The Music In The Caverns: chapter 4

The editors are pleased to announce that the fourth chapter of T.O. Renshaw’s first mystery story, ‘The Mystery In The Caverns’. Among other hallmarks which begin to show by this point in the story are Renshaw’s concern for larger historical events creeping into the background of his narratives (more obvious in some of his stories than in others). For previous chapters, you can read chapter one here, chapter two here and chapter three here. To read chapter four, please click ‘Continue reading’ just below. We would also like to remind readers that you can follow us on Twitter (for very irregular updates) here.

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The Music In The Caverns: chapter 3

The editors wish to apologise profusely for another delay in publication of this, the third chapter of T.O. Renshaw’s The Music In The Caverns. Christmas celebrations were positively bacchanalian, and unfortunately the copy of Renshaw’s writings from which we are endeavouring to restore these tales was damaged by a spill of Courvoisier cognac just on the pages containing this chapter. This unfortunate circumstance has been worked around, however, and after much painstaking late-night editing we are pleased to present the latest chapter in Renshaw’s great mystery.

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The Music In The Caverns: chapter 2

The editors apologise for the delay in publishing the second chapter of T.O. Renshaw’s ‘The Music In The Caverns’, but are pleased to announce that today – on co-editor Nicholas Ball’s birthday, no less – we can reveal the chapter to the world. If you would like to refresh your memory regarding the first chapter, please click here. Circumstances leading to delays in editing this chapter have now been dealt with, and we are optimistic that the third chapter won’t be too much longer in arriving. If you are reading this from the Gentleman Author blog homepage, please click ‘Continue reading…’.

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The Music In The Caverns: chapter 1

The editors are pleased to announce that we have now completed editing the first chapter of one of T.O. Renshaw’s earliest tales, and can now make it available online to mark the first stage in the serialisation of ‘The Music In The Caverns’. We have updated some spellings for the ease of the twenty-first century reader, as well as fixing one or two obvious typographical errors, but have otherwise tried to keep the text as close to the original as possible. We hope you enjoy reading. If you are viewing this from the blog’s homepage, please click ‘Continue reading…’ to read the chapter.

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Two new illustrations revealed

The editors are very excited to announce that we hope to have the first chapter of our serialisation of T.O. Renshaw’s tales online by the weekend, and in the meantime it is our pleasure to present our readers with two more illustrations, lovingly restored by Nicholas Ball, who is taking responsibility for faithfully converting Cyril Pemberton’s illustrations to digital format. The caption underneath the first of the two pictures will seem slightly enigmatic to readers for the moment, but will be much clearer when the tales are online.

'Compitus, that man following us — is it — he? The Bosnian?'

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An unearthed illustration

We, the editors, are happy to state that the opening chapter in our first serialisation of T.O. Renshaw’s stories will be available here on the blog before much longer. First, however, we present to our readers this illustration from the title page of Winstanley & Compitus: Gentlemen Detectives. The illustration is the first of Cyril Pemberton’s legendary illustrations of the pair to be restored.

Winstanley & Compitus (Winstanley is on the left) title page image by Cyril Pemberton, date unknown

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T.O. Renshaw: Gentleman Author

Thomas Octavius Renshaw was born in 1872 in a house on Edinburgh’s Regent Terrace. The son of a Scottish noble, Renshaw was educated well and attended St Andrews University, after which for reasons now lost to history he was given a sizeable allowance and otherwise disowned by his father, and spent most of the 1890s and early 1900s travelling through Europe, initially in an attempt to retrace the footsteps of his literary hero Lord Byron but afterwards heading further west into France and Spain. During this time he wrote extensively, often sending manuscripts home for publication under the pen name of T.O. Renshaw, but his poetry, though he thought it Byronesque, was poor and none was published.

By 1906 Renshaw was all but bankrupt, and returned to Edinburgh where he was reconciled with his father months before the latter died. Renshaw Jr took on his father’s title (though he never used it in his writing, which continued to be ignored by publishers), property and fortune. The 14th Laird of Lochnith, 9th Duke of Kirktweed, Thomas Octavius, Lord Renshaw has gone down in the history of the British Parliament as the peer with the poorest attendance record since the Napoleonic wars. Living between Edinburgh and London and frequently travelling for alleged diplomatic work, sometimes as far abroad as Baghdad, Cairo, New York and Moscow, he nonetheless managed to leave virtually no impression on the society of his times. Renshaw died in 1947, reportedly of suffocation after his cat, Mazeppa, fell asleep on his face whilst he was taking an afternoon nap. He was survived by two wives – one whom he had married under an assumed identity in Paris, one in London, both four decades younger than him and neither aware of the other’s existence until the reading of his Last Will and Testament – and four sons, all by his London wife.

The last surviving copy of 'Winstanley & Compitus: Gentlemen Detectives' by T.O. Renshaw

In 1962, the youngest of these sons, Stephen Lucius Renshaw, discovered an example of a collection of his father’s writings – the only copy not to have been pulped – in his father’s old quarters and, though he never showed it to anyone, claimed to have read some of the most incredible detective fiction ever written in its pages (he, like his father, was a keen aficionado of the genre). In 1967, its contents having been much discussed – but still never actually seen – by the authors of top literary review magazines in London, Paris, New York, Rome and Buenos Aires, the edition was lost, and was never expected to be recovered until it was found hidden behind a recessed bookshelf panel in the Great Library of Bristol Royal Infirmary in 2008 by two junior clerical officers, since identified as Nicholas Ball and Sam Kelly. After a three-year legal battle with Renshaw’s estate – Stephen Lucius having died in 1972 of a venereal disease contracted in a Nepalese brothel – we are now proud to be able to present to the world a series of writings which, had they become known during the author’s lifetime, might have rivalled a certain other famous Scottish author’s creation as the high point of the genre in English.

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