Big Peter, by Archibald Marshall. Dodd, Mead and Company, 1922. 3rd Printing. Blue cloth hdbk., slight yellowing and foxing to endpapers, but otherwise a clear copy throughout. 288 pp. Belonged to the late Christopher Fry, who was an avid collector of this author, indeed something of a completist in this respect. A sort of vaguely humorous adventure yarn, with the inevitable rise through a series of obstacles to aristocratic rank and riches, as well as the woman of his dreams, from the dusty gold fields of Australia to a stately home in England. Period charm in abundance, needless to say. Marshall was hugely popular on the other side of the Pond; he provided an idealised picture of the United Kingdom that chimed perfectly with their fantasies of the Old Country; but he also knew how to write a ripping yarn or two in workaday English prose. The clichés might occasionally offend a stylistic purist: villains are inevitably ‘resourceful’ and display ‘cold-blooded ingenuity’; ‘happy birds’ twitter in the trees; our hero is ‘enraptured’ to find his beloved . . . and so on. But this is nevertheless an enjoyable romp from start to finish. £4.99.