Veterans: The Faces of World War II

Ichiro Sudan trained to be a kamikaze…

Roscoe Brown was a commander in the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviators.

Charin Singh, a farmer from Delhi, spent seven years as a Japanese prisoner of war and was not sent home until four years after the war ended.

Uli John lost an arm serving in the German army but ultimately befriended former enemy soldiers as part of a network of veterans-people who fought in the war and know what war really means.

These are some of the faces and stories in the remarkable Veterans, the outcome of a worldwide project by Sasha Maslov to interview and photograph the last surviving combatants from World War II.

Soldiers, support staff and resistance fighters candidly discuss wartime experiences and their lifelong effects in this unforgettable, intimate record of the end of a cataclysmic chapter in world history and tribute to the members of an indomitable generation.Veterans is also a meditation on memory, human struggle and the passage of time.

The following is an extract from Veterans: Faces of World War II.


Ken Smith

Portsmouth, England

Veteran Ken Smith

My name is Ken Smith. I was born on April 12, 1922, in Portsmouth. My parents were very religious. I was in the dockyard choir. I left school at thirteen. I worked on houses. I used to make flights of stairs until the war, when timber became so scarce the government commandeered all of it.

I remember the day the war broke out. I was in church that day. At eleven, Chamberlain was going to make an announcement. I ran home. I remember him saying, “We are at a state of war.” We were told to be ready for air raids. The first thing I did, I went down to the bottom of the garden and dug a big trench about eight feet long. I was there the whole day, expecting an air raid that night. But during the night, it rained heavily. I couldn’t stay there. The next morning it was filled up with water.

I loved football, and a friend of mine said, “Join the Royal Marines; you’ll get plenty of football.” I joined when I was eighteen. I did six months of training near Dover, where we expected the invasion to begin. Every night we used to stand on the beaches. When the invasion didn’t happen, I was moved to Plymouth. I passed two naval gunnery courses and was sent up on a ship in Newcastle, HMS Manchester.


Haku Kikuchi

Tsukuba-Shi, Japan

Veteran Hakushu Kikuchi

I was born in the Ibaraki Prefecture on June 10, 1929. I was born into a family of farmers; I didn’t find much difficulty in getting food. Generally, the quality of life was low in Japan. It must have been hard for others. My father was a fisherman before he was married. He sailed on a big ship, traveling all over the world, to America and Great Britain. He married a woman from the next town over. I was the fourth of six children and the only boy. We mostly farmed when we were young. The other men in the area went on to be soldiers. I began training in 1941, in Kashima city, at twelve years old. I was young. I wanted to help out Japan. I had no fear of death. We had been taught that we should be honoured to die for the country. Everyone was brainwashed. We all thought it was noble to die for Japan. So I applied to become a child pilot when I turned fourteen.


Read more from these incredible stories, plus stories from 48 more veterans, in Sasha Maslov’s Veterans: Faces of World War II. 

Veterans

Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers

Power to the People

Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers by Stephen Shames and Bobby Seale

The following is an extract from Power to the People by Stephen Shames and Bobby SealePower to the People contents page

What Was the Black Panther Party?

The Black Panther Party was a revolutionary political organisation. Although its members were leaders of the Black Power movement, they were not black nationalists. Their “black pride” was not based on denigrating whites, but on showing the black community how to take control of its own destiny. The Black Panther Party worked for economic justice and power for all people.

Bobby Seale explains, “The Black Panther Party was an ‘All Power to All the People!’ organisation. It was a powerful grassroots activist organisation that formed coalitions seeking to further our civil human rights and achieve real freedom and justice for all the people. These were the political revolutionary objectives of my Black Panther Party.”

In their landmark book, Black against Empire, Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr. wrote:
What is unique and historically important about the Black Panther Party is specifically its politics. . . . They created a movement with the power to challenge established social relations. . . . From 1968 through 1970, the Black Panther Party made it impossible for the U.S. government to maintain business as usual, and it helped create a far-reaching crisis for U.S. society. . . . At the center of their politics was the practice of armed self-defense against the police. . . . The Panthers’ politics of armed self-defense gave them political leverage, forcibly contesting the legitimacy of the American political regime.{2}

Many scholars have characterised the Black Panther Party as the most influential black movement organisation of the late 1960s. Professor Judson L. Jeffries has called the Panthers “the most effective black revolutionary organisation in the 20th century.”{3} Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Héctor Tobar called the organisation a “serious political and cultural force” and “a movement of intelligent, explosive dreamers.”{4}

Power to the People internal spread

 

The Legacy of the Panthers

The Panthers remain cult heroes today, a half century after their founding. They left a legacy of hope to black people in America—both youth and adults. Their courage, discipline, and dedication to serving the community continue to inspire.

Their survival programs provided a model for political action. We can thank the Panthers for shaming the federal government into action by feeding tens of thousands of children while the richest nation in the history of the world let them go hungry. The Panthers’ Free Breakfast for Children Program preceded the government’s school breakfast and lunch programs.

Many of the free medical clinics they started are still operating today. The Panthers were among the first to bring national attention to sickle-cell anemia, a disease that primarily affects black people.

The Panthers founded their own school to educate children of Panthers. Their charter school was cited as excellent by the California State Legislature and became a model in poor communities.

The Panthers’ efforts for community control of the police, including their failed referendum to establish such control in Berkeley, paved the way for community policing.

The Panthers electrified a generation of black youth. The Black Panther Party gave purpose to aimless, angry young people who loitered on street corners. The Panthers molded them into disciplined, hard workers who served their community and showed respect for their mothers, fathers, and elders in general. The Panthers provided a model for how to reach these disaffected kids. By comparison, our underfunded, piecemeal efforts to reach youth today often end in failure.

The Panthers were ahead of most of their contemporaries in regards to equality for women and gay rights. As Ericka Huggins observes:
Another thing that is part of the legacy of the Black Panther Party is that we were not afraid to look at race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. All of it. Huey wrote in support of the woman’s movement and the gay liberation movement. Who the heck—what black man, what white man, what any man was talking like that in 1970? Huey talked about it in terms that anybody could understand. We had our own gender issues, not so much sexual, but gender issues within the Black Panther Party. But, we worked that too. We really were ahead in terms of thinking and acting. {10}

The Panthers’ voter registration drives and Bobby Seale’s unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 1973 led to the election of Oakland’s first black mayor four years later. Even before that, Huey Newton’s 1968 Peace and Freedom Party campaign led to Ron Dellums’s election to Congress in 1970. Dellums finished his illustrious career in the House of Representatives as chairman, and then-ranking member (senior Democrat), on the Armed Services Committee. The number of elected African American officials at all levels nationwide in 1968 numbered in the hundreds. Today, tens of thousands of black elected and appointed officials serve our nation, including the president of the United States, the attorney general, and sheriffs in Mississippi and Alabama. Numerous former Panthers have held elected office in the United States, including Charles Barron (New York City Council, then New York State Assembly), Nelson Malloy (Winston-Salem City Council), and Bobby Rush (House of Representatives, from Illinois).

Power to the People internal spread

This Book

Bobby and I created this book with the future in mind. We believe that a look back at the role of the Black Panther Party during the turbulent 1960s will help us better understand the present, and perhaps facilitate a brighter future. This book tells the story, in pictures and words, of the heroic men and women of the Black Panther Party who tried to bring a dream of freedom and justice, both political and economic justice, not only to African Americans, but to all Americans—in fact, to all the poor and oppressed people of the world.

Power to the People is a photography book coupled with a bit of oral history from people who were there. It deals with the vision and legacy of the Black Panther Party. This book is not meant to be a comprehensive or scholarly history. Charles E. Jones, in his book The Black Panther Party Reconsidered and his essay in my first book on the party, The Black Panthers; Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin Jr., in Black against Empire; and others have done an excellent job putting the Panthers into context.

My photographs deal with aspirations and vision. While I am not ignoring some of the negative aspects of the Black Panthers, that is not what is most important about them. To err is human, and the errors of the Panthers pale in comparison to those of the United States government at home and abroad during this period. They also are minuscule in comparison to the virulent racism and violence born out of the enslavement of millions of Africans. This racist strain continues to haunt us as we struggle toward our multiracial future. Building a wall will not keep the badness out. The bad is already here and has been since the beginning—as is all that is good about our country. We must continue to dream and organise, as the Panthers did, to ensure that the good triumphs, so we and our children enjoy a better future.

Bobby and I hope this book will be a tool to help you learn things you did not know about the Black Panther Party. The Panthers have a great deal to teach us: about their vision of community, about service, about ethnic pride and love, about coalition politics, about freedom and justice, about their Ten Point Program. We hope what you discover in this book motivates you to act.

I will leave the last word to Bobby, because he always says it best:
At this time more than ever we need activists who are motivated and dedicated to organising people, raising consciousness and instilling self-respect. . . . We especially need creative Black youth who know our history and who understand that Black Unity is the catalyst to help humanise this racist world. We need socially conscious activists who will work toward the . . . economic empowerment of our people. We need activists who cross all ethnic and religious backgrounds and colour lines who will establish civil and human rights for all. . . . We must create a world of decent human relationships where revolutionary humanism is grounded in democratic human rights for every person on earth. {13}

Power to the People internal spread

Text copyright © 2016 Stephen Shames and Bobby Seale

NOTES

{2} Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr., Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party
(Berkeley and Los Angeles: Universityof California Press, 2013), 9, 14, 13.

{3} Quoted in Jordan Green, “The Strange History of the Black Panthers in the Triad,” Yes! Weekly, April 11, 2006.

{4} Héctor Tobar, “‘Black Against Empire’ Tells the History of Black Panthers,” Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2013.

{10} Also see The Black Panthers, photographs by Stephen Shames, essay by Charles E. Jones (New York: Aperture, 2006), 144–45.

{13} Bobby Seale, introduction to Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton
(Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1991).

A&CB Book Club | August 2016

Hi book lovers,

Can you believe it is already August? Where has this year gone? What did you pick for your July reading challenge? The Cure For Dreaming went down a treat here at A&CB HQ (naturally, Cat Winters is an incredible author).

So from YA to graphic novels; this August we want you to pick-up a graphic novel. A&CB recommends Irmina by Barbara Yelin. 

Irmina

In the mid-1930s, Irmina, an ambitious young German, moves to London. At a cocktail party, she meets Howard Green, one of the first black students at Oxford, who, like Irmina, is working towards an independent existence. However, their relationship comes to an abrupt end when Irmina, constrained by the political situation in Hitler’s Germany, is forced to return home. As war approaches and her contact with Howard is broken, it becomes clear to Irmina that prosperity will only be possible through the betrayal of her ideals.

In the award-winning Irmina, Barbara Yelin presents a troubling drama about the tension between integrity and social advancement. Based on a true story, this moving and perceptive graphic novel perfectly conjures the oppressive atmosphere of wartime Germany, reflecting with compassion and intelligence on the complicity that results from the choice, conscious or otherwise, to look away.

Irmina By Barbara YelinIrmina By Barbara Yelin

Irmina By Barbara Yelin Irmina By Barbara Yelin

Help us spread the #JoyOfReading, let us know what graphic novel you pick using #ACBookClub.

Irmina by Barbara Yelin

“A comic of substance, real feeling and expression” Paul Gravett, Editor of 1001 Comics to Read Before You Die

Irmina

In the mid-1930s, Irmina, an ambitious young German, moves to London. At a cocktail party, she meets Howard Green, one of the first black students at Oxford, who, like Irmina, is working towards an independent existence. However, their relationship comes to an abrupt end when Irmina, constrained by the political situation in Hitler’s Germany, is forced to return home. As war approaches and her contact with Howard is broken, it becomes clear to Irmina that prosperity will only be possible through the betrayal of her ideals. In the award-winning Irmina, Barbara Yelin presents a troubling drama about the tension between integrity and social advancement. Based on a true story, this moving and perceptive graphic novel perfectly conjures the oppressive atmosphere of wartime Germany, reflecting with compassion and intelligence on the complicity that results from the choice, conscious or otherwise, to look away.

Irmina By Barbara YelinIrmina By Barbara YelinIrmina By Barbara YelinIrmina By Barbara YelinIrmina By Barbara YelinIrmina By Barbara Yelin

This incredible story is depicted in an elegant, emotive and, in places, fittingly dark style. The overall affect? A timeless and intelligent graphic novel. Winner of the Best German Graphic Novel prize at the 2015 PENG Awards, Irmina is a book not to be missed.

Irmina by Barbara Yelin is out this March from SelfMadeHero. Find out more and pre-order your copy on our website.

The Ghost Army of WWII

Today marks the 70th anniversary of VE Day. Let us remember those who gave their lives for us by exploring a lesser known piece of history; the Ghost Army of WWII.

The Ghost Army, a World War II deception unit, used inflatable tanks and other illusions to mislead the Germans on the battlefields of Europe. The Army recruited artists to create these illusions; in private moments, they painted and sketched their way across Europe, creating a unique visual record of the war. Rick Beyer leads tours around Europe exploring the path of this unique task force, and has created a book with Princeton Architectural Press giving the world the chance to learn about this incredible feat of creative ingenuity.

Read the introduction from The Ghost Army of World War II: How One Top-Secret Unit Deceived the Enemy with Inflatable Tanks, Sound Effects, and Other Audacious Fakery below.

ghost army

They drove east from Paris, leaving the City of Light behind and hurrying into the inky darkness that soon enveloped the blackedout French roads. The convoy of half-tracks, trucks, and jeeps moved relentlessly through the night, stopping only briefly before resuming the journey in the gray dawn light. By midday on September 15, 1944, the men of the Twenty-Third Headquarters Special Troops had traveled 250 miles and were moving into position along the Moselle River, near the border between Luxembourg and Germany. The weather was cold and rainy, presaging a winter that would be called the worst in forty years. The GIs were understandably edgy: the German lines were said to be less than two miles to the east, just across the river. “We’re the only outfit on this part of the front except for one cavalry squadron spread very thinly,” wrote Sergeant Bob Tompkins in his diary. “No one knows where [the] front is.” They had been rushed here from Paris to perform a vital but dangerous job code-named Operation Bettembourg.

Their mission was to put on a show, with the German Army as the audience.

They were plugging a hole in General George Patton’s army by pretending to be the Sixth Armored Division, with all its tanks and might. But the men of the Twenty-Third had no tanks—no real ones, anyway— and precious little might. In fact, they carried no weapon heavier than a .50-caliber machine gun. This cast of artists, designers, radio operators, and engineers was equipped instead with battalions of rubber dummies, a world-class collection of sound-effects records, and all the creativity the soldiers could muster. They understood all too well that their own lives depended on the quality of their performance—if the Germans saw through their deception, they could attack and overrun the small, lightly armed unit. “There was nothing but our hopes and prayers that separated us from a panzer division,” Lieutenant Bob Conrad recalled. But thousands of other lives were at stake as well. If the Germans realized how thinly held the sector was, they could break through and attack Patton from the rear.

All the different dummy vehicles used by the Ghost Army
All the different dummy vehicles used by the Ghost Army ©National Archives

In other words, it was just another day in the life for the men of what became known as the Ghost Army.

This top-secret unit went into action in June 1944, a few weeks after D-Day. For the next nine months they conducted deception missions from Normandy to the Rhine River. “Its complement was more theatrical than military,” noted the unit’s official US Army history. “It was like a traveling road show that went up and down the front lines impersonating the real fighting outfits.”

What they did was so secret that few of their fellow American soldiers even knew they were there. Yet they pulled off twenty-one different deceptions and are credited with saving thousands of lives through stagecraft and sleight of hand. Like actors in a repertory theater, they would ask themselves: “Who are we this time?” Then they would put on a multimedia show tailored to that particular deception, often operating dangerously close to the front lines. They threw themselves into their impersonations, sometimes setting up phony command posts and masquerading as generals. They frequently put themselves in danger, suffering casualties as a consequence. After holding Patton’s line along the Moselle, they barely escaped capture by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge, and in March 1945 they performed their most dazzling deception, misleading the Germans about where two American divisions would cross the Rhine River.

Some of the eleven hundred men of the Ghost Army
Some of the eleven hundred men of the Ghost Army
©Bob Boyajian: second row left
©Dick Syracuse: second row right
©Jack McGlynn: third row left & right
©William Sayles: top right

 

Their mission bordered on the surreal. But that is only part of their amazing story. The artists in the unit, recruited to handle visual deception, used their spare time to chronicle the unit’s adventures in thousands of paintings and drawings, creating a unique and poignant visual record of their war. After coming home many took up postwar careers as painters, sculptors, designers, illustrators, or architects. A surprising number went on to become famous, including fashion designer Bill Blass, painter and sculptor Ellsworth Kelly, and wildlife artist Arthur Singer.

Thirty years after the war, when the details of their story were still being kept secret, a United States Army analyst who studied their missions came away deeply impressed with the impact of their illusions. “Rarely, if ever, has there been a group of such a few men which had so great an influence on the outcome of a major military campaign.”

Sergeant Joseph Mack, one of the many artists in the Ghost Army, used this lozenge box to hold his paints.
Sergeant Joseph Mack, one of the many artists in the Ghost Army, used this lozenge box to hold his paints.
©Rick Beyer

They were the “Cecil B. DeMille Warriors,” in the words of Ghost Army veteran Dick Syracuse.

This is their story.

9781616893187

Bookstore of the Week – The British Library Bookshop

We are here once again to make your Wednesday afternoon just that little bit more exciting and we know this weeks bookstore will get all you book lovers drooling.

This week we are celebrating the ever impressive British Library Bookshop.

The British Library Entrance

Housed in the British Library this bookshop is a mecca for book-lovers of all shapes and sizes. You could be forgiven for missing this gem as it stands next to the magnificently grand St Pancras International Building, but then you probably didn’t know that 10 million bricks and 180,000 tonnes of concrete were needed to complete the building AND the library has a total floor area of over 112,000 sq metres spread over 14 floors – 9 above ground, 5 below!
Now you will never forget it. 

British Library Courtyard

With a range of books and bookish gifts the bookshop is a treasure trove, even if you are just shopping for a little pick-me-up for yourself! Perhaps one of their postcard collections will take your fancy or perhaps an Alice In Wonderland book broach. The shop features a wide range of books, audio and gifts, relating to the British Library and its unique archives. 

British Library Shop
Image courtesy of British Library Bookshop

 

And what a range that makes! The Library itself receives a copy of EVERY publication produced in the UK and Ireland, 3 million new items are added every year! They also have the world’s earliest dated printed book, the Diamond Sutra, is sometimes on display in our exhibition galleries alongside many other treasures.

British Library Bookshop
Image courtesy of British Library Shop.

 

You can’t help but be inspired by the sheer scale of publications that fill these walls!

The British Library

For more from the British Library Bookstore folks follow them on Twitter, Facebook, sign-up for their Newsletter and be sure you checkout their Blogs. With topics ranging from; 10 tips to help you start a successful business to Forgotten histories of the Passage: the whalers you are sure to find something to dive into!

Find them at:

96 Euston Road

London NW1 2DB

United Kingdom

020 7412 7735

P.S – It’s not too late to pick-up a Valentines Present for that someone special, take a look at what they offer & for more inspiration join in with #ArtBooksForValentines on Twitter!

Bookstore of the Week – Salts Mill Gallery & Bookshop

Happy New Year ladies and Gentlemen!

We would like to introduce you to our first Bookstore of the Week of 2015…

*Drum roll Please* 

Salts Mill Gallery & Bookshop in West Yorkshire.

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Salts Mill Gallery & Bookshop is set in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Saltaire, in a Grade II Listed historic mill building built in 1853 by Sir Titus Salt. Home to four galleries (the Mill is home to a permanent exhibition on David Hockney’s work), a selection of places to eat and drink, and spaces to rent Salts Mill creates a hive of culture truly underpinned by history.

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The main bookshop is upstairs and has an eclectic mix of books on all subjects. Housed in a beautiful and spacious stone hall, it retains clear traces of its industrial past; the stone floor, cast iron columns, metal pulley and huge windows.

Little history trivia for you, the quality of light was important to the cloth-manufacturing processes in the mill.

Occupying half of one of the huge galleries on the second floor of the West Mill, the bookstore has the luxury of displaying a significant number of titles on tables rather than shelves. Exposing the eye to a rainbow of covers and encouraging even the most prudent to pick-up a book (or two).

Saltaire_Salts_Mill_1

It can be quite a busy place, especially at weekends, so there is a satisfying buzz about it, but it’s also a space made for quiet browsing. The shop is enhanced by all the artwork on the walls; many are Hockney prints but some are the work of other artists.

Inside-the-book-shop-Baljinder-Gill

Salts Mill Bookshop is the kind of shop you could linger in all day, the placement of everything is designed so that book covers and spines sit in intriguing harmony. We couldn’t recommend visiting more highly, but we do suggest taking someone with you, party to share the love, partly to make sure you don’t buy one of everything…

Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Planning a Visit?

Salts Mill,
Shipley,
Saltaire,
West Yorkshire
BD18 3LA,
UK

Tel: 01274 531163 (General Enquiries, Galleries, Cafe in to the Opera, Salts Diner)

Fax: 01274 531184


Email : post@saltsmill.org.uk

Find out more at http://www.saltsmill.org.uk/

Merry Christmas from Abrams and Chronicle Books

We hope your day is filled with festive fun and charm.

We wanted to share our own festive cheer with a glance at the 1914 Christmas Truce, that started on Christmas Eve 100 years ago, through John Hendrix’s book Shooting At The Stars.

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Shooting at the Stars is the moving story of a young British soldier on the front lines during World War I in 1914, writing a letter home to his mother describing his unforgettable Christmas Eve.

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Despite fierce fighting from both sides, both German and Allied soldiers ceased firing and came together on the battle field to celebrate the holiday. They sang Christmas carols, exchanged gifts and played football. But as the sun began to rise, they returned to their separate trenches and waited for the battle to begin again.

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Interweaving beautiful illustrations with hand-lettered text, author and illustrator John Hendrix tells a story that celebrates the humanity and kindness that can persist even during the darkest periods of our history.

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Very Merry Christmas one and all.

Secret Sidekicks – D.James’s Personal Assistant

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The Who, The What, and The When; and illustrated love letter to the people (and pets!) behind some of histories most legendary figures.

Meet, JOYCE MCLENNAN 1943 – D. JAMES’S PERSONAL ASSISTANT

When Joyce McLennan takes a London bus to work, the slender woman with patrician features arrives at the Holland Park home of multi-award-winning English writer P. D. James, the queen of British mystery, creator of detective and poet Adam Dalgliesh. She is also known as Baroness James of Holland Park, OBE, FRSA, FRSL, recipient of seven honorary doctorates and four honorary fellowships, and a life peer in the House of Lords; but, after thirty-seven years of working together, to McLennan the esteemed author is simply “Phyllis.” McLennan was hired after the publication of James’s seventh novel.

McLennan’s intelligence and organisation complement her natural kindness. James notes in her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest, that McLennan is “unfailingly good-tempered,” a quality James could count on as her popularity rose and, with it, the demands on her time: “She is high among the small group of friends on whom I can rely to keep me sane.” Their process evolved from McLennan’s original job as part-time typist, working from home and raising two young children. Then, James would dictate a tape from her handwritten notes. McLennan or her husband, Mike, who worked for James’s publisher, Faber & Faber, would often pick up the tape, sometimes hidden at James’s side gate in a large china pig. Today, McLennan transcribes into a computer and prints pages for James to edit, leaving the famed mystery author to concentrate on research, plotting, and writing.

The increasing time needed to attend to the business side of being a successful author found James and McLennan tackling the mail together, which soon spread to modern e-mails and includes requests for photos, autographs, signed books for charity auctions, interviews and advice. When James travelled, McLennan would deal with incoming mail and day-to-day matters in her absence, leading James to say: “What would I ever do without her?” In recent years she has taken to accompanying James on longer trips.

Working alongside a popular figure serving on various committees, McLennan’s support sees the baroness through all of these activities, from chairing the Booker Prize panel of judges to a sixteen-year tenancy as president of the Society of Authors. After James’s appointment to the Church of England’s Liturgical Commission, McLennan’s humour showed in her response to its bulging paperwork. She created a file labelled “God.”

McLennan has remained an unobtrusive ally to James, someone UK journalist Kate Kellaway terms “secretary, friend and all-round prop.” James hints at the closeness of their relationship in her Author’s Note from 2001’s Death in Holy Orders: “I am particularly grateful to my secretary, Mrs. Joyce McLennan, whose help with this novel went far beyond her skill with a computer.”

Both genteel women appear most unlikely a duo to be so steeped in murder and betrayal. Yet the work ethic to produce complex mysteries persists, and when James recuperated from cardiac issues in a private Oxford hospital, McLennan travelled from London twice a week to help finish work on the most recent Dalgleish novel, The Private Patient. James is known for her sense of setting and the psychological depths she brings to her mysteries, as well as her strong descriptions, as in this excerpt from that same novel: “There was only the crack of the smashed bottle, like a pistol shot, the stink of whisky, a moment of searing pain which passed almost as soon as she felt it and the warm blood flowing from her check, dripping onto the seat of the chair, her mother’s anguished cry.”

McLennan’s calm, steadfast backing has allowed the author to continue writing into her nineties, yet she is rarely photographed or interviewed. A native of Pinner in the Middlesex area, McLennan is now a widow, and with her boys grown and out on their own, she shares her home in the west London suburb of Ealing with two cats, Tyler and Rafferty.

After decades of Joyce McLennan’s service as James’s trusted aide, it should come as no surprise that when James combined her two lifelong enthusiasms—writing detective fiction and the novels of Jane Austen—to create her sequel to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, she chose this fitting dedication for 2011’s Death Comes to Pemberley:

To Joyce McLennan

Friend and personal assistant who has typed

my novels for thirty-five years

With affection and gratitude

written by MARNI GRAFF

www.auntiemwrites.com

illustrated by JULIA ROTHMAN

www.juliarothman.com

Secret Sidekicks – EDGAR ALLAN POE’S FOSTER FATHER

JohnAllanwho-why-when-covers-revised3

Partners and Spouses,

Muses and Lovers,

Relatives and Assistnats,

Neighbours and Friends…

These are the unsung heroes of history.

Discover another literary #SecretSidekicks from The Who, The What, and the When:

JOHN ALLAN 1779 – 1834EDGAR ALLAN POE’S FOSTER FATHER

John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia, brought Edgar Poe to live with them in 1811, when he was two years old. Edgar was an orphan. His father, David Poe, had died sometime during the preceding year, his mother, Eliza, early that December. At first, the informal adoption by an affluent businessman without children of his own seemed like a happy one: Frances

Allan and her maiden sister, who resided with the Allan’s, doted on the boy. Household accounts show that Edgar was well provided with books and toys, and in his correspondence John mentions Edgar often and with pride. In surviving early letters, Edgar addresses Allan as “My dear Pa.”

But by the time that Edgar Allan Poe was a student at the new University of Virginia in 1826, something in this relationship had gone wrong. The evidence is incomplete and conflicting, so it is hard to tell exactly what transpired. Poe claimed that Allan, having agreed to support him in his studies, left him without sufficient funds to pay his tuition, room and board. He was forced to turn to gambling, he said, as a last resort to pay his bills, and he ended up in debt. For his part, Allan seems to have formed a bad opinion of Poe’s character during the boy’s adolescence, calling him miserable, sulky, ill-tempered and without gratitude. He claimed that he had come to Charlottesville to pay all of Poe’s debts, apart from those incurred through gambling. It’s not clear whether he indeed did this, or whether he did or did not help Poe find employment later on that year.

What caused the rift? There is no satisfying answer to this question, though Allan’s own biography offers some clues. During Poe’s childhood, Allan suffered financial losses when his attempt to establish his trading business, Ellis & Allan, in London failed. Could this have made him feel less generous, or act less patiently toward his foster son? After the Allan family returned to Richmond, Allan was unfaithful to his wife. Poe, who was devoted to Frances, may have known about this, disapproved, and treated Allan coldly. Whatever the reasons, the fact remains that what started as a warm, supportive relationship devolved into fractiousness and mutual dislike, such that Allan in his “recommendation” for Poe to West Point wrote: “Frankly, sir, do I declare he is no relation to me whatever.” When Poe’s foster father was dying, he went to visit him. (John Allan was remarried by then and had a legitimate heir). Edgar had to physically push aside John’s second wife to get to him. As he approached, Allan raised his cane to strike Poe if he came closer and ordered him out of the room. This was the last time that they met.

Allan’s influence on Poe, then, is complicated, to say the least. He was the reason that Poe gained an education. He took Poe abroad, his first and only journey outside the United States. This encounter with the Old World, with the long settled, storied landscapes of England and Scotland, fed the settings of Poe’s fiction. But what about Allan’s rejection of Poe, whether justifiable or not? Allan was one of a list of parental figures to abandon Poe during his young life. So many of Poe’s stories center on houses and families that have turned from noble and grand to unfamiliar, decadent and broken, and on people who at first appear to be one thing but are actually something else entirely. The uncanny, the unheimlich, is most fundamentally a feeling that the skin may slip off the world at any moment, that what is familiar, homey, and welcoming may turn strange and hostile without warning. Clearly, Poe’s early experiences could have engendered such a sense of things. This cannot be attributed entirely to John Allan. But Allan’s apparent inconsistency, his inexplicably altered affections for his foster son, can’t have done anything to dispel this frightening outlook that so permeates Poe’s fiction.

written by EMILY MITCHELL

sites.google.com/site/lastsummeroftheworldbook

illustrated by BYRON EGGENSCHWILER

www.byronegg.com