Filson Young

WorksCriticismCommentary

Life
1876-1938; [Alexander Bell Filson Young; family name formerly Filston Young]; b. Ballyeaston, Co. Antrim; son of Rev. W. Young of Portaferry; war correspondent, musician, journalist and soldier; acted as reader to Grant Richards [publ.] and in that capacity agreed to publish Dubliners; wrote Sands of Pleasure (1905), and When the Tide Turns (1908), novels; also a documentary work on the Titanic (1912) , published within weeks of the disaster; issued Ireland at the Cross Roads (1903, 1904); also various works on art (Venus and Cupid ... Velasquez in Colour, 1906) and music (Wagner Stories, 1907), and on WWI naval actions. IF FDA

Works
Fiction
  • Sand of Pleasure (London: Grant Richards 1905);
  • When the Tide Turns (London: Grant Richards 1908), 348pp.
 
Miscellaneous (on Ireland)
  • Ireland at the Cross Roads: An Essay in Explanation (London: Grant Richards 1903, 1904);
  • Titantic (1912);
  • Letters from Solitude and Other Essays (1912).
 
Miscellaneous (on arts & naval history)
  • Venus and Cupid: An Impression in Prose after Velasquez in Colour (London 1906) [ill. with repro.];
  • The Wagner Stories, told by Filson Young (London: Grant Richards 1907), xiv, 298pp., ill. [1 lf. of pls.; port.];
  • [as Alexander Bell Filson Young,] Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery, with a note on the navigation of Columbus's first voyage by the Earl of Dunraven, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott 1906), and Do. [facs. rep. edn.], 2 vols. (London: Grant Richards 1911), ill. [vol. 1, front. col.; vol. 2, port.; 5 pl., 2 port., 8 maps. part fold.], 23 cm.;
  • with W. Gordon Aston, The Complete Motorist; with a Letter from Rudyard Kipling [7th edn.] (London: Methuen 1907), and Do. [8th edn.] (London: Methuen [1915]), x, 223p., ill. [pls.], 23 cm. [completely rewritten excepting letter by Kipling's letter - “The Open Road”, being Chap. VI.];
  • With the Battle Cruisers (London: Cassell 1921), xv, 295pp., ill. [40 lvs. of plates, some col., & maps], 24 cm [incls. account of David Beatty, Earl Beatty, 1871-1936]; Do. [rep. edn.], with an introduction and notes by James Goldrick (Edinburgh: Birlinn 2002), xx, 295pp., ill. [maps, ports.], 22 cm., and Do. [trans. into French as], A bord des croiseurs de bataille, traduit par René Lévaique & Maurice Allain (Paris: Payot 1924), 228pp.;
  • With the Fleet: Studies in Naval Life [rep. from Pall Mall Gazette] (London: Grant Richards 1913), 93pp.
 
Also A Christmas Card (London : M. Secker 1914), 28pp.

[ top ]

Commentary
John Wilson Foster, ‘Revisitations: Criticism and Benedict Kiely’, in Between Shadows: Modern Irish Writing and Culture, Dublin: IAP 2009): ‘A recurring image and idea in Young’s work, fiction and nonfiction alike, is that of the tidal flow and cross-currents in human affairs. In When the Tide Turns, the literal version of this idea is the unnamed but clearly recognizable Narrows of Strangford Lough. (One character is called Lady Killard, a name taken from Killard Point.) The notion of cross-currents takes a figurative turn in Filson Young’s eloquent and thoughtful 1903 book about Irish society and politics, Ireland at the Cross Roads. An Essay in Explanation (1903), the results of a two-month tour through the island in 1901. / That Young’s central metaphor derived from the Narrows of Strangford Lough is hardly surprising. [...]’ (For longer extract, see attached; and see also quotations from Titanic in Foster's own study, Titanic, Penguin 1999, infra)

[ top ]

Quotations
Titanic (1912), “The End”: ‘[…] Many had no hold, or lost the hold they had, and these slid down the steep smooth decks, as people slide down a water chute into the sea./We dare not linger, even in imagination; dare not speculate; dare not look closely, even with the mind's eye, at this poor human agony, this last pitiful scrabble for dear life that the sere stars shone down upon. We must either turn our faces away, or withdraw to that surrounding circle where the boats were hovering with their terror-stricken burdens, and see what they saw. They saw the after part of the ship, blazing with light, stand up, a suspended prodigy, between the stars and the water; they say the black atoms, each one of which they knew to be a living man or woman on fire with agony, slide down like shot rubbish into the sea; they saw the giant desks bend and crack; they heard a hollow and tremendous rumbling as the great engines tore themselves from their steel beds and crashed through the ship; they say sparks streaming in golden rain from one of the funnels; hear the dull boom of an explosion while the spouting funnel fell over the sear with a slap that killed everyone beneath it and set the nearest boat rocking; head two more dull reports as the steel bulkheads gave way or decks blew up; saw the light flicker out, flicker back again and then go out for ever, and the ship, like some giant sea creature forsaking the strife of the upper elements for the peace of the submarine depths, launched herself with one slow plunge and dive beneath the waves / … the Titanic, in her pride and her shame, with the clocks ticking and the fires burning in her luxurious rooms, have plunged down to the icy depths of death.’ (Quoted in John Wilson Foster, ed., Titanic, Penguin 1999, p.78; see also “The Miracle”, quoted in Foster, op. cit., pp.13-16.)

[ top ]

References
Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), lists When the Tide Turns (Grant Richards 1908), a novel with a sophisticated plot having to do with decadent liaisons, partly set in Strangford Lough, Co. Down, in which Rupert Savage, an Irish Protestent, falls in love with Catholic Lady Fastnet, and moves into Bohemian society in Londo; forms liaison with Mrs. Graeme; ostracised after committing foolish and immoral act; refuges in Spain with Graeme and a disreputable poet, Midwood. [Note poss. error re. Catholic Lady Fastnet - cf. Fastnet Rock - and note that J. W. Foster cites a Lady Killard, sim. named after Killard Point on Strangford Lough.]

[ top ]

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, p.704: Frederick Ryan indicts the failure of Young and Horace Plunkett to recognise the ‘absolutely necessary step of winning self-government'; ftn. Filson Young, Ireland at the Crossroads, An Essay in Explanation (Richards 1903); review of same by Dr. Walter McDonald of Maynooth in Freeman's Journal quoted 705. See also Irish Book Lover 4, 9, 13.

[ top ]

Libraries & Booksellers
Univ. of Ulster Library holds Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery, a Narrative by Filson Young, with a note on the navigation of Columbus’s First Voyage by the Earl of Dunraven [3rd ed.] (Grant Richards 1911), 464pp., maps, ports, list of authorities.

Belfast Linenhall Library holds Ireland at the Cross Roads (1904); Letters from Solitude And Other Essays (1912).

Hyland Books (Cat. 219; 1995) lists Memory Harbour (1st edn. 1909).

[ top ]

Notes
Richard Ellmann (James Joyce, 1959) makes reference to Filson’s work as reader for Grant Richard, the London-based publisher: ‘[...] Grant Richards, somewhat startled at receiving from Trieste a book called Dubliners, like it himself and, when his reader Filson Young agreed, he accepted it on February 17, 1906, and signed a contract fro it in March.’ (Ellmann, James Joyce [1959] 1965 Pb. Edn, p.227.)

[ top ]