GOLDEN DAWN: VIOLET TWEEDALE (née Chambers): PUBLICATIONS
Compiled: May-June 2023
A FAMILY OF PUBLISHERS
Violet Chambers’ grandfather Robert Chambers (1802-71), was a geologist and author, and co-founder with his brother William (1800-83) of W and R Chambers Ltd, which published the magazine Chambers’s Journal. Her father Robert Chambers (1832-88) took over as publisher/editor of the magazine when his father died; Violet helped him with proof-reading and editing and her brother Charles succeeded him as publisher/editor. Other descendants of the founder also worked as writers and editors. Violet’s first cousin Ménie Muriel Dowie, and her great-niece Rosamond Lehmann, were novelists; Rosamond’s brother John founded the magazine New Writing and managed the Hogarth Press for Leonard and Virginia Woolf.
Sources: see the relevant wikipedia pages and also Tweedale’s own Ghosts that I have Known (publication details below).
A SUPPORTIVE HUSBAND
Violet Chambers married Clarens Tweedale at St Peter’s Cranley Gardens on 3 June 1891. She credited him with encouraging her fiction writing.
Source for the date of the marriage: marriage certificate of Violet Chambers to Clarens (sic, corrected from Clarence) Tweedale, seen on the web though many years ago, it may not be there now.
THE WORK OF WRITING
A profile of Tweedale in the Barrhead News Fri 12 February 1915 p4 noted that Tweedale could write anywhere under any circumstances: she frequently wrote while travelling in Europe with her husband. However, when the Tweedales were staying at Balquholly, their house in Aberdeenshire (until 1921) she did have a more regular routine of writing from 1100 to lunch at 1400; and then from late afternoon to about 1930.
IN THE GD
Violet Tweedale was initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn during September 1889. R A Gilbert’s list of GD members doesn’t give a precise date but I suggest Tweedale was initiated in the same ritual as her great friend Albertina Herbert: on Friday 20 September 1889; at the studio rented by Mina Bergson at 17 Fitzroy Street in Bloomsbury. Tweedale had chosen the motto Facta non verba. She was not an active member for long and never got beyond Zelator grade 1=10, the first grade above 0=0, the level at which you were initiated. Unlike Mrs Herbert, Tweedale was not a keen occultist. Her interest was in spiritualism, and in ghosts.
R A Gilbert’s The GD Companion. Wellingborough Northants: the Aquarian Press 1986; p143, p86.
National Library of Wales catalogue number NLW18744B: diary of Hon Albertina Herbert 1889 to 1895. Entry for Friday 20 September 1889.
One book as Violet Chambers and it’s likely that she paid for it to be printed herself.
North Berwick: J Drummond
As Violet Chambers Tweedale:
1898 The Haunted House
Chambers’s Journal issue of 24 December 1898. Listed at //dvpp.uvic.ca, the Digital Victorian Periodical Poetry website.
1900 A Common Grave in South Africa
Chambers’s Journal issue of 1 December 1900. Listed at //dvpp.uvic.ca, the Digital Victorian Periodical Poetry website.
1900 New Year
Chambers’s Journal issue of 28 December 1901. Listed at //dvpp.uvic.ca, the Digital Victorian Periodical Poetry website.
As Violet Chambers:
1888 In Lothian’s Fields. Essays
North Berwick: J Drummond.
Haddington Advertiser and East-Lothian Journal 20 July 1888 p1 advertised it. The Kinross-shire Advertiser 15 September 1888 p3 mentioned its appearance and its contents, describing the volume as “tastefully got-up” and as containing “admirable sketches of nature and human life”.
1889 Visions in the Crystal
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine editors Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Annie Besant. Theosophical Publishing Co of 7 Duke Street Adelphi. Volume 5 issue of 15 September 1889 pp41-46.
This short work was Tweedale’s first published attempt at fiction. It attracted the attention of the Surrey Gazette 14 October 1889 p4: its reviewer described it as “rather good reading”.
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine editors Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Annie Besant. Theosophical Publishing Co of 7 Duke Street Adelphi. Volume 5 issue of 15 December 1889 p309. A very short piece on that stalwart of Victorian fiction – the deathbed of a child.
A copy of that issue of Lucifer had reached the Torquay Times and South Devon Advertiser by its issue of 8 August 1890 p7, as one of the other contributors to the issue was a local man. Someone in the office read Violet’s piece as well, describing it as “very cleverly and poetically written...albeit of much too sombre a tinge”.
As Violet Chambers Tweedale:
1895 The Gentle Art of Bookbinding
Chambers’s Journal volume 12 issue of 20 July 1895 pp449-51.
1904 The Recent Magnetic Storm and Sun-Spots
Chambers’s Journal 1905 p86.
Three articles in Broad Views:
There’s a wikipedia page on the magazine Broad Views, which was published monthly from January 1904 to June 1907. It was set up by the theosophist A P Sinnett, who managed and edited it and wrote many of the articles; though it didn’t just publish articles on theosophy. Volumes 3 to 7 of Broad Views can be seen at iapsop.com.
1904 Doubts Concerning the Fifth Commandment
Broad Views volume 1 April 1904 beginning p342.
1906 Women and the Franchise
Broad Views volume 5 April 1906 pp345-350.
1906 What is a Christian?
Broad Views volume 6 July p104 pp37-48.
This article got a mention in W T Stead’s Review of Reviews.
1908 Haunted Houses
Chambers’s Journal December issue; noted in The Athenaeum issue of 14 November 1908 p612. Because Tweedale was now so widely-known as an author, this contribution to the family magazine was widely advertised.
1923 Back to Blavatsky
Occult Review volume 37 May 1923 p309. Tweedale was writing in, as a friend of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, to criticise A P Sinnett’s The Early Days of Theosophy. A reference in the letter indicates she was a regular reader of Occult Review, at least in the 1920s, but this is the only item I’ve found by her in any of the volumes up to her death.
A P Sinnett: The Early Days of Theosophy London: Theosophical Publishing House 1922.
1932 Mrs Meurig Morris’s Libel Action: Power is so Splendid for the People
International Psychic Gazette volume 20, May 1932 pp117-18; seen at iapsop.com.
Mrs Morris, a professional psychic, had sued the Daily Mail following articles alleging she was a fraud. Violet Tweedale had given evidence on her behalf; with Lady Conan Doyle, Sir Oliver Lodge and other spiritualists. ‘Power’ was the name of Mrs Morris’ control. Tweedale recommended the Times for the best account of the trial. Her article gave the impression that Mrs Morris had won the case, but the verdict had been rather less favourable than that. The jury accepted the Daily Mail’s ‘public interest’ defence; though they did decide that Mrs Morris sincerely believed in her spiritualist powers and did not intend to deceive.
Louisa Ann Meurig Morris plied her trade in the era of radio and TV. She was recorded in trance; the recording’s now in the British Library collection and was put up on the BL’s blog on 23 August 2021 at //blogs.bl.uk/soundandvision/2021/08/recording-of-the-week. And she was filmed in trance by Movietone; you can see that at youtube and also via //wearesouthdevon.com: Torquay’s Violet and Mrs Morris versus the Daily Mail.
Coverage of Morris v Associated Newspapers and Another in the Times: Thur 7 April 1932 p4; Fri 8 April 1932 p4; Sat 9 April 1932 p4; Tue 12 April 1932 p5; Wed 13 April 1932 p4; Thur 14 April p1932 p4; Fri 15 April 1932 p4; Sat 16 April 1932 p4; Tue 19 April 1932 p5; Wed 20 April 1932 p5.
SPIRITUALISM and GHOSTS; where it’s hard to tell what is fiction and what isn’t
1895 Can These Things Be? Stories of the Supernatural
London: Digby Long and Co
An advert for it in the Dundee Advertiser 21 November 1895 p1; with Violet as the author of In Lothian’s Fields.
1919 Ghosts I Have Seen, and Other Psychic Experiences
London: Herbert Jenkins.
With An Unholy Alliance and The Cosmic Christ, it was chosen by the Dundee Evening Telegraph of Tue 15 December 1936 p2 to be included in its announcement of Tweedale’s death. Today it is Tweedale’s best-known work.
Some modern editions have been published:
Individual chapters, now illustrated, published Frenchtown New Jersey: Joseph Carlough/Displaced Snail. In 2012 [Chapter] 1: Silk Dress and Rumpus; illustrator Nicholas Becket. In 2015 [Chapter] 2: illustrator Mocha. In 2013 [Chapter] 4: East End Days and Nights; illustrator Alyssa San Valentine.
An edition published 2018 and 2019 by Forgotten Books as a “classic reprint”.
And some editions in translation:
1954 in French as Les Fantômes que j’ai vus translated by Juliette Bailly-Sforza. Paris: Ėditions du Vieux Colombier.
1973 in Spanish as Mis Aventuras con Fantasmas. No translator’s name given. Published México: Posada.
2021 in German as Geister die ich gesehen habe. No translator’s name given. Published by Books on Demand.
The Pall Mall Gazette on 31 October 1919 had a large advert for Ghosts… in the top right hand corner of p8 where the reader wouldn’t miss it. The blurb in the advert described it a “the psychic book of recent years” and announced that the first two editions had consisted of 4000 copies at 7/6 each.
It was unfortunate for Tweedale that Arthur Conan Doyle, a recent convert to spiritualism, published his The Vital Message at about the same time: in the Globe of 14 November 1919 p6, six books about spiritualism were reviewed, with Conan Doyle’s book being treated first and at greatest length; Ghosts… was dismissed with the comment that the number of ghosts she and her acquaintances had seen “must be a record”. The “extraordinary” number of ghosts in Tweedale’s life was also mentioned in the Aberdeen Press and Journal of 10 November 1919 p3 and 12 November 1919 p2, which focused its reviews on the book’s Preface where Tweedale stated her own position on spiritualism: that she didn’t think her book would convince doubters – only personal experience of spiritualist happenings would do that; and that she didn’t care a great deal about what other people thought of spiritualism and ghosts.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Vital Message: Hodder and Stoughton 1919.
1924 Phantoms of the Dawn
London: John Long. Foreword by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A cheap edition 1938.
Again, Tweedale was upstaged by Conan Doyle: most adverts and references to Phantoms… in the press covered his Foreword rather than Tweedale’s reminiscences. However, the Torquay Times and South Devon Advertiser focused more on Tweedale’s contribution, in a review published on 21 November 1924 p7. The reviewer saw Tweedale as one of the few people who were able to write coherently about their spiritualist experiences. However, while not wanting to question her sincere belief in spiritualism, the reviewer was not sure her book would persuade doubters: some of the incidents she described seemed “too wildly improbable”.
Tweedale was now living in Torquay and had had the book printed at the Devonshire Press, housed in the same building as the Torquay Times.
Several reviews of Phantoms… drew their readers’ attention to where it differed from Ghosts… The Belfast News-Letter of 26 March 1925 p11 and the Western Mail of 7 January 1925 p4
for example, described it as focusing more on the philosophical aspects of spiritualism. Unlike the reviewer in Torquay, Belfast’s reviewer did admit that the book contained incidents which were “hard to explain”; and felt that there was no one better than Tweedale at interesting her readers in the psychic world. The Birmingham Daily Gazette 5 February 1925 p3 reviewed Phantoms… with several other books on spiritualism, described it as (only) “thrilling stories of haunted houses”. The Leicester Daily Mercury 3 January 1925 p3 also thought it had in it accounts of “some amazing experiences”; though it thought Tweedale’s explanations of them as “not always convincing”, particularly when it came to the cursed mummies of Ancient Egypt, where Tweedale’s explanations went well beyond scientific opinion. The Western Mail was another newspaper that felt doubtful that sceptical readers would change their minds: “She writes most earnestly, but”… It also felt that “the proofs of the book might have been read with greater care” – though of course, this error might not have been Tweedale’s, and no other review mentioned poor proof-reading.
1927 Mellow Sheaves. [With a Portrait]
London: Rider and Co. In her Introduction Tweedale noted that this was her 28th book. On a visit to Bath she gave an interview to the Bath and Wells Chronicle and Herald in which she mentioned that she was writing it at that moment: Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 3 April 1926 p20.
The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of 20 April 1927 p4 gave the book a longer review than Tweedale was usually getting by this time, describing it as combining reminiscence with “occult speculation and eerie ghost stories”. The reviewer was unhappy with Tweedale’s remarks about jazz and the latest dance crazes that we would call racist and out-of-touch with youth; but decided that, overall, the book was an enjoyable read.
However, Mellow Sheaves annoyed the reviewer in the Western Mail 11 August 1927 p9 who thought that the book would probably satisfy the correspondents that Tweedale’s Introduction said it was written for: they would forgive her “inflated style” and her convinction that she was engaged in “glorious and exalted activities” on other planes.
1928 Found Dead, and Other True Ghost Stories
London: Herbert Jenkins.
This was advertised in the Daily Mirror of 17 November 1928 p11 as half a dozen ghost stories “all true and unlike any others”. The Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal of 22 March 1929 p15 described them as having a common theme, of spirits of the dead still “earth-bound by the desire to see wrong righted”.
1930 The Cosmic Christ. [With a Portrait]
London: Rider and Co. After Tweedale died, Rider and Co announced an edition at 2 shillings and sixpence per copy; for example in The Scotsman 26 August 1937 p13. There was another new edition in 1938, advertised in Chambers’s Journal 1938 p485 and p896.
This was Tweedale’s last published work. In it, she argued for Christ as a being outside time and space, not concerned solely with humanity but helping its spiritual evolution and so appearing in some guise in all ancient civilisations.
The Aberdeen Press and Journal 23 June 1930 p2 was impressed by Tweedale’s “amazing” erudition, and thought the book “arresting and informative...even though one may not accept the conclusions of the argument”. Despite the challenging subject, the reviewer thought the book was an easy read. I think Tweedale would have been pleased that it was reviewed in the Western Morning News of 25 August 1930 p3 as one of a group of recent theological publications, and described as “an essay in Christology”.
With Ghosts… and An Unholy Alliance, it was chosen by the Dundee Evening Telegraph of Tue 15 December 1936 p2 to be included in its announcement of Tweedale’s death.
The medium and occultist Vyvyan Deacon also chose to focus on it in a talk at Pengelly Hall in Torquay after Tweedale died: Torquay Times and South Devon Advertiser Fri 29 October 1937 p3.
Two sources for Vyvyan Deacon (1895-1938):
The Uncommon Medium by Vivienne Browning. Skoob Esoterica 1992.
And online at www.newdawnmagazine.com: A Link in the Golden Chain. The Life and Times of Vyvyan Deacon, Australia’s Pioneer Metaphysical Teacher. By Paul V Young and originally published in New Dawn issue 161 March-April 2017.
FICTION, though some at least of these works include supernatural and occult elements. Tweedale also drew on her other outside interests for the plots: the poverty in the East End; the position of women in society etc. She used her fiction as a platform for her political and social views and was constantly criticised by reviewers for doing so.
Tweedale’s entry in
confirms that she did not publish any fiction in the Chambers’ family’s magazine.
1895 Unsolved Mysteries
London: Digby Long and Co.
This is fiction rather than accounts of Tweedale encounters with ghosts, but it’s not a full-length novel. It’s two longish short stories: A True Incident in the Life of Father Lucas; and The Unsolved Mystery of Grimston Hall.
1897 And They Two. [A Novel]
London: G Redway. George Redway published a lot of books with occult leanings but this was the only work that he published by Tweedale.
Advertised as Book of the Day in Truth 11 February 1897 p54.
1897 What Shall It Profit a Man? [A Tale]
London: Digby Long and Co.
This caught the eye of Golf 17 December 1897 p7 because Tweedale’s father, Robert Chambers, had been such a fine golfer. The reviewer noted that Tweedale’s own record as a golfer was first-class; but felt her talents as a fiction-writer were not nearly so good.
JOHN LONG and the six-shilling novelists
Seeing Tweedale’s fiction was published by John Long for virtually all her career, I’ve tried to find some information on him and the firm. There isn’t much around. I couldn’t even confirm that he was the ‘Long’ of Digby Long and Co; though it does seem likely as a profile of him in the Torquay Times and South Devon Advertiser of Fri 4 June 1926 p7 says that before striking out on his own around 1895/1896, he had been an employee at an (unnamed) London-based publishing firm. Concentrating on fiction, the list of authors John Long had published by the 1920s included Tweedale; Rose Macaulay; the Spanish novelist Vicente Blasco Ibáňez; Edgar Wallace; and Nat Gould – whose name I didn’t know but who was “world-famous” and had sold 26 million books in his time. As well as the 6 shilling novels I mention in the advert below, which by 1926 were costing 7 shillings and sixpence, John Long issued cheaper editions. The firm had always been willing to take on new authors – it took on Tweedale when she was relatively new - and since 1921 had been holding an annual competition for the best first novel.
John Long spent a lot of money on adverts for the works of his authors; as individuals and as a group. Consequently, when I searched for Violet Tweedale at the British Newspaper Archive there were plenty of responses, many quoting unattributed praise of Tweedale’s work which presumably came from John Long’s publicity department. I’m not going to list them all below; I do quote some undoubted reviews of Tweedale’s work. This advert in the Morning Post of 18 February 1909 p2 was fairly typical of an advert by John Long’s firm. Tweedale’s latest, The Quenchless Flame, was in a list with a number of works by some of John Long’s other authors, none of whose names were familiar to me. All priced at 6 shillings, they were John Long’s Popular Novels. John Long’s offices were at 12-14 Norris Street, the Haymarket.
John Long interested the Torquay Times… because he was a Devon man, born near Newton Abbot; the son of Henry Holmes Long who had worked for the East India Company. The family had intended John Long for the British civil service, but John had had other ideas.
Back to Tweedale’s list:
1899 The Kingdom of Mammon
London: John Long. Another edition 1906.
The publisher’s advert in Truth 31 August 1899 p44: announced its 4th edition and quoted the Sporting Times which had described it as “Clearly the book of the season…” Less enthusiasm for the book was expressed in St James’s Gazette 25 July 1899 p12 which declared it to have “some merit but no art”. The reviewer thought the Kingdom of Mammon to have been “thrown together in a very disproportionate, chaotic way...full of tiresome dissertations on “mammon” (their quotes) and other dreary things, with side hits at Ritualism, at Christianity, the treatment of women, and suchlike well-worn topics.” While admitting that Tweedale had a gift for portraying character, the reviewer felt she should study the art of leaving things out, so that her books would “delight without wearying us”.
Despite reviews like that one, The Kingdom of Mammon was a great success and became one of Tweedale’s best-known works. In (for example) the Sheffield Daily Telegraph 7 December 1899 p3 John Long announced the publication of a cheap edition; in time for the Christmas trade. The Barrhead News of 12 February 1915 p4 remembered it as having “caused much discussion” when it was published; and noted that it was “still selling”. A booksellers’ advert in the Carluke and Lanark Gazette of 19 February 1916 p1 was publicising a list of 6-penny novels now selling at 5-pence each; The Kingdom of Mammon was the only book by Tweedale on the list.
1901 Her Grace’s Secret
London: Hutchinson and Co.
1902 The Honeycomb of Life
London: Hutchinson and Co. 2nd edition 1903/04.
1904 The Hazards of Life
London: John Long.
1905 Lord Eversleigh’s Sins
London: John Long.
1906 Lady Sarah’s Son
London: John Long. Worldcat has it as a 2nd edition.
This book got a review in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 16 May 1906 p3 which made a criticism of Tweedale’s work which was fairly typical: that the book was too long, and had too much theory. However, the reviewer did begin by saying that Tweedale had “done nothing better”, with strong and individually-drawn characters and a good story-line.
1906 The Portals of Love
London: John Long. I think a German translation of this was published 1912 Berlin: Hillger. As Die Pforten der Liebe Roman. Translator M W Sopher.
1907 Mrs Barrington’s Atonement
London: John Long.
An advert for this one in Pall Mall Gazette 23 December 1907 p3 quoted from a review of it in the magazine The Outlook: “cleverly told, full of character study and the strong social interest with which the author invariably invests her books”.
The Outlook was published in London between 1898 and 1928. See //onlineebooks.library.unpenn.edu.
1907 The Sweets of Office
London: John Long.
1908 An Empty Heritage
London: John Long.
1909 The Quenchless Flame
London: John Long.
An advert for this from John Long, in Truth 3 February 1909 p52 quoted a review of it in the Times: “[Tweedale] does not descend to bathos or verbiage; her drama is often effective, and is always conceived on fine, full-blooded emotional lines”.
1910 Hypocrites and Sinners
London: John Long. The Bookman volumes 37-38 1910 p54 had a short item publicising the book. It mentioned some of Tweedale’s earlier fiction and called her novels “clever”. Publishers’ Circular issue of 7 May 1910 p633 also mentioned it and described Tweedale’s work in general as “excellent”.
It became one of Tweedale’s best-selling works: there were two editions in 1910, a popular edition in 1912 and it was issued again 1913.
1911 A Reaper of the Whirlwind
London: John Long.
John Long advertised this one on its own (that is, not with the work of other writers) in Truth 22 March 1911 p56 quoting the magazine Black and White’s review of it. The review described the plot as involving hereditary insanity with “incidents drawn from real life” and said it was the “strongest and most remarkable” fiction-work Tweedale had produced.
Wikipedia on Black and White: A Weekly Illustrated Record and Review: first published in 1891 by W J P Monckton, it was absorbed into The Sphere in 1912. Amongst the authors whose work it published were Henry James and H G Wells, so it was quite a coup for Tweedale to get noticed by its reviewing staff.
1912 Austin’s Career
London: John Long.
A review of this in the Dundee Courier of 3 April 1912 p5 gave away the basic plot as “young Guardsman’s entanglement with a Peeress...and ultimate ruin through the honourable fulfilment of obligations incurred”. The involvement in the plot of members of the upper-classes and – hopefully – a downfall or exposure of some of them, was a staple of the kind of fiction publishers like John Long were interested in. So were foreign locations – the Guardsman and his peeress run away to Paris. It all goes wrong and the Guardsman renounces love and family life. The advert quoted a review of the book in The Athenaeum which described it as “brightly written” with good descriptions of scenery.
1913 The House of the Other World
London: John Long. Cheap edition 1938: I read this as the British Library doesn’t have a copy from 1913; quote is p5.
This was a ghost story, told in the first person by the wife of a couple who move out of London to an Elizabethan house which turns out to be haunted. The first few pages of the story portray the happy married life of the couple and are perhaps a reflection of the marriage of Violet and Clarens Tweedale. The wife of the couple sounds rather like an estimation that Violet had of herself. Daphne Heriot says of herself, “I am sensitive to an increased rate of vibration” – that is, she can sense atmospheres and see ghosts. It seems typical of the way Tweedale sees and writes about ghosts that the ghosts in this story are not violent, they don’t threaten anyone. They are restless spirits, seeking peace through telling their story and righting ancient wrongs.
Tweedale may have had a particular house in mind when she began the story. In 1920, the Watcombe Hall estate near Exeter was sold to the Dallas Cairns film company. A report on the sale in the Western Evening Herald 9 April 1920 p3 announced that Tweedale had put the house and its ghost in a book. The report didn’t say which book; but this book, or The Beautiful Mrs Davenant (from 1920) seem to be the best fit. The review of the novel in the Manchester Daily Citizen 4 February 1913 p7 said that the plot was based on the “actual experiences of a member of the Psychical Society” (it must mean the Society for Psychical Research), but no other reviews that I came across mentioned this.
Pall Mall Gazette 1 March 1913 p3 described The House of the Other World as an “excellent ghost story” though it also complained that “Some of its opening conversations on scientific subjects might be curtailed”. The London Evening Standard 28 March 1913 p6 quoted a review in the Sunday Times which thought it would “appeal to readers who delight in thrilling experiences”.
The Sheffield Daily Telegraph 27 February 1913 p9 was less enthusiastic, saying only that it was “quite good, whatever may be thought of her speculations”; and having some “good scenes” though Tweedale’s setting of her scene was “ponderous”. And the reviewer in the Northern Whig of 5 April 1913 p10 decided that “one prefers the phantoms to the humans”.
What I think is an important point about Tweedale’s style and appeal – so much criticised by others - was made in the Westminster Gazette 15 March 1913 p5: “a good, imaginative story, and that perhaps is the main thing. One might criticise the rarified atmosphere in which its material people move and converse, but this, after all, gives character to the book”.
1914 An Unholy Alliance
London: John Long. Another edition 1915.
The satanism in Tweedale’s plot caught the eye of publications not noted for their fiction reviews:
The Estate Magazine volume 15 1915 p189 described it as “One of the most remarkable books of the New Year”.
However, reviews of it were not particularly positive.
Seen at //trove.nla.gov.au, the Western Mail (that is, the one published in Perth Western Australia) issue of 2 April 1915 p44 reviewed it, having been sent a copy by Tweedale’s publishers. The review gave away some of the plot, about a Canon Gilchrist who starts to investigate occult symbolism and comes to a bad end. The reviewer felt that Tweedale’s novel was “powerfully written” but still failed to convince; and suggested that Algernon Blackwood – another GD member – would have done better with such material.
The Western Mail (that is, the one published in Cardiff) of 9 January 1915 p9 printed a profile of Tweedale and her interest in theosophy; also taking the opportunity for a spot of jingoism now that Europe was at war – the report declared satanism to be widespread on the Continent, especially in Paris. Its reviewer felt that Tweedale’s references to occult philosophy might “come as a revelation to every thoughtful reader”; but that readers wanting to know more about modern satanism would be disappointed, and some might be shocked by Tweedale’s “bold” decision to suggest there might be satanism amongst the clergy of the Church of England. The reviewer thought the story “powerful”, with interesting characters, but in general found the book “repellent”.
The Birmingham Daily Gazette of 10 March 1915 p2 also concluded that An Unholy Alliance would give its readers plenty to think about – which its reviewer might or might not have thought was a good idea – but in a common criticism of Tweedale’s work, said that the book was “marred” by “political ascerbities which are freely introduced”.
Two Scottish magazines apparently thought that after writing An Unholy Alliance, Tweedale needed some character references:
The Highland News 9 January 1915 p7 quoted a friend of hers, Ethel Cartwright, on the astonishing range of skills Tweedale could claim. Its review of the book described it as a theosophical work; and as more “complex” than most contemporary fiction. It carefully avoided any mention of satanism.
The Barrhead News of 12 February 1915 p4 focused on Tweedale’s family life, and her many years as her father’s assistant editor and secretary. It noted that her work was very often criticised for being too serious, and too intellectual for the typical novel reader.
The Aberdeen Press and Journal 25 January 1915 p3 gave An Unholy Alliance a long review, focusing on the non-satanic thread of the plot and having decided to treat Tweedale’s descriptions of the fashionable world as “in the best spirit of comedy”. However, it noted that she “cannot resist the temptation to banter the Radicals” and “militant Suffragism” – that is, the suffragettes.
All in all, and though as at May 2023 I haven’t read An Unholy Alliance myself, I get the impression that Tweedale’s timing was unfortunate. She must have been writing the text in the months before the World War so unexpectedly broke out; and by the time it was published the mood of the nation had changed. Satanism in the established Church was thought an inappropriate plot device now Britain was at war.
Years later, An Unholy Alliance was the only one of Tweedale’s novels to be chosen by the Dundee Evening Telegraph of Tue 15 December 1936 p2 to be included in its announcement of her death. It’s also the only book by Tweedale to be included in Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature: A Checklist 1700-1974 compiled by R Reginald, Douglas Menville and Mary A Burgess. Wildside Press 2010; 2 volumes.
1916 Love and War
London: Hurst and Blackett Ltd.
A 2nd edition was announced in (for example) the Globe 27 March 1916 p3.
1916 Wingate’s Wife
London: John Long. A popular edition 1919.
1917 The Heart of a Woman
London: Hurst and Blackett.
According to the blurb in the advert for this one published in the Graphic 23 June 1917 p32, the protagonist, Lady Okehampton, was the wife of a philanderer who handed her grounds for divorce when he was named as co-respondent in someone else’s divorce case. The plot revolves around her decision not to divorce him. A review in the Montrose Standard of 6 July 1916 p6 remarked that most of Tweedale’s readers would probably agree that her best novels were her political ones. However, the reviewer strongly objected to a passage in The Heart of a Woman in which Tweedale, on her soap-box, equated the German Kaiser with the Covenanters, those “heroes and martyrs of the Scottish Church”. The reviewer felt Lady Okehampton was “a rather unsatisfactory and unconvincing creation”; and that she had left the plot unresolved at the book’s end!
1918 The Veiled Woman
London: Herbert Jenkins of York Street St James’s.
In a short foreword to this novel Tweedale said that she had been given the basis of the plot in 1915 by Benjamin Kidd, with a request that the novel should embody the social ethics he would discuss in his The Science of Power. The heroine of the novel disguises herself as a man to lead a women’s movement for social change; and – as a man – gets herself elected to Parliament. Tweedale’s contribution will have been the upper-class surroundings and the romantic sub-plots, as required by the genre.
Described in the review in the Northern Whig of 7 December 1918 p3 as a novel about feminism and women’s suffrage, it is listed as a reference work in The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928 compiled by Elizabeth Crawford: p471.
The review in the Northern Whig praised its “strong and well-sustained plot” and its “surprising climax”. The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of 6 November 1918 p3 quoted the Manchester Guardian’s description of it – “Amazing and...delightful”. However, the Aberdeen Press and Journal – never much of a fan of Tweedale’s work – was very criticical of it in its review of 30 September 1918 p5. Though it did say the plot was “boldly original” it thought it was also “melodramatic and improbable”; and it condemned Tweedale’s “dreary dissertations on the woman’s question, that have not even the merit of being up-to-date” and her “wearying pages of undiluted feminism”. Its description of the book’s heroine suggests Tweedale was trying to move with the times: Stella Adair was a graduate of Newnham College. Perhaps Tweedale had met a few women like that by now.
On Benjamin Kidd (1858-1916), considered as one of the founders of the discipline of sociology. He has a wikipedia page and there is a biography: Benjamin Kidd: Portrait of a Social Darwinist David Paul Crook 1984 Violet’s book is mentioned on p337. In her Foreword to The Veiled Woman Tweedale described Kidd as “a revered friend”, “one of the greatest thinkers of the age”; and herself as his “pupil”. The Science of Power was published in London by Methuen and Co in 1918 and went through five editions that year.
The years during and after the first World War saw an upsurge of interest in spiritualism. Reacting to this,Tweedale began to introduce more occult elements into her novels; and to write a series of ‘follow up’ books to her book on ghosts. Her books began to receive fewer reviews; I’m not sure whether this reflected declining interest in her work in particular, in the era of Modernism; or whether newspapers were just not reviewing so much fiction.
1920 The Beautiful Mrs Davenant. A Novel of Love and Mystery
London: Herbert Jenkins. Westminster Gazette 29 May 1920 p9 had an advert saying that the fourth set of 1000 copies had just been issued. It was the only one of Tweedale’s novels to be included in a long list from 1935 of novels previously 2 shillings, now only 1 shilling. The list was widely publicised; I happened to see it first in the Mid-Ulster Mail of Sat 30 November 1935 p6, put there by a local bookshop. A new edition 2022 by Forgotten Books as a ‘classic reprint’.
Tweedale’s plot centred on a haunted house, possibly Watcombe Hall, between Torquay and Exeter (but see also The House of the Other World from 1913). When the Watcombe Hall estate was sold to the Dallas Cairns film company, a number of local papers including the Western Evening Herald of 9 April 1920 p3, mentioned Tweedale’s use of the house for a book, though without giving the book’s title.
 1921 The Green Lady
London: Herbert Jenkins.
Westminster Gazette 18 September 1920 p9 described this novel as a “psychic mystery”, both a ghost and a love story.
1922 The Passing Storm
London: John Long.
In The Sphere: An Illustrated Newspaper for the Home 1922 pvi the plot was summed up as an aristocrat pretending to be a secretary in order to woo an American heiress – a reversal of the ‘Cophetua’ idea.
1923 The School of Virtue
London: John Long. An advert for Tweedale’s next book reported that The School of Virtue was in its 4th edition: [London] Daily News 25 November 1927 p4.
Tweedale got a reasonable review from the Dundee Courier of 5 July 1923 p7 for this one: the reviewer praised the book’s characters as “wonderful and varied” and thought it surpassed in “excellence” some at least of her previous work; in all, a good book for holiday reading.
1927 The Mammonist
London: Hutchinson and Co.
This was Tweedale’s last fiction work. The publisher’s blurb for it in an advert in the [London] Daily News 25 November 1927 p4 described it as a “story of love and hate...a happy example of the occult allied to art”. A differently-worded advert in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 16 December 1927 p4 described it as having “skilfully blended the occult and the natural”.
Was Tweedale dropping out of the public eye? - I suppose she was: the advert in the Daily News thought it had better say that she was a “psychic researcher of many years’ standing”.
And finally: ONE PLAY.
I can’t find any references to either Tweedale’s original story, or the eventual script of the play, being published. Neither the British Library catalogue nor worldcat came up with any details for either. However, I give some information about it here, for two reasons:
- several newspaper references to the play reported that it was based on a story by Tweedale. Perhaps it was one that was not published; or published with a different title.
- at least two productions of the play were staged in 1922 and 1923.
Between its original idea and its first appearance in the theatre, the play had two different authors and two different titles, which caused some confusion: the Aberdeen Press and Journal of 1 July 1922 p5 reported that Tweedale would be having two plays going into production “this autumn”. I couldn’t find any other evidence of two plays; only of one which changed title half way through its run.
Western Mail Sat 7 October 1922 p10 reported that Tweedale was in Cardiff for the opening night, on Monday [9 October 1922], of the play The Heart of Doris. She had told the press that the play had been well-received by “Two very famous London managers”; and also by the cast at their early read-through of it. The main roles would be played by Frances Carson, Holman Clark and C Aubrey Smith.
Western Mail 14 October 1922 p4 announced that The Heart of Doris would play in Cardiff for one week at the Playhouse Theatre, before opening in London. The play had been written by Peter Garland based on a story by Tweedale which was also called The Heart of Doris.
A slightly different understanding of its authorship was published in The Curtain volume 1 1922 p127 in which the play was described as adapted by Garland from a story written jointly by him and Tweedale.
The [London] Daily News of Thur 19 October 1922 p7 announced that the following Tuesday was the opening night of the play at the Apollo Theatre. At this stage it was still called The Heart of Doris; it was a comedy, in three acts.
The play changes title to something more eye-catching and of the moment:
Pall Mall Gazette 25 October 1922 p7. Its reviewer “SLR” had been to the play originally called The Heart of Doris but now called Glamour. The review described Glamour as “bright and adequate” with some comic characters, and not to be taken too seriously. Most of SLR’s report focused on Frances Carson as an American actress newly-arrived in the UK.
The Graphic 28 October 1922 p36 had a review of the play now called Glamour which thought it showed too much of its origins as a novel. The review gave the play’s basic plot, which sounds very like Tweedale to me: a typist falling for her employer, one of the great and good; but then falling in turn for his step-son. Once again, the main focus of the review was on Frances Carson.
In addition to confusion about the play’s origins, author(s) and title(s), the sources I found didn’t agree about where it was staged in London. The Stage Year Book 1921 p137 reported that the play The Heart of Doris went from Cardiff straight to the Ambassadors’ Theatre. However, the Daily Express said its London run had begun, with its new title of Glamour, at the Apollo Theatre from 24 October to 11 November 1922; but it would be moving into the Ambassadors’ Theatre from 13 November to 25 November 1922.
Dates and the change of theatre: Conrad’s Drama: Contemporary Reviews and Observations. Editor: John G Peters. Leiden: Brill Rodopi 2019: p182 footnote 2 quoting the Daily Express of 8 November 1922 p7. The slot at the Ambassadors’ had come up because Joseph Conrad’s play The Secret Agent had died a death at the hands of the reviewers. The change of theatre, and the dates of performances at each of them, are listed in The London Stage 1920-1929 compiled by J P Wearing; p190. There were 35 London performances in all.
There were some performances after Glamour’s London run:
Portsmouth Evening News of 12 December 1922 p1 announced – for one night only – the play Glamour, straight from its run at the Apollo Theatre London. Produced by actors Ethel van Praagh and J Edward Whitty, it was described as a play by Peter Garland from a story by Garland and Tweedale. There was no mention of any previous title.
The following year the play was on tour for a short time:
Stratford-upon-Avon Herald 30 March 1923 p8: a production of the play Glamour, based on The Heart of Doris, a novel by Tweedale, would be in Stratford for three days the following week.
Eastbourne Chronicle 19 May 1923 p2 announced the play Glamour would be at the Pier Eastbourne the following week. It confirmed that Glamour was the same play that had opened in Cardiff, by describing it as based on Tweedale’s The Heart of Doris.
Coventry Evening Telegraph of 22 June 1923 p1 had an advert for the play Glamour, opening shortly at the Opera House.
I couldn’t find any later performances of Glamour/The Heart of Doris at the British Newspaper Archive; so the week at Coventry was probably the last time it was staged.
I haven’t found much information on Tweedale’s collaborator, Peter Garland. There’s no entry for him in Who Was Who or in ODNB. The website //theatricalia.com has some information on a play, The Eternal Spring, produced in Bristol in 1924-25. And there’s a reference in a book on the actress Margaret Webster to another play, Basalik, produced in 1935 with Paul Robeson and Coral Brown in the leading roles. Garland was the only author of both those later plays.
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
13 June 2023
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