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  • RDS's Grant Application To Literary Society

    I don't know if we've had this before or not but I'll post it anyway.
    In 1895/6 Roslyn D'Onston made an application for a grant from the Literary society. The letter below is just two of the 39 pages of documents attached to this application and makes for quite sad reading in my opinion.
    D'Onston admits to being so destitute and in need of funds that he doesn't even have a change of underwear or clothing suitable for winter and has just spent 3 months in the Chelsea Hospital.

    There are lots of interesting letters in the file, including character witness letters from Mr. Stead.

    Those with access to the Nineteenth Century online collection can see the file in full on there in the recently added theatre, music and literary collection. There are also quite a few applications from Mabel Collins/Cook. Her's don't invoke the same kind of sympathy in me, though. She comes over more as a woman who wasn't capable of keeping a proper track on her finances through lack of interest in financial matters and bad judgements and so suffered (although her suffering seemed minimal compared to D'Onston's)as a result.

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  • #2
    Wow

    I haven't seen that before Deb

    Maybe Mike has a copy

    There's a lot there about him travelling to foreign lands as a ship's doctor, being able to translate foreign languages, indications of further articles written by him, a comment about when his wife "went wrong", Stead referring to him as "Chevalier" because they were both members of "European Orders" etc etc

    ...and how much he was paid for the articles - there is previous reference to this

    That 150 customers would and did pay up front for his Patristic Gospels is significant IMO and relevant to the letter itself

    To me, with current knowledge, this sounds like a begging letter with many fabrications and is constructed to deceive - he is still perpetuating his image of being the intrepid explorer and experienced World traveller described in his articles though this is understandable

    He seems to be skirting the usual occult claims in this letter

    I would like to find some truth in his previous claims as I don't believe he could have lied so comprehensively without being exposed at the time, his visit to Jacob of Simla being confirmed by Jacob being one example

    I'd have to ask Mike if we can conclusively rule him out as travelling with any army as a medical doctor

    The mention of his "brain trouble" is also interesting, as is his claim to be only writing fiction from 1890 onwards - implying all his previous tales were from actual experience

    There's loads there to consider Deb, thanks for posting it - I'll wait to hear from Mike and Howard as to some of it's implications

    I'll have a look for his "Under Five Flags" and "Industry" articles

    It is a sad picture though of him still purchasing scholarly books despite being in deteriorating circumstances and of his landlord probably taking his books off him for the rent

    I would say it would be difficult to fake being able to speak multiple languages and that it is likely, given his scholarly comments in The Patristic Gospels, that he certainly knew Latin and Greek if not Hebrew

    I would like to think his expertise stretched to speaking French also considering his comments on the GSG, as this goes some way IMO to explaining his uterus recipe theory

    Remember in his tales he claims to speak a number of relatively obscure languages

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    • #3
      Stead here mentions an article or series by Tautriadelta entitled "Autobiography of the Magist"...

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      • #4
        Hi Nemo and Debs

        The application to the Literary Society is new to me as well. Great find, Debs! I'll read his letter over carefully and might have some thoughts about it. Neems, thanks for posting the letter from Stead. Isn't it interesting that he calls D'Onston by the name "Russell D'Onston" which might imply that he didn't know D'Onston too well. The mistake in the Christian name is noted by D'Onston in a P.S. when he forwarded Stead's letter. He suggests that Stead had been in a hurry to catch a train and would have written more fully about his character if he had not been hurried. We might notice also that Stead's typewritten letter is marked "Dictated" so it could have been that his secretary misheard him. Am I right in saying that D'Onston claims "Mr. Stead always addresses me privately as Chevalier (?) because we are both members of [that] European order." Yet another line of enquiry?

        All the best

        Chris
        Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
        https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

        Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
        Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

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        • #5
          That is mentioned by RDS in his letter Chris and does indeed seem to be a mistake by his secretary

          I'd recommend reading the other documents mentioned by Deb if possible Chris

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Nemo View Post
            Stead here mentions an article or series by Tautriadelta entitled "Autobiography of the Magist"...

            [ATTACH]10624[/ATTACH]
            Hi Nemo, the "Autobiography of the Magist" caught my eye too. I've drawn a blank on finding anything further on it though,have you managed anything?

            The whole file is fascinating and full of little snippets. LOL I must be a soft touch feeling sorry for him...his begging worked on me.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
              Hi Nemo, the "Autobiography of the Magist" caught my eye too. I've drawn a blank on finding anything further on it though,have you managed anything?

              The whole file is fascinating and full of little snippets. LOL I must be a soft touch feeling sorry for him...his begging worked on me.
              Hello Debs and Neems

              I have found it. It's not exactly that title. It's in the Google Books copy of Borderland entitled "III. Our Gallery of Borderlanders. A Modern Magician: An Autobiography. By a Pupil of Lord Lytton", Borderland: A Quarterly Review and Index, Volume 3, 1896.

              The second page contains the famous portrait of D'Onston titled, "The Modern Magician, Tautriadelta."

              Cheers

              Chris
              Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
              https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

              Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
              Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yes, of course, thanks Chris

                I think Stead just misnamed it

                I'm certain I haven't seen any articles from "Industry" - it will be interesting to discover on what subjects he chose to write about

                There's a mention of Bachert in there too Debs from April 1888 - I'm not sure if I saw the quote previously

                It's contained within an interesting newspaper calling itself a "Leaflet newspaper" which seems to offer batch quantities for re-selling a bit like "TheBig Issue" (a newspaper for homeless people to buy/sell and make a profit on) - a political pamphlet by the looks of it

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                • #9
                  Thanks, Chris.
                  We can't see the full text version on google books here in the UK because of copyright laws but I'll look for another source now I know what to look for.
                  I have heard of the one you mentioned before. Stead must have had a secretary who was a bit hard of hearing!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
                    Thanks, Chris.
                    We can't see the full text version on google books here in the UK because of copyright laws but I'll look for another source now I know what to look for.
                    I have heard of the one you mentioned before. Stead must have had a secretary who was a bit hard of hearing!
                    The other thing to note is that the publication of the "Autobiography" in Borderland and D'Onston's application to join the Literary Society were both in the same year, 1896, so Stead had to have had fairly recent dealings with R.D'O over that submission before he was asked to write the recommendation letter.

                    Chris
                    Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                    https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

                    Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                    Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There's some nice military stuff for you here Chris - the "Under Five Flags" article here reproduced in March 1887 - "How General Gordon saved my life" (!)


                      http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/32704442


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                      • #12
                        Stead claims to have known RDS 20 years in his 1906 application.
                        I think the file covers three, maybe four, separate applications for relief now I've gone through it all, starting in 1896 up until 1906.
                        The Literary Society gave out charitable 'grants' to authors etc. down on their luck and these are what these files are; Applications for monetary relief.
                        All claims had to be backed up by testimony from friends.

                        As I said earlier, Mabel Collins also applied several times for cash in the early 1900s and was successful with every application, even though she was a house owner, which is noted in her details.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi Nemo

                          Many thanks for posting that colorful recollection of the military career of a soldier of fortune. The way the man escaped execution in China at the hands of the British under General Gordon of Khartoum is fascinating. I located the Wiki biography of the American commander mentioned in the article, General Henry Andres Burgevine, a colorful soldier of fortune like that letter writer.

                          All the best

                          Chris
                          Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                          https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

                          Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                          Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Needless to say, this is a terrific find Debs....

                            I also feel sorry for him too and have ever since we, (as in all of us on the Forums who dug into his saga ) worked towards putting this fellow's life in the right perspective.
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                            • #15
                              Here is Deb's first post for them what squint, such as myself, and might have a hard time reading the letter from D'Onston :









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