J. D. Beresford

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J.D. Beresford
John Davys Beresford.jpg
BornJohn Davys Beresford
(1873-03-17)17 March 1873
Died1 February 1947(1947-02-01) (aged 73)
GenresScience fiction, horror, ghost stories
ChildrenElisabeth Beresford
 
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J.D. Beresford
John Davys Beresford.jpg
BornJohn Davys Beresford
(1873-03-17)17 March 1873
Died1 February 1947(1947-02-01) (aged 73)
GenresScience fiction, horror, ghost stories
ChildrenElisabeth Beresford

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.[1] His Wellsian novel The Hampdenshire Wonder was a major influence on Olaf Stapledon.[2] His other science-fiction novels include 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] [5] He was educated at 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.[6] He combined a prominent place in Edwardian literary London with time spent in the provinces, in particular 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 The Manchester Guardian, he also wrote for the New Statesman,[8] The Spectator, Westminster Gazette,and the Theosophist magazine The Aryan Path.[9] At one point, Beresford was offered the editorship of the pacifist magazine Peace News but declined because he felt he "would be a bad editor".[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]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ George M. Johnson, J. D. Beresford. Twayne Publishers, 1998 ISBN 0805770399. (p.2)
  6. ^ SF Encyclopedia article
  7. ^ Mathew Thompson, Psychological Subjects: Identity, Culture, and Health in Twentieth-Century Britain. Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0199287805 (p. 78-80).
  8. ^ Bashir Abu-Manneh, Fiction of the New Statesman: 1913 – 1939, Lexington Books, 2011 ISBN 1611493528. (p. 37)
  9. ^ Johnson, ( p.177)
  10. ^ Johnson, p. 30.
  11. ^ Dorothy L. Sayers, Mind of the Maker, Continuum, 2005 ISBN 0826476783 (p. 25). Reprint of 1941 edition.
  12. ^ "Good Bad Books" Tribune 2 November 1945

Further reading[edit]

London, : London, Heinemann [1935].

External links[edit]