Friday, 19 February 2016

John Brown ! Not a shipbuilder, not an American, but a South Shields Leftist author

AS INFORMATION SURFACES THIS WILL CHANGE 

Another title: From the backstreets of South Shields via the LIBRARY to an Oxford College and the Royal Geographical Society. All before a Russian Nuclear Reactor.

(The collected bibliography will conclude the entry. This entry relies heavily on joint input from Andy Williamson, Support Services Librarian, South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council library service. Fionn Consultancy (Robert & Fiona) have since December 2015 been engaged in intense work on their local studies collection in advance of the opening of The Word see http://www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/21744/The-Word-The-North-East-Centre-for-the-Written-Word ).

A heads up John Brown ! Not a shipbuilder, not an American, but a South Shields Leftist author born 1907, worked as a Journalist on the Shields Gazette and really well overlooked. No Wikipedia entry, the digital trace requires considerable work. 3 of his 10 books we had catalogued at South Shields library in January/February. Their appearance stimulated more work. Here are some more notes (initially they were headed to some one else) "If you go here you will find a few listings for The Road to Power by John Brown. This is the one that includes the Moscow Metro I think. However I have bought the first listing (the cheapest).

The books prior to 1945 are "I was a Tramp" 1934 (and made it to a third impression), "I saw for myself" 1935, "The Road to Power" 1937 and "Trooper North 1944" about World War Two. On line reviews can be found. I was a tramp in the Sheffield Independent 8th October 1934 p11c3 which reveals more on his life, also the Gloucester Citizen 22nd May 1934 p4c2, the Gloucestershire Echo 28th September 1934. Trooper North is reviewed in the Liverpool Evening Express 2nd May 1944 p2c5 and Aberdeen Journal 9th August 1944 p2c7. From one of the various catalogue records I am digging into I have a Christmas Day 1907 birth date.

Here is a relatively cheap I was a Tramp in the USA.  However the John Mason Brown the hyperlink goes to in that listing goes to a different (American) author I think. This book being his first has certain autobiographical details. Inter alia we learn he was born Christmas Day 1907. His great great grandfather came from Rothesay, his mother was a daughter of an Irishman from Cork. He managed to pick up a Diploma in Economics and Political Science from Ruskin College around 1933. In South Shields he talks about his grandmother's house near the Roman Fort and overlooking the river.

Throughout the thirties and forties Selwyn and Blount was his publisher. The Shields Gazette between the war is also likely to offer a considerable amount under his name. Work into this link http://revel.unice.fr/cycnos/?id=1427#ftn5 . It is one of the few online discussions I have traced about him." Andy Williamson at South Shields has sent me a list (and there probably will be more) of inter-war features and editorial related to John Brown. Most of them require a little bit of websearching as they come from PDFs: Terror Spreads through the Saar 3rd January 1935 Dundee Evening Telegraph p2 c4-6; John Brown in the Saar 7th January 1935 Yorkshire Post p8 c5; Judd School and the League Kent and Sussex Courier p17 c4  22nd February 1935;  Germany's Interest in Peace 6th April 1935 Lancashire Evening Post p5 c2.

As I will keep saying :) I am sure this gentleman represents a great Shields story long forgotten. From my friends perhaps any of Jennifer Hillyard, Sean Matthew Smith, Alastair Fraser, Chris Phipps, Brian Bennison and Mark Benjamin may have leads?



Images are the front and back covers of the 1937 The Road to Power and the author portrait inside (which is SO 1930s). And for a sense of the gems within on page 168:

“On across the desert to Palmyra, the dead city of Zenobia, guarded by dark towers, and looking like an ivory carving. I had always wished to see the city, for not far from my own  home in northern England had been found the tomb of a Palmyran woman, wife of a Roman legionary who had helped guard the frontiers of the empire against the barbarians. What had she thought as she shivered on that northern coast of cold sea-fog and icy  wind and rude strength?”. The Palmyra links to South Tyneside can be explored from http://judithweingarten.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/little-queen-at-hadrians-wall.html and http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/EBvs4GUaT8Knfhl_sSpGWw . The problem of interpretation is she becomes a British woman who MARRIES a Palmyran and John Brown is wrong. Which begs the question: what did the guidebook in the 1930's say?

 
And in another gem John Brown interviews Lord Tweedsmuir AKA John Buchan in Government House, Ottawa in 1937! He refers to an anticipated trip of the Governor's. The photo album of that journey is displayed in the John Buchan Centre in Peebles http://www.johnbuchanstory.co.uk/newmuseum.htm .

After the war he seems to be away from South Shields. The title Trooper North suggests he had served in an armoured unit in World War Two. Although it seems incongruous, he clearly was writing fiction in the 1950s. Study the cover below, it makes clear this is the same John Brown.

Death in the Silver Ring: Background Books, London & Edinburgh 1950.

His wanderlust remained and in his later life he was involved with the Royal Geographical Society in London. And with the explorer Sebastian Snow he is down as finding the true source of the Amazon. Whilst Brown is Wikipedia light Snow does have an entry here. Both became Fellows of the R.G.S. as this cutting from the Yorkshire Evening Post of 28th August 1952 shows. This also reveals there was a Mrs Dorothy Brown aged 30 at the time.



The later books continue to pose questions! Next will follow the covers for the Amazon and then the following South African expedition books.

                                                                    

Then the inside flap of Two Against the Amazon in which note the appearance of UNESCO.

                                                                            

Then two pages at the start of The Thirsty Land.
                                                   


Here we have references to boredom at home and being employed by the US Third Air Force in England and evidently doing a lot of globetrotting as a result. What sort of person was John Brown becoming. Because by 1959 he was heading back to the Soviet Union and Russian nuclear reactors. This sounds like something from Boys Own or even Bond? So enjoy the cover of Russia Explored and a very telling extract.

                                                 

The above brings in a Yale scholarship! Possibly introductions to the US Military. "Produced with War Office approval a book on Armoured Corp Training" should be read with the ACTUAL reviews cited above on Trooper North. It was not a technical manual.



The clear follow up in this is the reference to "thirteen reports.......... for UN agencies". This needs understanding.  A person of this interest should have a wikipedia entry, a blue plaque in their birth town and must at death have left some obituary material?


===================================================================
The Collected Bibilography



JOHN BROWN BIBLIOGRAPHY

I was a tramp
Selwyn & Blount, 1934
(author listed by British Library as John BROWN, Journalist of South Shields, and on COPAC as John Brown 1907-)

I saw for myself
Selwyn & Blount, 1935
(author listed by British Library as John BROWN, Journalist of South Shields, and on COPAC as John Brown 1907-)

The road to power
Selwyn & Blount, 1937
(author listed by British Library as John BROWN, Journalist of South Shields, and on COPAC as John Brown 1907-)

Trooper North
Selwyn & Blount, 1944
(author listed by British Library as John BROWN, Journalist of South Shields, and on COPAC as John Brown 1907-)

Death in the silver ring
Background, 1950
(author listed on COPAC as John Brown 1907-)

Death gets a place
W.H. Allen, 1951
(author listed by British Library as John BROWN, Writer of Detective Novels, and on COPAC as John Brown 1907-)

Murder each way, etc.
Mark Goulden, 1952
(author listed by British Library as John BROWN, Writer of Detective Novels, and on COPAC as John Brown 1907-)

Two against the Amazon
Hodder & Stoughton, 1952
(author listed by British Library as John BROWN, Explorer, and on COPAC as John Brown 1914- (sic))

The Thirsty Land
Hodder & Stoughton, 1954
(author listed by British Library as John BROWN, Explorer, and on COPAC as John Brown 1914- (sic))

Russia Explored
Hodder & Stoughton, 1959
(author listed by British Library as John BROWN, Explorer, and on COPAC as John Brown 1914- (sic))

 

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