Posts Tagged ‘manuscript’

The Internet may be infamous as platform for gibberish, ungrammatical monologues and semi-meaningless self indulgence amongst the young (I may be being only a little harsh), but it does also allow the middle-aged to indulge in intrigue and a kind of archaeology which occasionally makes connections with the past.
A few of my earlier posts have featured my own family in one way or another, from battling and revolutionary grandparent (which, coincidentally, revealed a cross-connection with the antecedent of one of the Personal Tutors at Henley), to passing mention of my father’s epic crossing of the Atlantic in 1950 in a small boat, the Ituna. So here’s another one…
I have a relative, by marriage, named Robin Dalton. Robin is a fascinating story in her own right, and is now in her 80s. An Australian by birth, she has published two volumes of memoirs, been a writer and producer of Hollywood film and West End stage and seems to maintain, even now, boundless energy that is divided among many ventures in the arts. However, a meeting with her last year threw up a gem from the past.
Robin mentioned that my father, Desmond, a month or so before his premature death in 1973, had given her a manuscript – the opening chapters and synopsis of a novel – with the request that, being so much better connected in the publishing world, could she pass it on to a likely publisher for consideration. If you want something done, always ask a busy person, and Robin duly did as she had been asked. Nothing came of this, the story could not be developed because the author died, and there is no way of knowing whether it would have gone any further.  Sadly, too, there was no sign of the manuscript itself and, with so many years passed, by the time I heard of this tale Robin could not recall where it might be, even in the unlikely event that it had been returned from the publisher, Ernest Hecht, that it was sent to.
Mr Hecht is still alive and his Souvenir Press in London is still in business, but not active in publishing since he is now a second-hand and rare bookseller in Great Russell Street opposite the British Museum. I managed to get an answer from him but, regretfully, he also had no record of having received a manuscript from Desmond Dalton.
I do know his story was provisionally titled “the Brandenburg Contingency”, but not much else. That is an intriguing title – spy story? music murder mystery? Who knows?  I do rather think, though, that it would reveal something of the character of my Dad, so it would be great to dig it up one day.

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