Articles in Methodist Magazine Savery icon

Articles in Methodist Magazine

Savery wrote twenty-five articles for METHODIST MAGAZINE: a monthly series reviewing books and authors entitled I Must Read them Again, a similar series entitled The Attic Bookshelf, and an autobiographical description of family magazines written out by herself and her sisters. Some of the reviews were revisions or reprints of articles written for other journals, and some were original. In the interest of continuity, all are annotated here. I obtained photocopies of these articles from the John Rylands University Library in Manchester, and, subsequently, the publisher granted me permission to make an additional two copies. It required many pleasant hours of reading before I could summon the courage to write about each. The order is chronological.

METHODIST MAGAZINE

I Must Read them Again: Izaak Walton's 'Lives'. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 177(1), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine CoverJan. 1954, pp 8-10, 12.

Walton (1593-1683) is celebrated for The Compleat Angler, but Savery celebrates him first for his own life and secondly for the five 'lives' he wrote of others:
...he has achieved the oddest, topsy-turviest result ever astonished biographer could look for. All five are remembered not for what they were but for what he was.
She quotes Wordsworth's concurrence. They [George Herbert and the others] are
Satellites turning in a lucid ring, Around meek Walton's heavenly memory!
That is laying it on a little thick. John Donne, for example, speaks to us as powerfully today as ever he did, but do we remember anything of his life? And are we all not to speak, first with our lives, and then with our mouths? Read some, at least, of Walton's Lives and decide for yourself. I'm glad to have been afforded the opportunity.

See under THE SUNDAY AT HOME: A Gentle Biographer.

I Must Read them Again: 'The Wide, Wide World'. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 177(2), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine CoverFeb. 1954, pp 75-77.

This is a reprint of a 1940 article in THE SUNDAY AT HOME. The novel was published under the name of Elizabeth Wetherell, the great-grandmother of its author, Susan Warner (1819-1885), and it is still listed under Wetherell as often as Warner in bibliographies and used book lists. Prior to reading Savery's review, I had never heard of Warner (Wetherell), her 1850 bestseller, or any of the many popular books she wrote afterward. Like Savery she was popular in her day, like Savery she earned her living with her pen, and, like Savery, she is largely forgotten. This is unfair. Although her books are sentimental by today's standards, and her incorruptible heroes wear halos, their lives are certainly more plausible than today's soap operas or situation comedies and twice as welcome to relive on a summer evening.

I Must Read them Again: The Pilgrim's Progress. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 177(3), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine CoverMar. 1954, pp 109-111

This is another reprint of an article from THE SUNDAY AT HOME. It is not necessary to read this review of The Pilgrim's Progress to know of Savery's appreciation of John Bunyan (1628-1688). Besides the abundant references to the fierce old Roundhead in Bunyan's Barn, Bunyan's hero, Christian, marches through many of the books Savery wrote, the books her characters read, and the books she recommends to others.

Savery pays tribute to Bunyan, the story teller. In an age when fiction was suspicious, his lively allegory spoke to the hearts of parents and children alike, with the latter enthusiastically incorporating Christian's pilgrimage into their daily play.

Savery takes time, too, to soften the view of Bunyan as intolerant, citing how very often it is the grace of God and not God's judgment that meets and supports Christian and his companions, especially poor Mister Fearing. We are all there in Bunyan's world. We recognize its barriers and its gates, and reading The Pilgrim's Progress is often like reading our own diaries.

I Must Read them Again: 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 177(4), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine CoverApr. 1954, pp 161-164.

The original version of this article also appeared in 1940 in THE SUNDAY AT HOME. "Uncle Tom's Cabin is far from faultless." That said, Savery goes on to mention a few of the difficulties that Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) had to overcome including seven children, a busy household, and brown sugar sacks for writing paper. "The great clumsy straggling story pulses with life," writes Savery, citing examples, and arguing that the peaceful Quaker scenes, for example, are necessary to balance the slave market and plantation episodes.

One reads Uncle Tom's Cabin in the same spirit that one visits a Holocaust site, expecting to learn while being repelled, and one comes away from either with a renewed respect for human resilience in the face of adversity. So, read it again!

I Must Read them Again: 'The Lamplighter.' London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 177(5), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine CoverMay 1954, pp 208-210.

The original of this article appeared in the July 1940 issue of THE SUNDAY AT HOME. Having never heard of The Lamplighter or its author, Maria Susanna Cummins (1827-1866), reading Savery's piece was pure profit. I learned that the book was so full of weeping orphans that Charles Kingsley, in his Water Babies, rechristened it The Pumplighter, that Cummins' fear of criticism led her to edify her readers with the grandest of long words, and that too many of her minor characters feel impelled to deliver monologues of great length discoursing on their life histories. Finally, I learned that all this is a small price to pay for an uplifting and heart-warming story. Consequently, I read the book. I think I shall read it again, but there won't be any great hurry about it.

I Must Read them Again: 'Conduct and Carriage in Society.' London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 177(6), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover June 1954, pp 254-257.

Following a hint in Savery's article for THE TIMES entitled A Victorian in Training, I found the source of this METHODIST MAGAZINE essay: The Ladies Treasury: An Illustrated Magazine of Entertaining Literature, Education, Fine Art, Domestic Economy, Needlework and Fashion. I could have the first year (1858) of this edifying journal sent from England for $73.15, or I could buy the first 16 volumes for $1,554.36 plus overseas shipping. I at first declined buying either out of pure penury, but later relented, by which time the dollar had fallen on the international market, and the 1858 volume cost me over eighty dollars.

Savery is merciless in pointing out faults: Mrs. Vernon, a mother instructing her daughter, cannot remember
whether her house is 'The Elms' or 'The Willows', her child Geraldine or Gertrude, her perspective son-in-law Sir Launcelot or Sir Lionel.
Although Launcelot signs his proposal of marriage 'Lionel', Gertrude / Geraldine is enraptured, and, with Mrs. V.'s approval, accepts.

Inconsistencies aside, Mrs. Vernon's advice is an invaluable source regarding behavior in society in the mid-19th Century, not to mention a treasury of useful stratagems for inducing a proposal and landing a husband. Although Savery does not mention it, the second volume instructs Geraldine in the duties of a young wife and mother. We are not told who is advising Launcelot. Lastly, I confess to becoming so captivated by Mrs. V. and her daughter that I read every word in both volumes of their Victorian saga.

I Must Read them Again: Fanny Burney's Diary. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 177(7), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover July 1954, pp 305-309.

Savery is ahead of me (again). No sooner does she choose an author I know then she turns the tables and selects a title I do not. One learns that way, but it is bruising to the pride.

"No woman writer in the last two hundred years," Savery tells us, "has been more fortunate than Fanny Burney in her home and social background." Burney (1752-1840) grew up with such literary lions as Dr. Johnson and Sheridan. Although a first fictional effort perished in her stepmother's fire,
...Evelina had gone to the circulating libraries, and was in the hands of every butcher and baker, cobbler and tinker in the three kingdoms before her lawful guardian found out!
Cecilia followed, and Burney's 'red-eyed friends' loved every sad page. Among these admirers was the royal favorite, Mrs. Delany, who wrangled Burney an appointment as Second Keeper of the Robes to Queen Charlotte. Thereafter, the author's elevated position prevented her from further literary achievement. Her next book, Camilla, sold well, but lacked the grace and spontaneity of its predecessors. According to those who have tried--and I have not--her last book, The Wanderer, is unreadable.

Her diary, on the other hand, with no red-eyed friends in prospect, is cheerful and candid, providing an illuminating picture of life at court out of the public eye and of the happy marriage that followed. We should all be so lucky!

The incidents cited by Savery are all among those chosen by L. B. Seeley for Fanny Burney and Her Friends, so Savery may have used Seeley's book as a primary reference.

I Must Read them Again: 'Little Women.' London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 177(8), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Aug. 1954, pp 340-342.

The original of this article appeared in 1940 in THE SUNDAY AT HOME. Savery knows that we have all read Little Women, and she wastes no time on a plot synopsis. Amy, Jo, Beth, and Meg are old friends, and, if we learn nothing new from Savery's reminiscences, we are glad to have gone back for a while to "that old brown house covered with vines." Alcott (1832-1888) worked hard before the successes of Little Women and Little Men gave her financial security, and it may have been sympathy for another struggling writer that led Savery to discuss such a familiar book. If Alcott only wrote, as she claimed, about her own family, Savery reminds us of how carefully she mixed incident with sentiment, humor with tragedy. We will return again to the March family with or without Savery's reminder.

I Must Read them Again: The School Stories of Talbot Baines Reed. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 177(9), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Sep. 1954, pp 390-393.

Here again, the original version of this article was printed in THE SUNDAY AT HOME. From Tom Brown in 1857 and Stalky and Co. in 1899, to Harry Potter a century later and all those undisciplined, but redeemable lads in between, schoolboys and their stories please us! I can read those of P.G. Wodehouse with pleasure despite not comprehending one word in three of the cricket chapters, and I grew up with Owen Johnson's Lawrenceville tales. So I was gratified when Savery introduced me to Reed (1852-1893). The result: I have read ten of his books and am looking for more.

Although you will not find their names on any list of alumni nor their institutions on a list of English Public Schools, these are real boys and real masters in real dormitories and real classrooms. So say I, and so, too, says Savery, although she did not enjoy her own short career as a teacher, and her school stories are the least distinguished of her short fiction.

Savery, whose villains rarely received the retribution they deserved, finds a kindred spirit in Reed:
If he had been set to write Paradise Lost he would have made a horrid failure of Satan; for his good and middlingly good characters are ten times more alive than his melodramatic villains. The truth is that he was not interested in wickedness...
Neither was Savery.

I Must Read them Again: Piper of the Sea. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 177(10), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Oct. 1954, pp 449-452.

Frank Bullen (1857-1915) is another author to whom I was introduced by Savery's review, and another whose writings I would have been sorry to miss. For those of us who grew up in the 20th Century, sailing ships were romantic, and we read with pleasure the adventures of Captains Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey, to name two, forgetting the horrors of sea life in our heroes' brilliant victories. Although both Forester and O'Brien tell us of death and mutilation, we know that neither awaits Hornblower or Aubrey.

When Bullen writes of sailing ships, it is not romantic. There is grueling work, the food is inadequate and nasty, and the quarters are squalid. Bullen was cheated regularly, was often forced to ship before the mast after he acquired his mate's commission, and his sea days ended without any triumphs; however, he found Christ in a seaport, and, like Paul, he found that was adequate compensation for the rest.

Savery praises Bullen for his ability to involve us in the life of sea creatures, large and small. She invokes the analogy of the Pied Piper, which is repeated in the FORWARD article Sea Magic. Bullen goes before us, and
before we have read far, we shed our human personality and swim off, happy fishes in a watery world.
Some of Savery's comments are, sadly, outdated:
In these hard times it is agreeable to read of a world where nobody is rationed and the food supply never runs short. Such a neat, orderly world it is, the denizons of which never waste their scraps, but devour bones, bags of cinders, sea-pebbles and their dear departed friends with equal relish and enthusiasm.
It is probable that this is a reprint of the 1940 article in THE SUNDAY AT HOME, Creatures of the Sea, so the mention of shortages makes all too much sense. Although there was relative plenty in 1954, it is now clear that we are exhausting our ocean resources. We need another Bullen to touch us and teach us again.

I Must Read them Again: Charlotte Yonge's Stories. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 177(11), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Nov. 1954, pp 514-516.

Savery respected Charlotte Yonge (1823-1901) and paid her the sincere flattery of imitation. Both were prolific Christian writers, both preferred plots without villains, and both were indefatigable workers for their respective churches. Savery had no illusions, noting that Yonge rarely troubled to draw memorable characters, wrote plots that "ambled and rambled," and preferred to "blunder along" rather than write, as she was capable, "with dignity, grace and pathos." What was the basis of the "enduring spell" of Yonge's pages?
Perhaps it is because there were, are, and always will be people who like books as clean as sea-washed pebbles, books in which the Christian religion is not laughed at, frowned upon, or flipped aside, but is life's foundation, colouring, romance and hope.
Yonge's first book and her greatest success was The Heir of Redclyffe, an 1853 best seller. In Little Women we find Jo weeping happily over it, and heroines in other books and short stories read it as well. The men seem less interested, but so much the worse for them, not to know good reading when they encounter it.

By the time Savery wrote her article, Yonge's popularity had ebbed and then begun to flow again, with a new generation of readers; however, Savery is a little disingenuous when, as evidence of Yonge's new popularity, she writes "THE TIMES recommended the novels for 'blackout reading.'" So it did, but the article in question, entitled Books for Black-Outs, was written by Savery herself.

Is there still a tide in Yonge's favor? I think not, but I do recommend The Heir of Redclyffe. Weeping is optional.

I must Read them Again: The Candle-Saint: Henry Vaughan. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 177(12), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Dec. 1954, pp 553-556.

I erred. Knowing next to nothing about Henry Vaughan (1622-1695), I ordered his complete poems in two volumes and put myself to sleep reading them. Savery compares Vaughan to composer César Franck: "Neither has won his meed of praise, but both have always had their small band of admirers." She finds Vaughan's poems "remarkable for beauty of sound and colour" and claims he is a "master of water music." She points out the ubiquity of white and green in Vaughan's imagery, identifying these as "the colours of quiet, purity, innocence."

In another comparison, she writes: "Those who love Blake and Wordsworth love their kindred spirit Vaughan. But where Wordsworth paces soberly, Vaughan runs and leaps and rejoices with Blake." That may be so, but without a guide to find these leaping poems, I still go to sleep.

See Candle-Saint in EVERYBODY'S.

The Attic Bookshelf: Dearest Mrs. Delany: Her Letters and Memoirs. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 179(1), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Jan. 1956, pp 14-16, 18.

Browsing the dustier shelves of an antique book shop, I happened upon the letters and memoirs of Mary Granville Delany (1700-1788), a foot-long row in six volumes. I could afford neither the money to buy them nor the time to read them, but I enjoyed my momentary contact with the legendary Mrs. Delany, who knew everyone there was to know in 18th Century England.

Savery begins by telling us of Mrs. Delany's hobby of creating images of flowers by attaching carefully cut colored paper to a black background. There are over a thousand of these in the British Museum, and Sir Joseph Banks, the botanist, attested to their accuracy. Judging by the pictures I have seen, they were done with scrupulous care, but Mrs. Delany's position in court may have influenced Sir Joseph.

Married at seventeen to "a man near sixty, jealous, drunken, dissolute," Mary lived seven unhappy years with a husband who was frequently drunk or bedridden. Although she was married by her family for money, the money did not come to her when her husband died, leaving her
...poorly off. That did not matter; for she was provided with a spell against the future. Re-entering her world after a decent period of retirement, the young sorceress merely chalked a large circle, inscribed the word 'Friendship' within it, and awaited results. Almost every human being and animal of her acquaintance was immediately swept willy-nilly into the circle, never to leave it more.
I like "and animal," don't you? The rest, which includes a happy second marriage and a life at court, is history.

See A Lady of Flowers and Friendship in EVERYBODY'S and a short story in GIRLS TODAY, Butterscotch Pie.

The Attic Bookshelf: Charles Writes his Life. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 179(2), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Feb. 1956, pp 63-64, 66-67.

Let me say it at once and get it off my chest: "Savery cheats." While pretending to review the life of Charles Young (1833-?), she devotes most of her space to direct quotes from Young's autobiography and from the book's introduction, using her own words only to bridge the many quotations.

And well she might, for young Charlie, writing his life at age six or seven, "had the story-teller's gift" whether he was describing his beloved parents and relatives, his trip to the Clifton Zoological Gardens, or his evening at the theatre. No less fascinating is the book's introduction, in which the Rev. W. R. Clark assures us that the book was truly written by a precocious child and adds biographical details that Charlie has omitted. It is a wonderful book, and I treasure my battered copy with the missing leaf that I was able to replace with a photocopy from the University of Florida library.

Savery excuses her serious review of a juvenile production by mentioning the light it casts on Victorian child-rearing, but don't believe her. She discovered Little Charlie's Life, and she wants all her readers to do so, also. She had ample precedent. Dickens reviewed it, too.

There may be a little more erudition and a little less charm in Savery's article for the
SCOTTISH EDUCATIONAL JOURNAL, Papa and Mama: The Victorian Parent in His Meridian Splendour, but she let Charlie do most of the talking there as well.

The Attic Bookshelf: Laurels Not Wholly Faded. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 179(3), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Mar. 1956, pp 123-125.

Challenging critics of Christopher North (Prof. John Wilson, 1785-1854), Savery writes, "There are many sizable pearls to be drawn from Wilson's ocean of verbiage," and she cites three poems and "parts of the Recreations of Christopher North" as examples. None the less, the verbiage is there, and I find the plucking of these pearls too tiresome to compensate me for the less than sparkling waters in which I must grope for them. I have no objection to Victorian prose. Indeed, I have spent many happy hours with Trollope and Thackery, for example, contemporaries of Wilson not celebrated for concise composition, but I need to have a feeling I am getting somewhere, and the beginning and end of Wilson's ocean is too like the middle. There is always something new, but it is usually new, meaning different, rather than new, meaning novel. There is always something new in my mail, but I don't recommend it as literature.

Savery makes her case that Wilson deserves reconsideration, but she is not blind to his prolixity or his prejudices, so she won't send many readers in search of ancient volumes of Blackwood's Magazine. We can honor Wilson without having to read him again.

The Attic Bookshelf: Some Small Pink Books. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 179(4), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Apr. 1956, pp 171-174.

This is a reprint. For the original, see SUNDAY SCHOOL CHRONICLE: Sunday School Reward Books of a Hundred Years Ago. Eighteen of the small pink books that Savery read for this article are in the Constance Savery file in the Lena Y. de Grummond Special Children's Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi, as are Savery's notes.

The most recent of the pink books was published almost seventy years before I was born, and it was Savery, rather than Hannah More (1745-1833) and Mrs. (Mary) Sherwood (1775-1851), who provided 'moral' reading for my childhood, but it is instructive to see the children's literature of our ancestors. The fact that their books are battered and rare is evidence that they were once read and reread..

Savery describes the books, giving us publishers, prices, and a generous assortment of titles. Although they are sometimes anonymous, authors' names are well-represented as well. A presentable copy of Sherwood's History of Little George and his Penny, which cost tuppenny around 1850, goes for a round £20 now. Savery retells George's story with a proper mixture of levity and appreciation..

There is serious moralizing to be had, as well, and Savery quotes from the Hymn for a Little Child edifying lines ending in "My soul must go to hell..." and adding: "Such forthrightness would scarcely be permitted today.".

I don't know if you would find it cheaper to buy these at $40 apiece on the Internet or to finance a visit to Mississippi, but do look about for small pink books...

The Attic Bookshelf: Sara Coleridge. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 179(5), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover May 1956, pp 209-212.

Sara Coleridge (1802-1852) had a celebrated father, but as he was a drug addict, moody, jealous, and habitually insolvent, it is well that her "Uncle-by-marriage Robert Southey toiled so well to support his wife's relations as well as his own." Praised in Wordsworth's verse, a compliment that Sara resented, she puzzled Charles Lamb by her facility in translating Dobrixhoffer's Latin Account of the Abinones... while still in her teens, and married her cousin, Henry Nelson Coleridge, with whom she lived happily. I was indebted to Savery for almost all of that information before I located my own copy of her Memoir and Letters.

For her two children, she wrote verses, Pretty Lessons for Good Children, which so impressed her husband that he insisted on their publication. Savery does not say so, but his judgment was faulty. The verses are not memorable. Her son Herbert died relatively young, but not before she wrote Phantasmion for him. The book was over the heads of most children, over-priced, and poorly illustrated. You can buy a used copy today, but it is still over the heads of children, over-priced, and poorly illustrated. But Savery does not deprecate it:
...for the older people of today the forgotten volume is a wilderness of sweets, an endless succession of gorgeous dream-landscapes, dream scenes, and magic melodies haunting the enchanted air. The little known songs and lyrics of Phantasmion are worthy of Coleridge himself.
Should you wish to decide for yourself, a facsimile of the original edition may be downloaded from the Internet.

The Attic Bookshelf: Novels of Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 179(6), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover June 1956, pp 250-252.

Ellen Thornycroft Fowler Felkin (1860-1929) was born at Wolverhampton and married Alfred Lawrence Felkin in 1903. That information is from Webster's Biographical Dictionary, not from Savery's article, because Savery provides no biographical information at all. Either she knew nothing else, or she considered neither birthplace nor husband worth mention.

But, she has read the books, and she praises without stint their "word-pictures and conversations." After inviting us to laugh with her at some extravagant plot devices, Savery goes on to admire how neatly and coherently the landscape of the Fowler novels fits together from one book to the next:
Merchester, Silverhampton, Sedgehill, Chayford, Northbridge, Mattingham, Grampton, Tetleigh, Crompton, and Craychester are set in a land of meadows, russet-tinted woods, elm-studded parks, and orchards that are a snowstorm of white may and damson blossom...
Savery's highest praise is for the conversations: the "chit-chat over tea-cups" and the parlor talk of those "Methodist Mothers in Israel, Mrs. Hankey and Mrs. Bateson."

Is it accidental that after Fowler wrote a book about the Farringdons, Savery chose that surname for the unforgettable twins in Green Emeralds for the King? Don't expect to find the descendants of Miles and Giles in Merchester, however. That would be asking too much.

The Attic Bookshelf: Indian ALOE. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 179(7), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover July 1956, pp 308-311.

Not content with A.L.O.E. (A Lady of England) as Charlotte Maria Tucker (1821-1893) signed her books, Savery serves up Indian A.L.O.E., as Tucker was known after, at the age of fifty-four, she left a comfortable home in England to lodge under a "bat-, owl-, rat-haunted roof" in "Batala near Amritsar." Rotating three dresses and working more than seventeen hours a day, she visited native Indian women in their Zenanas, held Bible classes for both English and native boys, and continued to write, both for her old public in England and for a new public in India. The books that were sold in England paid for the books distributed in India.

Assessing A.L.O.E.'s work, Savery says:
Although she sometimes overdid the didactic element in her anxiety to instruct her readers 'in the things which concern their everlasting welfare', her books are remarkable for their humour and drollery, their character-drawing, their dramatic situations, and their successful use of allegory and parable.
Of her different labors, the Indian books were believed to be the most important contribution of those last eighteen years of A.L.O.E.'s life. To them, says Savery, she brought "her almost Eastern addiction to metaphor, fable, parable, and allegory." They were published in Panjabi, Hindi, Bengali, and Tamil. If the people who lived in those stories were as real and personable as those who inhabit her English books, then A.L.O.E.'s Lord was well-served. There is no difficulty, and not much expense, in buying her books today over the Internet.

An "article" by Savery entitled A.L.O.E. appeared in TLS [TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT] on 1 Jan 49, but it consisted of a single question asking for information about the author.

The Attic Bookshelf: Cornish Storyland. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 179(8), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Aug. 1956, pp 342-344, 348.

From Sir Thomas Mallory to Susan Cooper, writers have found inspiration in myth-pervaded Cornwall, the land of "great cliffs, counchant headlands, downs ablaze with gorse and silvered by 'the foam-like blossoms' of the may." In this review Savery pays tribute to a few of these. She read Joyce's Little Maid as a young girl, because she "judged all books by their first words" and was captivated by 'Years and years ago Mr. Penwarden, of Penwarden, was sitting at his escritoire writing.' Though she dislikes its spiteful attacks, she finds "enchanting passages in A.L. Rowse's ...autobiography." Not great literature, but personal favorites were Silver Spoons by Isabell, A True Cornish Maid by Norway, and Diary of Mrs. Kitty Trevylyan by Mrs. Charles. I liked the last of these myself, although Savery points out that Charles's Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family is more highly regarded, perhaps because of the catchy title.

Savery ends by apologizing for the omission of all the better-known Cornish titles, excusing herself by the fact that she is writing about only one book for an attic bookshelf, and listing them all would require a library. There is something magical about Cornwall, isn't there?

The Attic Bookshelf: The White Cross and Dove of Pearls. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 179(9), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Sep. 1956, pp 396-399.

To the rescue of Sarson Ingham's The White Cross and Dove of Pearls Savery brings her blue-eyed grandmother for whom it was a favorite. My own grandmother's taste ran to Beau Geste and The Foxes of Harrow, so I have no corresponding prejudice in favor of wildly improbable sentimental novels. Neither, as it happens, does Savery, who identifies the following recurrent themes in Victorian fiction: the Scion of a Noble Family Stolen by Gypsies, the Persecuted Child "whose part was often doubled with that of Deserving Orphan or Unappreciated Genius," the Wicked French Governess, the Persecuting Parent, and a number of fell diseases, from brain fever and scarlet fever to consumption and 'low fever,' i.e., typhus, typhoid, or both. Almost all of these themes are present in The White Cross and Dove of Pearls, and some are represented two or three times. Still, says Savery
...it was more than a hotch-potch of Victorian sentimentalities. The book had a tang of its own--racy, vigorous, touched with poetry. Despite their occasionally stilted talk, Sarson Ingham's people are real live human beings, from the precocious child-saint, Raynor Warnford, down to that jewel of a woman, rough-spoken Catharine, with a heart as sweet as a nut.
I should add that Savery has her own list of recurrent themes: the Motherless Child, the Rich Distant Relative, the Long-Suffering Guardian, the Warm-Hearted Dragon, and the Repentant Prodigal, to name a few--invariably, improbably, real live human beings--presumably created by a talent she inherited from Ingham through her grandmother.

The Attic Bookshelf: In the Golden Dawn. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 179(10), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Oct. 1956, pp 442-444.

"They were mostly, as literature, rather bad books," says C.S. Lewis, writing in Surprised by Joy.
It is difficult to improve on that opening with which Savery begins her exploration of books about the ancient world and the impact of Christianity upon it. She cites about two dozen books, of which I had read five: Ben Hur, Quo Vadis, The Big Fisherman, The Robe, and The Silver Chalice. To those I read one from Savery's list, Farrar's Gathering Clouds, qualifying me to concur with Lewis's judgment without in the least wishing not to have read the books.

Savery agrees that it is irrelevant that so many of these books are
ostentatiously pedantic and others inexcusably ill-informed, or that their canvases are overcrowded, their characters wooden, their sentiments mawkish.
Phrases that follow are no more encouraging: "many anachronisms," "deplorable literary lapses," "occasional immaturities of thought and infelicities of language," "a powerful but not a pleasant book," and "ponderous." Notwithstanding this unstinting praise, Savery ends her article by recommending nine more bad books. Happy reading!

The Attic Bookshelf: A Rose-Coloured Performance. . London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 179(11), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Nov. 1956, pp 512-516.

I was unable to find The Life of Mary Anne Schimmel Penninck on the Internet. In fact, I found nothing by Schimmel Penninck (1778-1856) in two years of searching until I saw an eBay item listing her as Schimmelpenninck. Under that name, there were two titles, one expensive and one very, very expensive. I didn't intend to acquire even the cheaper one, which is not what Savery reviewed in any case, until I was excused from the necessity by a niece who kindly presented me with its first volume as a Christmas gift. What I found was extremely clear writing with an unremitting emphasis upon God's blessings upon the most distressed of his followers.

What about Schimmelpenninck? After a harrowing childhood that included all day confinement in an iron cage to correct curvature of the spine, the severely gifted maiden was allowed to marry one of the Bristol Schimmelpennincks (Schimmel Pennincks?) who involved her in a monetary dispute that resulted in a complete break with her unnatural natural family. Should I win a lottery, I may look into The Life from which Savery draws so many bizarre incidents.

The Attic Bookshelf: Letters of James Smetham. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 179(12), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Dec. 1956, pp 556-558, 563.

James Smetham (1821-1889) took up painting at the age of eight and continued at it for the rest of his life. He was sufficiently talented to receive the patronage of Ruskin, and the Academy included his paintings in their exhibits from 1851 to 1854 and some isolated works thereafter. He was not prosperous. The introduction to his Letters by William Davies says
Then came the adverse influences--adverse to him, at all events--Photography, Pre-Raphaelism, and Ruskinism. He had not the power to resist them. They bore him down.
His death was preceded by a decade of mental disease, but prior to 1878, this seriously bothered (if not disturbed) artist wrote beautiful letters. Savery describes them in this way:
His thoughts were coloured thoughts, a painter's thoughts, weaving themselves naturally and inevitably into patterned shapes, delicious little portraits and landscapes intermingled with artist's talk brimful of appreciation of the genius of his fellow artists... Those who want book-talk will find it in the Letters. It is every whit as good as the artist talks, sane, kindly, ardent, of the stuff of poetry.
And it is, too!

Rise and Fall of a Family Magazine. London: METHODIST MAGAZINE, 181(2), The Epworth Press (Frank H. Cumbers), 25-35, City Road, London, E.C.1. Magazine Cover Feb. 1958, pp 125-128.

Did you, as a child, publish a newspaper or magazine? I did, and so did the Savery children at the Vicarage. When Constance was eight, she made her first effort, writing in the blank spaces of a church leaflet and featuring a story by Homer and Hans Christian Anderson. Three years later, the Vicarage published Odds and Ends containing a serial, short stories, puzzles, advertisements, and 'poetry'. Odds and Ends perished young, but The Rose, which followed, lasted through three issues, dying with the editor lamenting
My contributors do not admire the use of fullstops. They go triumphantly from page to page, without a pause... Do they ever use capital letters? Never! Do they paragraph their stories? Not they! Do they spell correctly? Rather not!
The Fleur de Lys was published early in the First World War and lasted for only two numbers despite the inclusion of dispatches from the Front by an adult Correspondent who did not know he was being quoted. The rest is silence.

This amusing piece is recommended. For further information about Savery's juvenilia, Winifred's Thought Book is the mother lode. The Rev. J. D. Hummerstone, lucky man, inherited some of the original magazines, still fresh-looking and wonderfully illustrated.

Text of this web site © 2010-2014 by Eric Schonblom. Updated 27 July 2014. The unpublished works of Constance Savery are reproduced with the permission of her literary heir and copyright owner, J.D. Hummerstone. Book and magazine covers are reproduced with low resolution out of respect for their copyright owners, the publishers and their artists.