The Eldest Son, by Archibald Marshall. Dodd, Mead and Company, 1920. Grey-blue cloth hdbk., 375 pp. A good reading copy of this once best-selling novel and still entertaining about the lives and loves of the huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ fraternity in the English County Set in the first two decades of the twentieth century.
In the eyes of his American admirers, this author, whom they considered to be the natural heir to Anthony Trollope in his depiction of the British upper classes, could do no wrong. He was hugely popular on the other side of the Pond. Who can resist chapter-titles such as the following (chosen more or less at random):
THE SQUIRE IS INFERNALLY WORRIED
DICK LEAVES KENCOTE AND MAKES A DISCOVERY
HUMPHREY COUNTS HIS CHICKENS . . .
One American admirer (a learned professor and influential educator) wrote, rather wittily, of Marshall as follows: “[A] scholar of sixty years of age told me that these novels had given him an entirely new zest in life; and I myself, who came upon them wholly without preliminary introductions, confidently affirm the same judgment. Of all the numerous persons that I have induced to read these books, I have met with only one skeptic ; this was a shrewd, sharp-minded woman of eighty, who declared that she found them insupportably tame. I can understand this remark, for when girls reach the age of eighty they demand excitement.”
From the library of the late playwright Christopher Fry, who was something of a completist in his collection of writings by this now unjustly neglected novelist. £4.99.