Robert Buchanan

QuotationsReferences

Life
1841-1901 [Robert Williams Buchanan’ pseud. “Thomas Maitland”]; born Staffordshire, settled at Rosspoint, Co. Mayo, 1874; departed from Ireland, 1877; contrib. The Fleshly School of Poetry: Mr D. G. Rossetti’ to The Contemporary Review (1871), under his pseud. “Thomas Maitland”; foremost public spokesman for Oscar Wilde between end of the libel trial and the beginning of his first criminal trial; issued A Marriage by Capture (1896), The Shadow of the Sword (1876), and several other novels incl. including The Wandering Jew (1893), which was attacked by Richard Le Gallienne in Daily Chronicle (11 Jan. 1893) and The Star (12 Jan. 1893), causing Buchanan to enter into a correspondence in the course of which he proposed that Christianity was ‘played out’; Father Anthony (1898) was his sole Irish novel; there is a life by his sister-in-law and adopted dg. Harriet Jay (1903), whose Queen of Connaught [1881] he dramatised. ODNB IF SUTH OCIL

[ top ]

Works
Father Anthony: A Romance of Today
(London: T. Fisher Unwin 1898), 283pp., and Do. [2nd edn.] (London: John Long 1899; rep. edns. incl. 1911, 1913, 1920); The Fleshly School and Other Phenomena of the Day (London: Strahan & Co. 1872), ix, 97pp.; The Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan, 3 vols. (London: H. S. King & Co. 1874), with port.; Do. [another edn.] (London: Chatto & Windus 1884), viii, 534pp.; The Complete Poetical Works, 2 vols. (London: Chatto & Windus 1901); Selected Poems (London: Chatto & Windus 1882), 298pp. [front. port. by Thomas Dalziel].

[ top ]

Criticism
Archibald S. Walker, Robert Buchanan, The Poet of Modern Revolt: An Introduction to His Poetry (1901); Harriet Jay, Robert Buchanan: Some Account of His Life, His Life’s Work, and His Literary Friendships (1903).

[ top ]

Quotations
[“The Wake of Tim O'Hara”]: ‘To the wake av Tim O'Hara / Came company, / All St. Patrick's Alley / Was there to see’ - verses quoted, with attribution, at the head of chapter Rudyard Kipling, “Black Jack”, from Soldiers Three (1895).

On Oscar Wilde: ‘Most sane men will listen on in silence while press and public condemn to eternal punishment and obloquy a supposed criminal who is not yet tried or proved guilty.’ (Quoted in Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde, Vintage Books 1988; see also Michael S. Foldy, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, Yale Press 1997; quoted in Maria McGavigan, UG Diss, UUC 2009.)

Never to bow …: ‘Never to bow or kneel / To any brazen lie; / To love the worst, to feel / The worst is even as I. / To count all triumph vain / That helps no burdened man; / I thinks so still and so / I end as I began.’ (verses which Robert Lynd read at Tom Kettle’s memorial service; quoted in Mary Kettle’s ‘Memoir’ prefixed to Kettle’s posthumous collection, The Ways of War, 1917, p.21.)

[ top ]

References
Dictionary of National Biography calls him a socialist novelist and playwright who satirised Swinburne in ‘The Session of the Poets’ (Spectator 1866), and Rossetti in ‘The Fleshly School of Poetry’ (The Contemporary Review, 1871), and won a libel action against Swinburne. ODNB lists many successful novels and plays, and also Poetical Works (1884); but makes no mention of Irish material or sojourn.

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), lists Father Anthony (1903); also The Peep o’ Day Boy (n.d.), ‘scarcely worthy of the author’ as plagiarising Cassell’s History of Ireland. Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction [Pt II] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985) adds A Marriage by Capture (1896).

John Sutherland, The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (Longmans 1988; rep. 1989), best remembered as a poet and successful as a wordy playwright; son a Scottish socialist tailor and supporter of Robert Owen; staff of Athenaeum following family’s ruin in newspaper speculation; “probably most quarrelsome author of his day”, he took on the Decadent Movement; ‘Fleshly School’, Contemporary Review, Oct. 1871; torrents of fiction, BL 81.

[ top ]

British Library (BML Catalogue to 1956) holds 88 titles including rep. edns., among which Father Anthony: A Romance of Today (T. Fisher Unwin 1898), 283pp; new eds. 1911; 1913; 1920; The Fleshly School and Other Phenomena of the Day (London: Strahan & Co. 1872), ix, 97pp.; [see also Under the Microscope, a reply to the charges made against Swinburne and others in Buchanan’s ‘The Fleshly School of Poetry’]; The Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan [with port.] 3 vols. (London: HS King & Co. 1874); another Do., another edn. (London: Chatto & Windus 1884), viii, 534pp.; The Complete Poetical Works, 2 vols. (Chatto & Windus 1901); Selected Poems (London: Chatto & Windus 1882), 298pp. [front. by Thomas Dalziel]; also under Harriet Jay, My Connaught Cousins [Pref. by Robert Buchanan] (1883); and Robert Buchanan, Some Account of his Life, his Life’s Work, and his literary friendships (1903). Also Archibald S. Walker, Robert Buchanan, the poet of modern revolt. An introduction to his poetry (1901).

[ top ]

Eric Stevens Catalogue (1992) lists Robert Buchanan (of Fleshly School of Poetry fame), The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan, 2 vols. (Chatto and & Windus 1901), 534, 432pp. [£22]

Belfast Central Public Library holds six works incl. fiction, Father Anthony (1898); Ballads of Life: Love and Humour (1882); Idylls and Legends (1863); A Marriage by Capture (1896); A Look Around Literature (1887); Undertones (1865); Poems and Love Lyrics [q.d.].

[ top ]

Notes
Oscar Wilde: Buchanan received an inscribed copy of De Profundis ‘in admiration and gratitude’ from the author, dated Naples 1898. (See Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde, London: Hamish 1987), p.526 - the sole reference in this work).

W. B. Yeats reviewed a Buchanan’s novel The Wandering Jew (1893) in Bookman (April 1893) [See John Frayne, ed., Uncollected Prose, Vol. 1 (London: Macmillan 1970), p.263-66.]

[ top ]