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195 THE QUEST OF THE GOLDEN BOY: R. LE GALLIENNE AND SOME UNPUBLISHED EVIDENCE By L. D. Jacobs (Kingsborough Community College) The I89O-I9OO period was the capstone to an age of synthesis and there were few more representative of the age than Richard Le Gallienne (1866-1947). He was, we are told, "handsome, talented, successful. Famous men and women adored him and he them. Yet he has remained a shadowy figure in the wings of English literature." In their biography, The Quest of the Golden Boy. The Life and Letters of Richard Le Gallienne. first published In England in I960, authors Richard Whlttington-Egan and Geoffrey Smerdon have endeavored to restore the lustre that was without question Le Gallienne's In the "Yellow Book" period. Le Gallienne lived to see a number of literary revolutions ferment and pass on. After the turn of the century. Industry, psychology, economy were the dominant concerns of the "new" society and literature reflected this Involvement. The novel of pure romance had a small following and Le Gallienne, whose chief concern In life was the pursuit of beauty, found himself out of step. He was, and would ever be, a part of the old world. It was his spiritual and literary home and It was to the old world he returned when he could no longer bear what he labeled the brutal forces of the modern economy. In the biography, a detailed but somewhat overextended work, the authors touch upon Le Gallienne's friendship with Wilde, Swinburne , Stevenson, and, of more value, mark his place amongst such as John Lane, Crackanthorpe, Davidson, Gosse, Johnson, Dante Rossettl and Beardsley. Recounted at length is Le Gallienne's long ascent from Liverpool to London, his "golden time" as critic, poet and novelist, the descent and retreat to America and finally his return to Europe and France where thereafter, except for a brief wartime period, he made his permanent home. When the book was first published It seemed that the authors had uncovered most of the pertinent available documents dealing with his life. However, a number of items were overlooked. One 0misslon concerns Samuel Hales, a Liverpool bookseller with whom Richard during his Liverpool days had a warm friendship. In a letter dated June 1, 1888 Le Gallienne refers to him as "my elder brother." There are 27 signed letters addressed to Hales In the Poetry Room of the Lockwood Memorial Library In Buffalo, New York, and they seem to indicate that Hales provided the companionship not to mention the books - with which Le Gallienne fortified himself In those early days. In addition, there are also about 30 letters In the Lockwood Memorial Library written to Holbrook Jackson, who Is barely mentioned In the biography. The biography also excludes mention of the large body of letters written to Charles Hanson Towne which are in the Manuscript Division collection of the New York Public Library and the uncatalogued correspondence in the Fales Collection, New York University. 196 This material offers further comment upon Le Gallienne's activities during the period of his residence In America. An even more important Item also evidently eluded the authors' search for material, a diary1 kept by Le Gallienne at the age of twenty-three in which he chronicled the daily events of his most formative year as a young man and writer. In It we learn of the people he admired, the problems of composition with which he was faced and we receive a more detailed account of his courtship of Mildred Lee, his first wife, than that provided by WhittlngtonEgan and Smerdon. The authors indicate that while Le Gallienne was living in his "literary loft," from October 1889 to April I89I, his association with his future wife, Mildred, was generally blissful. "There were generally long cozy evenings a deux when, with the paraffin lamp turned low and the fire chattering in the hearth, Richard and MlHy sat dreaming of the future. . . ."2 The first part of the diary would seem to bear out Whittlngton-Egan and Smerdon in their surmise. Mllsweet here in eve. for "holinlght." Three very sweet hours together. Read her the eight pages of N_3 & Rossetti's Jenny which...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 195-198
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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