Witley, June 22, 1917

Friday   Rain & a little cooler Am making enquiries concerning the R.F.C. have a notion of transfering, [sic] not much work today. was on duty tonight till 8 [pm] am reading the Wickedness of High Places Am good  [sic]

84 A sky pilot visits us crop.jpg

“A sky pilot visits us” (Percy’s small album)

Why the Royal Flying Corps suddenly seems attractive I don’t know. Perhaps Alf’s death has made war on the ground vividly real. Maybe Percy is just fed up with being stuck in Britain possibly as a garrison force for the duration. And there is something dashing about an air force. His brother Bert, in the Royal Naval Air Service, would have made it sound so — Bert loved a bit of panache. Percy wrote to him just yesterday.

winifred-graham.jpgWickedness in High Places: a Novel  (1905) is so thoroughly forgotten by now that not even Project Gutenberg can supply a copy. Its author Winifred Graham (1873-1950) claimed before her death to have written more books than any other living British author. (1) The British Library catalogue lists 82 separate works, with such wonderful titles as The Pit of Corruption (1913), (a complement to the book Percy is reading?), A Sinner in a Surplice (1926), and Tumbling out of Windows (1929). It seems that the people who read her most these days are Mormons, still resisting the campaign she began against them in 1908 with a series of books described as “anti-Mormon thrillers.” Among those titles are The Sin of Utah (1915) and Judas of Salt Lake (1916). (1) Her The Love Story of a Mormon (1911) is the basis of the 1922 film Trapped by the Mormons, and its 2005 remake.

Traces of her life can readily be found on the web, including a copy of her obituary in the Times, one of the most enjoyable examples of the genre I have ever read. How delicately tactful is its assessment of her work:

winifred graham europeana.JPG“Her dramatic and sentimental fictions came easily and flowingly from an ardent if not very exacting or self-critical fancy.  Situations which in the more sophisticated type of reader might evoke only incredulity she carried off with unfailing seriousness and unselfconscious assurance, qualities of mind and character which are perhaps indispensable for the sort of popular success she won.”

The unselfconscious assurance is clear in this 1920 photograph (2).

The obituary concludes: “She also led a busy and gratifying social life.”

(1) Thorp, Malcolm R. “Winifred Graham and the Mormon Image in England.” Journal of Mormon History. 6 (1979): 107. See also  D’Arc, James. “The Mormon as Vampire: A Comparative Study of Winifred Graham’s The Love Story of a Mormon, the Film Trapped by the Mormons, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” published in a special issue on “Mormons and Film” of Brigham Young University Studies. 46: 2 (2007) 164-187.
(2) “Miss Winifred Graham (Mrs Theodore Cory) at the residence ‘ Old Place ‘ Hampton Court 30 November 1920,” Europeana 1914-1918.

The less glamorous photograph comes from her entry in the on-line Archives of the Cory Society: as The Times put it, “in private life [she] was Mrs. Theodore Cory.”

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”

2 thoughts on “Witley, June 22, 1917

  1. This is a wonderful entry. Thanks for the Winifred Graham (especially the delicately tactful obituary). A question, though: how do you decide on when to use “[sic]”? As a reader,I trust you not to introduce your own misspellings.


    • Yes, I almost want to read Winifred Graham!!
      I do [sic] by the seat of my pants — one of those things that, if I’d planned this project out more thoroughly in advance, I’d have decided on principles. (Similarly, I’d have a really good system of categories and tags). Perhaps I need to trust my readers more!


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