Saturday, January 15, 2011

MWM Seeking Beryl & Ian

Everything new that I learn about George Mills or his family necessarily informs everything else I've learned. A professor once explained some rudimentary system theory to me, and if I understood it correctly, the gist is this: Change one part of a system and you've made changes in the entire system.

My collection of information about Mills easily fits the American Heritage Dictionary's definition of a "system": A group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole.

So, the corollary here, I suppose, would be: Learn something new about one aspect of George Mills and you've made changes in what you know about the entire body of information.

Case in point: Here's something I've wondered about for some time now. There are so many aspects to the life of George Mills that as I ruminate over what you've shared with me, that new information informs other bits and pieces I know--or about which I've wondered.

The edition of King Willow whose image [right] was recently posted on the Budleigh & Brewster United website by friend Michael Downes is apparently from the late 1950's of early 1960's. There's no copyright info in that edition of the text, the publisher no longer exists, and dates of publication I've seen on-line (1955 through 1963) have all turned out to have been guesses made by antique booksellers. Given the style of art and haircuts on the characters, that 'era' seems about right.

Those years put the book's new publication squarely in George's time living in Budleigh Salterton. The updated dedication to that edition of King Willow is to a young newlywed couple "Beryl and Ian." This sounds strange, but I've contacted a variety of "Beryls and Ians" around the internet who were born in the late 1930s and none of the couples knew of a George Mills, nor had any books dedicated to them, and it seemed they could've been from anywhere Mills had ever lived or taught.

I'd long speculated that Mills must've lived for years with his spinster sisters at Grey Friars. It is clearly documented that he'd died there, but I knew he might've only been staying with them as an invalid in the last year or so of his life, and had lived elsewhere. We now know that George Mills was a vibrant, long-time resident of the Budleigh community. It's been confirmed, and that now informs what we know about the dedication of the later edition of King Willow!

Is it possible Beryl & Ian are still in Budleigh and their names simply don't appear on-line for me to find? Mills's dedication uses "long voyage" and "good ship" to describe their matrimonial bliss--a perfect metaphor from a man and for a young couple who all live by the sea!

Does anyone now living (or who has lived) in Budleigh know any couples (or ex-couples) named Beryl & Ian who might've known George? My hunch is that they were very likely the children of George's friends at the croquet club and would now be 70-ish years of age. I could be wrong, but the clues point in that direction!

Please let me know if any of this rings a bell, and as always, I very much appreciate your help!

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