Ernest Bramah

Ernest Bramah (20 March 1868[1] – 27 June 1942), whose name was recorded after his birth as Ernest Brammah Smith, was an English author.[2] He published 21 books and numerous short stories and features. His humorous works were ranked with Jerome K. Jerome and W. W. Jacobs, his detective stories with Conan Doyle, his politico-science fiction with H. G. Wells and his supernatural stories with Algernon Blackwood. George Orwell acknowledged that Bramah's book, What Might Have Been, influenced his Nineteen Eighty-Four. Bramah created the characters Kai Lung and Max Carrados.

Bramah was a very private man who chose not to make public any details of his personal life. He died at the age of 73 in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

Ernest Bramah
portrait of Ernest Bramah
Born
Ernest Brammah Smith

March 20, 1868
DiedJune 27, 1942 (aged 74)

Early career

Ernest Brammah Smith (he later changed the spelling of his middle name to Ernest Bramah) dropped out of the Manchester Grammar School at sixteen, having been close to the bottom in each subject. He went into farming, first as a farm pupil and then in his own right. He was supported by his father who had risen in a short time from a factory hand to a wealthy man. The farming enterprise cost his father £100,000 in today's money. But it was while farming that he began to contribute local vignettes to the Birmingham News.

Later he wrote a tongue-in-cheek book about his adventures in farming. It found few buyers and was remaindered and pulped though his father agreed to support him while he made his way in Grub Street as a writer. He eventually obtained a position as secretary to Jerome K. Jerome and rose to become editor of one of Jerome's magazines. After leaving Jerome he edited other journals for a publishing firm that later went bankrupt.

Writing career

Bramah attained commercial and critical success with his creation of Kai Lung, an itinerant storyteller. He first appears in The Wallet of Kai Lung which was rejected by eight publishers before Grant Richards published it in 1900. It was still in print a hundred years later. The Kai Lung stories are humorous tales set in China, often with fantasy elements such as dragons and gods.[3]

With Kai Lung, Bramah invented a form of Mandarin English illustrated by the following passages:

  • "Kai Lung rose guardedly to his feet, with many gestures of polite assurance and having bowed several times to indicate his pacific nature, he stood in an attitude of deferential admiration. At this display the elder and less attractive of the maidens fled, uttering loud and continuous cries of apprehension to conceal the direction of her flight".[4]
  • "In particular, there is among this august crowd of Mandarins one Wang Yu, who has departed on three previous occasions without bestowing the reward of a single cash. If the feeble and covetous Wang Yu will place in his very ordinary bowl the price of one of his exceedingly ill-made pipes, this unworthy person will proceed."[5]
  • "After secretly observing the unstudied grace of her movements, the most celebrated picture-maker of the province burned the implements of his craft, and began life anew as a trainer of performing elephants."[6]

The Kai Lung stories are studded with proverbs and aphorisms, such as the following:

  • "He who lacks a single tael sees many bargains"[7]
  • "It is a mark of insincerity of purpose to spend one’s time in looking for the sacred Emperor in low-class teashops"[8]
  • "It has been said there are few situations in life that cannot be honourably settled, and without loss of time, either by suicide, a bag of gold or by thrusting a despised antagonist over the edge of a precipice on a dark night"[9]

Bramah also wrote political science fiction. What might Have Been, published in 1907 and republished as The Secret of the League in 1909), is an anti-socialist dystopia reflecting Bramah's conservative political views.[10] It was acknowledged by George Orwell as a source for Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell credited it with giving a considerably accurate prediction of the rise of Fascism.[11]

At a time when the English Channel had yet to be crossed by an aeroplane, Bramah foresaw aerial express trains traveling at 10,000 feet, a nationwide wireless-telegraphy network, a prototype fax machine and a cypher typewriter similar to the German Enigma machine.

In 1914, Bramah created Max Carrados, a blind detective. Given the outlandish idea that a blind man could be a detective, in the introduction to the second Carrados book The Eyes of Max Carrados, Bramah compared his hero's achievements to those of real-life blind people such as Nicholas Saunderson, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, Blind Jack of Knaresborough the road builder, John Fielding the Bow Street Magistrate (of whom it was said he could identify 3,000 thieves by their voices), and Helen Keller.

"Interesting Times" and Other Quotations

Bramah has been credited with the invention of the saying, widely quoted as an ancient Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times", along with "May you come to the attention of those in authority" and "May you find what you are looking for".[12] However, these do not appear in the Kai Lung stories.

Select Bibliography

Kai Lung

Books

Max Carrados books and short stories

Books

  • Max Carrados (1914)
  • The Eyes of Max Carrados (1923)
  • Max Carrados Mysteries (1927)
  • The Bravo of London (1934)
  • Best Max Carrados Detective Stories (1972). A selection of stories included in the collections published in Bramah's lifetime
  • The Eyes of Max Carrados (2013) contains Max Carrados, The Eyes of Max Carrados, Max Carrados Mysteries and the short story A Bunch of Violets included in The Specimen Case

Short stories

  • The Master Coiner Unmasked. News of the World, 17 August 1913. Collected in Max Carrados as The Coin of Dionysius
  • The Mystery of the Signals. News of the World, 24 and 31 August 1913. Collected in Max Carrados as The Knights Cross Signal Problem
  • The Tragedy at Brookbend Cottage. News of the World, 7 and 14 September 1913. Collected in Max Carrados
  • The Clever Mrs Straithwaite. News of the World, 21 and 28 September 1913. Collected in Max Carrados
  • The Great Safe Deposit Coup. News of the World, 5 and 12 October 1913. Collected in Max Carrados as The Last Exploit of Harry the Actor
  • The Tilling Shaw Mystery. News of the World, 19 and 26 October 1913. Collected in Max Carrados
  • The Secret of Dunstan's Tower. News of the World, 2 and 9 November 1913. Collected in The Eyes of Max Carrados
  • The Comedy at Fountain Cottage. News of the World, 16 and 23 November 1913. Collected in Max Carrados
  • The Kingsmouth German Spy Case. News of the World, 30 November and 7 December 1913. Collected in The Eyes of Max Carrados
  • The Missing Actress Sensation. News of the World, 14 December 1913. Collected in The Eyes of Max Carrados
  • The Virginiola Fraud. News of the World, 21 December 1913. Collected in The Eyes of Max Carrados
  • The Game Played in the Dark. News of the World, 28 December 1913. Collected in Max Carrados
  • The Bunch of Violets. Strand Magazine, July 1924. Collected in The Specimen Case
  • The Disappearance of Marie Severe. Apparently first published in The Eyes of Max Carrados
  • The Mystery of the Poisoned Dish of Mushrooms. Apparently first published in The Eyes of Max Carrados (Also published as Who Killed Charlie Winpole?)
  • The Ghost at Massingham Mansions. Apparently first published in The Eyes of Max Carrados
  • The Ingenious Mr Spinola. Apparently first published in The Eyes of Max Carrados
  • The Eastern Mystery. Apparently first published in The Eyes of Max Carrados
  • The Secret of Headlam Heights. Apparently first published in Max Carrados Mysteries
  • The Vanished Crown. Apparently first published in Max Carrados Mysteries
  • The Holloway Flat Tragedy. Apparently first published in Max Carrados Mysteries
  • The Curious Circumstances of the Two Left Shoes. Apparently first published in Max Carrados Mysteries
  • The Ingenious Mind of Mr Rigby Lacksome. Apparently first published in Max Carrados Mysteries
  • The Crime at the House in Culver Street. Apparently first published in Max Carrados Mysteries
  • The Strange Case of Cyril Bycourt. Apparently first published in Max Carrados Mysteries
  • The Missing Witness Sensation. Pearson's Magazine, July 1926
  • Meet Max Carrados. BBC, 3 May 1935. Not a short story but a profile and commentary by Bramah on the character's origins etc

Plays

  • Blind Man's Bluff. (1918). Collected in Bodies from the Library (Ed. Tony Medawar)

Adaptations by Others

  • In the Dark (1917) - Gilbert Heron

Other fiction

Books

  • The Mirror of Kong Ho (1905)
  • The Secret of the League (1907)
  • The Specimen Case (1924), which includes a Kai Lung story and a Max Carrados story[13], The Bunch of Violets
  • Short Stories of To-day and Yesterday (1929). Includes one story by Bramah
  • A Little Flutter (1930)

Short stories

  • The Story of Young Chang. Chapman's Magazine, October 1896
  • TITLE UNKNOWN. Crampton's Magazine, December 1898
  • The Duplicity of Tiao. The Woman at Home, December 1900
  • The Impiety of Yuan Yan. Macmillan's Magazine, February 1904
  • The Dragon of Swafton. The Graphic, July 1904
  • The Goose and the Golden Egg. Grand Magazine, February 1907
  • The War Hawks. Pall Mall Magazine, September 1909
  • The Great Hockington Find. Pall Mall Magazine, February 1910
  • TITLE UNKNOWN. Everybody's Magazine, July 1911
  • The Red Splinter. Wickepin Argus, 3 April 1913
  • The Chief Examiner. Methuen's Annual, 1914
  • The Story of Kin Weng and the Miraculous Tusk. The London Mercury, June 1927
  • The Ill-Regulated Destiny of Kin Yeng, the Picture-Maker. A two-part story: (Melbourne) Herald, 1 August 1938

Nonfiction

Books

  • English Farming and Why I Turned It Up (1894)
  • A Guide to the Varieties and Rarity of English Regal Copper Coins, Charles II-Victoria, 1671–1860 (1929)

Short pieces

References

  1. ^ Entry of Birth in 2nd Quarter 1868 Register, Hulme, Chorlton, Lancashire, volume 8C, p. 739.
  2. ^ The most recent biographical source is: Aubrey Wilson, The Search for Ernest Bramah (Creighton and Read 2007).
  3. ^ David Langford, "Bramah, Ernest" in the Encyclopedia of Fantasy, edited by John Clute and John Grant, 1997, Orbit (pp. 135-36).
  4. ^ Bramah, Ernest (1922). Kai Lung's Golden Hours. London: Grant Richards Ltd., p. 9.
  5. ^ Bramah, Ernest (1900). The Wallet of Kai Lung. London: Grant Richards, p. 124.
  6. ^ Bramah (1922), p. 174.
  7. ^ Bramah (1922), p. 57.
  8. ^ Bramah (1900), p. 6.
  9. ^ Bramah (1922), p. 264.
  10. ^ John Clute, "Bramah, Ernest", in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction edited by Clute and Peter Nicholls, Orbit, 1993 (pp. 15–56).
  11. ^ George Orwell, "Predictions of Fascism", originally published in the Tribune on 12 July 1940, appearing in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Volume 2, pp. 47–48).
  12. ^ "Ernest Bramah News". Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  13. ^ Hubin, Allen J. Crime Fiction: 1749–1980: A Comprehensive Bibliography. New York and London: Garland Publishing (1984); ISBN 0-8240-9219-8

External links

2013 in public domain

This is a list of works that enter the public domain in part of the world in 2013.

Ballantine Adult Fantasy series

The Ballantine Adult Fantasy series was an imprint of American publisher Ballantine Books. Launched in 1969 (presumably in response to the growing popularity of Tolkien's works), the series reissued a number of works of fantasy literature which were out of print or dispersed in back issues of pulp magazines (or otherwise not easily available in the United States), in cheap paperback form—including works by authors such as James Branch Cabell, Lord Dunsany, Ernest Bramah, Hope Mirrlees, and William Morris. The series lasted until 1974.

Envisioned by the husband-and-wife team of Ian and Betty Ballantine, and edited by Lin Carter, it featured cover art by illustrators such as Gervasio Gallardo, Robert LoGrippo, David McCall Johnston, and Bob Pepper. The agreement signed between the Ballantines and Carter on November 22, 1968 launched the project. In addition to the reprints comprising the bulk of the series, some new fantasy works were published as well as a number of original collections and anthologies put together by Carter, and Imaginary Worlds, his general history of the modern fantasy genre.The series was never considered a money-maker for Ballantine, although the re-issue of several of its titles both before and after the series' demise shows that a number of individual works were considered successful. The Ballantines supported the series as long as they remained the publishers of Ballantine Books, but with their sale of the company to Random House in 1973 support from the top was no longer forthcoming, and in 1974, with the end of the Ballantines' involvement in the company they had founded, the series was terminated.After the termination of the Adult Fantasy series, Ballantine continued to publish fantasy but concentrated primarily on new titles, with the older works it continued to issue being those with proven track records. In 1977, both its fantasy and science fiction lines were relaunched under the Del Rey Books imprint, under the editorship of Lester and Judy-Lynn del Rey. Carter continued his promotion of the fantasy genre in a new line of annual anthologies from DAW Books, The Year's Best Fantasy Stories, also beginning in 1975. Meanwhile, the series' lapsed mission of restoring classic works of fantasy to print had been taken up on a more limited basis by the Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy Library, launched in 1973.

Bramah

Bramah is a surname, and may refer to:

Ernest Bramah (1868–1942), English author

John Joseph Bramah (1798–1846), English ironmaster and engineer

Joseph Bramah (1748–1814), English ironmaster and inventor, uncle of John Joseph Bramah

Martin Bramah (born 1957), British musician

Discoveries in Fantasy

Discoveries in Fantasy is an anthology of fantasy short stories, edited by American writer Lin Carter. It was first published in paperback by Ballantine Books in March 1972 as the forty-third volume of its Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. It was the seventh such anthology assembled by Carter for the series.

The book collects seven tales by four neglected fantasy authors, Ernest Bramah, Donald Corley, Richard Garnett and Eden Phillpotts, with an overall introduction and notes by Carter. The cover illustrates a scene from one of the tales, Donald Corley's "The Bird with the Golden Beak".

Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy Volume II

Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy Volume II is an anthology of fantasy novellas, edited by American writer Lin Carter. It was first published in paperback by Ballantine Books as the fifty-sixth volume of its Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in March, 1973. It was the ninth such anthology assembled by Carter for the series.

The book collects four novellas by as many fantasy authors, with an overall introduction and notes by Carter. It is a companion volume to Carter's earlier Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy I (1972).

Isabel Ostrander

Isabel Egenton Ostrander (1883–1924) was a mystery writer of the early twentieth century who used, besides her own name, the pseudonyms Robert Orr Chipperfield, David Fox, and Douglas Grant. Christopher B. Booth is sometimes (falsely) credited as a pseudonym of hers.

She was born in New York City to Thomas E Ostrander and Harriet Elizabeth Bradbrook. Her Ostrander pedigree goes back to seventeenth century Kingston, New York.

In the discussions of which writer invented the blind detective, Ostrander is one of the candidates.The first book publication of her Damon Gaunt is a 1915 novel At One-Thirty, but there might be a misplaced earlier short story: periodical publication of many mystery short story writers is often lost or partial. For example, blind detective Thornley Colton appeared in some short stories in People's Ideal Fiction Magazine in early 1913 that weren't collected in book form until 1915, while Max Carrados by Ernest Bramah reached the periodicals in 1913, but anthologization in 1914. In no case is bibliography complete for periodicals, and either might be the first, though Max Carrados was the first in book publication.

In the 1920s, Ostrander was notable enough that Agatha Christie parodied her in her Tommy and Tuppence anthology, Partners in Crime. We find Tommy and Tuppence modeling their detective skills after Ostrander's characters, McCarty and Riordan.

Kai Lung

Kai Lung (開龍) is a fictional character in a series of books by Ernest Bramah, consisting of The Wallet of Kai Lung (1900), Kai Lung's Golden Hours (1922), Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat (1928), The Moon of Much Gladness (1932; published in the USA as The Return of Kai Lung), Kai Lung Beneath the Mulberry Tree (1940), Kai Lung: Six (1974) and Kai Lung Raises His Voice (2010).

Kai Lung's Golden Hours

Kai Lung's Golden Hours is a fantasy novel by English writer Ernest Bramah. It was first published in hardcover in London by Grant Richards Ltd. in October, 1922, and there have been numerous editions since. The first edition included a preface by Hilaire Belloc, which has also been a feature of every edition since. It was reissued by Ballantine Books as the forty-fifth volume of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in April, 1972. The Ballantine edition includes an introduction by Lin Carter.

Kai Lung Beneath the Mulberry Tree

Kai Lung Beneath the Mulberry Tree is a collection of fantasy stories by English writer Ernest Bramah featuring Kai Lung, an itinerant story-teller of ancient China. It was first published in hardcover in London by The Richards Press Ltd. in February 1940, and was reprinted in 1942, 1944, 1946, and 1951. The first American edition was issued by Arno Press as a volume in its Lost Race and Adult Fantasy Fiction series in 1978.

The title is from Kai Lung's customary venue for telling his stories, sitting on his mat under a mulberry tree.

Although the collection is presented in the fashion of a novel, with each of its component stories designated chapters, there is no overall plot aside from the tales being presented as narratives told by Kai Lung at various points in his itinerant career.

Kai Lung Raises His Voice

Kai Lung Raises His voice is a collection of fantasy stories by English writer Ernest Bramah featuring Kai Lung, an itinerant story-teller of ancient China. It was first published in 2010 in paperback and ebook in the United Kingdom by Durrant Publishing, and is available world-wide.

The collection gathers into book form the final six Kai Lung stories published by the author during his lifetime, which originally appeared in the magazine Punch and first appeared in book form in Kai Lung: Six, together with the one Kai Lung story from The Specimen Case and four previously unpublished stories, originally written before 1905, transcribed from the Bramah archives at the Harry Ransom Center by William Charlton.

Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat

Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat is a fantasy novel by English writer Ernest Bramah. It was first published in 1928 and has been reprinted a number of times since, most notably as the sixty-fourth volume of the celebrated Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in February, 1974.

Max Carrados

Max Carrados is a fictional blind detective in a series of mystery stories and books by Ernest Bramah, first published in 1914. The Max Carrados stories appeared alongside Sherlock Holmes stories in the Strand Magazine. Bramah was often billed above Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Carrados stories frequently outsold the Holmes stories at the time, even if they failed to achieve the same longevity.

George Orwell wrote that, together with those of Doyle and R. Austin Freeman, Max Carrados and The Eyes of Max Carrados "are the only detective stories since Poe that are worth re-reading."

The Moon of Much Gladness

The Moon of Much Gladness is a fantasy novel by English writer Ernest Bramah, perhaps told by Kai Lung, Bramah's fictional itinerant story-teller of ancient China. It was first published in hardcover in London by Cassell and Company, Ltd. in May 1932, and was reprinted in 1934. The first American edition was issued by Sheridan House in 1937.

While the fictional narrator of this novel never refers to himself by name, the British first edition is subtitled "A Kai Lung story", and the American edition has the title The Return of Kai Lung.

Unlike the others, it is a true novel rather than a string of short stories. The queue of the mandarin T'sin Wong has mysteriously vanished while he slept. The maiden Hwa-che seeks to solve the mystery, using the methods she has learned from the crime novels of the Western barbarians. In this she is aided by Chin-tung, the mandarin's male secretary. Initially disguised as a man, she and Chin-tung become increasingly attached to each other as the story progresses.

The story humorously spoofs the conventions of the mystery novel, and contains allusions to well known fictional detectives. Readers will catch allusions to Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Hercule Poirot, among others. As with Bramah's other Chinese stories, much of the humor is also derived from a mock "Chinese" re-phrasing of common English expressions.

The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (book series)

The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes is the first in a series of published anthologies by Hugh Greene, elder brother of author Graham Greene and the former director-general of the BBC.

Some of the stories were subsequently adapted for a television series of the same name, broadcast in 1971-73.

The Secret of the League

The Secret of the League is a 1907 dystopian novel by Ernest Bramah, which describes the overthrow of a democratically elected British Labour Party Government through a carefully prepared plot by members of the upper classes, and depicts such an overthrow as being a positive and desirable outcome.

George Orwell credited the book with having given a considerably accurate prediction of the rise of Fascism, and also with reflecting "the mentality of the middle classes" and the brutal measures which members of these classes might condone or actively support, should they feel threatened with a revolution -"even such a decent and kindly writer as Ernest Bramah", in Orwell's words.

The Wallet of Kai Lung

The Wallet of Kai Lung is a collection of fantasy stories by English writer Ernest Bramah, all but the last of which feature Kai Lung, an itinerant story-teller of ancient China. It was first published in hardcover in London by Grant Richards in 1900, and there have been numerous editions since. Its initial tale, "The Transmutation of Ling", was also issued by the same publisher as a separate chapbook in 1911. The collection's importance in the history of fantasy literature was recognized by the anthologization of two of its tales in the celebrated Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series, edited by Lin Carter and published by Ballantine Books; "The Vision of Yin" in Discoveries in Fantasy (March, 1972), and "The Transmutation of Ling" in Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy Volume II (March, 1973).

Although the collection is presented in the fashion of a novel, with each of its component stories designated chapters, there is no overall plot aside from each of the first eight tales being presented as narratives told by Kai Lung at various points in his itinerant career. The final tale is represented as being from a manuscript left by its own separate first-person narrator, Kin Yen.

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