Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Season's Greetings!

A belated Merry Christmas to everyone from Who Is George Mills?

Featured is an illustration by the great Arthur Rackham from a 1931 edition of Clement Moore's The Night Before Christmas, published by London's G. G. Harrap, a publisher of George Mills.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Information: Mr Gladstone's, Eaton Gate Preparatory, and Eaton House Belgravia

This message (below) arrived from Bill and Susan Miller of Watford, England [left], regarding the possibility of the contemporary Eaton House School having once been Eaton Gate Preparatory School, employer of George Mills during or around June 1938, when the institution was mentioned in George's dedication to his second novel, King Willow:

We have just stumbled across your website researching George Mills and asking for information re Eaton Gate school. We have an interest in the same school as my wife Susan is the granddaughter of Robin Gladstone, and we have been trying to find out the connection between him and the school in Cliveden Place, Belgravia known as "Gladstone's".

I think you mention that Harold MacMillan [pictured as a schoolboy, right] was educated at Gladstone's early in the 20th Century, but it came to our attention through the memoirs of Tony Benn, the veteran Labour Party politician and former Cabinet Minister, who was also educated there in the 1930s. Curiously he mentions that Mr Gladstone was still active at the school until it was sold in 1937 and moved to Eaton Gate. The Eaton House School website mentions the move from Cliveden Place to Eaton Gate in 1937 so I don't think there is any doubt that Eaton Gate and Eaton House are one and the same school.

What we do find puzzling is Tony Benn's assertion that Mr Gladstone was active at the school in the '30s. This we find puzzling because from 1920-1929 he was, as you mention, owner and headmaster of the Hall School in Hampstead, London. Our family records show that he probably left the Hall on his marriage and took some time off to embark on a round the world cruise with his wife. Curiously however, my father-in-law was actually born in Switzerland, so we are wondering if there is a George Mills connection here, if he later settled at Glion after working for Robin at The Hall. Could Robin have worked for a short period in Glion with Mills?

On their return to England the Gladstones settled in East Grinstead, Sussex, where he purchased another school, The Abbey [pictured below, left], which he ran until 1969. We are a little unsure of the dates here - it is just possible this didn't happen until 1937, in which case he could have been back at "Gladstone's" from about 1930-1937. It also seems unclear as to where T S Morton was at this time. The Eaton House website seems to suggest his ownership and presence at the school was continuous throughout its history until it was sold in 1959. Our own theory is that the Gladstone family had ownership interests in all these schools, and that Morton was an employee and not owner, and hence may have moved from school to school.

I am not sure if any of this helps you with the life of George Mills, but we have been intrigued by the connections and will continue our own researches into Gladstone's, and to see if we can turn up any more information both on the school and on Mills. We would equally be interested to know if you have found any further information on this subject since your last postings.

I have copied a couple of links in to The Hall school website, and to the Abbey School alumni website. Also the reference to Tony Benn's book.


Tony Benn "Dare To Be A Daniel" published by Random House, London (paperback version) 2005. pp 94-97

Best wishes

Bill Miller
Watford, England

Thank you so much, Bill and Susan, for taking the time to write and share your information!

The reference they cite does, indeed, provide additional evidence for the current Eaton House Schools having been the "Eaton Gate Preparatory School" mentioned by George Mills in his 1938 dedication [seen below, right].

Why did the school change names? It seems unlikely that George Mills and his editors at G. G. Harrap & Co. all would have used the incorrect name for a relatively prestigious institution accidentally, especially if George had been employed there. The name change does seem to have gone undocumented, however, as did the change in names when the school moved from Cliveden place (and it was referred to as "Gladstone's") to Belgravia.

Although, perhaps we are being presumptuous in believing that Mills did teach there. He dedicates King Willow "to the headmasters, staff, and boys" of the school without actually attesting to the fact he was ever an employee.

Still, we know that Mills had taught at Windlesham House School, another prestigious institution, and dedicated his first novel, Meredith and Co., to that school, as well as to schools in Meads, Windermere, and Glion where he also had taught. Would it be odd for Mills to have dedicated this book to his local prep school, even though he was not on the staff in any way? It seems more likely that he worked there, at the very least as an occasional substitute for teachers who were indisposed.

Despite polite entreaties for assistance in academic research, Eaton House Schools has not, as far as we know, delved into any archival material that might shed light on the change of names and/or whether or not George Mills served on the staff.

This message was received from Eaton House Belgravia on 10 May 2010:

Thank you for your enquiry. There is a possibility that there might be a reference in one of our old school magazines.I will have a look and let you know.

Lucy Watts

Miss Lucy Watts
Eaton House School
3-5 Eaton Gate London

Later , on 21 July 2010, this message was received:

The current owners,The Harper family,took over in 1977/78. I am not sure about your other queries but I will pass them onto Mrs Harper,via her son-in-law,Rupert Back.

Regards, Lucy

And I have never heard back from Back.

For whatever reason, Mills interestingly did dedicate his second book to the school, and not to his wife, Vera, nor anyone in his family.

One small but also extremely interesting aspect of the above message for the Millers is the possibility of there having been a connection between Robin Gladstone's birth in Switzerland and George's temporary employment in Glion, followed by their subsequent connections to the preparatory school in Eaton Gate.

If any readers have better luck communicating with Eaton House Schools, please let us know. And if you have any information on Robin Gladstone, I would be delighted to pass it along directly to the Millers. Thank you in advance for your assistance!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Additional Information: Percy Carmichael Clarke, Emma Anna Piper, and Egerton Clarke

I've had some exciting information arrive this week, some of it from in and around Watford, England. Let's start with the thread I began receiving first.

A comment on the article "Mr. Egerton Clarke: Meet the Maternal Family" was recently posted by Lex Tucker on Tuesday, 1 November 2011. He wrote:

Frederick Ebenezer PIPER and his wife Mary nee MEACHER had:
Mabel Agnes 1874
Charles Frederick ca 1876
Horace Francis ca 1878
Albert Lucius Meacher ca 1880
Guy Reginald 1882 @ Hythe.
Fredk's wife seems to have been around 11 years his senior. He was 21 to her 32 when they married at Ivinghoe in Bucks in 1873.

According to the 1901 English Census, Mabel, a widow whose 6 y.o. daughter, Dorothy EDWARDS, was a 'British subject born in France' had married James ROY, a 43 y.o. widower. His 16 y.o. daughter Marjorie was also part of the household in Hove, Sussex. James was a 'manufacturing confectioner's manager' and may have had something to do with the fact that Albert PIPER, who was single and lived in Worthing, was a 'confectioner's agent'.

Horace and Guy were living with Charles (head of the household) and his wife in Teddington, Middlesex. Horace was a confectioner (James again?) and Guy a florist.

Thank you very much for the information, Lex!

While the above does not directly play into our story of George Mills, it does flesh out more of the the family history of George's dear friend, Egerton Clarke. If I am reading it all correctly, Egerton would have had some 5 step-siblings from his father Percy Carmichael Clarke's first marriage to Mary Meacher.

What we do not know is how close either Egerton or his mother, Emma Anna Piper Clarke [pictured, right, with Egerton], may have been—if at all—to the children of Percy Clarke's first marriage. The last child of Percy's first union was born around 1882 at Hythe, while Egerton was born in 1899 in Canterbury of a different mother, Emma Piper.

While that difference between half-siblings was some 17 years (1882-1899), Hythe is only some 20 miles from Canterbury, and both just across the Channel from France, where Percy passed away at Dinard in 1902.

It is also notable that Hythe is just a handful of miles west of Folkestone along the coast, the latter being the locale in which Egerton Clarke penned the dedication to his first book of poetry, Kezil and Other Poems, while residing at The Grange in June, 1920, after having served in the First World War.

Egerton clearly had step-kin in the area. Does the fact that he wrote that dedication in Folkestone have more to do with the fact that Hythe was part of his family's geography, or the fact that he had just served in the Army Pay Corps, with nearby Dover the location of a major WWI pay centre where friend George Mills had been stationed after Egerton's medical discharge from the service in 1918? Dover is just over 5 miles to the east of Folkestone.

Much of this requires speculation. Does having a family member born in Hythe make the military connection between Folkestone and Dover somewhat less meaningful? It's difficult to be certain, but we do know that Egerton's mother, with whom he was never truly close, seemingly was out of the picture and residing with her family in Hertfordshire at the time.

Had there always been a deeper connection with his father's family, especially during the time he attended St Edmund's School in Kent, than we previously have suspected?

This new information isn't earth-shattering, but in light of wondering about the relation between Egerton and George Mills, as well as the relationship between Egerton and his mother and her family, it is extremely interesting.

I forwarded Lex's comment to Janine LaForestier, whom you may remember being Egerton Clarke's granddaughter. She already has provided a wealth of information regarding the family's history.

Her reply, dated 3 November:

This is wonderful. I have photos of a couple of Pipers - always wanted to know the approximate ages of these folk. They certainly look ancient - I love this puzzle. Wonderful.

All well at this end - still going through boxes of books.

Funny you should write - I was reading some of Egerton's poems this morning. One he wrote for my mother when she was three.

Came across a photo of a man in uniform - on the back it states "Therese's fiance Lancashire Fusilier - killed in battle 1916-17. So my grandmother was engaged before she married Egerton. There must have been a tremendous shortage of men her own age - hence the age difference between them.

On the radio I recently heard an author, Adam Hochschild, talking about his upcoming book, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 [left]. In his discussion, he mentioned the difficulty of having a generation of men in its collective prime winnowed down to a relative few due to wounds, amputations, shellshock, and death. It must have impacted the societal pas de deux of lovers in post-War England to a great degree, thereby affecting the eligibility of George Mills and Egerton Clarke, both veterans!

However, I also came upon this message in my mailbox just this morning, dated Saturday, November 05, 2011 7:11 PM:

Dear Harry
I have been forwarded all the information you have discovered about my family.
I know you have been discussing your research with my cousin Janine in Canada. I am another granddaughter of egerton and live in England. although I spent eight years in California I have been brought up and live very close to a great deal of the places mentioned our nearest town is Watford and I went to school in st Albans and walked past the flat where Emma piper (my great grandmother's) sister lived without to this day knowing of the connection. egerton and Emma did not ever spend time in work houses the institutions referred to are schools in today's language would be private schools for the well to do. Emma was living in France after her husband Percy died . there are pictures and I have Percy's bible. there is a lot of research that I have done on the genes reunited website if you are interested. egerton was well educated and in the class system that is still prevalent today would have been considered upper class. the class ranking is often accompanied by a lack of money either money lost or a lifestyle indulged in beyond means. the class being defined by social circles and education. egerton's became a publisher and the publishing career then passed on to my father.

I am curious to know why you have such an interest in this family and have spent so much time researching it. I think it is difficult from such a distance and a different culture to interpret some information and language and meanings change over time.
kind regards
Camilla Andrews

Great information! Thank you so much, Camilla, from whom we have heard before! We now know for sure that Emma Anna Piper Clarke, Egerton's mother, failed to be tallied by early 20th century census takers because she had remained abroad in France after Percy's death! Perhaps that was natural: Emma had married a much older man and, after his passing, still may have had much to learn about herself as both a person and a woman.

We found reference to Emma in French journal from the year 2000 regarding a man with the surname "Lawrence," but it seems that would not have been author and prolific poet D. H. Lawrence, who did not reside in France until after World War I. By 1917, Emma clearly was a resident of Bishops Stortford, Herts.

[The addresses referred to in the journal article mentioned above are part of the region of France across from Dover, Folkestone, Hythe, and Canterbury (Go to: http://www.webcamgalore.com/EN/webcam/France/Veulettes-sur-Mer/5624.html).]

I feel, however, I must have offended Camilla more than just a little, and for that I apologize. My suppositions—that there may have been work houses involved in Watford and Blean—arose simply because of the fewer facts available to me at that time.

Egerton attended school in a town with a workhouse, Blean [right], which for purposes of the 1911 UK census was the location of St Edmund's School, not Canterbury. Citing Blean as the location of his residence without the census documents having named the "institution" (not "school") itself, I will admit, made me wonder where Egerton might have been housed and/or educated and under what circumstances, especially given that he recently had been orphaned.

In addition, the school's website describes its history thusly: "The name of the school was changed from the Clergy Orphan School to St Edmund's School in 1897." Egerton's circumstances as an orphan of a clergyman (and father of over a half-dozen children), combined with Egerton's attendance at a school that had recently been so charitably affiliated (the school was funded by the Clergy Orphan Society), never led me to believe that he was reared in an institution that was actually "in today's language… [a] private school for the well to do."

In addition, I also was misled to a great degree by this information: "1902 THE CLERGY ORPHAN CORPORATION, Under the Patronage of his majesty the King. President - The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. Vice-President - The Earl of Cranbrook. Treasurer - E. Lonsdale Beckwith, Esq.

"These Schools, founded in 1749, are for the absolutely free maintenance, clothing, and education of the Orphan (fatherless) Children of the Clergy of the Established Church of England and Wales.

"3228 children have been admitted to the benefits of these Schools which now contain 240. Of this number 132 boys are being educated in St. Edmund's school in Canterbury."

Admittedly, I laboured under the assumption that young Egerton must have been one of those "absolutely free maintenance, clothing, and education" boys, and humbly propose that could have been a somewhat logical assumption, at least from my position at "such a distance and [from] a different culture."

Given the information to which I had access, St Edmund's [left] appeared to me then to have been a charitable school for orphans of men who typically would not have been wealthy. And given what one reads in fiction from the era (at least in classic and popular English literature available to us here in the States), one would assume that even beneficed Anglican clerics who were not fortunate enough to have come from wealthy families before taking their Holy Orders, and who subsequently sired more than just a couple of children, would not have been considered widely as having been 'well-to-do.'

I guess that's why they call it fiction, though, and I stand corrected if I have misconstrued all of the above.

From a purely personal perspective, I will add that one of the greatest 'perks' gained by doing this research is, indeed, gaining some insight into the culture of my ancestors, from "such a distance and a different culture." Hence, I am obliged to anyone who 'sets me straight' in these matters. It's all a work in progress!

Finally, to satiate Camilla's curiosity, my primary interest in her family is in regard to George Mills, a man no one seems to recall very much about, but who was well-educated (as was Egerton Clarke), who wrote children's books (as did Egerton Clarke), was the son of an Anglican vicar (as was Egerton Clarke), who had served in the Army Pay Corps during WWI (as did Egerton Clarke), who had health-issues in the service (as did Egerton Clarke), who later attended Oxford (as did Egerton Clarke), who did not earn a degree from Oxford in the end (as Egerton Cklarke did not), who became a devout Catholic against his family's wishes (as did Egerton Clarke), who never wrote another book after publishing religious texts with Burns, Oates, and Washbourne in the late 1930s (as did Egerton Clarke), and whose health fared poorly during the Second World War (as did Egerton Clarke's), although Mills survived the conflict.

Therefore, I truly hope it does not seem unnatural for me to wonder and wish to learn about the life of a gentleman acquainted with, and who had so very much in common with, George Mills. And if reading any of the suppositions I have made along the way—in the midst of this research—has offended anyone retrospectively, for that I do apologize.

Next time, there'll be more word from Watford, England. However, then it will regard conirmation of a former place of employment for George Mills and a potential link to his teaching career in Glion, Switzerland. See you then!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Information: Lady Frances Ryder, Jack Mitchell, and Dr. Harold J. Penny

Hello, everyone! My, it's wonderful to have something to write about George Mills again—even if it won't be about George directly!

I'm delighted! And when it rains, it tends to pour—well, at least here in sub-tropical Florida—and I awakened this morning to find not one, but two Mills-related items in my mailbox. The first regards the home of George's widowed mother, Edith, and spinster sisters, Agnes and Violet, during the Great Depression, when the Mills women lived at 21 Cadogan Gardens, S.W. [left].

During that time, and during the Second World War, a boarder at the home, specifically in "21B," was Lady Frances Ryder. In a previous post we discovered that she did, indeed, live with the Mills during the war, and facilitated the Isles Dominion Hospitality Scheme from her flat with the help of Miss Celia Macdonald.

Reader Roger Kelly writes:

In Who Is George Mills I see you are -like me- puzzled by Lady Ryder and what went on at Cadogan Gardens. It was a club, and used as a postal address and meeting place for people of no fixed address. Close to the heart of the British establishment, there were filing clerks behind the scenes: think of the first ten minutes of "A Matter of Life and Death" -"Stairway to Heaven" to you.

Lady Ryder's organisation comes up in an online biography I'm writing of an overseas student [Jack Mitchell, right] in England towards the end of 1935.

See it on my website here

best wishes
near Edinburgh

Thank you so much, Roger!

While the Mills women are not mentioned on that web page, we find there must have been quite a bit going on. The hospitality scheme is clarified here at the well-researched website:

November 1935

Social efforts to engage new Rhodes scholars continued to target Winston. Jack also would be drawn into the net by the end of the year. It started with an invitation to meet Miss Macdonald of the Isles at Rhodes House on Friday 1st. It was an informal dance evening making things go with a swing and about 30 Rhodes Scholars were there of all nationalities –a high proportion Americans - with a good number of quite nice English and Danish girls. Miss Macdonald of the Isles, whose very name helped to cast a spell, announced that a social week was being arranged in London for Rhodes Scholars and others in the second week of December, and there would be a chance to stay with different people in the Christmas break too. Very kind, but as Jack says, these people arrange the “scheme” in much the same way as others as well-to-do go “slumming”.

Miss Macdonald ran Lady Ryder’s Empire hospitality scheme for English-speaking officers, Rhodes scholars and other eligible students from the dominions and overseas. At the scheme’s headquarters in 21B Cadogan Gardens, Sloane Square, London, tea was dispensed and dances were held. Card indexes were kept of 1600 or so potentially lonely visitors who might be helped each year, and of appropriate households prepared to provide a home, friendship and the prospect of some suitable female company for weekends, vacations, leave, study and convalescence. Girls of good family could be drafted to serve as live-in help for host households while the young overseas guests came to stay. It all seemed very well organised. The recipients were duly grateful if sometimes a little amused by all the thoughtfulness for their moral and physical welfare. In the war years ahead Miss Macdonald’s pastoral work would be extended to Czechoslovak, Polish, Norwegian, Dutch and French free forces officers and to the airmen who would find themselves stationed in the hundreds of airfields scattered around the country.

Later in this wonderfully thorough biography, we find:

Hospitality ahead

Saturday evening [7 December 1935] was set for Miss Macdonald’s big At Home at 21B Cadogan Gardens. Among the throng with Winston –and missing Jack– were Eric Haslam, his friend Hoon of Victoria, Gibson a friend of Wood, Porus, Rossiter of Merton, Norman Davis again, Lionel Cooper of Capetown, McPherson, Stewart of Canada, and more ad infinitum. Among the girls were Miss Lovegrove of Canada and Miss Dinah Nathan of Wellington NZ.

The Lady Ryder Scheme’s hospitality continued through the week with a Sunday trip to Hampton Court Palace, a personal tour of Sir Christopher. Wren’s Old Court House [right] and afternoon tea with its owner Norman E. Lamplugh, dinner with the Holding family in Kensington, on Monday a coach tour from Cadogan Gardens to be shown round the vast HMV record factory at Hayes, then to hosts Mr and Mrs Powell in Earls Court with Gunther Motz, Miss Hearn from Canada and Miss Lewis from Australia. Afterwards all were invited to a magnificent Ball given by the Goldmiths Company where Winston spent time with Motz, Miss Johnson from England and Miss de Charme from Paris. Tuesday took them to Twickenham for the varsity rugby match where Oxford’s kiwi captain Malcolm Cooper excelled against Cambridge; in the evening to a studio performance at the Gate Theatre by Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies. Wednesday was set for lunch in Kensington with the family of Sir John Gilmour the recent Home Secretary and dinner in the City with the Grocers Company where the speakers were Jack’s old friend Lord Bledisloe and Miss Macdonald of the Isles. Thursday’s trip from Cadogan Gardens was to Hatfield House with a personal tour conducted by the tough old Marchioness of Salisbury. On Friday the academic aspirants were dispersed to their hosts in the country for the weekend. And Jack could join in for a break at last after his busy week in the Lab.

The context in which we discover this information is through the life of John Wesley “Jack” Mitchell, FRS, (1913-2007), an outstanding international scientist from New Zealand whose work in chemistry and physics examined the properties of materials and extended the possibilities of high speed photography [left].

It turns out that Lady Ryder's scheme encompassed far more than simply caring for servicemen (and presumably women) during the war, and it seems natural to think that, with Ryder hosting teas and large parties—note that a "throng" of international personalities on that "Saturday night" mentioned above—the Mills family must have been involved quite closely with the scheme and attendant at parties and dances, and perhaps even the scheme's outings.

This fits well with what we know about the Mills sisters: Posh, even a bit snobbish, and socially comfortable with a wide range of individuals from many different walks of life and diverse nationalities, especially peerage. One look at the list of croquet players they played with and against while situated at their retirement home in Budleigh Salterton attests to that!

Speaking of croquet, an Australian player by the name of Dr. Harold J. Penny took to the lawns against the Mills family (including George), and he was the subject of the second message I received this morning, this one from Dr. Robert Likeman:


Here is a brief bio of Harold Penny from my forthcoming book. It may help to fill in some of the blanks in your blog.

Kind regards,

1. PENNY, Harold John, Captain (1888-1968). MB BS Adel 1913. Penny was born in Semaphore SA, the youngest son of Charles James Penny, a teller in the Bank of Adelaide, and his wife Emma Stephens. He was educated at St Peter’s College and Adelaide University. He rowed for the University in 1911 and again in 1912. After graduation he completed his residency at Adelaide Hospital and the Children’s Hospital. During the former term, he made the papers three times for treating patients with gunshot wounds. He was commissioned in the RAMC in March 1915, and sailed for England on the RMS Mongolia. The first thing that he did on arrival in England was to get married, to Winifred Annie Lake from Bristol. Penny was promoted Captain in March 1916. He returned to Australia after the war, and set up practice in Nailsworth SA, but evidently Winifred did not care for Australia, and the couple returned to England. They were divorced in 1925 on the grounds of Winifred’s adultery with a dentist, Frederick Rowat. The same year Penny married a vicar’s daughter from Harrow-on-the Hill, Mary Violet Ridsdale (1901-1974). They returned to Nailsworth, but in 1928 announced their intention of moving to Western Australia. It is uncertain how long they remained there, but before 1938 they had returned to England to settle at Tunstall, Staffs. Penny was a world class player of croquet. He died in Bournemouth in 1968.

Dr Robert Likeman

Thank you, Dr. Likeman!

Interestingly, the news reports we read involving Dr. Penny were, indeed, regarding gunshot wounds, a subject in which he obviously became an expert. It would then be wholly natural that he would have been highly desirable as a medical officer during the war.

Dr. Likeman is Director of Health for the Australian Army and the author of Gallipoli Doctors: The Australian Doctors At War Series, Volume 1 (First Edition 2010, Slouch Hat Publications, McCrae, Victoria), and I presume Penny's biography will be found in Volume 2. Dr. Likeman (LtCol, CSM) is the author of several other books on Australian Military History that can be found at the Slouch Hat Publications website. Volume 1 was awarded a Silver Medal in the New York Independent Publishers Awards earlier this year.

(Oh—and just an aside regarding the film A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven in the U.S.): It starred David Niven, whose mother, Etta, coincidentally was dying in a nursing home in Kensington along with Revd. Barton R. V. Mills, father of George Mills, when the Mills family patriarch passed away in 1932!)

It really is wonderful to be writing about the life and times of George Mills once again! Should you have any information, theories, details, ideas, suppositions, hypotheses, or just want to discuss George or his family and friends, please let me know at the e-mail address, far above, to the right.

Many thanks!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summarizing George Mills: A Final Perspective

Much of our story here involving George Mills has revolved to a great degree around one thing lately: Religion. However, there certainly are many threads running through his story, and in this—oddly my 300th and hopefully not my final post— we'll begin to summarize, to some degree, what we have learned about George's life.

The Mills Family and Catholicism

It seems odd, at least to an American viewing it from the vantage point of the 20th century, that George's father, the Revd Barton R. V. Mills, converted to Roman Catholicism while attending Oxford around 1883 and then took a series of positions as an Anglican vicar afterwards, eventually ending up as assistant chaplain at the Chapel Royal of the Savoy in London, and doing a segment of Queen Victoria's funeral service. No one else seems surprised or very much cares save one man: The current chaplain of the Savoy, Peter Galloway, who simply chooses to disbelieve, preferring the strange point of view that the public record of the conversion of Mills must be in error.

I guess that's why they call it "faith."

In fact, I recently wrote to a Church of England vicar of today to ask about the relations among the Anglican Church, the High Church, the Low Church, Anglo-Catholicism, and Roman Catholicism. I let him know that some very learned people in the U.K. have expressed directly to me that there's really not much difference at all, especially today, and that it's unlikely anyone cared very much back then, either—hence the vicarages and the chaplaincy to the Savoy being awarded to Mills.

Like most people I've contacted who are involved with the Church, that vicar never bothered to reply to a collegial request for research assistance from an educator. (Just an aside: When clerics contact scholars, do they expect assistance in their own research? If so, that would be quite hypocritical!)

In lieu of that learned opinion, the difference between the Anglican Church and Roman Catholicism seems, however, to have been a big enough deal for some people actually to make the effort to convert from the Church of England to Roman Catholicism, and to form specific religious societies, and publishing houses, and the like, especially when converting was 'of the moment' in the early 20th century.

I think it might a bigger surprise that George Mills was friendly with Roman Catholic converts, frequenting their haunts, publishing with their publishers, and basically living a very Roman Catholic life, all the way through to his funeral service at the Catholic Church of St. Peter's in Budleigh Salterton (as opposed to the St. Peter's C of E there), than it is that he might've been gay, for example, as we recently heard discussed.

Given the overtly Catholic nature of many of George's friends, religion seems to have been the windmill at which Mills tilted most as the son of an Anglican vicar—even if his father also had been a closet Roman Catholic—in an extended family involved fully in Church of England. His sexuality would seem to have been secondary.

Having moved away from the Church of England also seems to be an explanation why distant relatives living today simply don't know the "Barton R. V. Mills" twig on their branch of the family tree exists, let alone anything about any of the Mills family. Honestly, except for a few recollections by a few ancient relatives of George's Uncle Dudley Acland Mills, now living in Canada who do know, but apparently are not interested in the Mills family at all!

A Childless and Forgotten Family

It didn't help that all four of the Rev. Barton Mills's children died childless (unless George's brother, Arthur, had late-in-life offspring I can't locate), but there's something more to the fact that virtually no one knows or cares who these people are or that they even existed.

Except, to some degree, for the women who married into the Mills family.

In the case of Vera Beauclerk (Mrs. George Mills), her family today bviously knows about her, and she's easy to trace—being descended from William the Conqueror.

Considering Edith Ramsay (Mrs. Barton Mills, George's mother), her surviving family today knows of her, but not very much, even to the point of having documented her Christian name incorrectly [as Elizabeth]. It's as if she dropped off the very face of the Earth when she left her nuclear family after marrying Barton Mills and moving to Kensington, just blocks from Buckingham Palace. Of Edith's parents, much is known today, including the possession of a great deal of ephemera, much of which has appeared among these pages. Of Edith herself: Nothing, save the image of her as a toddler in the montage at left.

The last in-law, Lady Dorothy Mills (née Walpole, Arthur's first wife), maintained a high profile of her own as an author/explorer until a horrific car accident drove her into retirement, despite the fact that her family quite literally disowned her for marrying a soldier. They divorced in 1933. Also childless, she has been allowed to fade into obscurity since her death in 1959.

Her onetime husband, George's half-brother Arthur, apparently barely acknowledged his family, and is the best-kept secret of all the Mills siblings.

Something is amiss in all of that.

George, Arthur, and their spinster sisters—Agnes and Violet; very athletic girls, into the Girl Guides and scouting, who never found mates at all and were devoted to George, and he them—were an entire little family all of whom, sadly, had failed to reproduce to continue the family name.

Still: Why does almost no one recall that these people ever were?

George Mills at School

George had been in a great deal of pain in his life and not all of it could have been addressed with an aspirin or two. Physically slight of build, with varicose veins as a boy, and saddled with a speech impediment [possibly a lisp like his sister Aggie's, causing an unclear voice], I can see why he would've preferred sensitivity in the people around him—but boys at school probably tormented him. He basically washed out as a young scholar, spending a brief two years at Harrow. He would not have excelled at something he always loved: Sport, especially cricket. Stronger, more confident, less sensitive boys would have made his life miserable in a variety of ways, even unknowingly.

George had stockpiled many regrets based on his own preparatory schooling.

George Mills during World War I

I don't see Mills's life having been much better as a "Grade III" army recruit (unfit for most military duties) in the service during the First World War. Except for his time in the Army Pay Corps, the corps where the friend and fellow B-III, Egerton Clarke, was also assigned, the slightly built and sensitive Mills must have faced similar torments to those he'd known at school.

The army was another place where Mills would have been a failure: He was a washout as a soldier, a washout as a APC clerk, and a fellow who had been determined fit only to be a "fatigue man"—the lowest form of military life, with virtually no hope of promotion. And things, as we've seen, got worse for him after his friend Egerton was hospitalized and demobilised, leaving George in Winchester alone.

George Mills at Oxford

After having been demobilised himself, George attended Oxford for three years or so and managed to leave without having taken a degree or a single examination to earn one. The academic and social discipline required by an institution like Oxon would have been a struggle for Mills, who had lived a sheltered life, especially in regard to having been allowed to 'quit' when the going got tough, as they say, during his preparatory schooling.

Without that degree, gaining a career in which he could have been a success—and make his father (twice an Oxford graduate) proud—would prove then to be difficult.

George Mills As a Non-Author

As a youth grown into a man, George Mills had been the only male member of his immediate family who had not published a book, from his paternal grandfather on down! While that may never had been said to him directly, when the men all were discussing their books and their publishers, George had to know he was the only one just listening.

George Mills, Schoolmaster, 1926 – 1933

Failed as a schoolboy and scholar and failed in the military, by 1933 we know George also failed to hold down a regular teaching job for very long. He had moved from school to school as a teacher between 1924 and 1933 (one assignment being as far afield as Switzerland) in search of a situation. This presumably meant time spent away from his family, and even his wife.

Something during this time, however, 'clicked' for Mills.

It seems to have been spurred by his relationship with Joshua Goodland at Warren Hill School in Meads, Eastbourne [below, left]. Although Goodland had managed to take two degrees during his seven years at Cambridge, he never fully settled into a career. Goodland was an occupational nomad, veering from a career in teaching to becoming an architect, and following that, a career in law. He then returned to teaching and became Head Master at Warren Hill before eventually turning to his final vocation, serving as a vicar in the Church of England.

Goodland was a diminutive but passionate man, older than George, who had traveled around the world and possessed a myriad of skills and talents, but who lacked a sort of stick-to-it-ness (as we say in the States) that would have inspired the erratic young Mills to find success in his own life in a similar way: Not necessarily along a single, direct career path, but divergently.

In 1932, Barton Mills, George's father, passed away. This simultaneous event, a tragedy, also seems to have been a catalyst and clearly a pivotal point in George's life.

Vindication of His Failures

Mills tackled his lifelong failure issues seemingly one at a time, and began to assemble a future. Whether or not this was consciously done, we cannot tell.

He seems to have gained a great deal from his time spent at Oxford, even if he didn't earn a degree. He met and had been exposed to a sensitive class of fellows who, rather than hurting George, seem to have understood him—perhaps that was something he'd never experienced within his own family—and those well-educated men even liked and cared about him. He learned about himself as a person, as well as receiving reinforcement regarding his faith in Catholicism.

His university experience planted many seeds that would later begin to flourish.

George Mills Returns to Prep School

Some success and popularity at Oxford led Mills to do something that many children-grown-into-teachers do: Return to the scene of previous educational 'crimes' against him and others like him, intent on 'righting' many wrongs that had been perpetrated upon him while at school.

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, under the auspices of progress and enlightenment in education, he then spent time teaching in schools and being the sort of schoolmaster he'd wanted to have, I suppose: His first book is fully titled Meredith and Co.: The Story of a Modern Preparatory School.

Key word: Modern. Things now were finally different in the world of British education, and George had returned to become a part of it all.

Much of what he wanted as a schoolmaster likely was acceptance within some educational institution more than any sort of abstract revenge: During his time in the classroom he was liked and appreciated by faculty, staff, and students, all within a milieu in which he was once considered a failure.

George Mills Finds Success as an Author

After he was unable to hold onto one job for long as the world moved into a severe global economic depression, George then wrote books about his fledgling teaching career—a vocation that he may not have returned to, as far as we know. (There's no evidence he taught more than a single term after WW2.)

This process of writing and being published, in a family of both distinguished scholars and popular authors, enabled him to raise his esteem, I'm sure, in the eyes of his family, as well as in his own. We find that yet another area in which he was dismal failure could be checked off his metaphorical list, and not just barely: His books became popular and were unique in having captured much of the behavior, slang, and idiom of British Schoolboys between the wars, becoming the forerunners of a literary genre that would later flourish.

Once Mills published his third and fourth book in 1939, the label "author" could clearly and permanently be attached to him. Clouds were gathering darkly over a Europe increasingly held in the steely embrace of fascism, however.

George Mills and the Royal Army Pay Corps

There were not many failures left to vindicate, but next came George's lack of any sort of success in the military in general, and within the Army Pay Corps in particular. George had been summarily and permanently sent packing from the APC during his dismal service there during the Great War, so I understand why, while enjoying success as a writer at 43 years of age, all of that was cast suddenly aside. He obviously had put his name into the Officer's Reserve pool as a War Substitute (probably claiming to have the Oxon degree he'd falsely told his prep schools that he had earned) at the onset of the Second World War.

We find that Mills soon ended up back in the Royal Army Pay Corps in 1940, and it must have been all the sweeter when he walked in this time wearing the uniform of a 2nd Lieutenant. George then would have been walking on metaphorical air when he eventually was promoted to full Lieutenant in 1942! Check 'success' in that area off of his 'vindication list'—although it would be short-lived.

Never what we'd call a "finisher," Mills relinquished his commission as an officer in 1943, after just two years, due to "ill-health." He was awarded the honorary rank of Lieutenant.

George's life had been bombarded by loss during this time period, and he would suffer more by the end of the war—the deaths of friends (Terence Hadow, Egerton Clarke), colleagues (Capt. Wm. Mocatta, Joshua Goodland), and loved ones (his wife, Vera, and his mother, Edith), all between 1939 and 1945—which is something he admittedly had in common with the rest of the British Empire during that time frame. It is distinctly possible Mills then suffered from terrible depression.

As we know, George's "ill health" didn't permanently debilitate him, which is fortunate because George had one more item to be dealt with on his 'checklist' of youthful failures, and it would be the one that took the longest time for him to get around to vindicating.

George Mills and Sport

Where Mills was and what he was doing between the end of the war and the late 1950s is unknown: They are George's Missing Years.

By the late 1950s, however, he was playing competitive croquet out of Budleigh Salterton and had quickly and respectably shaved down his beginner's handicap. George went on to win a number of tournaments along the south coast of England before he played his last match in 1970 at 76 years of age.

It's unlikely that athletic competition was something the slight Mills had ever felt good about before the age of 60, and though I imagine his trophies could not have been described as huge, I believe they must have been treasured by him as if they had been colossal!

George Mills and Catholicism

In a world that so recently had been fought over quite violently by Fascists and Communists, there is circumstantial evidence that Mills may have had Socialist leanings during the time. Toss in the lifelong struggles George had had along the way with religion, discussed above, and Mills always seemed to have had something on his philosophical plate!

Mills attended the local Catholic church in Budleigh, where he lived his last years with his spinster sisters, Agnes and Violet, at Grey Friars on Westfield Road, next to the croquet club. With his allegedly Anglican father no longer living, and with no close relatives nearby to embarrass (Arthur had died in New Forest in 1955), he finally could be comfortable and public worshipping in his chosen faith.

One does wonder about his relationship with croquet's Maurice Reckitt, the renowned Christian socialist author who, however, was "terribly anti-Roman Catholic," according to fellow player, Dr. William Ormerod. Did they ever speak of it?

The Social George Mills

From the time of George's first teaching appointment at Windlesham House School in 1926, to his obituary written in 1973 by Lt.-Col. G. E. Cave for the Croquet Gazette, George Mills was seen as a very social man. He has been described as "sociable," exuberant," "lovable," and that "He made people laugh, a lot."

He once was also so keen on children, and was so able to become part of their world in his prep schools that he could write unprecedented and insightful books about the world of his students, books that looked far beneath the veneer of the prep school classes, curricula, and discipline and saw the inner child.

One wonders, then, why so very few people remember George.

His physician in Budleigh does, but except for a few patent comments, Dr. Evans of Budleigh isn't saying much.

Barry McAleenan, a great friend of this site, knew of Mills as a child, but only really recalled that he likely was a user of snuff. (Barry, by the way, possesses the best photograph of George Mills known publicly, and it is seen at the top of this page.)

Joanna Healing and Judy Perry remember many of the characters during that era of croquet, and while Agnes and Violet Mills are more easily recollected (especially Agnes), George Mills really is not. Not at all.

A clue arrived recently via Martin Granger-Brown, who recalled George's sister "Aggie was very haughty and posh and used to look down on people," something that could have affected public perception of George as he chose to live the final years of his life in her company.

Another clue may be found in the recollections of Dr. William Ormerod. Upon hearing George described as "exuberant," "loveable," and "enthusiastic," he replied, "Those are words I would use to describe Gerald Cave himself."

Given the speech impediment of Mills, Mills may have been extremely uncomfortable with strangers. He may also have been somewhat of a chameleon, reflecting the positive qualities of those he was with, so as to keep himself in harmony with situations that could have caused him a geat deal of social anxiety.

Perhaps Mills was "exuberant," "loveable," and "enthusiastic" with those who, themselves, acted exuberantly, lovingly, and enthusiastically with him. And it follows that those who were cold or unaware of him always would remain so, as he likely would have called no attention to himself.

This would also explain why so many were unaware, during the final years of Mills's life, of his past success as an author.


Why is a man—George Mills—who was known to be so sociable, so amusing, so full of life and laughter, and a man who not only enjoyed children but seemingly understood them as well, remembered by so very few?

The life of George Mills seems to have been divided in to two halves: Failure and Success—or at least noteworthy degrees of each.

It took fifty years, but George finally vindicated himself regarding the aspects of his life in which he felt like a failure.

It doesn't appear that he ever struggled to survive financially, and that he was a relatively popular, stylish gentleman through the end. He left us childless, as did his siblings, so there are no stories of Uncle or Grandfather George at Christmas, Baptisms, funerals, or on holidays. No stories told by him were repeated to a subsequent generations of children. No one remains, then, to recall the way he spoke, smoked, or laughed.

He ended a man about whom, following his death, very few would ever think again.

The following quote recently entered my e-mail box as part of the signature of a sender, and it immediately struck me:

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success.
———————————————————————————————————————————————Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those are hopeful words by which we any of us might assess the true value of our lives.

Emerson's words summarize the impact that George Mills—now seemingly forgotten—had on the world. Whether or not he is remembered widely doesn't lessen any of the impact he did, indeed, have—especially on me.

Still, it's nice for someone, anyone, to be remembered, and that's what Who Is George Mills? has always been about.

Unless new information comes to light (as, I'm grateful to say, so often has happened here over the past year or more), unless I'm contacted by a relative, friend, or acquaintance who remembers George and his family, unless we receive a copy (or scan, or photocopy) of his last children's book, or unless we discover his letters or other ephemera that would help us know more in answer to the question, "Who Is George Mills?" then my work here is essentially done.

And I've enjoyed it all. Thank you so much: Everyone.

Goodbye for now, George.

From the Mailbox: A Budleigh Croquet Photograph

As we wrap things up here at Who Is George Mills?, one thing that does keep us going is our metaphorical mailbox. A message has arrived this week with a clarification and an interesting observation.

Here's a not from Chris Williams of the Croquet Association regarding a previous entry and the colour photograph you see below [click to enlarge]:

I spoke to Martin Granger-Brown over the weekend and he was a member at Budleigh in the late 60s/early 70s and remembers the Millses. I showed him the photo that you published on Saturday 9th July and he was able to name a few more of the people in the photo.

You have

Front Row: Unknown could be Robin Godby who lived in London, Joan Warwick, John Solomon (who was the subject of the poem I sent you by Gerald Cave), Bill Perry + Sally his dog, unknown, Sir Leonard Daldry.

Back Row: John Cooper (I think), unknown, unknown, unknown, Guy Warwick, unknown, Gerald Cave.

He reckons that the back row is

John Cooper, unknown, Ralph Bucknall, Jim Townsend, Guy Warwick, unknown, Gerald Cave.

He also thinks that the lady on the right in the front row is Lady Daldry.

He also said that Aggie was very haughty and posh and used to look down on people.


Thank you so very much, Chris! We are now able to put some names alongside a few more faces in the above photograph.

For our purposes here, though, what is even more interesting is the brief observation in the last sentence.

We know from the Devonshire Park photograph (circa 1957) that Aggie Mills, sister of George Mills, had no qualms about placing herself front and center in the image among women who were presumably her friends. Players and croquet personalities of greater notoriety than Aggie placed themselves off to the side: The legendary Hope Rotherham springs immediately to mind.

Her brother George and sister, Violet Mills, both found themselves positions towards the rear and away from the center in the image. You can see them all marked on the image above.

One wonders why so few people today recall George Mills, and really have dim recollections of his sisters much beyond a first impression—good or bad—of any of the Mills siblings.

Perhaps it was a bit of haughtiness, apparently on the part of sister Aggie, that tended to keep others somewhat at arm's length from the Mills. Agnes and Violet were already ensconced at Budleigh Salterton in 1947, and George apparently came to live with them somewhat later—likely around the occasion of that 1957 photograph.

While the family—apparently even including George—were quite social themselves, one can't help but wonder how reserved their friends and acquaintances may have been. It's interesting to note that despite the involvement of the three Mills sibs in croquet at Budleigh, none of them seem to appear in group photographs of cheerful players at the club.

Agnes, as they say, apparently was known to enjoy pulling the cork, as they say. Might it be that this social family—led by elder sister Agnes—may not have been enormously well-liked, at least not as much as they were well-known socially?

The reality that Budleigh Salterton was unaware that George Mills had once been a successful children's book author—and, in fact, his books then were being reprinted in the late 1950s for enjoyment by a new generation of readers—is completely mystifying to me.

Perhaps haughtiness and a condescending attitude played some role in it.

It is, at least, worth considering.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Egerton Clarke, Parenthood, Paper, and the Second World War

School is back in session here in Florida—stifling heat indices of well over 100°F be damned—and I've fallen behind in my correspondence.

This week I received news from Janine La Forestier, granddaughter of Egerton Clarke [pictured, right]. It was actually a note accompanying a forwarded message from, I believe, her cousin Camilla.

Here's Janine's note, followed by Camilla's correspondence, both which I have taken the liberty to adjust slightly for ease of readability here:

Morning Harry: I received [this] from one of [Uncle] Anthony's daughters. Very interesting about the paper—and that would explain a lot and be a much simpler explanation—so he was writing but [had] no way to get it published because of the shortages......I had heard of a shooting, but don't know any details.

Anyway - it might shed some light on why George didn't publish too—I guess we were looking for something a bit more interesting.

Take care and hope school is going well. They don't go back until September here—nice long holiday. Cheers, Janine

The following is from Camilla, on Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011 at 4:14 AM:

Dear Janine,

Where to start?

My father and the other two sent to boarding school long before the start of the war and not because of it. That was always the plan. By then money source was doubtful, although they always had nannies of whom my father formed a particular attachment to Nanny Toms.

Our grandparents were not untypical of the era and the old stiff British upper lip and sentimentality where children were concerned is not in evidence.

The children were sent [to school]. My dad [was] age 6 in 1935. His mother dropped [him] at the school and he remembers her driving off ([actually] being driven, of course). There was no tearful goodbye. Parents knew that contact at that time would be limited, and indeed it seems that the new nannies and houses added to the [children's] detachment from parents.

I think there is also a much more feasible answer as to why Egerton doesn't publish after 1939: There was no available paper. Rationing was everywhere and for everything. All printing would have been diverted for essential printing to do with the war effort. Poetry and literature would have been limited, and it is unlikely Egerton would have had the means [to publish his own work].

As to the funding for schooling, Egerton set up a charity for the funding of Catholic education for boys, my father being one of the few beneficiaries so [it was] a bit suspect.

Remember also he was a convert and had made a lot of notable contacts at university as was the vogue in those days. Catholic conversions were very 'of the moment,' as was the literary group he ran [which contained] some very notable names.

Aunty Dorothy wrote a very moving letter to my father in the 60's when he had inquired about [Egerton Clarke's] life. She told of a life for her and her brothers where they had a distant, unattached mother and not a happy childhood.

I have researched the Percy Carmichael [Clarke] and Emma Piper marriages, etc., and Angela has visited the church in Dinard, France, where there is indeed a window [dedicated] to [Percy Clarke's] memory.

Percy had an interesting life and was married before he married Egerton's mother. [He] worked for a bank, was sent to Australia for the bank, and was involved in the shooting of a man before he became a Church of England minister, but I think you might know all this.

Probably enough for now. Hope this gives a different view.

Fascinating! Thank you so much, Janine and Camilla!

We learn quite a bit from this missive beyond the most interesting aspect: Egerton Clarke's father apparently shot a man in Australia before becoming a vicar!

It seems that the distance between Egerton and his mother, Emma Anna [right], after the death of his father when Egerton was just three years old may have been, at least in part, because she was not a mother very involved with her children, and not because of financial hardship.

The nannies mentioned above, women who attended to Egerton's children, apparently mirrored the care given to him by nannies as a boy. We have seen that one nanny in particular was of such importance to him as to have been mentioned in the dedication of his first book of poetry.

In addition, we learn that Egerton may have missed his children during the Second World War, but that they were had not been separated from him by the hostilities, but by previously arranged design. It seems likely, however, that the war may have heightened his worry about them, or increased his desire to spend time with them, especially as he was becoming increasingly ill.

Regarding aspects of Camilla's message that would pertain to George Mills, a friend of Egerton's since their deployment in the Army Pay Corps at Winchester during the First World War, we learn that it was apparently somewhat fashionable at the time, at least among intellectuals, to convert to Roman Catholicism.

We know that when Edith Mills, George's mother, passed away in late 1945, services were held at Holy Trinity Church in Brompton, the locale of George's marriage in 1926. Despite the fact that George's father had been a convert to Catholicism since the 1880s, Rev. Barton R. V. Mills served as a Anglican vicar, chaplain, and cleric for his entire career.

We don't know if Edith Mills also had been a clandestine convert to Catholicism like her husband, Barton, but her 1945 funeral services were held under the auspices of the Church of England. The 1972 memorial service for George Mills much later, however, would be held at the Catholic Church of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, in Budleigh Salterton [left]. George obviously was not a convert because it was chic at mid-century, but one of deep faith and conviction.

Finally, we find that it is speculated that reason Egerton Clarke did not publish after 1937 or so may have been simple: The rationing of a limited supply of paper.

While I am certain that certainly would have played an important part in the difficulty poet Egerton Clarke and children's book author George Mills may have found in publishing during the war, it doesn't explain a few things.

First, we know that Egerton Clarke was disheartened about having at least one poem rejected, circa 1942. A shortage of paper may have caused him to be upset, but it does not explain why any bitterness would not have been felt during the entire war, but was encapsulated only in the rejection of a particular poetic submission.

Secondly, although Clarke succumbed to tuberculosis in 1944, George Mills never published another original work after 1939's Saint Thomas of Canterbury, through his death in 1972. Paper, at some point, did become available generally, and Mills saw his prep school trilogy of titles reprinted in the 1950s. Still, he never wrote again, save the odd letter to The Times.

Looking over publishing in the United Kingdom during WWII, we find that poetic volumes did continue to be printed. From 1940 through 1940, we find complete volumes of poetry published by Sir John Betjemen*, Cecil Day Lewis*, T.S. Eliot*, William Empson, Roy Fuller*, Robert Garioch, Rayner Hepenstall, Louis MacNiece*, Stephen Spender*, Dylan Thomas*, Henry Treece, W.B. Yeats and Rudyard Kipling (posthumously), Laurence Binyon*, Edmund Blunden*, G.S. Fraser, Alan Ross, A.L. Rowse, Sydney Goodsir Smith, Terence Tiller*, Vernon Watkins, Walter De la Mare*, W.S. Graham*, John Heath-Stubbs, J.F. Hendry*, Patrick Kavanaugh, Sidney Keyes*, Alun Lewis, Robert Nichols, Leslie Norris, John Pudney*, Henry Reed, Stevie Smith, Dorothy Wellesley, Kenneth Allott, Keith Douglas, Lawrence Durrell, David Gascoyne, Geoffrey Grigson, Michael Hamburger, Kathleen Raine, Keidrych Rhys, William Soutar*, George Barker, Alex Comfort, Patric Dickinson, Laurie Lee, John Lehmann, Mervyn Peake, Herbert Read, E.J. Scovell, and Charles Williams.

[Poets whose names are followed by an asterisk (*) published multiple volumes of poetry during those war years, having been allotted a great deal of that scarce paper!]

It's instructive to look at one young Irish poet of the era, W. R. "Bertie" Rodgers (1909 – 1969).

Rodgers [right] had attended Queen's University Belfast and showed promise as a writer. After graduating in 1935, however, he was ordained a Presbyterian minister and was appointed to the Loughgall Presbyterian Church in County Armagh, where he served through 1947.

In 1941, Rodgers published Awake! and Other Poems, which was critically acclaimed in both Britain and the United States, despite the fact that, according to Wikipedia, "the first edition was almost totally lost when the publisher’s warehouse was destroyed in the London Blitz."

Again, despite the destruction of his first edition, along with other texts in that warehouse, newcomer Rodgers was anointed with the publications of subsequent editions, despite the paper shortage. Rodgers soon eschewed his calling and became a script writer for the BBC after the war.

We find, sadly, that there was, indeed, paper enough to support the publication of a great deal of poetry during the Second World War, enough even to support the literary debut of a little known Irish cleric like Rodgers.

In the case of Egerton Clarke, there seem to be two possible conclusions as to why the available paper was not lavished upon his work.

First, he may not have been prolific enough. Perhaps, had he a portfolio of poems under his arm in 1942, his earlier lengthy string of critically well-received poetic texts may have caused a publisher to take him to press. Janine believes that it was Egerton's failure to have a single poem published that he "took very hard."

It's also possible that the critical acclaim that Egerton had earned had been somewhat forgotten. The poets publishing during the war, listed above, were not among his circle of literary friends, and it is possible that he had become "old news," having been relegated to the status of a minor poet during the years he spent during the 1930s writing children's books for Burns, Oates and Washbourne, a Catholic publishing house. He may have been consigned to the pigeonhole "Catholic poet," instead of simply being considered, as he once had been, an "up and coming poet."

Let us not forget that, making things far worse, Egerton was in poor health during the war and would not live to hear of the fall of Berlin [left] or Tokyo.

George Mills was also in poor health during the war. He had returned to the Royal Army Pay Corps as an officer in 1940, but after a string of tragedies in his life, he relinquished his commission in 1943 due to "ill health."

While George's physician later in life, Dr. David Evans of Budleigh Salterton, claims that George was in good health at the end of his life and quite independent, something had overwhelmed him during the war, and George never wrote again.

Trolling Wikipedia's lists of notable children's books, very few are from the era of the Second World War: Curious George (1941) by H.A. Rey; Five on a Treasure Island (1942) by Enid Blyton [left]; The Littlest Prince (1943) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry; and Pippi Longstocking (1945) by Astrid Lindgren.

A contemporary British children's author Noel Streatfeild, for example, published only The House in Cornwall (1940) and Curtain Up (1944) [also published as Theater Shoes; pictured, right) for children during the war. Perhaps it was due to a shortage of paper—but she also managed to publish three novels for adult readers during the same years, 1940 – 1944.

Perhaps, then, it was only difficult to publish children's books in the U.K. during the war.

That also would seemingly be incorrect. Enid Blyton is listed as having published only one notable work [below, left] during WWII, but her entire published output between the years 1940 and 1944 was an incredible 88 books!

Clearly, there was enough paper to publish the works of major authors and poets, as well as minor works that would have been seen by publishers as a way to make some money (as in the case of the prolific Blyton) during the worldwide conflict.

Regarding George Mills, even if the recuperating author had been pitching book ideas to publishers during 1943, 1944, and 1945, it's likely that he was seen by then in the same way we see him today: A minor author with limited earning potential for a publishing house.

In the cases of both Egerton Clarke and George Mills, the lustre that once had been found on their careers a decade earlier had diminished dramatically, and pages they once might have published were being given instead either to dependable and established authors, or to new writers who might be potential literary stars.

It is easy to see why Egerton and George would have taken the subsequent downturn in their careers poorly, and perhaps bitterly.

Thank you once again, Janine and Camilla, for helping to fill in some of the gaps in this research. It is very much appreciated.