Talk:Talbot Baines Reed

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Article expansion[edit]

I am expanding this article to a full biography and assessment. This should take a week or so. Please feel free to contribute, or raise suggestions for discussion on this talkpage. Brianboulton (talk) 19:08, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

Wodehouse school stories[edit]

Apropos comments on peer review page, some info about Reed's influence on Wodehouse:

Wodehouse wrote:

"As a child, of course, I read Eric and St Winifred's and the Talbot Baines Reed stories in the B.O.P. I loved them all."

Letter from Wodehouse to Usborne, quoted in:

Usborne himself wrote:

"Psmith is not the first fictional schoolboy whose characteristic is clever talk, nor is he the last of the schoolboy Knuts. Anthony Pembury at St Dominic's in Talbot Baines Reed's novel is the son of the proprietor of Great Britain weekly review, the inheritor of his father's sharp tongue. He is a cripple, so he cannot play games or 'pursue'. But 'he can talk and he can ridicule, as his victims all the school over know.' The Knut with the eye-glass and faultless clothes has become more or less a stock figure in Frank Richards and post Frank Richard schoolboy fiction. Perhaps Psmith is the only example of the Knut with clever talk."
  • Richard Usborne, Wodehouse at Work to the End, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1978, ISBN 0-14-00-4564-3, p. 98

A less positive angle on Reed's legacy is in R.D.B. French's study of Wodehouse. Noting that Wodehouse wrote not for the B.O.P. but for the new paper, The Captain, French says of the paper:

"It was launched in 1899 and had the air of the new century about it. Beside it the old-established Boys' [sic] Own Paper appeared Victorian, with its more obvious flavour of moral instruction and its overtones of formal religion."

Given that your article may be read by Americans of a sensitive disposition, I hesitate to add that French tells us that the editor of the new paper appeared in caricature each week as "The Old Fag", a venerable person writing at the dictation of a boy in Etons. I don't know that French's description of the B.O.P. quite squares with that given in your article. One wonders if French actually read the B.O.P. or was projecting images of Eric etc on it.

  • R.D.B. French, P.G. Wodehouse, Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 1966, OCLC 460425964, p. 20

Finally, and with due concern for your blood-pressure, I send you Benny Green. It is a long excerpt, and probably too long to be reproduced here without incurring the wrath of copyright purists. It can instead temporarily be seen here The Wodehouse reference comes late in this passage. (They that endure to the end, the same shall be saved.) It is from:

  • Benny Green, P.G. Wodehouse, A Literary Biography, Pavilion Books, London, 1981, ISBN 0-907516-04-1, pp. 15-17

Tim riley (talk) 07:25, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

This is excellent stuff. I have included a couple of Wodehouse sentences in the Legacy section - PG's own "loved them all" comment, and a bit from Green. I think it is good to have some of Green's negative view of Reed acknowledged within the article, an antidote to blandness. I have not used the French stuff, which seems to be more about the B.O.P generally than about Reed. I don't want to have to explain "The Old Fag" to American readers; I've already had to include a footnote explaining the meaning of "Cock-House" in school stories.
That looks spot on to me. Glad you found the PGW stuff useful. Tim riley (talk) 21:47, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Comments[edit]

As promised, here are my comments, sorry for the delay, but I've been in California for the past three weeks and fairly busy with stuff, plus an article I am trying to finish and a crisis at FAC:

  • Lede
"many generations". Generations are around a third of a century, give or take a bit. I enjoy an English school story as much as the next guy (I was quite a fan of the William books), but "many" may be excessive. Suggest "several".
  • Family background
"the city's". Town. Leeds was not a city until 1893. Also, he was not the sole MP, Leeds had two MPs. Suggest also a pipe to Leeds (UK Parliament constituency)
"Hackney's MP". Again, there were two. Suggest also a pipe to Hackney (UK Parliament constituency).
  • Nice background research! I have altered city to town, and made the piped links you suggest. Brianboulton (talk) 23:50, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
  • Early life
Does the way that Talbot was brought up differ appreciably from muscular Christianity? If there is a mention of that in the source, perhaps it should be linked.
  • The term isn't mentioned in any of the biographical material I have used, and I don't feel I should introduce it myself, though it might be thought apt. Brianboulton (talk) 23:50, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
Was he actually bottom of the class in Maths or is this self deprecating humour?
  • He doesn't say, but I guess he was having a small joke. Brianboulton (talk) 23:50, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
Is there any mention of why he didn't go to university? Dad skimming off the cream for the family business? Money issues? God knows that if he was minded to go into the family business, a university education would not have been much help.
  • Only Charles, the eldest son, went to University, and then into the Congregational ministry. All the others went into the business - that seems to have been accepted by them all. No money issues – the family was well off – and evidently no objections from Talbot or the other boys. Brianboulton (talk) 23:50, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
  • Printer and typefounder
"were rescheduled to 1877." The having multiple dates in that sentence reads a bit oddly. One possibility might be to change it to "were rescheduled accordingly".
"On and off ..." I would divide this sentence at the semicolon.
  • Done, with a few other prose tweaks. Brianboulton (talk) 23:50, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
"A new edition was brought out in 1952 to mark the centenary of Reed's birth." Perhaps better as a note?
  • Boy's Own Paper
Even though I know we should not begin a section with "The", if it is part of the title of the periodical, I see no reason to omit it.
  • Agreed, done
"B.O.P. editor George Hutchinson" Perhaps somewhere in this sentence it should be stated we are talking about a fictional setting.
  • Private life
"The connection with Ireland was of enduring importance to Reed" Just that his wife was Irish made it of enduring importance?
  • That she was Irish, and that her family had a home there which provided a basis for regular holidays which Reed looked forward to with great anticipation. I have amended to "of great value..." Brianboulton (talk) 23:50, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
  • Death and legacy
"Reed's disciples". That troubles me a bit. It sounds much too formal, in a way. How about "Reed's imitators"?
I have this thing about article endings, I'm always fussing looking for the right fact or quote to do it. In my view, the article ends better if you omit the last sentence. However, there is something to be said for leaving the reader with Reed's two lives, in both of which he was a fearsomely competent writer. One idea might to end the article (I would consider making it its own paragraph): "The grave in Abney Park was eventually surmounted by a memorial stone in the style of a Celtic cross. Although Reed biographer Stanley Morison suggests that Reed's legacy is his History of the Old English Letter Foundries, Jack Cox, historian of the B.O.P., asserts that the magazine's serials are Reed's true memorial."

Hopefully the article will be deservedly promoted shortly.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:26, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the helpful input. Brianboulton (talk) 23:51, 3 November 2010 (UTC)