Stanley Jast: Ritual, Magic, Drama and Love




Very few of the members of the Order of the Golden Dawn ever wrote down exactly what had caused them to accept the offer of initiation into a magical order.  Stanley Jast is one of the few: his What it all Means is not necessarily what every GD member believed - they were a pretty independent-minded bunch - but what one member did. 


What it all Means was published in 1941.  Its origins were in talks Stanley had given to Theosophical Society lodges in the 1900s and 1910s, but he still believed the same things after 30 more years’ contemplation of Life’s big questions.  You can describe Stanley’s beliefs as a mixture of theosophy and magic.  Spiritualism, was another option for those seeking the answers that Christianity no longer seemed to give, but Stanley had no time for it or those who believed in it.  He wrote:


Spiritualism might be good enough

If spirits didn’t talk such silly stuff.”


A more convincing note they couldn’t strike

They must be real dead people, they’re so like.”


Between theosophy and the western hermetic tradition Stanley worked out some answers that he was satisfied with.  He was a member of the GD and the Theosophical Society at the same time in the 1890s and may have considered the two of them complementary: GD for the Western occult tradition (including the Kabbalah - a part of the GD magical curriculum but Stanley was probably already familiar with it before he was initiated), TS for the Eastern; GD for practical magic, TS for theory and debate.  His involvement with the TS lasted longer, though. 


What it all Means begins with a chapter called ‘many lives’.  As far as I know, none of the senior members of the GD ever made any statement on reincarnation; so members were free to believe in it if they chose.  As a member of the Theosophical Society, though, Stanley would have been aware that it was a contentious subject amongst TS members.  Stanley himself was quite sure that “Reincarnation, with its complementary doctrine of Karma [is] the only working explanation of the mysteries of our life on earth”.

A belief in magic was something East and West had in common.  In his chapter on magic, Stanley explained the three basics which underpinned it, which both East and West acknowledged: the existence of worlds and planes on different levels of matter and energy; man as microcosm of the macrocosm; and correspondences.  East and West might describe and use the three basics differently but spells, for example, were a western equivalent to the mantras of Hinduism and Buddhism. 


Stanley believed in magic, which he saw as a “revolution against a too prosaic world”.  He could see that magic was still widespread in that prosaic modern world, though it was (and is) referred to by other names.  The recently-founded profession of chemistry annoyed him with its refusal to admit its alchemical roots.  He acknowledged that there was a qualitative difference between the old practice of alchemy and the work of the modern chemist, but in his opinion, that was nothing for modern chemists to feel pleased about: they concerned themselves solely with physical processes; while the “true alchemists” who had been their forebears had seen the physical processes as an expression of metaphysical truths.


For Stanley, the best illustrations that magic was still alive and well in the prosaic world, were people’s belief in prediction and charms.  Why else the visits to the astrologer, and the mascot on the car’s dashboard?  Modern rationalism had not rid people of the hope that astrology would tell them their future.  And while rejecting the “hocus-pocus” of charms sold by dubious “professors”, Stanley himself believed that “suitable objects...utilised as reservoirs of power” could be very powerful talismans, particularly those which had been a “personal possession of someone we love or have loved”, and which held something of the loved one’s personality and spirit.  How to consecrate an object as a talisman was magic taught in the GD.  Perhaps it was a magical practice that Stanley continued to carry out even after he had ceased to be an active member of the GD.


Another thing all GD initiates learned was how to conduct a magical ritual to keep themselves safe and get best results.  Stanley gave a brief description of how you do it.  One of the purposes of magical rituals was to create enough psychic energy for the participants to make contact with other planes of existence.  Conversely, powers from these planes of existence needed a human agent through which to work, to reach the material world. 


Stanley saw worship as a human attempt to reach these other planes of existence, which he thought of as “the divine”; but he was sure that without the use of ritual there was no chance of success.  He preferred the Eastern rituals for getting there: an individual working alone (meditating, for example), rather a congregation attempting to get there using a mediator like a priest.  To Stanley, the chances of a Protestant congregation getting there and experiencing the divine were very small, now that Protestant religious practice had been “shorn of all its magical elements”.


Stanley’s carefully-considered beliefs in reincarnation and karma, magic and meditation, and the existence of something or things out there beyond the material world, carried him through some tough times: tragic bereavement; and years of suffering with angina - death at his elbow, so to speak.  His wife Millicent thought that he was better prepared for death than most people.  She wrote to W A Munford that Stanley had been, “ready to pursue his enquiries into ultimate things on that higher plane to which he believed that physical death gives passage”. 





Although What it all Means doesn’t have a section on drama and theatre, it’s clear from his other writings that Stanley thought that ritual and theatre could complement each other.  Drama in ritual heightened the psychic tension; ritual in drama gave it depth.  He doesn’t seem to have written any dramatic works, however, until he was coping with two deaths that occurred in 1918: that of Winifred Austin (see below) whom he would have married, had she lived; and his mother Lizzie who had lived with him and kept house for him since the 1890s.  Stanley was already a member of the experimental amateur dramatic group The Unnamed Society, which was looking for new theatre-works to perform.  Stanley chose to channel some of his grief through plays: six in the three years from autumn 1918 to autumn 1921. 


The Unnamed Society’s financial means were very limited, and until 1923 their performance space was small and had not been built as a theatre.  Plays written for the Society couldn’t ask for much in the way of scenery and props.  Stanley’s plays were all short - three could be put on in the same evening.  Trying to sum them up - having read them but never seen them performed - I’d say they were like tableaux, or 17th-century masques - there was not much plot, not a great deal of action, and virtually no characterisation.  Several had Choruses, which Stanley used in the Greek manner to comment on action that had taken place elsewhere.  Stanley himself said of all of them that they needed “decorative grouping” - as if the characters were meant to stand like statues for at least part of the time - and he described one in particular (Venus and the Shepherdess) as “a play of poses”.  Dance figured in nearly all of them; Stanley was a fan of dance and wanted it incorporated into theatre more than it was - he called it “that lovely but still too isolated art”.  His plays were not examinations of human personality, but “dramatizations of purely philosophic theses”.  He even tried, in Harbour, to write a play about the Buddhist process of achieving enlightenment; and wrote it in the manner of a Noh play, a very stylised form of Japanese drama with music.  He could have read about Noh theatre in English by the early 1920s though I don’t know whether he could have seen any.  The actors in a Noh play all wear masks; Stanley’s play The Love of the Elements also required the actors to be masked.  And there’s one other indication of Stanley’s interest in Japanese culture: one of the plays is The Geisha’s Wedding.


Stanley actually described The Loves of the Elements as a “lyrical Ballet-Masque” rather than a play.  In it he was trying to put centre-stage elements of theatre which are usually incidental if they’re there at all - poetry, music, dance, design and lighting.  Some music was composed specially for it by Georgia Pearce. The ‘characters’ were taken from magic: the elements earth, water, fire and air (in that order), and their elemental spirits.  


Well, The Unnamed Society was asking for experimental plays.


Perhaps the most orthodox of the plays is the one that was the most personal: The Lover and the Dead Woman.  It begins with the Lover mourning at his love’s grave, unknowingly watched by the dead woman’s Spirit.  In what must be a reflection of Stanley’s own beliefs about death, the Spirit says that she prefers to be remembered in people’s memories, rather than commemorated in stone; and in any case her Spirit was never in the grave, only her body which is now dust.  There’s a painful meeting between the Spirit and her Lover, and there’s no happy ending - when the Spirit says she must go now, the Lover accuses her of being “Death’s paramour...The grave thy adulterous bed”.  They part in bitterness, he to regret having accused her like that, and she to


            “tread the dim and shadowy realms

            of wandering and unhappy ghosts.


            Waiting until he comes.”


Between 1920 and 1923 the Unnamed Society performed several other plays by Stanley.  He decided against publishing them and as far as I know, none of the texts or stage directions exist any longer.  They were: The Eugenic Cupid (which I’d love to read); Estelle Discovers Herself; The Room; A Florentine Irony; and The Repentance of Melpomene.


Stanley’s magnum opus as a writer of plays was Shah Jahan which - though put on by The Unnamed Society - was a more traditional style of play, with five acts, a couple of plot-lines and recognisable characters.  It’s about the reign of Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal in memory of his dead wife Mumtaz, but Stanley hadn’t wanted to write a history play and he took some liberties with historical events.  Like in many of his earlier plays, there’s a philosophical element to Shah Jahan: there’s a long scene where a Jesuit priest and a Muslim mullah describe their beliefs at Shah Jahan’s command (he ends up criticising both of them).  And the play ends with a scene that harks back to The Lover and the Dead Woman: Shah Jahan, now deposed by his son as unfit to rule (having bankrupted the state with his building projects), is inside the Taj in the dark, talking to Mumtaz’s ghost.  She calls his name, and he realises that as long as - though dead - she still loves him, they will be reunited when he dies.  He asks for death to come:


            “Let the pendulum

            Of my spent spirit stop



Shah Jahan was the last play Stanley wrote.  The published edition is dedicated to his wife Millicent, who had produced the Unnamed Society’s performances of it: Mumtaz to Stanley’s Shah Jahan perhaps.




Stanley came very late to love and was acutely aware of it: in his epigram Belated Love he says:

            If that my love too fierce appears,

            Remember ‘tis so late

            The love of all my loveless years

            On thee is concentrate.


I think that he had to wait, for the type of woman he could be attracted to, to come along.  She was rather rare at the time.  I thought the two women Stanley loved deserved their own section in his biography though neither of them were ever in the Golden Dawn.




Several of the sources I found for Winifred Austin said she had been born in 1875, but the correct year is 1873.  She was born in Blackheath, one of the nine children of George Austin and his wife Mary Anne.  George Austin had been a partner in Austin Brothers, of Gracechurch Street and then Gresham House Old Broad Street in the City of London: ship brokers, insurance agents and coal shippers; but he retired from the business in 1878 leaving his brother Charles William to carry it on.  Most of Winifred’s childhood was spent in Hove.  On the day of the 1881 census, the Austins were living there in some style, employing a cook, a housemaid, a parlourmaid and a nurse.  However, the Austins moved back to south London, to Clapham, where George Austin died in 1887 aged 62.  Three years later Winifred’s mother died, at an even younger age - she was only 56.


One of the articles I read about Winifred said that the early deaths of her parents had meant that - in addition to all the difficulties and unhappiness of being orphaned while still a teenager - her schooling didn’t go according to their plans, and finished earlier than it might have done otherwise.  Instead of going to an expensive finishing school, as was apparently her parent’s intention, Winifred spent a year as a governess in Switzerland - possibly around 1891 when she was not in England on the day of the 1891 census. 


In 1901, aged 27, Winifred was still leading the life an unmarried woman of the middle-classes was expected to lead.  She was living at 10 Rusholme Road Wandsworth, with her elder sister Beatrice, and her brothers John, Charles and Francis, none of whom were married; and she wasn’t contributing to the household expenses by earning any money.  All the brothers were now working and could afford to pay for a cook and a housemaid.  But even if the money coming into the household had been much less, Winifred would not have been expected to do anything but voluntary work.  When she went out and got herself a job with a wage, her family deeply disapproved of it although it meant she could contribute to the family finances.  It didn’t make any difference to them that the job Winifred took was one that made an important contribution to bettering the lives of the disabled.


In 1906, Winifred was offered and accepted the job of librarian and secretary to the National Lending Library for the Blind (NLLB), which at that time was at 125 Queen’s Road Bayswater.  The household she had been living in probably for nearly two decades was beginning to break up - eldest brother John got married that year - but Winifred was still making a very big leap for a woman of her class.  And why was she offered the job at all when she had - apparently - no experience of the work? It’s clear none of the articles on Winifred’s life can quite understand how that happened, and Winifred’s entry in ODNB states specifically that she had no experience of the tasks that the job required.  If it hadn’t been for this statement by ODNB, I’d have said that she had been one of the NLLB’s volunteers - it was a small charity, heavily dependent on donations and voluntary work; and voluntary work was something middle-class families would allow their unmarried daughters to do.  The ODNB entry seems adamant, though, so why Winifred got the job will have to remain a mystery.


However little understanding Winifred initially had, of the NLLB and of the rapidly expanding field of librarianship, she threw herself into her new job in a way that suggests pent-up energy and organisational ability at last being given a purpose.  In the next few years she revolutionised not only NLLB but library services for the blind all over England.  She raised money.  She bought and got donations of books, and shelves to put them on.  She learned braille to better supervise the volunteers who transcribed books into braille for the library’s users.  She set up new branches of NLLB outside London.  She brought all the libraries for the blind that were in existence into one umbrella group, helping to set up the Federation of Libraries for the Blind in 1913.  Around 1909 she joined the Library Association - the professional organisation for librarians - to keep up to date with developments in the field, and to make her library and the problems of blind people better known.


Winifred’s salary did not make her financially independent: at least in the early years she was employed at the NLLB, she earned £75 per year.  In 1911 she was still living with her brother Francis at 70 Redcliffe Square, off the Old Brompton Road.  On census day, Francis completed the census form - he was head of the household; but Winifred made sure he wrote down the full details of her job title and who her employers were.  Probably to her brother’s great irritation, she took a pride in the fact that she was a working, salaried woman.


Winifred and Stanley Jast met, through the Library Association, probably in 1910.  By this time Stanley was the senior librarian of Croydon Library Service and an important figure in the world of professional librarianship.  Both were very busy so the relationship between them progressed slowly, at Library Association meetings and during long country walks.  In 1916, marriage began to be discussed between them when Stanley was offered the job of deputy-director of Manchester Corporation’s library service, to succeed as director when his boss retired around 1920.  But there were problems.


When they met, he had been 42, she had been 37 - it wasn’t exactly young and hormone-driven love - but all the articles on Winifred agree that the Austins were strongly against her marrying Stanley Jast, for two reasons.  The first was based on typically Victorian snobbery about the infinite gradations of the class system.  Stanley was the son of a man who kept a tobacconist’s shop in a northern industrial town.  His relationship with the daughter of a City businessman - even one who had earned some of his money by brokering shipments of coal - was exactly the sort of consequence middle-class families were trying to prevent by not letting their daughters and sisters go out into the world of work.  The second was more personal.  Stanley’s biographers Fry and Munford describe him as a ‘big man’.  They don’t just mean his height: Stanley had a personality to match.  He was dynamic; he was one to take a lead; he had strong opinions and didn’t hesitate to maintain them at length; he dominated his company; he was impatient; he didn’t suffer fools gladly.  In Fry and Munford’s word, he was “overwhelming”, and Winifred’s family just didn’t like him.


That might have been enough to put many women off, but I think there were other reasons why Winifred hesitated to commit herself to marrying Stanley.  The first was the war, which swelled the number of blind people in Britain with soldiers injured in the fighting.  This crisis added to Winifred’s sense of the importance of her work; it gave her a sense of urgency; and it added to the amount of work she was doing.  In addition to her normal duties she did volunteering work teaching braille to newly-blinded soldiers.  She became a member of the Local Government Board’s advistory committee on the blind.  When other libraries started to have staffing problems she took in books from them until the NLLB building was absolutely full.  So in 1916 she got a grant to move the NLLB to bigger premises at 18 Tufton Street Westminster, and negotiated with the local council to have it exempted from paying rates.  While the war continued, there was no question of her stopping working.


Winifred was going to have to stop work when she married, and move to Manchester.  Stanley’s salary in Manchester was perfectly able to support the two of them, but that wasn’t the difficulty. I get the impression that Winifred really didn’t want to give up her work and all that she was achieving for blind people.  It gave her life purpose and fulfilment. 


In 1916 Winifred did agree to marry Stanley, but she said she would not do so until the war was over.  And therein lies the tragedy.  In May 1918, just before she and Stanley were going to go away for a few days’ holiday, Winifred was taken to hospital with pains in her abdomen.  She died a few days later, probably from the results of a burst appendix.


To say that Stanley was devastated is putting it mildly, I think.  But he wrote out his grief in plays and poetry, and that aided his mourning so that he was able to put his grief behind him in a few years.  In 1920, he met a woman who was similar to Winifred in many ways, though very different in others; and this time, he did get married.



MILLICENT BEATRICE MURBY of whom Stanley said, in a birthday ode

            In a world that’s at odds

            She’s a gift from the Gods.


Winifred Austin and Millicent Murby were exactly the same age: born in the autumn of 1873.  They were both born in south London.  Both were middle children in large families.  And both their fathers had been businessmen.  But - as regards how and where they grew up - the resemblance between them ends there.


Millicent Murby’s father Thomas was the owner of Thomas Murby and Co the publishing firm.  In the mid-19th century it made its reputation publishing school and examination texts.  It was still in existence in the 1960s, concentrating by then on geology and travel - it published Heyerdahl’s book The Kon-Tiki Expedition.  The family’s financial means were rather more modest than the Austins’ - or perhaps Thomas and his wife Emma were just more careful.  On the day of the 1881 census the Murbys were living at 26 Canterbury Road in Lambeth and although they had eight children under 15 at home that day, they only employed a general servant (to do the heavy cleaning) and a nursemaid. 


I’ve had to make more guesses about how Millicent grew up: she’s not in ODNB, I haven’t been able to find out where she went to school, and neither she nor her parents are on the census in 1891 or 1901: I suppose they were away, as a family, somewhere in Europe, on both days.  This habit that the GD members and their associates have of going away over Easter has been a plague on my research! In this case it has meant that I can’t say what the Murbys’ financial circumstances were during the 1880s and 1890s, nor when Millicent started work.


For start work she did, and not in the manner of Winifred Austin.  The sources on Millicent that I have found don’t mention that there was any trouble in the family about Millicent and her sisters doing paid work.  Millicent took the exams, passed them, and went into the Civil Service and although I don’t know the date she did so, I think it’s likely that it was when she was in her 20s.  In 1911 she was working in the War Office.  Thomas Murby had died in 1909 and the family had broken up.  On the day of the 1911 census Millicent was living at 135 Ramsden Road Balham with her sister Grace Marian, who was also working, as a clerk to an accountant.  They were earning enough to be able to employ one domestic servant who lived-in. 


It is a pity I haven’t been able to find out more about Millicent’s working life.  I do know that she ended her career in the Civil Service as a health inspector, possibly taking a post made available by men volunteering for the War.  And that her job had moved her to Manchester possibly by 1916, definitely by 1920. 


It’s been much easier to find out what Millicent did in her leisure time.  Long before they met, she and Stanley shared an interest in theatre; though as far as I know, Stanley never acted in plays, he only wrote them; and Millicent never wrote any plays, only acted in them and produced them.


It was through her interest in amateur dramatics that Millicent came to know the actress and performer Florence Farr, one of the most senior members of the Golden Dawn in the 1890s; though I’m quite sure Millicent was unaware that Florence was a member, and in any case Florence had left the Golden Dawn by the time the two women met.  Florence and Millicent were involved in two productions in early 1905.  Florence Farr was in charge of both of them, choosing the plays and the actors and directing the performances.  The first of the two plays which brought her and Millicent together was one of the earliest productions of George Bernard Shaw’s The Philanderer, written in 1893 and banned until 1902.  It was staged for one performance only, on 20 February at the Court Theatre, and Millicent played the role of Sylvia Craven. 


Then in May 1905, Florence Farr chose Millicent to become the first actress to play the title role in an English-language production of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé.  There were two performances of it, on 10 and 13 May, at the Bijou Theatre in Archer Street, Bayswater.  Robert Farquharson played Herod and Louise Salom Herodias.  At the time, professional productions of Salomé were banned in the UK; Florence’s production was allowed because it was an amateur one.  Salomé was a controversial role - still is - and I suppose that Florence Farr chose Millicent to play it partly because Millicent was willing to do so when other actresses might not have been; though she must also have had more experience than just playing in The Philanderer.  Perhaps Millicent had bitten off rather more than she could chew though; or perhaps she was just busy with other things a year later when the production was revived for a few more performances.  Someone else - a Miss Darragh - played Salomé.  That wasn’t the only cast change: Florence Farr played Herodias herself.  Max Beerbohm reviewed both sets of performances for the Saturday Review; he didn’t think Florence’s Herodias was villainous enough, and he preferred Miss Darragh’s Salomé to Millicent’s.


George Bernard Shaw went to one of the last rehearsals of The Philanderer so Millicent could have met him then.  But she was probably acquainted with him already because they were both members of the Fabian Society.   I couldn’t find any evidence for Winifred Austin as an active political campaigner, but Millicent Murby was an active feminist.  She was treasurer of the Society’s women’s group for many years and a member of its Executive Committee.  A campaigner on issues around women’s work and working conditions, in 1906 she gave evidence to the Select Committee on Wages and Conditions of Employment in the Civil Service.  She also lectured on specific problems and wrote on the subject for the journal The New Age in 1908.  Her pamphlet The Commonsense of the Woman Question was published in 1908.  And in 1912 she had an article in the feminist review The Freewoman.  She had to be careful, though: as a civil servant she couldn’t get too publicly involved in political campaigning.  For example, I couldn’t find any evidence that she let her commitment to votes for women take her as far as joining the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), in the years before the first World War the most high-profile and violent campaigning group on the subject.


I presume it was through friends she made at the Fabian Society that Millicent was recommended to the French philosopher and academic Henri Bergson to oversee an English translation of his book Creative Evolution, to be published in the USA.  She was working on this project in 1912 (in addition to her day job, of course).   


Although they shared an interest in theatre and were both acquainted with Florence Farr, Stanley Jast and Millicent Murby didn’t meet until 1920, when Stanley joined The Clarion Table (or Club), a lunch club for professional people based in Manchester.  Millicent was its only female member (how did she stand it?!) 


By 1922 they were close enough friends for Stanley to ask Millicent to be secretary to a society he was helping to found; and for her to agree to his request.  The society was the Manchester and District Regional Survey Society.  It was founded to do for Manchester what Stanley and fellow volunteers had done for Croydon in the 1900s - put together a pictorial record of local buildings, to be kept in the local library (the collection is now in Manchester Local History archive). 


In the late 1920s Millicent will have found herself with more time on her hands to fill with this kind of voluntary work.  In 1924 she had agreed to marry Stanley Jast provided he didn’t expect her to go all domestic and do cooking and cleaning; and women civil servants had to give up their job on marriage.  They married in London early in 1925 - he was 56, she was 51 - and the marriage gave Stanley at least a great deal of happiness. 


Stanley’s salary was a good one and meant that he and Millicent were well able to employ servants to carry out the household work Millicent had successfully avoided doing all her life.  So she was now free to campaign on an issue she may have felt strongly about for many years; but had been unable to pursue actively while she was employed by the government.  She began to campaign for what in due course became the clear air acts.  In 1933, for example, she gave a talk at the annual conference of the National Smoke Abatement Society (founded in 1928) called ‘The Altar of Fire Worship’.  Her pamphlet How the Citizen Takes the Air, subtitled The Personal Significance of the Smoke Problem was published by the Society in 1934. 


Another thing marriage gave Millicent more time for was theatre production.  Stanley had been a member of The Unnamed Society since 1916; if Millicent had been a member at that early stage, they would have met sooner.  Millicent could have joined the Society any time after 1920 but the book I consulted for the early 1920s didn’t mention her.  Either she wasn’t a member at that time; or she worked back-stage - the names of the people who did stage management, built props and scenery and sewed costumes weren’t mentioned in the book.  By January 1929, however, she was a member; she oversaw The Unnamed Society’s performances of Stanley’s play Shah Jahan at the Little Theatre that month. 


Stanley was due to retire in 1932 and neither he nor Millicent had put down any deep roots in Manchester.  They decided to move south once he had retired.  In 1931 they found a house in Beckington, just outside Bath.  Millicent moved there to get it ready while Stanley worked his last few months.


Stanley’s retirement meant that he could work on his writing.  His main efforts went on Shah Jahan - published in 1934 and dedicated to Millicent - and What It All Means, based on much earlier talks he’d given at the Theosophical Society and finally published in 1941.  I think he wrote more poetry, too, but this is just a guess of mine, as none of his poems are dated.  I assume - again without definite dating evidence - that it was during the 1930s that the Jasts travelled: to the West Indies and possibly México, and to Morocco. 


Stanley and Millicent lived in Beckington for several years.  Then, in 1939, they moved to Penzance.  This might have been to give Stanley the peace he needed for his latest attempt to finish What It All Means, but both he and Millicent were urban people really, and after only a few months and despite the risks with war about to break out, they moved back to London, to Penryhn House, 3 Riverdale Road Twickenham. 


Stanley died, very suddenly, on Christmas Day 1944.  He had been suffering from angina for several years.  In remembrance of him, Millicent got together all the poetry he had written and prepared a book of them, a private edition to send to his friends and the libraries he had worked for.  Louis Stanley Jast: Poems and Epigrams doesn’t have a publication date but it was probably printed in 1946.  There were poems written for and dedicated to both Millicent and Winifred Austin in it.


Millicent continued to live at Penrhyn House until her death in 1951.


I’m no judge of poetry - it seems to pass right over my head unless I hear someone read it out.  However, I did like some of Stanley’s poems and epigrams so I’ve written some out.  If you’d like to read them, the link is HERE.      




What It All Means by L Stanley Jast MA.  London: T Werner Laurie Ltd of Cobham House, 24-26 Blackfriars Lane EC4.  1941.

The ditty on spiritualism is from Louis Stanley Jast: Poems and Epigrams subtitled “Yet Speaketh”.  Inside the front cover is a pencil note with the only date the book has on it: “Mrs M Jast June 1946".  On pii: printed for private circulation only, by Wadsworth and Co of The Rydal Press Keighley.

Millicent Jast’s comment on Stanley’s preparedness for death was made in a letter to W A Munford, who later co-authored the biography I have relied on so heavily: Louis Stanley Jast: A Biographical Sketch by W G Fry and W A Munford.  London: The Library Association 1966.  P61 there’s no date for it, unfortunately, but the quote reads as if Millicent wrote it very soon after her husband’s death - perhaps in reply to a letter of condolence.



The Lover and the Dead Woman and Five Other Plays in Verse by L Stanley Jast.  London: George Routledge and Sons Ltd.  NY: EP Dutton and Co.  1923.


About Japanese Noh theatre: it is poss that Jast knew something about it by 1920s via these works in English:

Certain Noble Plays of Japan, from the manuscripts of Ernest Fenellosa, chosen and the work finished by Ezra Pound with an introduction by W B Yeats.  Published Dundrum: Cuala Press 1916. 

Noh Theatre of Japan: with Complete Texts of 15 Classic Plays by Ernest Fenellosa and Ezra Pound.  Dover Publications 1917. 


For Ernest Fenellosa, see his wikipedia page.  It’s possible that Stanley had even met him on one of Fenellosa’s visits to London.  Fenellosa died in London in 1908 and his widow handed over his notes to Ezra Pound and W B Yeats.  Yeats was a member of the Golden Dawn.



The Unnamed Book published Sherratt and Hughes of 34 Cross St Manchester 1924.  As well as text there’s drawings, illus of costume design etc and a drawing of Stanley Jast who was the Society’s president that year. 



Shah Jahan: A Play in Five Acts. London: Grafton and Co 1934.  First performances of the play had been given by The Unnamed Society at their Little Theatre Manchester; first night was 14 January 1929.




Austin Brothers:

Via google I saw the firm listed in several directories including the 1873 issue of Griffith’s Guide to the Iron Trade of GB; seen via

London Gazette 9 July 1878 p4061 in a list of dissolving partnerships, a notice issued 4 July 1878 ending the partnership of George Austin and Charles William Austin of 152 Gresham House Old Broad St.  Charles William Austin would continue the business on his own.

Via google I saw that a firm called Austin Brothers had existed until relatively recently, though as part of a bigger firm.



Oxford Dictionary of National Biography volume 2 p1011 [Ethel] Winifred Austin 1873-1918.  Friend of novelist Naomi Royde Smith; Smith’s 1948 novel Love in Mildensee is dedicated to Winifred’s memory.  The main source for the ODNB’s article is W A Munford, Library World volume 60 1959 166-70: Portrait of a Woman Librarian: Ethel Winifred Austin (1875-1918).  The other sources are other works by Munford on the National Library for the Blind (the NLLB’s title from 1916); he seems to have made quite a study of it.


Short biography of Winifred in The Library World volume LIX 1958 pp 166-70; and a response by letter from E A Savage, who seems to have known both Stanley and Winifred in volume 60 May 1959 pp250-51, disputing the year that they met.



MILLICENT BEATRICE MURBY is not in ODNB, except for a brief mention in Stanley Jast’s entry.


Plenty of references on the web to books published by the firm, which seems to have been in business until relatively recently.  The earliest publication by the firm that I saw on the web was an edition of Murby’s Scripture Manuals designed for students preparing for exams.  The firm continued to publish books even during World War 1 when paper was very scarce except for contributions to the war effort : Andrews’ Schoolroom Chart of Geographical Illustration an edition published 1915.  The firm was then at 32 Bouverie St.

Eruptive Rocks by S James Shand; 3rd edition 1947 published by Thomas Murby and Co now of 40 Museum St WC1.

Via its archive and museum database; Thomas Murby and Co described as “the leading geological publisher” of the post 2nd World War era.




About Florence Farr’s involvement: Florence Farr: Bernard Shaw’s New Woman by Josephine Johnson.  Gerrard’s Cross: Colin Smythe 1975.  Pp114-119.


Bernard Shaw Theatrics: Selected Correspondence by Shaw and Dan H Laurence.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press 1995.  One letter to Murby is included in the selection: number 37, on p59-60, written on 13 February 1905 to “Miss Murby” (so they weren’t on first-name terms).

For information on Salomé see wikipedia and also Wilde: Salome by William Tydeman and Steven Price.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1996: beginning on p184 is a list of the play’s performances, with cast lists.


I haven’t been lucky finding any information on the New Stage Club.



Educate, Agitate, Organiz: 100 Years of Fabian Socialism by Patricia Pugh.  London: Methuen 1984 pp107-108

The Public Organisation of the Labour Market: Being Part 2 of the Minority Report of the Poor Law Commission, editors Sidney and Beatrice Webb.  London and New York:Longmans Green and Co 1909. This contains a paper by Murby: Disabilities of Women as Workers. 

The Common Sense of the Woman Question by Millicent Murby; originally a lecture delivered to a Fabian Society meeting, published as a pamphlet London: New Age Press 1908.


Website is the Modernist Journals Project of Brown University and the University of Tulsa.  Searching for ‘Murby’ on its search facility I found a lot of references to Millicent in The New Age of 1908, an article by her - True Gospel of Feminisim; reviews of her pamphlet The Commonsense of the Woman Question; and a lot of responses to the review.  There was nothing by or about her later than 1909.  See wikipedia: The New Age started out in 1907 as pro-women’s suffrage but by 1912 was against it.  Also on website, The Freewoman: a Weekly Feminist Review; article by Millicent published in 1912.



The Feminist Avant-Garde: Transatlantic Encounters of the Early 20th Century by Lucy Delap.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2007.  Pp121 in the chapter Individualism in Feminist Political Argument. 

Via google to a page offering for sale an autographed letter by Henri Bergson dated “Paris 19 Nov. 1912" to “Chère Miss Murby”. 

The fact that she’s not the translator so much as an editor of someone else’s translation is made clear at website And the book referred to in the letter is named as Bergson’s Creative Evolution.  Arthur Mitchell of Harvard University thanks Millicent for her “great assistance”.  She had “studied the translation phrase by phrase” and her revision had “resulted in many improvements”. 



Via to the Manchester Archives and Local History Studies page reference M18.  The Archives hold the papers of the Manchester and District Regional Survey Society.  The Society existed 1921-30, and Stanley Jast had been the the prime mover in its foundation.  Millicent was the Society’s Secretary.



British Politics and the Environment by John McCormick 1991 p89 in the section Privatization and Pollution.  The National Smoke Abatement Society was formed in 1929 by the merger of two organisations that had been campaigning on air pollution issues for some years: the Coal Smoke Abatement Society and the Smoke Abatement League. 

Medicine, the Market and the Mass Media editors Virginia Berridge and Kelly Loughlin 2013 p224 the importance of local campaigning groups to keep the issue of air pollution alive.  The NSAS was based in Manchester from 1929 to 1927 when it moved to London.  It campaigned for smokeless zones and rigorous enforcement of legislation that had already been passed.

Times Monday 25 September 1933 p9 The Altar of Fire Worship: talk by Millicent Jast given at the 5th annual conference of the National Smoke Abatement Society.

How the Citizen Takes the Air, the Personal Significance of the Smoke Problem by Millicent Jast.  Manchester: National Smoke Abatement Society 1934.


There’s a short obituary of Millicent Jast in Library Association Record 1951 p102.




17 October 2013