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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 Passionate Friends

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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.

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

Sunderland Daily Echo 23 May 1917


Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

Image and text via the British Newspaper Archive.

The funeral of the late Mr James Mullens, commercial traveller, who died while travelling by train on Sunday to fulfil a preaching engagement, took place at noon to-day. The coffin was of polished fumed oak with brass mountings, the shield bearing the inscription : “James Mullens, died May 20, 1917, aged 73 years.” The officiating minister was the Rev. Edward Eaves, and the interment was made in the family burial ground in Sunderland Cemetery, Ryhope Road. The mourners included Mrs F. W. Waggott (sister), Mr G. P. Mullens, Mr H. R. Mullens (sons), Mr and Mrs Arthur Mullins (son and daughter-in-law), Mr F. Waggott (son-in-law), Mr E. Stokes (brother-in-law), Mr J. H. Waggott, Sister Annie, Mr. E. Potts, Miss Hammond, Mr J. W. Gant, Mr R. P. Hann, Mr R. Bailes, Mr Eaves, and Mr J. Hine. There were no flowers, by request. Messrs Crofton and Sons had charge of the funeral arrangements.

Sunderland Daily Echo 21 May 1917


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Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

Image and text via the British Newspaper Archive.

The death occurred with painful suddenness yesterday morning of Mr James Mullens, 17, Athol Park. Mr Mullens, who was 701, was a well-known local preacher, and yesterday had an engagement to preach at Shiney Row. When he left the house to catch his train he knew that he was rather pressed for time ,and in consequence  he hurried to the station. After getting into the train he was taken ill and died before he reached Millfield Station. Dr Gray was then called and saw the body, and stated that death had taken place. The deceased was removed to the mortuary and afterwards to his residence. Mr Mullens was a commercial traveller.

  1. James Mullens was actually 73 years of age at the time of his death. 

Newcastle Daily Journal 15 January 1916

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Image and text via the British Newspaper Archive.


Inquest on a Soldier at Alnwick

Mr Charles Percy held an inquiry at Alnwick yesterday, into the circumstances attending the death of Thomas Bell (32), a private on the motor transport of the Army Service Corps, though holding the local rank of sergeant while stationed at Alnwick. His death was the result of injuries received while driving a motor van in the direction of Alnwick, on Wednesday night.

Colonel P. Broome Giles, C.B., commandant of the convalescent camp at Alnwick, stated that the deceased had taken charge of the car1 entirely at his own initiative, and without orders.

Ernest Ball, a private in the motor transport of the Army Service Corps at Alnwick, stated that just before ten o’clock on Wednesday night he got an order to drive the motor ambulance car2 to Titlington with Mr G. Sordy and his wife, who had been attending the military concert in the Y.M.C.A. hut at the encampment. They got to Titlington, a distance of about ten miles, just after eleven o’clock. A gale of wind was blowing. They stayed at Titlington about half an hour, during which time he had one and a half glasses of whisky, and the deceased had two ordinary glasses of whisky. The deceased took the wheel of the car on the return to Alnwick. Continue reading Newcastle Daily Journal 15 January 1916

  1. Interestingly, “car” is used here in the same way as ALL himself often used it, to mean a generic motorised transport. 

  2. Here, “car” is qualified as “motor ambulance car”. Evidently “ambulance” on its own was not yet generally understood to mean a motorised patient transport. 

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.