a fourteen page booklet from
Little Brown, Publishers at 34
Beacon Street, Boston.
TELLER of tales there is whose stories have a bouquet like unto
that of certain old and fabulous wines -a flavor that is heady and delicious,
and peculiar to his art. His heroes and his villains are men of desperate
daring. Be they big-thewed men, gentle giants, or slighter of frame, but
with some compensating quality of skill in offence or defence; be they
bloody unhanged rogues or adroit and cunning gentlemen, evilly disposed-be
they lout or noble, they love and they battle as very living men! And the
maidens, the ladies - the women, if you will - of his romantic narratives
may be sought after or scorned, in hapless plight, or full of pride of
place, yet are they all warmly human. Too, this author of ours has a wizard's
fancy in these tales of his. Where else, save with Dumas, can you find
such a riotous abundance of adventure of amazing twists and turns of fortune,
good and ill? Where else, again, save with Dickens will you discover so
evident a delight in the fashioning of character after character, instinctively
recognized as truthful types, which live for our amusement, or instruction
or horrification, and which complete his crowded, tumultuous pageant of
life? It is indeed a deserved recognition that Jeffery Farnol has received
as one of the foremost living writers of romantic fiction.
Nay-we would not bracket those three names, Dumas, Dickens, Farnol; that were presumption-as yet! Nevertheless it is true that Farnol is the master in his medium. and that to him belongs a distinct genre of fiction. Sometimes into the early nineteenth, sometimes into the eighteenth or earlier centuries his imagination dips, but always the tale he unfolds bears his own unmistakable mark. Even when his story is of present-day England or America, there is the same rush of incident. the same wealth of character-portrayal. He has not a novel but that contains enough of headlong adventure and of veracious characterization as would suffice three novels from another pen, yet all of this knit into one close pattern of interest.
What manner of man then, might this same Jeffery Farnol be?
To begin where he himself began, John Jeffery Farnol was born in 1878, in Birmingham, England, but the family removed to Lee in Kent very early, and thus when this gifted story-teller began the exercise of his power, it was the garden county of England that he described, rather than Shakespeare's country of Warwickshire. Yet before the world at large was to recognize his gift, he was to follow other occupations in London in Birmingham and in New York., essaying ironwork, carpentering, jewellery, the brush, and goodness knows what else!
He was fortunate in his parents, although, to be sure, it was a long time before his father would admit that Jeffery was not ruining his future by dalliance with literature. Yet it was his father who infected the household with a love of good books. Jeffery's mother encouraged his story-telling proclivities, and it was through her, ultimately, that her son's first great success, "The Broad Highway was presented to the firm which published the book in England.
His introduction to the entertainment that may be contained between book covers occurred 'early. His father was in the habit of reading aloud from favorite works of fiction to Mrs. Farnol while she sewed, after the children-Jeffery and his younger brother, Ewart, who fell in the Boer War-had been ' put to bed. Jeffery, though he was only eight, wanted to listen, too. He tells us that he remembers himself and his brother, long after they had been sent to bed, sitting in their nightshirts outside the door of the room where his father was reading from "The Count of Monte Cristo" to his mother, busy with her needle. There the two little shavers sat, intent upon the thrilling narrative, while their father, all unconscious of his enlarged audience, read on until the presence of the truants from bed was betrayed by an inopportune sneeze. No doubt the immediate result was that both were bundled off to bed again instanter, but thereafter they were admitted for an extra hour to the evening readings. " I can never be grateful enough to my father," Farnol said in after years, "for those long, delightful hours when he-an excellent reader varying his voice as the characters required-made the stories live for us."
In such an atmosphere, then, Farnol spent his early boyhood-a household of industrious habits, and of bookish inclinations. Through his father's reading, the works of Cooper, Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, Dumas and Stevenson all became familiar to him, and without doubt had their influence in shaping his young imagination, nor was it long before he was emulating those master story-tellers. As a schoolboy of ten or twelve, during any moments that could be stolen out of study hours, he always had an eager audience for the tales, long-drawn-out, of wild and wonderful adventure which he wove out of a perfervid imagination for the benefit of his schoolfellows. One such narrative in particular consumed three months in the telling, being brought to a close only with the end of the school year.
There is a story, reputed to be on good authority, which is illuminative of this small-boy phase of Farnol's existence. Although lacking in stature, he was a plucky lad with his fists, and so when he and his brother Ewart got it into their heads that they were not likely to he treated with proper respect by their school chums until they made their real worth known, they decided to pick a few quarrels with boys a bit heavier and bigger than themselves. Being short, quick and decisive, they emerged from their encounters so successfully that they won the respect they had estimated was their due!
Farnol was not to have a university education to influence his development as a writer. His development as a story-teller, like that of the young Walter Scott, was carried on during his school-days. It continued when he left school for other activities-activities in which the school of hard knocks served in lieu of Cambridge or Oxford. His father could see no hope of a successful future for his son in writing. Therefore, in the endeavor to wean him from such proclivities, Farnol, Senior, sent his son. at the age of seventeen-, to a firm of engineers and brassfounders in Birmingham. There, among other things, he worked at the forge-hard work, but young Farnol was rugged and sturdy of frame. One product of that period is the character of Black George, that heroic smith of "The Broad Highway."
Scoffers once used to cast animadversions against authors who nurtured only in the bread-and-milk amenities of life, attempted to portray in their stories personal combat and the shedding of gore. Farnol, however was none such. It is a fact that a great deal of fighting came his way during the period he spent in the Birmingham foundry, and also an intimate knowledge of the rough side of working-class life, which as he has since admitted, has largely colored his views of the working man and his surroundings.
What a trial he must have been to those constituted in authority over him in those days! There was his father, anxious, naturally, to have his son prepared for a solid, dependable future, and there were his superiors at the foundry, trying hard, no doubt., to make of him a workman worthy of his hire! His twin propensities for story-telling and sketching he nurtured wherever he went. It was no uncommon thing for his foreman to find him in the dinner hour the center of a crowd of men and boys who were listening all a-gape while he regaled them with stories from the classics, vividly touched up, or while he made a rough drawing of some scowling, diffident sitter.
Although authority could make no issue of such a diversion, yet this practice did bring Farnol into trouble. He was drawing one noon, with a crowd of
the men looking over his shoulder. " Ah," said one of them, "that's all very well, but drawing ain't manliness." Whereupon the artist requested a specific illustration of what might constitute "manliness" in the estimation of the scornful one. He was informed that there had been a real man in the shop once who had climbed up the inside of the big chimney-" Could you do that?" Forthwith our future author laid a wager of five shillings to half-a-crown that he could, in sooth, do that very thing. The chimney towered up, one hundred and twenty feet of blackness, choked with the soot of four years' accumulation and with insecure stanchions, several of them broken. Nevertheless Farnol essayed it-as any of his heroes would have done! - and attained to the top, where he fastened his handkerchief for all to behold. The worst of the trip was on the way down, for he looked up at the patch of sky far above him-and received a cloud of soot in his eyes, that stung him as if it had been pepper. Half-blinded, sick and giddy, he reached the bottom more dead than alive and the men refused to pay their bets! More than that, the entent cordiale was so disturbed that he found he had to fight one of the men then and there, qualmish and giddy as he was! He was beaten, but before receiving his own quietus he gave a good account of himself.
Now sketching and story-telling, of course, while it was something unseemly in a lad of his status and with his presumed ambitions in the profession of engineering, was of itself no capital crime. A worse offence was his habit of industriously jotting down, in a notebook he kept always with him, such random ideas and impressions as occurred to him during work hours. That could not be tolerated. It ended with Farnol's coming to blows with his foreman, and so the plans for his engineering career came to an abrupt end, and Farnol was returned to his parents-"No good for work, always writing." But as he left the shop, the foreman reclining in a daze against an anvil, the last thing he saw was his handkerchief flying from the top of the chimney.
For a time. Farnol remained at home trying out the possibilities of an income from writing stories, poem - anything and everything. A few short stories got themselves into print, which was encouraging to him, but which did not win him favor in other quarters. Indeed, some of his relatives had the view, which they rather strongly impressed upon his father, that he was encouraging Jeffery to grow into an idle young fellow.
Eventually Farnol, who had a natural aptitude for drawing, began the study of line and figure drawing under Loudon, at the Westminster Art School. He gives us, himself, an interesting picture of this period in his career. He says: " My favorite recreation at this time was cycling. All the highroads and byroads of Kent, Surrey and Sussex became familiar to me as, sometimes with a chum or brother, sometimes alone, I wheeled between the flowery hedgerows and quenched my thirst at the quaint wayside taverns. I remember it was on one of these week-end excursions, a hot Sunday evening in August found me sitting with my friend Mr. H. London Pope, on the porch of 'The Bull' at Sissinghurst, where we had made our headquarters, resting and washing the dust from our throats with good brown ale. It was then, while watching the villagers wending their way to church, that I first saw the Ancient. There he was, tall hat, smock-frock, shrewd, wrinkled face, and gnarled hands grasping his knobbly staff, just as I have described him in 'The Broad Highway.' And that was the very first inception of the book, though it was not until several years afterwards that it came to be written."
At the art school Farnol found everybody so much cleverer than he that he became discouraged as to his own talent. Finally he concluded that he did not want to be a fourth-rate artist, and told his father so.
You can't write said his father you've not had a University education."
Farnol had tried various lines of activity in England-including writing with a view to publication - without noteworthy success; now he was ready for fresh fields and pastures new. So, what must he do but get married, and he not turned twenty-one, and hie him away to America with his bride! Here again, as in his boyhood days, and his apprentice days in the Birmingham foundry, the bright thread of romance! Only one with the greatest confidence in himself would have taken the responsibility upon him, and only one with the utmost faith in him would have undertaken the venture with him, but it was a faith which the future abundantly justified. Practically penniless, with no assurance of an adequate livelihood awaiting him, he set off for the New World.
His bride was an American girl, Blanche Hawley, daughter of F. Hughson Hawley, a New York artist. America, Farnol hoped, would prove a better market for his literary wares than England had been. However, in this country as in England, he had to find some occupation that would support him while he kept everlastingly at his writing, and he found it in scene-painting at the Astor Theatre in New York.
The actual writing of "The Broad Highway" was the result of this period. Much of it was done in the great, dismal, rat-haunted studio at Thirty-Eighth Street and Tenth Avenue, in leisure moments between spells of painting scenery-figure-work, principally, the portraits that are apt to hang in baronial halls on the stage, and the tapestries that flutter in haunted chambers. Not only did he write there, but also at Mr. Hawley's home in New Jersey. For two years every moment he could spare from other work was devoted to writing.
"Many a time when I've been detained late with a press of work at my studio in town I'd get home at midnight or thereabouts to find a light supper waiting for me and Jeffery up working, only waiting to be called to entertain me while I ate, for he Is a horn story-teller and loves to talk.
"He always kept us sitting overtime at meals, just as he used to keep me sitting up till two or three o'clock in the morning on the occasion of the midnight suppers. When he gets to spinning a yarn, whether telling it or writing it, he loses all knowledge of the flight of time. Often when I've come down to breakfast before catching my early train to New York I've found him just finishing his night's work, fresh and enthusiastic, for he had been living through the scenes he had been depicting.
"Even when his days are full of leisure he likes best to work at night. Then; he says, his brain is clearer, and there are no interruptions to distract the flow of thought that leads him into his conjured country. His power of concentration and absorption is the most marvellous thing I've ever encountered, and it is that of course which makes 'The Broad Highway' and its atmosphere so convincing. Living in the same household with him for many years, I had plenty of opportunity to see this characteristic manifested.
"I remember once taking him to the Players' Club with me for luncheon. After luncheon he wandered into the library and was delighted to see the plays of Aphra Behn - some early writer I'd never heard of, but belonging to his favorite period and well known to him-and I left him there renewing her acquaintance with delight. I forgot all about him, but chancing to go back to dinner, on entering the library, to my amazement I saw him sitting there in exactly the same posture in which I'd left him hours before. He didn't know whether ten minutes or as many hours had elapsed since I'd left him."
Contrary to a quite general impression, Farnol was by no means impecunious during this period. He succeeded in selling a number of short stories and illustrations to various periodicals. He also wrote two light romances, -" My Lady Caprice" and "The Money Moon." Yet such success as this betokened was, after all, mediocre as compared to what he believed were his possibilities. Nevertheless, he kept at the writing of "The Broad Highway," in a spirit of revolt. Hitherto he had attempted to please editors and publishers; now he was determined to write a novel as he wanted to write it. He was most familiar with the times, the manners and the speech of early nineteenth-century England; as for the locale, the county of Kent was a well-conned and well-beloved book to him. A host of characters, quaint, amusing, realistic and romantic, were already in mind. It remained for him to set them in their places, supply motivating impulses and start the wheels of action a-moving. For two years he worked on the story, and at last it was ready-and he knew it was good!
Then began a colorful chapter in the history of modern book publishing a chapter which if imagined and written as fiction might he called far-fetched. The completed manuscript was sent to two New York publishers, who returned it with promptitude. He sent it out again, to another firm in New York. They accepted it, conditionally, and Farnol made an appointment with them to thresh out the points at issue. When he arrived at their offices he found several d c readers " waiting for him-each of them with suggestions to make. Notebook in. hand., he went over the manuscript with them. The principal result was that he cut twenty thousand words from the manuscript, as they seemed to agree that it was too long as it stood. But the alterations were not enough to give the publishers the necessary confidence. This was in I 907, the year of the famous "money panic," and the manuscript was finally returned to Farnol because of the slump in Wall Street, the length of the book, the obscurity of the author and the wholly English interest of the story.
Rather a formidable indictment for an ardent author's first "big" book! Yet Farnol still believed in his work. "You'll be sorry if you don't give it a chance," he warned them. The rejection was definite, however, and the manuscript remained in his trunk awaiting a more favorable season.
The opportunity seemed to offer itself when a well-known actor, whose acquaintance Farnol had made in the Astor Theatre, became interested in his literary work, learned of the manuscript's misfortunes, and offered to show it to friends of his with Little, Brown & Company, as he was about to play an engagement in Boston. With hopes uplifted, Farnol delivered it into his hands, and waited. Weeks lengthened into rnonths without word from his actor-friend. Finally Farnol learned that he had returned to New York. He sought him with out delay, only to find that the actor had been to Boston, had visited his publishing friends, but had forgotten to speak to them about the manuscript. It had been safe in the bottom of his trunk all the time!
That was a particularly bitter blow, and Farnol, in the first stress of his disappointment was minded to burn the cumbersome manuscript. Wiser counsels prevailed, and he gave it into the custody of his wife. She, determined upon giving it all possible chance, sent it to his mother, in England, who had ever been her son's surest and severest critic: She gave it a careful reading. Then, fearful that her own judgment was prejudiced, she handed it to an old family friend, Shirley Byron Jevons, at that time editor of The Sportsman. Mr. Jevons gave it an enthusiastic perusal, and forthwith took it to Fred J. Rymer, a director of the London publishing house of Sampson Low, Marston & Co. The result was that after all its wanderings and vicissitudes the manuscript of "The Broad Highway" was accepted for publication. Meanwhile Farnol, discouraged and disheartened at the inadequate results of his years in America. culminating in the mishap to his beloved story of Peter Vibart. Charrnian and the Ancient, had decided to quit New York. With his wife and his daughter, Gillian, he returned unexpectedly to England, just in time to be introduced to his future English publishers ' as "the author of another 'Lorna Doone'." that having been one of the firm's greatest previous successes. The negotiations preliminary to English publication were soon completed, and the climacteric episode in this drama of a manuscript occurred when the American book rights were offered to Little., Brown & Company and accepted by them!
From the day "The Broad Highway" was published Farnol's place in the leading rank of popular novelists was assured. Almost over night he became a figure of importance in the literary world. The years of hard work, of constant application, were rewarded, by an enormous popular success. In England and America the sales of his book increased by leaps and bounds, and the chorus of praise from critics everywhere was well-nigh unanimous. It was acclaimed for its freshness and its originality, for the strength of its character-portrayal, for its swift action and its prolific imagination - characteristics which have marked all his work since.
Much speculation has been indulged in regarding the source of Farnol's unique style. There is an article by Henry C. Shelley, the English writer, which is informative in this respect. Mr. Shelley says: "Various famous novelists have been named as the foster-fathers of Jeffery Farnol. The list 'already includes Borrow, Blackmore, Dickens and Thackeray. According to his own way of thinking, none of the guesses have hit the mark. judging from his own confessions, he is under greater indebtedness to Laurence Sterne than to any of the immortals named above. And that was owing to the friend of his 'boyish ambitions' to whom 'The Broad Highway' was dedicated. Shirley Byron Jevons was the first, years before that book was written. to call Mr. Farnol's attention to the difficulty of writing a book dealing with the abstract. citing, as a rare example of success in that line, Sterne's 'Tristram Shandy.'A copy of that unusual book was speedily procured by Mr. Farnol, and he recalls as though an impression of yesterday the manner in which he was enthralled by, its pages. 'Then,' Mr. Farnol says, 'I went on to The Spectator and The Tatler, the reading of which showed me how great is the loss of those who are unacquainted with the Queen Anne essayists.' In those two confessions we have part of the secret of the charm of Mr. Farnol's books, for he has caught the quaint style of speech common to a bygone period of English history but has made it modern in its appeal by the force of a story which deals triumphantly with passions which know neither geography nor time."
"The Broad Highway" was Farnol's key to fame and fortune, and since it was published he has written a number of other novels, not all of the same period or scenes, but all of them appealing to a large audience, and marked by the qualities which set him apart from his contemporaries. The rough schooling in the writer's craft which he received in his earlier career has resulted in an assured mastery of the novel form, while his life, in the ordered calm of prosperity, does not present the contrasts, the ups and downs of fortune that impart interest to an account of those struggling days. During the war he was unable to enter active military service because of his extreme near-sightedness, but he did what he could in writing inspiriting articles as a result of visits to the firing lines, to the grand naval fleet and to shipbuilding yards and munition factories. These articles were reprinted in his book "Great Britain at War."
When Farnol returned to England he made his home at Lee, in Kent, where he remained for a number of years. More recently, however, he has removed to Brighton, the famous English resort on the Channel, but he spends his winters at Ospedaletti, on the Italian Riviera.
Yet, in this period of affluence Mr. Farnol has not lost his instinct for the dramatic in story-telling, and the list of his novels that have been published since the appearance of his first success is a noteworthy one. Everyone knows "The Broad Highway": the hero and his lady; the Tinker, that man of pots and pans, philosophy and poetry; the Ancient; Black George-these are all types that show the working of a vital creative genius. How true a characterization is drawn in the Ancient, that withered old man with his mind dwelling upon his long-vanished lusty youth, and on the rusty staple in the deserted cottage which he was determined to outlive! It was in February, 1911, that Little, Brown & Company first offered the book to the public, which consumed edition after edition up to and after the fall of I9I2, when a holiday edition, with twenty-four illustrations by Charles E. Brock, R.A., was published. Altogether, "The Broad Highway" has sold well over six hundred thousand copies throughout the world.
The first of his novels to be published following "The Broad Highway " was "The Amateur Gentleman." issued in the spring of I9I3. "The Amateur Gentleman" removed any doubts that may have existed as to the permanency of Farnol's appeal. Barnabas, worthy son of a famous retired boxing champion of England, being come into an extensive legacy, resolved upon journeying to London to become a "gentleman," in the period when the artificial world of fashion was in its heyday under the Prince Regent. Barnabas like Peter Vibart, set off on the broad highway., footloose and free, but with pocket well-lined with gold. It was not adventure he sought particularly - his destination was London-but adventure befell him fast and furiously. How he in outward seeming a country bumpkin, first met Cleone; how after sundry episodes, violent and otherwise, he acquired a valet and. established himself with the "Quality"; how the fashionable world lost him and how he came home again, were all related with the Farnol gusto, as an appreciative public soon discovered.
In the fall of that same year, I9I3, there was published one of Farnol's previously written novels - "'The Honourable Mr. Tawnish." An illuminating account is given of how it came to be offered to the publishers. Farnol was discussing with his mother the advisability of offering for publication such earlier stories. "Look here," he said to her "why not rout out 'Mr.Tawnish,? You have been very good to me, and I can never properly repay you, but if you can do anything with 'Mr. Tawnish' you shall have it."' The book was "routed out" from an old drawer, touched up and added to, and when offered to his American and English publishers, promptly accepted. The advance royalties were handed over to Mrs. Farnol --'a generous gift, which she valued most for the typically affectionate spirit which prompted it. The story itself tells of the adventures of the Honourable Horatio Tawnish. a fine London gentleman of the Regency, in winning the daughter of Sir John, Chester, who despised Mr. Tawnish for an effeminate dandy.
It was two years before the public received another novel from Farnol's pen, and then, in 1915, "Beltane the Smith" was published. In this novel he goes farther back into English history for his story. Beltane, a lad of mysterious origin, reared at a forest smithy, becomes the hero of a veritable Odyssey of adventure. It is a dim period of history that is described, approximating the times of anarchy in En-gland under King Stephen. Righting great wrongs assaulting cities and fortresses., Beltane, the golden-haired giant. the unconquerable swordsman, goes his noble way through these pages-and the tale is an incomparable one!
In I9I7 there was published Farnol's only novel which reveals the knowledge of America he gained while in New York. "The Definite Object " is the story of a young New Yorker whose great wealth had taken from him all incentive to action. For want of a definite object in life he is toying with the thought of suicide, when he surprises a youthful burglar in the act of entering his room. Then as "My Geoffrey" he takes up lodgings with the house-breaker in the old " Hell's Kitchen" of the New York slums. Thugs, gangsters, pugilists of unsavory reputation, take the place of the vicious characters -of oldtime Kentish lanes. and there is battle, sudden deadly encounters, revenge and heartbreak, and love fair and foul before "the definite object" is attained.
Two books by Farnol were published in 1918. In the spring it was "Great Britain at War." Farnol's only contribution to war literature in book form. In it he brought home to non-combatants, with all the power of description that had made him famous. England's mighty war-time effort in shop, shipyard and trench, on the sea and in the air. That fall there was published "Our Admirable Betty." Here the author is back on the familiar ground of "The Broad Highway.' Betty is a perverse and fascinating beauty, a reigning belle, surrounded by a covey of ardent, fashionable swains. Humble Major D 'Arcy - Fighting D'Arcy he was, at Malapaquet and in a dozen other ferocious charges-who had returned from the Army, and who limped, and who was no longer a youth in years, hardly dared sue for her favor. There is a villain in the piece. a very desperate, deadly villain, with lesser villains at his beck and call, and there are spirited haps and woundy doings before the romance works itself out to the satisfying climax!
In the fall of 1920 one of Farnol's literary tours de force, "The Geste of Duke Jocelyn," was published, a whimsy, if the word may be used, rather than a novel. Written for his daughter Gillian, it describes the adventures of Duke Jocelyn, disguised as a jester a court fool, so as to win truly the love of the beauteous Yolande - describes them with a mixture of verse and song and prose, with interruptions from " Gill " and disputations with her as to what he should next cause to happen to the men and women of his imagination! At the same time a more serious work of fiction wag published-" Black Bartlemy's Treasure." Here, for the first time, Farnol allowed his imagination full rein amongst the picturesque rogues whose piracies terrorized the Spanish Main. A prologue to the narrative shows Martin Conisby, a youth of high birth, chained with other slaves in a Mediterranean galley. After a perilous escape, Martin makes his way into England thirsting after vengeance, thence into the waters about the West Indies, still seeking the man who was the cause of his years of torture on the rowing bench, and whose daughter he had meanwhile come to love! The close of the book sees Martin, sole and uninterested guardian of a vast treasure, brooding upon his vengeance still unsated. In 1921 the tale of the strange manner in which Martin took his revenge having found his man in a dungeon in Nombre de Dios - was published under the title "Martin Conisby's Vengeance." There have been few tales of pirates and adventure by sea and land to equal these two novels for thrills and excitement.
In 1922 a novel which more closely than others approximated the scenes and the action of "The Broad Highway" was published-" Peregrine's Progress." This, too is the story of a youth's adventurings on the highways and byways of Kent. Peregrine Vereker, overhearing his uncles discussing how he was being spoiled by an over-solicitous aunt-for whose hand they are friendly rivals, but whom neither uncle could marry as long as she devoted herself exclusively to Peregrine's upbringing decided to leave the field clear for them and, running from home, prove his own manhood by facing the great world alone. The same Tinker of "The Broad Highway" appears to utter his mellow philosophy, and then there is Diana., who comes to hold Peregrine's heart at her mercy. "Peregrine's Progress" enjoyed from the start a success reminiscent of "The Broad Highway."
In "Sir John Dering" (I923) Farnol has kept to the period of these two books. This time, however, his hero is a skilled swordsman who, having incurred the enmity of the Lady Herminia Barrasdaile, is forced to fight duel after duel, which she has instigated in the hope that he would thereby meet his death. A chance encounter enables her to travel for a space in his company, disguised as a simple serving maid in need of rescue. Sir John penetrates the disguise eventually, but before the romance comes to its close he needs all his skill with sword to preserve his life and his love.
In "Sir John Dering" Jeffery Farnol has verified the prophecy that was made of him a few years ago, by the famous critic, J. P. Collins. in The London Bookman. Mr. Collins said: "Mr. Farnol will not fail (in his new work) we may depend, for want of hard work, intensity of realization, or that vivid and devil-may-care imagination which is the province where he most excels. To frame a tale of derring-do with splendid seriousness is something-to call up a vision of Womanly virtue tried and resurgent, or to interest us in the commerce and traffic of the countryside in the green heart of a typical English shire; but without the sure touch and penetration of the artist, without the easy swing of a changing narrative, the retention of the reader's interest, and the atmosphere that blends all truly, toil is apt to be thrown away. The worthy Sir Egerton Brydges was just such an example of unattaining effort. His romances are dusty and forgotten now, and hardly repay the turning over; but he had the root of the matter in him when he wrote that 'nothing is so happy to itself and so attractive to others as a genuine and ripened imagination that knows its own powers, and throws forth its treasures with frankness and fearlessness.' And if these are not marks of the Farnol romances, then they are beyond analysis."
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