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.
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
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
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
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
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!
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
The 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
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
Prophets, Priests and Kings
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
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.
Sir 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.
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.
Barry 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 archive.org; 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 (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
On 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 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 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.
The 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
W. 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.
W. W. Jabobs’ complete works remain available as an Amazon KIndle book.
Anna 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.
While 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.
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 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 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.
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.