Barley-sugar Effigy of a Real Man
From ‘R.L.S.’, Pall Mall Magazine, xxv, (Dec 1901) 505–14. William Ernest Henley (1849–1903), poet, critic, dramatist and editor; for several years editor of the National Observer (formerly Scots Observer), which featured notable writers of the day including Hardy, Kipling, Barrie, Wells, Yeats and Stevenson; editor of the monthly New Review (1894–8); he also published several volumes of verse, as well as editing the works of Burns, Byron and others. Leslie Stephen brought Louis to Edinburgh Infirmary in 1875 to meet Henley, then undergoing hideous treatment after losing lost one foot to a tuberculous disease. Stevenson marvelled at his fortitude and vitality, depicting him as Burly in ‘Talk and Talkers’ and dedicating Virginibus Puerisque to him. Much of Henley’s rambunctious nature went into Long John Silver. Their collaboration in four plays was a failure and a source of resentment for Henley, exacerbated by intense dislike of Fanny; he was, notes one biographer, in a sense, in love with Louis (Calder, 95). Deeply embittered by life and ‘the fell clutch of circumstance’, Henley exploded with pent up jealousy on seeing Balfour’s biography, and helped to launch attacks on the Stevenson myth. At least one voice for the prosecution has its place in a volume of reminiscences.
KeywordsSugar Editing Verse
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