Saturday, 24 September 2011
The Anthology of some of the works of Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller- Couch ('Q'), compiled by R Brittain, is available to read on-line at the link below. Q is chiefly remembered now for compiling The Oxford Book of English Verse, first published in 1900, and a perennial favourite as a gift at weddings and baptisms for many years; fondly remembered in John Mortimer's Rumpole books, it was even one of the few books that Lawrence of Arabia took into the desert with him, on his campaigns.
Q is also remembered as the second appointed King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at Cambridge, where, despite the packed attendances, including female students, he famously began all his lectures with the address "Gentlemen", in fact in humorous protest at the exclusion of women from the taking of degrees at the time.
An educationalist inside his native county too, novelist, poet and critic, he enjoyed an active sporting life around his beloved Fowey, where now a great granite monolith commemorates him on Penleath Point.
A great hero of mine, I especially commend his Three Open Letters to The Bishop Of Exeter, in the Anthology, in which he exposed the evil policy and flaccid thinking behind the liberal government's plans to deal with the mentally infirm with extreme measures, including incarceration and castration. Nearly alone in his immediate opposition to the Bill, his incandescent rage and his humanity shine across the century to us in lucid, lambent prose. The Bill was subsequently dropped.
Amongst my most treasured possessions are a few poetry books from Q's own library, bearing his bookplate, in which there are passages lightly marked by him in pencil, for inclusion in The Oxford Book of English Verse, where they appear.
The top photograph is of Q as Commodore of the Royal Fowey Yacht Club and the original hangs in the club.
The bottom picture is of his memorial.
The link to the Anthology is: http://www.archive.org/details/qanthology030052mbp
Posted by NJS at 11:21