Page 77. " Ha! A life of Branwell Brontë "
Painting of the Brontë sisters by Branwell Brontë (His own image in the picture has been painted out)
Public DomainPainting of the Brontë sisters by Branwell Brontë (His own image in the picture has been painted out)

Branwell Brontë (1817-1848) was the brother of authors Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë

Mr Mybug was not the first person to postulate that it was Branwell who wrote Wuthering Heights, and that his sisters were engaged in deception. It is also on record that Branwell Brontë did have some literary ambitions: he wrote during his adolescence and in later life published some poetry in local newspapers under a pseudonym, although he never achieved the same success as his sisters.

He worked at various times as a portrait painter, railway clerk, and tutor, and on several occasions got into scrapes which led to his dismissal. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 31, after having developed addictions to both alcohol and laudanum (a form of opium). 

 

Click here, here and here to read about theories relating to Branwell Brontë's authorship of Wuthering Heights, and his influence on the novel.

Page 83. " 'To play darts?' Flora knew her A.P.H. "
Dartboard
Creative Commons AttributionDartboard - Credit: Richard Matthews

A reference to Sir Alan Patrick Herbert (1890-1971) who was generally known as A.P. Herbert or A.P.H..

He was a British Member of Parliament, as well as a novelist and playwright. One of the causes he took up as an M.P. were the very complex British licensing laws of his period.

In the early 1930s, darts as a pub game was banned in Huddersfield, and later in the decade, in Liverpool and Glasgow. A.P. Herbert argued against these bans in parliament.

Click here and  here  to see images of A.P.H.

Page 83. " I’ve got seventy-four photographs o’ Lotta Funchal "

Seth Starkadder's list of 'actresses' he has photos of includes Lotta Funchal, Jenny Carrol, Laura Vallee, Carline Heavytree, Sigrid Maelstrom and Pamela Baxter, all of which, like Marie Rambeau (an 'actress' mentioned later on), appear to be made-up names.

There was a real Hollywood actress called Sigrid Gurie who starred alongside Gary Cooper in the 1938 production The Adventures of Marco Polo, although her acting career started too late to be the inspiration for Stella Gibbons's Sigrid Maelstrom. It is possible that Gibbons chose a Scandinavian name because of the actress Greta Garbo who starred in Hollywood films between 1920 and 1941.

Other famous actresses of the period include Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow.

Page 94. " as of one who should say: 'Dr Livingstone, I presume?' "

Photographic reproduction of a lantern slide depicting the meeting of Dr. Livingstone and H.M. Stanley
Public DomainPhotographic reproduction of a lantern slide depicting the meeting of Dr. Livingstone and H.M. Stanley - Credit: unknown
 Dr David Livingstone (1813-1873) was a Scottish missionary, explorer, and anti-slavery campaigner who travelled extensively in central and southern Africa.

When he lost contact with the outside world, the British journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904) was sent by the New York Herald newspaper to find him. H.M. Stanley found Dr. Livingstone in November 1871 in the town of Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in present-day Tanzania. He is reputed to have greeted him with the words, 'Dr Livingstone, I presume?"

The greeting subsequently became a popular humorous catchphrase.

 

Page 97. " the face of Sir Henry Wood when pausing to contemplate some late-comers into the stalls at the Queen’s Hall just as his baton was raised to conduct the first bar of the ‘Eroica’ "
Caricature of Sir Henry Wood
Public DomainCaricature of Sir Henry Wood - Credit: Leslie Ward
Queen's Hall commemorative plaque
Public DomainQueen's Hall commemorative plaque - Credit: Man vyi

 Henry Wood (1869-1944) was an English orchestral conductor whose name has become synonymous with the 'Proms'.  After his death, they became known as 'the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts'.

 

The Queen's Hall was a concert hall in London.  It was destroyed in the Blitz in 1941.

 

The Eroica (Italian for heroic) is Beethoven's Symphony No.3 in E flat major. Listen on Spotify.

 

Drawing of The Queen's Hall in 1893
Public DomainDrawing of The Queen's Hall in 1893 - Credit: Anon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 97. " Have ye come like Nimshi, son of Rehoboam "
Rehoboam
Public DomainRehoboam - Credit: Hans Holbein the Younger

Amos Starkadder in fine bible-bashing mood, but possibly confusing the relationship between two Old Testament figures. Nimshi is described as the grandfather of Jehu and the father of Jehosophat, whilst Rehoboam was a King of Israel, the son of Solomon and grandson of David.

The suggested relationship is chronologically possible, although there does not appear to be any evidence for it. It may be that Stella Gibbons, who always had an eye for a comic twist, found the juxtaposition of the two names amusing.  She may also have been aware of the other meaning of rehoboam: a wine bottle six times the standard size!

Alternatively, it may simply be that her knowledge of the Bible was hazy. Her father, Telford Gibbons, was a confirmed atheist, and she was educated at home by governesses until the age of 13. Stella Gibbons did become religious in later life, and was accepted into the Church of England in 1947.

Page 100. " like Mr Kipling’s Bi-coloured Python-Rock-Snake "
The Elephant's Child
Public DomainThe Elephant's Child

The Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake is a character in 'The Elephant's Child', one of the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. One of the snake's characteristics is his tendency to speak in a rather ponderous, highfalutin, way (just like Mr. Mybug):

'My young friend, if you do not now, immediately and instantly, pull as hard as ever you can, it is my opinion that your acquaintance in the large-pattern leather ulster' (and by this he meant the Crocodile) 'will jerk you into yonder limpid stream before you can say Jack Robinson' - the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake