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Past and Present in Ernest Raymond’s ‘London Gallery’

Peter Preston



<1> The name of Ernest Raymond is hardly known today, but for more than fifty years he was one of England’s most prolific and popular authors. Born in 1888, he made a relatively late start as a writer, yet between 1922 and 1974 he published a book in every year except five, usually issuing two volumes in either the previous or the following years to make up for the gaps. This prolific output was dominated by fiction and he published forty-six novels, two plays and ten volumes of non-fiction, including literary essays, biography and memoirs. He was a prominent member of the International PEN Club and became president of the Dickens Fellowship. He also took part in the civic and political life of Hampstead, his home for many years, and served as a Liberal on Hampstead Borough Council, as well as campaigning for the re-interment of Coleridge’s remains in Highgate.[1] 

<2> The only one of Raymond’s publications to retain any currency is his first, Tell England, published in 1922. He began the novel when he was eighteen and its first half tells the story of three boys at an English public school, while the second part follows their experiences in the First World War. Raymond served in the war as an Anglican army chaplain (he was ordained in 1914) and saw action at Gallipoli and in Egypt, France, the Middle East and Russia, experiences on which he drew for his novel.  Tell England received a mixed critical reaction: it was castigated as sentimental, coarse, pretentious and vulgar but was also regarded by a large number of readers as a moving account of the making of heroes and their performance in war. It sees the war as a romantic and noble enterprise and in this respect it answered to the needs of many readers in the years of national mourning and cultural uncertainty immediately after the war. My own copy of Tell England was issued in October 1922, six months after its first publication, and is the fourteenth reprinting of a novel that remained constantly in print for over thirty years. Raymond’s only other novel to achieve similar success was We, the Accused, published in 1935, the story of a domestic murder and the trial, prosecution and execution of the murderer which attracted a good deal of public notice, because it was read as an indictment of capital punishment. There was a revival of interest in the novel when an adaptation was shown on BBC television in 1980 with Ian Holm in the leading role.

<3> These days Raymond attracts little attention. He does not appear in any of the standard literary reference works, although there are entries for him in the Dictionary of National Biography and the on-line Dictionary of Literary Biography. He has not been incorporated into any of the extensions of the literary canon that have taken place in the past three decades and nor has he been used as an example –- he would make a very good one –- in recent studies of authorship, twentieth-century publishing history or national reading habits. Somehow he falls between all these increasingly capacious nets. Second-hand copies of his books can be bought quite cheaply, many of them ex-library copies since he was at one time in great demand with users of public libraries. These included my late mother, whose favourite author he was, not least because so many of his books were set in London, where we lived. When I was growing up I followed my mother’s taste in books pretty closely and I had a very concentrated period of reading Raymond between the ages of about thirteen and seventeen.

<4> By the time I was studying for ‘A’ levels, however, I had an inkling that Raymond wasn’t quite the author to be reading if you wanted to do a degree in English. I picked up some negative remarks from the book pages of The Observer and one of my schoolteachers made a disparaging comment when, keen to show that I was moving into grown-up books, I mentioned that I’d been reading one of Raymond’s novels. In some dim sense I had realised that Raymond (like Somerset Maugham and Compton Mackenzie, whom I was also reading) was a middlebrow –- although I wasn’t then familiar with the term –- and ought to be beneath my notice. Although I continued to search in second-hand bookshops for titles to fill the gaps in my mother’s collection, and later used passages from Tell England when teaching courses on First World War writing, Raymond passed out of my consciousness, dimly remembered as a good story-teller but irredeemably conservative in form, style and attitudes and sentimental and moralistic in tone. 

<5> When I recently prepared to re-read some of Raymond’s books in order to write this essay I wondered whether those judgements might now seem a little harsh, the outcome of a young man’s desire to establish his own seriousness and cultured literary taste. Not so: my re-reading confirms all those views and adds to them an impression of laboured and sometimes unbearably arch attempts at humour, a patronising attitude towards the working class and an underlying misogyny that seems all the more blatant for Raymond’s attempts to create characters and construct plots that challenge expectations about women’s roles. Against this sense of a middle-of-the road novelist appealing to middle-class Book Club and lending library tastes, however, are some recurring themes that suggest Raymond stood on the brink of being a more interesting and complex writer. There is, for instance, a fairly strong vein of social liberalism running through the books. He creates convincing psychological motivations for characters who challenge codes of sexual behaviour. For Cynthia Coventry in Child of Norman’s End (1934), for instance, her brief affair with an older artist is represented as part of her struggle to move beyond the narrow moral outlook of the middle-class streets where she grows up; while the premarital sexual encounters of a couple in The City and the Dream (1958), a novel set in the nineteen-thirties, are seen at least in part as illustrative of the problems brought about by poverty and housing shortages as barriers to marriage. In the same novel, the shoplifting compulsion of the main character’s sister is treated with great sympathy and in startlingly modern psychological terms. 

<6> Raymond also frequently creates morally conflicted characters: fundamentally good men (they are always men) anxious that they are too keenly aware of their own goodness, which they fear may be a kind of vanity. His other great theme, present throughout all his fiction, is the struggle to recover a faltering or lost faith, including on the part of clergymen. Raymond himself resigned from the priesthood in 1923, because he was no longer able to accept Christian dogma, although he remained strongly attached to Christian ethics or “applied Christianity” (PYDN166).[2] Raymond’s lifelong search to recover his own faith is reflected in many of his novels, but its presence can be somewhat problematic, since it often distorts his plots, results in blatant moralising at odds with the more complex aspects of his work and intensifies the sentimentality to which his writing is always prone.


<7> Both volumes of Raymond’s memoirs are silent on the origins of ‘A London Gallery’, the series of novels that dominated the middle years of his career, between 1934 and 1958, when sixteen of his twenty-one published novels were included in the Gallery.[3] The opening novel of the sequence, Child of Norman’s End, is not announced as being the first exhibit in a gallery and it was only after a few of the Gallery novels had been published that they began to appear under a separate heading in lists of his work. Furthermore, novels by Raymond outside the series are quite often set in London and are indistinguishable in style and thematic content to the Gallery novels. Nonetheless, in the ‘Author’s Note’ he added to The City and the Dream, the final novel in the sequence, Raymond writes:

I have always conceived of the series as a whole, under the single title A London Gallery, and since I share with most of my characters the habit of indulging in unlikely dreams, I have played, during the twenty-three years given to this task, with the hope that someone some day might come into the gallery and look at the pictures one by one, and not leave till he had seen them all. (CD vii)

The key point here is Raymond’s claim always to have seen the series as a whole and his sense of it as ‘task’ that has occupied him for more than two decades. This makes it all the more remarkable that neither volume of his memoirs should contain any mention of the series as a whole or even of more than two or three of its individual volumes. Authors are of course under no obligation to produce definitive statements of intent for the convenience of literary scholars and Raymond may have believed that the series stood or fell on its contents rather than on some abstract overall concept.

<8> However, the ‘Author’s Note’ gives us some further hints as to Raymond’s intentions in the Gallery. He describes The City and the Dream as:

the last of a series of sixteen novels that attempt to portray the varied and varying face of London during the last fifty years. That some of these novels should be sombre and long, others (in aim at least) light and gay has not seemed to me unfitting because it reflects the perpetual habit of the sky over London. For much the same reason, and because London as a visual city can take on a strange elegiac enchantment in an evening sunlight, this last story attempts—not the clouds, though there are some of them—but the brighter and happier mood. (CD vii)

This emphasises variety and contrast of action and mood -– although in my experience few of his novels end really unhappily -– and a troubled sense of the beauty of London. It is certainly true that Raymond seems most attracted to evening sunlight and “elegiac enchantment” and there are many examples of what might be called his crepuscular vision of the city. Furthermore, the evenings he writes about aren’t simply those of individual days: they appear to relate to a larger historical process by which the city itself has reached its twilight and is gradually moving towards some kind of day’s end. Total darkness never quite descends -– Raymond retains a strong belief in the resilience of London and its citizens –- but is more likely to be experienced in patches which occur at different times and in different ways during the historical period covered by the Gallery, which runs from the late 1880s to the 1940s (rather longer than ‘the last fifty years’ referred to in the ‘Author’s Note’). As well as describing the impact on the city of the bombing raids of the Second World War,[4] Raymond’s novels notate chronologically earlier developments arising from the onset of modernity in such realms as home-building and public and private transport. It is also notable that whenever possible Raymond finds the means to take his narratives back from their principal chronological location to his favourite Georgian and Regency period. Not only does its architecture delight him but he clearly regards the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a period when London enjoyed both civility and urbanity.

<9> Raymond’s sense of London’s past is very acute and he is always likely to refer any given location to how it appeared historically, a mental habit shared by many of his characters. He is particularly conscious of the chronotope, a term used by Mikhail Bakhtin to describe a point where the spatio-temporal matrix is experienced with special intensity and where, in Bakhtin’s words, ‘the knots of narrative are tied and untied’ (250). Equally significant and sometimes merging with these chronotopes are the liminal or threshold moments, ‘the breaking point of a life, the moment of crisis, the decision that changes a life (or the indecisiveness that fails to change a life, the fear to step over the threshold)’ (248).

<10> Raymond’s characters often encounter such liminal moments in their lives and often, for them, they involve crossing a literal threshold: there are several examples when an individual’s willingness or failure to pass through a door makes a crucial difference to his or her individual narrative. In Raymond’s novels, however, a single step may be sufficient to transport a character from one time zone to another. Here, for example, Sir Albany Grahame, the central character in To the Wood No More (1954) walking through St John’s Wood, where he plans to live after the unexpected suicide of his brother and his inheritance of both a baronetcy and a fortune has released him from the monotony and cultural deprivation of his life as a country vicar:

He entered Grove End Road, and … [a]t that junction where the five roads meet he seemed to have exchanged quite suddenly the eighteenth century for the early nineteenth. There at that corner by Regents Park he had walked, very properly, into the Regency period. (TWNM 23)

Here the historical consciousness is shared by narrator and character and can be read in terms of Sir Albany’s aspiration to the acquisition of new cultural capital in his move from rural Hertfordshire to the metropolis. Grahame has already observed, as he passes from a nineteenth-century street to an area built in the Regency Period, (the capitalisation is Raymond’s) the ‘urbane little houses’ with ‘long grey walls to guard their privacy from pavement and carriageway’, whose original occupants wanted to be ‘each a little squire with a parcel of land for his own’. He also notes the ‘little rectangular gardens’ with ‘little monastic grilles’ in their gates (22-3). Grahame’s is a profoundly retrogressive vision as he steps gladly into a past age and identifies himself with what he sees as the signs of a quasi-feudal England, while the insistent use of the word ‘little’ emphasises his sense of St John’s Wood as a place of retreat, defended against the modern world beyond. Further, the neighbourhood can also be seen as a kind of rus in urbis, a unique property of this part of the city: ‘The sky before him seemed wider and lighter than anywhere else in London … Nowhere else in London were there so many trees to the acre and such quiet gardens nears its busy centre’ (23). In all these respects the novel, whose action takes place in the years immediately before the First World War,[5] can be seen as representing a world in its final days of peace before the forthcoming upheaval.

<11> Bait, Grahame’s lawyer and oldest friend and the only resident of the Wood that he knows before moving there, insists that Grahame should live only in the centre of St John’s Wood which represents ‘an oasis in a horrible desert of Victorian vulgarity’ such as Kilburn, Swiss Cottage, Maida Vale, and as Bait puts it, ‘Belsize Park, my God!’(26). He advises Grahame to avoid crossing the Finchley Road lest he ‘run into roads of outrageous Victorian palaces. You’ll be among very terrible things’. And very terrible people, presumably, since architectural preference and pure social snobbery are here very closely entangled. Bait goes on to make an impassioned speech in the course of which he modulates from aesthetic distaste for the architectural preferences of some of the best-known painters of the late Victorian period to a homophobic repulsion from artists of a new generation: 

There’s old Alma-Tadema, in this road, who’s built himself a pompous red palace which looks as if it had been spawned by the Albert Hall; and old McWhirter, R.A., who over there in the Abbey Road, put up a house like a marzipan cake which I, for one, can only pass with my eyes shut. We are famous for our artists but I recoil from most of them. Just go and look at the Art School in Elm Tree Road … You’ve only got to pass it when the boys are coming and going … to decide that it might well be the out-patients’ department of a hospital for homosexuals and hermaphrodites. (26-7)[6] 

The novel ends with a peroration on a more recent kind of intrusive building scheme: in a passage matching his journey through the Wood at the beginning of the novel, Sir Albany notes that Grove End Road now contains an ‘enormous block of mansion flats … like a crimson many-windowed mansion above the little square houses in their walled gardens’ transforming them into ‘the homes of a different world … thrust … into a past time’ and suddenly seeming to exist ‘fifty years in the past’ in what will become ‘streets of long-spent sorrows and joys long-dead’ (310).[7] The valuable historicity of these buildings, therefore, is reaffirmed by the intrusion of a contemporaneity that threatens to extinguish and deplete them of their significance. In some respects Sir Albany is rather pleased with his vision of a future where the people of St John’s Wood will be ‘like faded figures in a picture of no value and long since cast out’, since he has an image of himself as a survivor from a past age. This is a kind of self-mythologising, not least in that his brother was awarded his baronetcy quite recently for his success in a series of decidedly modern business ventures, but this does not stop Sir Albany from ‘continuing to think with pleasure of himself as a figure everywhere forgotten and walking in a time long past’ (311). Such melancholy nostalgia is common in Raymond’s work but here it is thoroughly appropriated into a character’s personality. Overall, Raymond’s historical agenda concerns change and flux seen in a negative light: nowhere is any change seen as being desirable or beneficial, whether it be the use of waste ground for new housing and the resulting shifts in population or the replacement of cabs by motor taxis. Change is always seen in terms of loss and deterioration and the overall London narrative is one of decline rather than progress. 

<12> In the many other instances in the London Gallery of characters taking steps across a time-line, if an awareness of these significant spatio-temporal moments is not available to the characters themselves then the narrative voice is apt to supply it for them. In Child of Norman’s End the narrator is clearly a native of the area and is therefore readily able both to notate the changes that take place in the course of the novel and to appreciate the conjunctions of one period with another. Describing Norman’s End (Raymond’s fictionalisation of Earl’s Court and West Kensington) the narrative remarks that at one crossing-point ‘you walk right out of the stucco age and into the red brick age’ (CNE 7), while Cynthia Coventry, the novel’s leading character is described as ‘too young to think that here came a metalled roadway and the pavements of the nineteenth century beating up against a dark old wall’ (129). Outsiders therefore offer an especially interesting view of Norman’s End. Mrs du Pré, for instance, kept by her aristocratic lover in a new block of flats and priding herself on her sophistication and knowledge of a wider world remarks patronisingly that ‘it’s the most restful little backwater—so quiet and still and untouched by Time. I call it a little pocket of yesterday’ (107). The artist O’Kelvie, who lives in the same block of flats, just stops himself from describing it as ‘this comic’ something, an opinion matched by Mrs du Pré’s view of it as ‘amusing’ or ‘funny’. And both O’Kelvie and du Pré have a dubious moral impact on Norman’s End, O’Kelvie by seducing Cynthia and du Pré by encouraging Cynthia’s unhappily married father to take a mistress.


<13> In The City and the Dream, the final novel in the London Gallery, issues concerning the past and present of a locality are particularly prominent and the book’s opening paragraph immediately insists on the centrality of its setting:

Clerkenwell, to begin with. Clerkenwell, standing beneath the sun on a May morning, a tall congregation of factories, warehouses, printing works, foundries, distilleries and tanneries, interspersed with huge high hideous tenement dwellings to house the workers in these and other trades — Clerkenwell with its clockmakers and watchmakers (once famous the world over), its jewellers, hairworkers, lapidaries, silversmiths and glass-benders, all at their fine and delicate labours under the sun-straddled roofs … (CAD 1)

This is almost lyrical in its comprehensive vision of the practice of crafts and trades and its sense of industry and busy-ness. The use of the word ‘congregation’ to describe the assembly of workplaces lends a religious connotation to this aspect of Clerkenwell life. At the same time, however, the strongly marked alliteration of the phrase ‘huge, high, hideous’ to describe the buildings in which the workers live passes a judgement on the kind of jerry building that took place in the area in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is also an area where the dominant presence of members of religious orders has given way to secular practices: Bartholomew Fair, held in Smithfield until 1840; the horse-market; public executions; theft and murder, with the area around Ratcliff Highway becoming ‘a metonym for wickedness’ (2). 

<14> By the end of the first chapter of The City and the Dream the narrative has focused on Red Lion Street which ‘has manifestly the pious memories on one side of it and the impious on the other … [and is an] … exceedingly symbolic situation’. At the threshold of the house in Red Lion Street where most of the principal characters are lodgers a time-line is crossed. The narrative voice very much approves of this house, built in 1719, and seen as a rare and precious Georgian survivor in a street of shops and small factories which unites ‘the grace of its date with the charm of its age’ (CAD 4). The survival, however, is one of appearance only and does not extend beyond the façade: ‘Pass the jambs of the stately door and you exchange the year 1719 for the Clerkenwell of today, no longer a place for the wealthy and leisured, but straitened and struggling and given over to labour’ (4). Among the lodgers is the book’s central character, John Kenrick Betterkin, known as Kerry, a clerk and an aspiring writer who in the evening works on Green and Pleasant Clerkenwell, an idealised historical novel about the area’s supposedly glorious medieval years. Kerry’s intense interest in the history of the area is rather selective and by choosing a mythical, Merrie England version of Clerkenwell he skips over the more negative associations of the area. To some extent the narrative voice fills the gaps in extended narrative passages evoking and interpreting that history. As in other novels in the London Gallery the story that emerges is one of decline, and represents Clerkenwell as having become ‘the creation, more surely perhaps than any other square mile in this vast conglomerate London, of God and the Devil together’. Change is represented as occurring in a series of rapid and aggressive acts: ‘all its old and residential street pressed out by the urgency of London’s industry [my italics]’ and the crypt of the Church of the Knights of St John ‘sole relic of its godly days is now beneath the traffic-beaten ground [my italics]’ (1). 

<15> Kerry is drawn to Clerkenwell’s status as an historical palimpsest, fascinating exactly because of its chronological laminations: ‘Every step we take here’, he remarks, ‘we tread on a compost heap of history’ (15). He welcomes its many points of access to the past: when he and his girlfriend shelter under St John’s Gate he feels ‘as if they had rushed into some left and long-forgotten hole in time’ (75). But his historical novel, which eventually finds a publisher, is poorly reviewed and he is accused (as was Raymond himself) of being sentimental and out of date, lost in a dream of the past rather than confronting the realities and dilemmas of the present. 

<16>  The City and the Dream is set ‘some score of years ago’ (3) which, given that it was published in 1958, would place its action somewhere in the mid to late nineteen-thirties, although its atmosphere suggests an earlier date, in the nineteen-twenties. Even at this date, however, Kerry’s novel is seen as decidedly out of date in both style and subject matter, answering to the tastes for historical fiction prevalent in the eighteen-eighties. When an adventurous young publisher decides to take a risk on his second novel, Kerry attempts to write in a style he describes as ‘a laughing realism’ (206) and aided by the support of an influential reviewer, produces a best-seller. Raymond has clearly drawn on his own early experiences in the publishing world and from the descriptions of Kerry’s second book it sounds as though it is broadly similar to the novel we are reading. Its success –- he very quickly becomes a rich man –- transforms his life and also transforms his vision of London and his place in the mythology of the city:

All this was London, its ugly streets and paved alleys, and he was of the company of Whittington and the other apprentices who had come poor to its pavements and found in their stony ore the veins of gold. (247)

Laughing realism? Perhaps, here, something closer to fairy tale.

<17> The most obvious omission in the representation of Clerkenwell both in Kerry’s novel and in the narrative passages, is the area’s radical history. This stretches back for many centuries, as Peter Ackroyd makes clear in his book about London.[8] By the early fourteenth century the neighbourhood, as well as being the location of the convent of St Mary and the priory of St John, the property of the Knights Templar, was well-known for dramatic performances, miracle plays and wrestling matches enacted on land owned by the convent. At the end of the same century, in 1381, the Priory was attacked by the followers of Wat Tyler in the course of the Peasant’s Revolt. As the area lay just beyond the confines of the City of London it became a refuge of groups who wished to practice their religion at a distance from the power of the Church: over the centuries Lollards, Jesuits, Catholic recusants, Quakers, Brownists, Familists and Schismatics gathered on and around Clerkenwell Green. Brothels and thieves’ dens were located in its narrow, twisting and insanitary streets and alleys. Political radicalism also found a home in Clerkenwell: the London Corresponding Society, the United Englishmen and the United Irishmen all met in the neighbourhood of the Green and in 1832 a meeting of the National Union of the Working Classes held in Coldbath Fields just to the north ended in a riot. Among the speakers to be heard there were William Cobbett and the Chartist Henry Hunt, while another notable orator, John Wilkes, was born nearby. Chartists and trades unionists met in pubs and coffee house around the Green. John Stuart Mill was a subscriber to the hall at 37a Clerkenwell Green, later known as the London Patriotic Club, used for political meetings, with Eleanor Marx Aveling, the atheist Charles Bradlaugh and the anarchist Peter Kropotkin among the speakers. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin edited a revolutionary newspaper nearby. Today, the Marx Memorial library stands on the Green. 

<18> None of this lively and astonishingly continuous history of oppositional social, religious and political activity is present in The City and the Dream. Although the narrative offers some corrective to Kerry’s highly idealised historical vision, it does so much more in terms of the changes in Clerkenwell and the hardships suffered by its residents. Kerry’s fellow-lodgers are in a place of last resort for members of a degraded middle class: some of them are on the verge of utter poverty and only retain their place in the house because of the kindness of the elderly clergyman who is their landlord. But they are in the end mostly respectable: the only petty criminal in the house is ‘tamed’ by the priestly landlord and Raymond does not venture into Clerkenwell’s lowest depths, its ill-ventilated sweatshops, its desperate slums, its brothels and criminal haunts. By way of contrast, George Gissing’s The Nether World (1889) takes place at a different and much darker point in the social order, where the characters’ lives are much more rigidly determined by their environment and where the most they have achieved is a fragile and very tenuous security in the midst of ‘those brute forces of society which fill with wrecks the abysses of the nether world’.[9] And in contrast to Kerry’s romanticised version of the Middle Ages, Peter Ackroyd’s novel The Clerkenwell Tales (2003) offers a complex picture of the political and religious unrest at the end of the fourteenth century. Ackroyd’s text explores multiple viewpoints of a neighbourhood full of plot and counterplot, religious heresy, dubious miracles, duplicitous churchmen and a nun who is either prophet or charlatan. It dramatises an area pulsing with heterodoxy and an entirely amoral scramble for power disguised as a concern for doctrinal purity. 

<19> The contrasts between Raymond’s novel and those by Gissing and Ackroyd demonstrate the limits of the former’s vision with startling clarity. He makes only tentative and timid approaches to the social depths of Clerkenwell, and if he is interested in propounding any ideological position beyond cultural pessimism, it is ameliorative rather than radical in nature. The small group of people who live in the lodging-house in Red Lion Street achieve security thanks to the kindly clergyman, but there is no suggestion that he or anyone else is interested in making any attempt to address the larger social questions that result in people living on the perilous edge of destitution. The conclusion of Gissing’s The Nether World is pessimistic in that it leaves its characters in much the same condition as they have been throughout the novel, but at least the novel has interrogated the situation it describes and has explored the origins of poverty and social insecurity. It is also notable that Gissing introduces the possibility of resolving the story by means of a transformational inheritance device, to which so many nineteenth-century novels have recourse, only to dismiss it. His characters must continue to live and struggle in Clerkenwell, and to do what they can in a small way to help their fellow workers. Ernest Raymond’s Londoners, on the other hand, often display a curious eagerness to leave the city to which they profess their attachment. At the conclusion of Child of Norman’s End, Cynthia and Leo, both natives of the area, are preparing to marry and live in the country; Albany Grahame chooses St John’s Wood precisely because it represents rus in urbis and at the end of the novel Albany’s daughter Susanna and her new husband plan a life running a market garden in Surrey; while in The City and the Dream the newly successful Kerry, who likens himself to Dick Whittington, intends to buy a cottage in Buckinghamshire. As a character in the latter novel remarks: ‘It’s almost every Londoner’s dream and aspiration, isn’t it: a cottage in the country far beyond the pavements’ ends’ (CAD 277).


[1] Raymond’s childhood and youth were spent in stable yet extraordinary circumstances and are described in the first volume of his autobiography, The Story of My Days. An Autobiography 1888-1922 (London: Cassell, 1968). 

[2] See the Bibliography at the end of this essay for the abbreviations used in the body of the text. 

[3] The novels in the Gallery are Child of Norman’s End, 1934; We, the Accused, 1935; The Marsh, 1937; A Song of the Tide, 1940; Was There Love Once?, 1942; The Corporal of the Guard, 1944; For Them That Trespass, 1944; The Kilburn Tale, 1947; Gentle Greaves, 1949; The Witness of Canon Welcome, 1950; A Chorus Ending, 1951; The Chalice and the Sword, 1952; To the Wood No More, 1954; The Lord of Wensley, 1956; The Old June Weather, 1957; The City and the Dream, 1958. 

[4] This is a feature of two of the novels written during war-time, Was There Love Once (1942) and The Corporal of the Guard (1944). In the ‘Author’s Note’ these are described as being concerned respectively with “London’s response to the second German war and the Blitz” and “the Home Guard in action during those same heroic days”. They are the only two novels to be described in the ‘Author’s Note’ in historical rather than topographical terms. 

[5] The main part of the action must take place before 1910 because one of the characters toasts Edward VII, at the same time taking the opportunity to express his dislike of both Lloyd-George and the Labour Party (see TWNM, 62). 

[6] Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), moved into 44 Grove End Road, St John’s Wood in 1883. The house survives with its “Greco-Eyptian additions to an older structure” (Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England. London 3: North West, London: Yale Unversity Press, 2002, p. 666). John McWhirter (1839-1911) lived at 1 Grove Road in the 1870s. Other artists of the Victorian period who lived in the area include Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73) and Sir George Clausen (1852-1944). The Art School was established at 7 Elm Tree Road in 1878, in what was regarded at the artistic quarter of St John’s Wood. 

[7] Cherry and Pevsner appear to concur with Grahame’s view: “the whole area had until the early C20 a character decidedly of its own, a comfortable, verdant, early Victorian character, never showy and never mean. It was largely destroyed by the incursion of blocks of flats without special local qualities” (op. cit, p. 664). On Grove End Road, where Grahame is walking, Scott Ellis Gardens was erected in 1903 and Grove End House in 1913. 

[8] Peter Ackroyd, London. The Biography (London: Chatto & Windus, 2000). The discussion of Clerkenwell is on pp. 461-74, from which the details in this paragraph are drawn. 

[9] George Gissing, The Nether World (1889; Everyman Library, London: J. M. Dent, 1973), p. 392. 

Works Cited

Ackroyd, Peter.  London. The Biography. London: Chatto & Windus, 2000.

——-.  The Clerkenwell Tales. 2003. London: Vintage, 2004.

Bakhtin, Mikhail.  The Dialogic Imagination. Four essays by M. M. Bakhtin. Translated by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981.

Cherry, Bridget and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England. London 3: North-West. London: Yale University Press, 2002.

Gissing, George.  The Nether World. 1889. ed. Walter Allen. Everyman’s Library. London: J. M. Dent, 1973

Morris, A.J.A. ‘Raymond, Ernest (1888-1974)’. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; on line edition May 2005. [; accessed 18 November 2009]

Raymond, Ernest. Child of Norman’s End. London: Cassell, 1934. [CNE]

——-. The City and the Dream. London: Cassell, 1958. [CAD]

——-. Please You, Draw Near. An Autobiography 1922-1968. London: Cassell, 1969. [PYDN]

——-. The Story of My Days. An Autobiography 1922-1968. London: Cassell, 1968.

——-. Tell England. A Study in a Generation. London: Cassell, 1922.

——-. To the Wood No More. 1954. London: The Book Club, n.d. [TWNM]

——-. We, the Accused. London: Cassell, 1935.


To Cite This Article:

Peter Preston, ‘Past and Present in Ernest Raymond’s “London Gallery”’. Literary London: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Representation of London, Volume 9 Number 1 (March 2011). Online at Accessed on [date of access].