A Sad, Wizened Old Man

A letter arrives from Peter Christian:

Dear Frank, he writes, Have you been moonlighting over at the Dictionary of National Biography, or have they been somehow stealing your unpublished works? The following DNB entry is a blatant fiction, and its Hooting Yard origins manifest, I would say:

“Cowley, Sir John Guise (1905–1993), army officer, was born at Mussooree, in the foothills of the Himalayas, during an earthquake on 20 August 1905, the son of the Revd Henry Guise Beatson Cowley, army chaplain, and his wife, Ethel Florence (née Prowse). When the family returned to England by ship John won a contest for the ugliest baby on board. His early years were spent in a Dorset village, where his father was the rector and Thomas Hardy was a neighbour. He recalled Hardy as a sad, wizened old man who spoke seldom but who occasionally, though an atheist, attended church services, at which he always asked Cowley’s father to read the same passage from the Bible—Elijah’s vision of the earthquake.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.