Arthur Linfoot was an enthusiastic reader and autodidact. He frequently mentioned books he had read or planned to read in his diary entries. Books and publications which he found noteworthy are collected below along with brief descriptions, links to the diary text and, where possible, links to the books themselves.

Diary entries which mention items listed on this page are all tagged Library.

The Ordeal of Richard Feverel

cover imageThe Ordeal of Richard Feverel  (subtitled "A History of Father and Son") is the earliest full-length novel by George Meredith, published in 1859.

Sir Austin Feverel's wife deserts him to run away with a poet, leaving her husband to bring up their boy Richard. Believing schools to be corrupt, Sir Austin, a scientific humanist, educates the boy at home with a plan of his own devising.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that his comrade, Harvey, had lent him "Richard Feverel" on 20 August 1918, while stationed at Choques, midway between Lillers and Béthune in Northern France. He continued to read the book in the following days.

The History of Mr Polly

cover imageThe History of Mr Polly is a comic novel by H. G. Wells, first published in 1910.

The History of Mr. Polly has three parts. The first part (chapters 1–6) tells of his life up to age 20, when he marries his cousin and sets up a shop. The second part (chapters 7–8) tells of his  suicide attempt, after which he abandons his shop and his wife. The third part (chapters 9–10) and an epilogue sees him becoming a happy and settled assistant innkeeper.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had read some of The History of Mr Polly on 9 August 1918, while stationed at Choques, midway between Lillers and Béthune in Northern France.

The Author's Craft

cover imageThe Author's Craft is a short book written in 1914 by Enoch Arnold Bennett, author of another book previously mentioned by Arthur Linfoot, Anna of the Five Towns.

It is a short exposition on writing but doesn't explore technique in the same depth as some modern writers' guides do, rather concentrating on emotional aspects and the need for an author to express passion and beauty.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had "read through" this book and discussed it with a comrade, Harvey, while posted at Pleurs, south of Épernay on 27 June 1918.

The Passionate Friends

Cover Image

The Passionate Friends is a 1913 novel by H. G. Wells.

It takes the form of a letter to the his son by Stephen Stratton in which he sets out the story of his relationship with Lady Mary Christian, later Lady Mary Justin, with whom he had had a lifelong, on-again, off-again affair, although they had never married.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had 'Commenced to read “The Passionate Friends”' on 10 June 1918, shortly after arriving at Pierry, just south of Epernay.

Mr Britling Sees It Through

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Mr. Britling Sees It Through is H.G. Wells' "masterpiece of the wartime experience in England"1. The novel was published in September 1916.

The book  tells the story of a writer, Mr. Britling, who lives  in the fictional village of Matching's Easy, Essex. The novel is divided into three parts. Book the First, entitled "Matching's Easy At Ease"; Book the Second, "Matching's Easy at War"; and Book the Third, "The Testament of Matching's Easy".

This book appears to have had a lasting appeal to Arthur Linfoot; a copy remained at his home in Sunderland and was read during WW2 by ALL's own offspring.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had started to read this book on 3 April 1918, while stationed near Bailleul in Northern France.

Old St. Paul's

Cover ImageOld St. Paul's, also titled Old Saint Paul's: A Tale of the Plague and the Fire, is a novel by William Harrison Ainsworth serially published in The Sunday Times from 3 January 1841 to 26 December 1841.

The story of Old St. Paul's is spread over six books which range between April 1665 and September 1666, culminating in the Great Fire of London.

Arthur Linfoot noted that he had 'spent [the] afternoon on French and reading “Old St Paul’s”' (presumably not all of it) in his diary entry of 20 November 1917 while stationed at Wallon Cappell.

Emerson's Essays

Cover ImageRalph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet.

He wrote two books of essays, a First Series, published in 1841, and a Second Series, published in 1844. A further book of essays, Representative Men, the printed form of a series of lectures given by Emerson, was published in 1850. Emerson's essays have subsequently sometimes been published together in anthologies.

On 18 November 1917, while stationed at Wallon Cappell, Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had "read some of Emerson's essays at night". Clearly we cannot know which of Emerson's essays Arthur Linfoot read on this day, or in what form.

Sinister Street

Cover ImageCompton Mackenzie (17 January 1883 - 30 November 1972) was an English born Scottish writer and lifelong Scottish nationalist. He was one of the co-founders in 1928 of the Scottish National Party but is possibly now more widely remembered as the author of his 1947 novel, Whisky Galore, which has been adapted as films twice, in 1949 and 2016.

Sinister Street is Compton Mackenzie's novel published in  two volumes in 1913 and 1914. The work was published  in the UK as Sinister Street, volumes 1 and 2, and in the USA as two books, Youth's Encounter and Sinister Street. It is a novel about growing up, and concerns two children, Michael Fane and his sister Stella, both born out of wedlock to rich parents. The book had several sequels, which continue until Michael Fane's marriage.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had 'finished reading "Sinister Street" volume I' on 18 November 1917 while stationed at Wallon Cappell.

At the Foot of the Rainbow

At the Foot of the RainbowGene Stratton-Porter (1863 – 1924) was an American author, early naturalist, and nature photographer.

Gene Stratton-Porter's 1907 novel, At the Foot of the Rainbow, uses fishing as a backdrop to tell the story of Jimmy Malone and Dannie Macnoun, who is in love with Jimmy's wife, Mary.

On 24 June 1917, Arthur Linfoot wrote that he "lay awake until nearly midnight reading" this book.


The Blue LagoonOn 29 May 1917, Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had "read a bit of Stacpoole's Wilderness". He continued reading it on 30 May.

Stacpoole could be either Henry De Vere Stacpoole (1863 – 1951), a very popular and prolific Irish author best-known for his novel The Blue Lagoon (1908; adapted as films many times, most famously in 1980), or; HDVS’ eldest brother, William Henry Stacpoole (1846 – 1914), doctor of divinity, Dean of Kingstown2 school and also a published author.

No book entitled "Wilderness" appears in bibliographies of either Stacpoole although much of HDVS' oeuvre (including The Blue Lagoon) takes wilderness as a theme, while WHS' books are all science fiction. This may suggest that the book Arthur Linfoot was reading on this day was by Henry De Vere Stacpoole, although which of his books this was remains unclear.


VilletteVillette is an 1853 novel by English author Charlotte Brontë.

After an unspecified family disaster, the protagonist Lucy Snowe travels from her native England to the fictional French-speaking city of Villette to teach at a girls' school, where she is drawn into adventure and romance.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had read some of Villette on 9th April 1917 while stationed at an aid post in Northern France.

They and I

They and I cover imageThey and I is a little known comic novel by the English author Jerome K. Jerome, usually best known for his novel Three Men in a Boat.

The book is a first person narrative concerning the remodelling of a house, and the interactions of the narrator with his children during this process.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had finished reading They and I on 16th March 1917, after arriving at Lespesses in Northern France.

Tom Brown at Oxford

tombrownoxfordTom Brown at Oxford is a novel by Thomas Hughes, first published in 1861. It is a sequel to the better-known Tom Brown's School Days.

Tom Brown’s School Days culminates in Tom’s graduation from Rugby, having become an honourable Christian gentleman who embodies Dr. Arnold’s ideal of “muscular Christianity”. This little known sequel tells of Tom’s university life, until the completion of his M.A. degree and marriage, and his continuing development as a Christian gentleman.

The book was out of print for many years but is now available again in both print and electronic book versions.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had read Tom Brown at Oxford on 15th October 1916, while stationed at Authie in Northern France.

Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul


Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul is a novel by H. G. Wells, first published in 1905.

Orphaned at an early age, raised by his aunt and uncle, and apprenticed for seven years to a draper, Artie Kipps is stunned to discover upon reading a newspaper advertisement that he is the grandson of a wealthy gentleman - and the inheritor of his fortune. Thrown dramatically into the upper classes, he struggles desperately to learn the etiquette and rules of polite society. But as he soon discovers, becoming a 'true gentleman' is neither as easy nor as desirable as it at first appears.

Kipps was adapted for the stage in the early 1960s as Half a Sixpence; Half a Sixpence has itself been revived and updated in a new production at the Chichester Festival Theatre in July 2016.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he "read a good bit of Kipps" on 24th September 1916, while stationed at the military hospital at Méteren in Northern France.

Anna of the Five Towns

Cover ImageEnoch Arnold Bennett (27 May 1867 – 27 March 1931) was an English writer and novelist. Anna of the Five Towns, first published in 1902, is one of his best-known works.

Anna Tellwright, daughter of a wealthy but miserly and dictatorial father, living in the Potteries area of Staffordshire. Her activities are strictly controlled by the Methodist church. The novel tells of Anna’s struggle for freedom and independence against her father’s restraints, and her inward battle between wanting to please her father and wanting to help Willie Price whose father, Titus Price, commits suicide after falling into debt.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had finished reading Anna of the Five Towns on 15th September 1916, while stationed at the military hospital at Méteren in Northern France.

List, Ye Landsmen!

Cover ImageList, Ye Landsmen! is a novel by William Clarke Russell, written in 1894.

William Fielding, first officer of the ‘Royal Brunswicker’, is returning to his ship after visiting his uncle in the Channel port town of Deal. Fate intervenes and Fielding never reaches his post, instead becoming entangled in a series of adventures aboard the ‘Black Watch’. These take him far across the oceans and test him both as a man and a sailor.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had started to read List, Ye Landsmen! on 6 August 1916.

The Invasion of 1910

TheInvasionOf1910_200The Invasion of 1910 is a novel by William Le Queux which originally appeared in serial form in the Daily Mail newspaper from 19 March 1906. It is one of the more famous examples of invasion literature.

The book takes the form of a military history and is centred on an invasion by the Germans, who have managed to land a force on the East Coast of England.

Arthur Linfoot does not record when (or indeed if) he had actually read the book, but he must have been at least familiar with its theme as he wrote, on 30 June 1916 (the eve of the first Somme offensive):

Listened gramophone playing some Welsh songs. Formed up at 10 o’clock. Marched off in the dark. Carried stretcher with party most of the way. Reminded me of “Invasion of 1910”.

Simon the Jester

Cover ImageSimon the Jester is a novel by by William J. Locke, first published in 1910 and twice made into films, in 1915 and 1925, both silent.

After learning he has but six months to live, the wealthy Simon de Gex decides to tell no one of his impending death and to spend his fortune madly.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had “read a lot of a story called Simon the Jester” on 22 June 1916 while stationed at Rainneville in northern France during the build up to the battle of the Somme. He finished the book the next day.

I Will Repay

Cover ImageI Will Repay is a novel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, author of The Scarlet Pimpernel, who lived at Acol (near Thanet in Kent).

I Will Repay is the second Scarlet Pimpernel book written by Orczy although it comes chronologically third in the series, after Sir Percy Leads the Band and before The Elusive Pimpernel.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had finished reading I Will Repay on 23 January 1916, while posted to the RAMC training camp at Alnwick.

Prophets, Priests and Kings

Cover ImageProphets, Priests and Kings is the title of a book by Alfred George Gardiner, editor of the Daily News (a newspaper owned by George Cadbury) from 1902 to 1919.

The book comprises 20 short biographical essays on kings, emperors, politicians, generals & admirals of some 10 combatant nations.

The title is seemingly inspired by the Christian doctrine of the threefold office (munus triplex), which states that that Christ has three offices, Prophet, Priest and King, although the book itself is not a Christian work.

Arthur Linfoot read Prophets, Priests and Kings on 7 July 1915, while on holiday in St. Andrews.

The Sky Pilot

Cover ImageThe Sky Pilot is an 1899 novel by the Rev. Dr. Charles William Gordon, writing under the pen name Ralph Connor.

It is the story of a young minister whose vocation takes him to a frontier town where he is initially dismissed by secular townsfolk as “The Sky Pilot”.

Although intended to be insulting and used in that sense in the title of this book, Sky Pilot was (and still is) widely used by armed forces personnel as an affectionate nickname for a chaplain or padre.

Arthur Linfoot read The Sky Pilot on 7 July 1915, while on holiday in St. Andrews.

Poison Island

Poison IslandSir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch was a British writer who published under the pen name of Q. He is best known for the Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250–1900, but was also a prolific novelist.

Quiller-Couch’s novel Poison Island is the story of Harry who meets a mysterious Captain Coffin. Coffin is planning a voyage to the Honduras, where he expects to find treasure, while avoiding the poison of the title.

Arthur Linfoot read Poison Island while on holiday in St. Andrews on 5 July 1915.


Cover ImageShe is a novel by H. Rider Haggard (1856–1925), first serialised in The Graphic magazine from October 1886 to January 1887.

The story is a first-person narrative that follows the journey of Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey to a lost kingdom in the African interior where they encounter Ayesha, the eponymous “She”.

She remains one of Rider Haggard’s most popular books and has never been out of print.

Arthur Linfoot started to read She while on holiday in St. Andrews on 3 July 1915 and finished it the next day.

De Omnibus

Cover ImageBarry Eric Odell Pain (28 September 1864 – 5 May 1928) was an English journalist, poet and writer.

De Omnibus has long been out of print but may be found at various on-line locations including at; a digitised (by Google) copy from New York Public Library. The book rather enigmatically names “The Conductor” as its author (the true author’s name appearing in parentheses) – evidently a pun on [omni]bus conductor.

Arthur Linfoot also read De Omnibus during his holiday in St. Andrews, recording it in his diary on the day after he started to read Omar Khayyám, 30 June 1915.

Omar Khayyám

Cover ImageOmar Khayyám (1048-1131 A.D.) was a Persian mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy and music. While it is not clear from the diary which of Omar Khayyám’s writings had engaged Arthur Linfoot’s interest, it was almost certainly his most famous work, The Rubáiyát.

The image here is of Arthur Linfoot’s own copy, which is still held in a family collection and is clearly marked “second edition”.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had “read a bit of Omar Khayyam” while on holiday in St. Andrews on 29 June 1915.

Robert Louis Stephenson

Cover ImageOn 3 May 1915, Arthur Linfoot noted that he had “read some of R.L.S. Asian books”.

It is not altogether clear what he meant by “Asian books”, but “R.L.S.” clearly means Robert Louis Stephenson.

New Arabian Nights, published 1882, a collection of short stories individually published between 1877 and 1880 is considered by some to be Robert Louis Stephenson’s best work.

The Roadmender

Cover ImageThe Roadmender is a 1902 Christian spiritual book by Margaret Barber, writing under the pseudonym Michael Fairless. The book became a popular classic, running through 31 editions in 10 years.

The book is written as a series of meditations on the road to heaven with the author adopting the persona of The Roadmender.

Arthur Linfoot bought a copy of The Roadmender on 23 April 1915 and subsequently lent his copy to Willie Wanless on 6th May, the same day as his friend and colleague Bob Brotherston had died of wounds incurred during battle in France.

Critical and Historical Essays

Critical and Historical Essays, published in 1843, is a collection of articles by Thomas Babington Macaulay, later Lord Macaulay, which originally appeared in The Edinburgh Review. Most of the essays have as their subjects noted literary or political figures.

Macaulay is now best known as author of his poem Horatius, from Lays of Ancient Rome(“Then out spake brave Horatius, The Captain of the Gate…”).

Arthur Linfoot wrote on 29 March 1915 that he “did a bit shorthand at night from Macauley’s Essays” and again on 19 April 1915 that he “did some shorthand from Macaulay’s essay on Milton”. It appears to have been his habit to copy text from works such as Macaulay’s essays as a way of honing his skills at Pitman’s shorthand.

The Manxman

Cover ImageThe Manxman is an 1894 novel by the Manx writer Hall Caine. A highly popular novel of its period, it was set in the Isle of Man and concerned a romantic triangle. The novel has as its central themes, the mounting consequences of sin and the saving grace of simple human goodness.

Arthur Linfoot started reading The Manxman on 21 December 1914 and finished reading it on 12 January 1915.

The Life of Jesus Christ

James Stalker (1848-1927) was a minister, lecturer and preacher for the Free Church of Scotland. He wrote around two dozen books, the majority on Christian themes, the first of which, in 1879, was The Life of Jesus Christ.

The Life of Jesus Christ was enduringly popular, going through a number of editions and revisions over at least the two decades after its publication, and is still available today both in print and as an e-book.

On 6 December 1914, Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had "lent Reverend MacDonald Stalker’s Life of Christ", presumably his own copy. The diaries do not mention when Arthur Linfoot himself had acquired or read the book.

The Strand

Cover ImageThe Strand Magazine was a monthly magazine founded by George Newnes, composed of short fiction and general interest articles. It was published in the United Kingdom from January 1891 to March 1950, running to 711 issues.

Arthur Linfoot noted, in his diary entry for 30 June 1914, that he had “filled in time” reading Strand magazines. This may suggest that Strand Magazine was something he was inclined to take less seriously than some of the other items in this list.

W. W. Jacobs

Cover ImageW. W. Jacobs was an English author of short stories and novels. Although much of his work was humorous, he is most famous for his horror story “The Monkey’s Paw“.

Arthur Linfoot noted, in his diary entry for 8 June 1914, that he had read “one or two of W.W. Jacobs’ short stories”. Clearly we cannot know which.

Arthur Linfoot also noted, on 17 May 1917, what appears to have been some kind of stage adaptation of The Monkey’s Paw, performed by the Merry Mauves at Bailleul.

W. W. Jabobs’ complete works remain available as an Amazon KIndle book.

Anna Karenina

Cover ImageAnna Karenina is a novel by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger. The novel’s first complete appearance in book form was in 1878.

Arthur Linfoot started to read it on Good Friday 1914. He evidently found it hard going, or was diverted by other matters, as he did not finish reading it until 12 December 1914.


Cover ImageWhile Arthur Linfoot’s enthusiasm for Everyman is clear from his many diary entries which mention it, it is not altogether clear 100 years later exactly what Everyman was.

Cutting from "Everyman"
Arthur Linfoot's letter in "Everyman" November 1917 - click or tap to enlarge.

One possibility is that Everyman may have been a column in a weekly magazine such as John Bull.

Alternatively, this may have been the magazine Everyman, founded by publisher J. M. Dent in 1912. Publication was temporarily stopped in 1917 and resumed under a new editor in 1929. The original editor from 1912 to 1917 was Charles Sarolea and, under his editorship, Everyman was a literary magazine favourable to the doctrine of distributism.

Arthur Linfoot’s first mention of Everyman was on 1 March 1914 and he had a letter published in it in November 1917 which, given Everyman’s hiatus starting at an unknown date during 1917, is the principal cause of doubt about this possibility.

The cover illustration above is of the magazine after its reincarnation in 1929 – we have not been able to locate a sample of a 1912-1917 copy.

The Defendant

Cover ImageThe Defendant comprises G.K. Chesterton‘s collected essays on subjects ranging from detective stories and penny dreadfuls3 to heraldry and patriotism.

The essays originally appeared in “The Speaker” but were edited and revised for republication.

Arthur Linfoot borrowed a copy from a public library on 13 February 1914.


Hypatia, or New Foes with an Old Face is an 1853 novel by the English writer Charles Kingsley.

It is a fictionalised account of the life of the philosopher Hypatia, and tells the story of a young monk called Philammon who travels to Alexandria, where he becomes mixed up in the political and religious battles of the day.

Arthur Linfoot finished reading it on 15 January 1914.

  1. According to David C. Smith, writing in "H.G. Wells: Desperately Mortal: A Biography". 

  2. The Irish coastal town of Dún Laoghaire was known as Kingstown from 1821 to 1920. 

  3. Penny dreadful is a pejorative term used to refer to cheap popular serial literature produced during the nineteenth century in the United Kingdom. 

1 thought on “Library

  1. That is a great addition to this diary, wonderful to see the books and journals that Arthur refers to, thank you

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