the Freedom of St. Gervais-les-Bains, in Savoy, at the foot of Mont Blanc. Mr. Hadath resides on Mont Blanc during the summer months, and his "St. Palfry's Cross," which depicts the neighbourhood, has sold largely in America and Scandanavia, and is now being translated into French by Madame de Sailly.  From:P-P, De V. (1933), "Words confused and misused", The Bookman, vol. 83, no. 497, pp. 445.
Boy's Own Paper April 1940 p.308-309
"With the eerie sensation of being under inspection 
Michael called up that he had come in search of a room"
In the Collector's Digest March 1954 (Vol 8:87, pp62-63) a tribute appeared for Hadath:
There recently died Gunby Hadath who for a great many years was. in the front rank of authors for boys. He was particularly popular with his school stories. He started to write for "The Captain" in 1909 and continued to do so until its end in 1924. Later he wrote for "Chums". Practically all his serials were afterwards published in book form. Probably his best known story was "Sparrow in Search of Expulsion."
In his youth he was a well known cricket and rugger player. He rose to the rank of major in the First World War. He also wrote many popular lyrics, including "Down the Vale," which had a great vogue. I well remember a busker who used to sing it outside the old Bradford Empire 40 years ago. It was apparently the only song he knew. 
In a tribute which appeared in "The Times" Feb. 1st, "A.S.M." said he was in Gunby Hadath's form at a private school in Devon, where he was an assistant master just down from Cambridge. They started a friendship, which lasted right to Hadath's death. He concludes: "Of irrepressible vivacity and high spirits, come weal or woe, he was one of those usually dreadful people who are "hearty" at breakfast, that meal at which the characteristic Englishman sits dourly over his newspaper glowering upon all who make chatter, much less joke - but not upon old Gunby. I have known him burst into such a glum assembly wearing a bowler hat, boxing gloves, and Father Christmas white beard. With his passing much laughter has gone out of the lives of all who knew him; profoundest sadness descended upon his wife, who, alone able to read his handwriting, typed all his inimitable school stories and upon her twin sister, long time matron at Dulwich, who joined with them to make the happiest trio to which I have had the privilege of admission."
Gunby Hadath lived at Cricklewood but spent winter in the French Alps for many years. He must have been in his early eighties at the time of his death.
The Times 18 January 1954, (p. 8) announce his death and the following day a fuller obituary appeared in which it states he died at 82 years of age and was born on April 30 1871

MR. GUNBY HADATH whose contributions to the Boy's Own Paper and other publications of a similar nature will be recalled, died on Sunday in hospital in London at the age of 82, as briefly reported yesterday.
John Edward Gunby Hadath was born on April 30, 1871, the son of the late Rev. E. E. Hadath, sometime rector of Owersby, Lincolnshire. He was educated at St. Edmund's School, Canterbury, and Peterhouse. Cambridge, and began his career as a schoolmaster. His gift for clear exposition was soon manifested in writing, and he was able in due course to give up the classroom and transfer his work to the study, so that in time his name became one of the best known and best loved of those who aim to instruct as well as entertain youth. Many of his numerous stories appeared in serial form in the Boy's Own Paper,and were later republished as books to delight many generations of boys to whom Brent of Gatehouse, Last of his Line, Outlaws of St. Martyn's, Won by a Try and Schoolboy Grit have been household words for years. Besides his articles and stories, he wrote a number of lyrics, the best known of which is "Down the Vale" which in its musical setting had many years of popularity, and he also wrote for the theatre. For some years past he had divided his time between this country and France and since 1932 had been a Citoyen d'Honneur of the Commune of St. Gervaise-les-Bains, Haute Savoie.He married Florence Annie, the youngest daughter of the late William Webber, who survives him.
Let's get started with the Sheppard illustrated stories. The first I've found is "The mountain's dread hour" by Gunby Hadath (Boy's Own Paper July 1938). The two illustrations (shown above) are of a mountain eagle and it attacking two people on a ledge. All the other illustrations here are from Boy's Own Paper April 1940, Sheppard drew images to accompany Hadath's story "In search of a kingdom". Both stories are based on Hadath's experiences in the mountains of France.

Boy's Own Paper April 1940 p.315
NEXT: More of "In search of a kingdom"
* A lot of the early biography is adapted from Leonard M. Allen's article in The Story Book Collector No 33 January 1949