John Davys Beresford (17 March 1873 – 1 February 1947) was an English writer, now remembered for his early science fiction and some short stories in the horror story and ghost story genres. Beresford was a great admirer of H.G. Wells, and wrote the first critical study of Wells in 1915. His Wellsian novel [1 ] The Hampdenshire Wonder was a major influence on Olaf Stapledon. His other science-fiction novels include [2 ] The Riddle of the Tower, about a dystopian, hive-like society. [3 ]
His father was a clergyman in
Castor, now in Cambridgeshire near Peterborough. J. D. Beresford was affected by infantile paralysis, which left him partially disabled. [4 ] He was educated at [5 ] Oundle.
After training to become an architect, he became a professional writer, first as a
dramatist, and journalist. In early adulthood he broke away from his father's views and became a "determined but defensive" agnostic. He combined a prominent place in Edwardian literary London with time spent in the provinces, in particular [6 ] Cornwall where D. H. Lawrence had an extended stay in his Porthcothan cottage. Later in life Beresford abandoned his earlier agnosticism and described himself as a Theosophist and a pacifist. [4 ]
Beresford was also interested in
psychology, and attended several meetings organised by A.R. Orage to discuss psychological issues. Other attendees at these meetings included Havelock Ellis, Clifford Sharp, David Eder, and Maurice Nicoll. [7 ]
Beresford also contributed to numerous publications; in addition to being a book reviewer for
, he also wrote for the The Manchester Guardian , New Statesman [8 ] , The Spectator ,and the Theosophist magazine Westminster Gazette . The Aryan Path At one point, Beresford was offered the editorship of the pacifist magazine [9 ] but declined because he felt he "would be a bad editor". Peace News [10 ]
Beresford's interest in the spiritual and philosophical may be best illustrated by the publisher notes to his novel,
On A Huge Hill:
"Mr Beresford's readers have long known that that for him there are more things in heaven or earth than are dreamt of in official medical philosophy. He has used his novelist's skill to convince the sensitive reader that the age of miracles is not over, and that, in certain circumstances, the spirit may exercise what seem to us miraculous powers over the substance of the body. This he did in 'The Camberwell Miracle' and 'Peckover'; and in this absorbing novel, he returns to the theme, with the study of a man fitting himself to become a great healer."
Dorothy L. Sayers quotes from Beresford's essay "Writing Aloud" in her book on theology, . Mind of the Maker [11 ] George Orwell in 1945 described him as a "natural novelist", whose strength, particularly in A Candidate for Truth, was his ability to take seriously the problems of ordinary people. [12 ] Elisabeth Beresford (1926–2010), children's writer and creator of The Wombles, was his daughter. Through his son, writer Marc Brandel, he is the great-grandfather of American actor James Newman. Works [edit ] The Early History of Jacob Stahl (1911), the first of a trilogy of novels with A Candidate for Truth and The Invisible Event (1911) novel The Hampdenshire Wonder A Candidate for Truth (1912) Goslings: A World of Women (1913) novel The House in Demetrius Road (1914) novel The Invisible Event (1915) novel H.G. Wells (1915) criticism These Lynneskers (1916) Novel William Elphinstone Ford (1917) biography, with Kenneth Richmond House Mates (1917) Novel Nineteen Impressions (1918) stories God's Counterpoint (1918)Novel The Jervaise Comedy (1919)Novel The Imperfect Mother (1920) Novel Signs and Wonders (1921, Golden Cockerel Press) stories Revolution (1921) novel The Prisoner of Hartling (1922) Novel The Imperturbable Duchess and Other Stories (1923) Monkey Puzzle (1925) That Kind of Man, or Almost Pagan (1926)Novel The Instrument of Destiny (1928) a mystery novel All or Nothing (1928) novel Real People (1929) novel The Meeting Place and Other Stories (1929) Love's Illusion (1930) The Next Generation (1932) novel The Old People (1932) Novel The Camberwell Miracle (1933) novel Peckover (1934) novel On a Huge Hill (1935) novel Blackthorn Winter and other stories (1936) The Decoy (1937) Novel Cleo (1937) Novel What Dreams May Come (1941) novel A Common Enemy (1941) novel Men in the Same Boat (1943) (with Esmé Wynne-Tyson) The Riddle of the Tower (1944) (with Esme Wynne-Tyson) The Gift (1947) (with Esme Wynne-Tyson) The Prisoner Love's Pilgrim References [edit ] ^ Michael R. Page, The Literary Imagination from Erasmus Darwin to H.G. Wells:Science, Evolution, and Ecology Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2012 (p. 191) ISBN 1409438694. ^ Brian Stableford, The Hampdenshire Wonder in Frank N. Magill, ed. Survey of Science Fiction Literature, Vol. 2. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, 1979. pp. 945–949. ISBN 0-89356-194-0 ^ Brian Stableford, The Riddle of the Tower in Frank N. Magill, ed. Survey of Science Fiction Literature, Vol. 4. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, 1979. pp. 1780–1783. ISBN 0-89356-194-0 ^ a b Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft, Twentieth Century Authors, A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature, (Third Edition). New York, The H.W. Wilson Company, 1950, (p.p. 130-1) ^ George M. Johnson, J. D. Beresford. Twayne Publishers, 1998 ISBN 0805770399. (p.2) ^ SF Encyclopedia article ^ Mathew Thompson, Psychological Subjects: Identity, Culture, and Health in Twentieth-Century Britain. Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0199287805 (p. 78-80). ^ Bashir Abu-Manneh, Fiction of the New Statesman: 1913 – 1939, Lexington Books, 2011 ISBN 1611493528. (p. 37) ^ Johnson, ( p.177) ^ Johnson, p. 30. ^ Dorothy L. Sayers, Mind of the Maker, Continuum, 2005 ISBN 0826476783 (p. 25). Reprint of 1941 edition. ^ "Good Bad Books" Tribune 2 November 1945 Bleiler, Everett (1948). The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Chicago: Shasta Publishers. p. 49. Further reading [edit ]
London, : London, Heinemann .
George M. Johnson, “J.D. Beresford.” Dictionary of Literary Biography. British Short-Fiction Writers 1915-1945. Ed. John H. Rogers. Detroit: Gale Research (1996). Richard Bleiler, "John Davys Beresford" in Darren Harris-Fain, ed. British Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Before World War I. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, (1997). George M. Johnson, J. D. Beresford New York : Twayne Publishers. (1998) George M. Johnson, “J.D. Beresford.” Dictionary of Literary Biography. Late-Victorian and Edwardian British Novelists, Second Series. Ed. George M. Johnson. Detroit: Gale Research, (1999). George M. Johnson, Dynamic Psychology in Modernist British Fiction. Palgrave Macmillan, U.K., 2006. George M. Johnson, “The Other Side of Edwardian Fiction: Two Forgotten Fantasy Novels of 1911.” Wormwood: Literature of the fantastic, supernatural and decadent. U.K., No. 16 (Spring 2011) 3-15. George M. Johnson, “Evil is in the Eye of the Beholder: Threatening Children in Two Edwardian Speculative Satires.” Science Fiction Studies. Vol. 41, No.1 (March 2014): 26-44. External links [edit ]