Quiet times

I am busy writing a book about Frank Harris and his biographers, so updates here may be limited for a while.

In that connection, if anyone has any information about  Rosa Gabrielle Bain 1901[?]-1980 aka "Linda Morgan Bain" aka "Rosa Gabrielle Wells" aka "Rosa De Leon", I'd be much obliged. As Rosa De Leon she owned and ran the Amersham Playhouse with her husband(?) John Ferris. See

I'm with the Banned

The topic of censorship comes up quite a lot when researching books. Various works by and attributed to Frank Harris have been banned, for example, as was (for rather more innocent reasons) Parables from Stamps.

A new artwork by Marta Minujín will celebrate such books, using as source material a list compiled by the University of Kassel. Frank Harris fans will note the presence of his The Bomb, presumably because of its sympathetic treatment of anarchists.

Read more about this:

Lots of Fun

Found on ebay, this downright disturbing children's book cover.

Books I am looking for

If you have, or can locate, any of the following, I'd be grateful if you would let me know via the contact form:

  • Cheap copies of titles by Linda Morgan Bain other than Evergreen Adventurer. By cheap I mean much less than the £30 minimum being asked for One Phoenix Died on Amazon. She's supposed to have written a play about Byron and I would dearly love to find that.
  • From Vodka With Love by Mary Margaret Bitting.
  • Anything by Frank Nimrod other than Solved Riddles, Book of Parents and Educators or The Last Judgment as Final Control of The World History.
  • Anything by Nino M Volpe other than The Leftist ESP Conspiracy.

I'll keep this list updated and would also appreciate suggestions.

Lovey Banh

Lovey Banh is apparently a real person with Twitter and Facebook accounts. Or is she a bot? She acts like one: lists no less than 265 books under her name, most with lunatic rambling titles and blurbs, priced from a reasonable few dollars to a baffling couple of thousand. 

Like a fool, I have placed an order ...

Programming with Grawlixes

Marc van Elburg, a Dutch artist, has written a series of zines about "Grawlixes" (the symbols used to denote swearing in comic books).

You can find them at Marc's page and there is more of his intriguing work on his main website.

The Futility Closet

Odd Books approves of The Futility Closet. One notable item to be found there is The Inman Diaries.

When chronic illness confined Boston poet Arthur Crew Inman to a darkened room, he turned inward, scribbling his thoughts and feelings into an enormous diary that eventually filled 155 volumes with 17 million handwritten words — most of them peevish.

More fun with science

If you enjoy quack science as much as I do, you'll appreciate Science Conspiracy Website 4. It's not actually a website, it's a book, though one that looks like it's been written using horrible old HTML 3 authoring software. P. S. J. (Peet) Schutte is very annoyed that academics ignore him. It's hard to understand why when he argues so coherently that gravity is a hoax:

If Newton was that much correct in all his surmising as those in Mainstream Physics pretend it is and was correct all this time since Isaac Newton introduced the concept of gravity being a force of attraction, it then must be possible that we should be able to use this force of attraction as a calculation standard in a way that we could predict the future. We should be able to calculate when the Moon and the Earth will destruct in a spectacle. This will be when this Newtonian gravitational force of attraction is going to bring planets together by the force of gravity through the intervention of mass. By applying Newton, it then would be simple to calculate the time measured in millions that we have left to live on Earth and it could be measured in the number of millennia that there is left in the future. We could calculate how long it will be until such time as that the Earth and Moon are to collide and destroy all forms of life.

Quoted from, another website that's also a book, this one downloadable for free should you wish for more of the same.

Charlotte Bach

I recently discovered Charlotte Bach thanks to Francis Wheen's book about her. Her main living disciple is a man called Mike Roth, whose 1983 Bolt from a Bleeding Sky I have a copy of. Expect to hear more in coming weeks.

Her work - as filtered through Roth, anyway - seems to be a complete mishmash, taking in quantum physics, evolution, religion, human sexuality. Roth sincerely believes Bach to have been a genius, but there's no evidence of that in his account of her ideas. A lot of rhetoric and little substance. As  there are no testable predictions, nothing that can be verified by experiment, it's pseudo-science.

Ann Morgan's Love: a pedestrian poem by Arthur Munby

Ann Morgan's Love is a verse depiction of Victorian poet Arthur Munby's own secret marriage with his serving maid, Hannah Cullwick. Munby was obsessed with big, literally dirty, working-class women, making them the subjects of many photographs and sketches. When he died, he left behind a box "not to be opened until 1950". It contained pictures of Cullwick and other materials which shed more light on the nature of their peculiar relationship.

One point I've not seen mentioned is that Munby chose to give his heroine his own initials. Was it part of his fantasy to be such a woman, not simply to participate in an relationship with one? His poem is much more concerned with the servant's imagined thoughts and feelings than those of her master.

My 10 Weirdest Books

Of all the books reviewed on the site, here's my personal Top Ten Weirdest. You won't find these on any bestseller list.

  1. The Leftist ESP Conspiracy. Nino M Volpe blames his schizophrenic hallucinations on sinister forces that aim to make him marry a left-wing woman. Truly bizarre.
  2. Fasting, Longevity and Immorality. The eccentric C W Johnson half starves himself in a quest for spiritual enlightenment. Includes a terrible poem about beards.
  3. Man v' Ape in the play of Ear-Ce-Rammed. There have been lots of books written about the question of Shakespeare authorship: this is almost certainly the craziest of the lot. Philip Samuels not only claims that Bacon wrote the plays, but that he, Samuels, is Bacon, Jesus Christ and Moses all at once.
  4. Atomic's Bible. William Carter's extraordinary and incomprehensible "book of Devinable Science". "Even the spelling is his own. Many of his words are not in any dictionary. He has wished it that way."
  5. Ghostology. A brave attempt to construct a scientific theory of ghosts, assuming that they exist and mediums are for real.
  6. Hell and The Infernal Comedy. A rambling tour through the mind of a once-famously screwy personality, John Armstrong Chaloner, the Charlie Sheen of his day. 
  7. The Golden Bough, Mary Margaret Bitting's truly original attempt to turn Frazer's classic work of anthropology into a stage musical. The author also allegedly wrote a collection of recipes using vodka as their common ingredient.
  8. Incredible Alliance. P M Doucé believed she was chanelling the late T S Eliot through her poetry. She wasn't.
  9. Alien Influence on World Art, Volume 1. If this book is to be believed, practically every work of art through history includes a representation of an alien spaceship. Takes the Von Däniken ball and runs away with it, far, far away.
  10. The Gospel by Signal. What's the best way to convey the message of the Bible to little kids? How about through semaphore? Yes, really.


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