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"The Dandy" - a Novel in a Nutshell by Jan Gordon, 1915

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"The Sketch" of Wednesday 31st March 1915 contains a "Novel In A Nutshell" by Jan Gordon. This was written before his February departure for Serbia to serve with Dr. James Berry. I had not come across this before.


THE DANDY. By JAN GORDON.

THE infernal drumming of guns, which had died down at night fall, broke out again with the glimmer of the new dawn: gun-smoke smeared dirty finger-marks across the purity of the reddening sky, and, in the growing light, the mountain-tops seemed all afire, as though their very stones were smouldering. In the gloomy valleys, bursting shrapnel spotted the forests with sudden transient growths, like gigantic dandelion-heads, instantly dissipated by the morning breeze.

Crouching in a ditch which had been their shelter during the night, the piou-pious waited tensely. Marchand, the Lieutenant, a few paces to the rear, leaned on his sword, glancing backward from time to time at the cannon-smoke which drifted slowly up behind him. The co…

Cora Josephine Turner and the Buxton Amateur Orchestral Society 1901

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Cora Josephine Turner (1879-1950), later Cora Gordon, was a keen amateur musician.

A report in the Buxton Advertiser of Saturday April 27th, 1901, gave the programme for the Friday night performance of the Buxton Amateur Orchestral Society and noted that Miss Turner was a violin soloist. She played "Il Trovatore." The concert "was attended by the elite of Buxton society." A portion of the proceeds from the concert were given to the Buxton District Nursing Association.

Born in Buxton in 1879, Cora was 22 at the time. A year later, she became a student of Fine Art Anatomy at the Slade School of Art and studied here until 1906. She appears in a 1905 photograph of the annual Slade Strawberry Picnic.

On finishing her course at the Slade she moved to Paris where she met fellow English artist Jan Gordon. They were married on July 7th 1909 at the Parish Church of Saint Luke, Chelsea. Jan Gordon's 1927 "A Girl in the Art Class" is at least loosely based on the…

Jan Gordon's "fine little etchings" in the 1911 London Salon

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The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Monday 31 July 1911, carries a review of the London Salon, including a rare early mention of Jan Gordon's etchings in the last paragraph.

"THE LONDON SALON (From Our Art Critic.) 

The real Academy—l am writing to those who think the Academy representative of modem effort and therefore worthy of consideration —is the London Salon of the Allied Artists’ Association at the Albert Hall. Perhaps I should say it is the real Academy in germ rather than in achievement, for though Mr. Pryde’s ‘Souvenir of Costume Ball” is one of the most expressive works in the main gallery, many of our men who count equally with Mr. Pryde have not yet entered this company. But the Salon gets rid of the great curse of the Academy, rules and the dead hand of tradition. Any artist can show work he himself thinks worthy ; and to a serious artist liberty does not often interpret itself as licence to be foolish. Much of the work here is poor; most of it sincere; the Society’s…

A Cecil Beaton Book Cover for a 1928 Book, "When The Cook is Away"

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A very rare example of a 1928 book just arrived. It was written by my grandmother and is complete with an intriguing piece of cover art by Cecil Beaton, the first copy of the book with this cover I have come across.

Doris Ives Smith (1888-1951) was a writer, using the name Catherine Ives. In addition to many magazine articles she wrote two well-known cookery books, of which this one, "When The Cook Is Away," was the first.


Cecil Beaton cover of the 1928 first edition of "When The Cook Is Away"


"When The Cook Is Away," published in 1928, was ".. intended to come to the rescue of people whose kitchens have been deprived of their cooks and who know nothing about cooking themselves." The original design for the book cover, by Cecil Beaton, was auctioned in 2006. After my own heart, wine features as an ingredient in many of the recipes.

"Good Meals For Hard Times" was published in 1940, with an emphasis on economy and cheerfulness. She wrot…

"There's Death in the Churchyard" 1934, by Jan Gordon Alias "William Gore"

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I had missed the re-release of "There's Death in the Churchyard" on November 22nd 2015 by Black Heath Editions. This makes what was a very rare book much more widely accessible.

Their blurb is as follows:
"During a particularly eventful village church service, entrepreneur Ponderby Jonson is murdered. With his dying breath, Jonson accuses his host - the local Squire, Captain Stoyner - of killing him. As the evidence against the Squire begins to mount, the Vicar and his family determine to do everything they can to prove his innocence and discover the real culprit. As discreetly as possible, of course...

First published in 1934, this is a delightful village murder mystery from the golden age of crime fiction."

Dorothy Sayers’ contemporary review in The Sunday Times can be seen here. She wrote, "I give Mr Gore full marks for atmosphere and entertainment value, with a special distinction for one quaint device which he has worked into the solution."





This …

"Two Happy Vagabonds" - Pall Mall Gazzette 1922

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The Pall Mall Gazette of Thursday 12th October 1922 has a cheerful small segment (in GOSSIP - GRAVE AND GAY By JOHANNA) on Jan and Cora Gordon under the heading of "Two Happy Vagabonds".

"Those two inveterate roamers round the world Jan and Cora Gordon. have been tramping in Spain again with an easel and a paint box and next week Bodley Head, Limited, are bringing out the remit in the shape of a book about their experiences, illustrated by sketches by both of them. I'm looking forward to reading this, as the Gordons are among the few real Bohemians left to us. They have some attics in Bloomsbury and a studio in Paris, and, I rather think, a pied à terre in Prague. You never know where they are, but whenever they turn up everyone is delighted to see them."

I have not come across any other references to a pied à terre in Prague, but perhaps Johanna was thinking of Munich?

Later that month of October, the Pall Mall Gazette carried an article about the Gordons'…