16 OCTOBER 1953, Page 13

De Mortuis . . .

Although factually correct and apparently flattering, obituary notices of public characters, If read between the lines, are apt to give a different impression of their subjects. Specimens of such notices were invited, dealing with the career of one of the following : Wackford Squeers (educationist), Charles Mudie (" Select Library "), Horatio Bottomley (financier), Dr. Crippen (toxicologist), Sherlock Holmes (criminologist), Mrs. Bloomer (dress reformer), Mrs. Ormiston Chant (abolitionist).

After reading the inscriptions on tomb- stones and memorial tablets inquisitive children often enquire : " Where are all the wicked people buried ? " These sources do not supply the information. In this competition most of the entries dealt with Dr. Crippen. Sherlock Holmes, together with his stooge, Dr. Watson, also attracted the attention of a number of amateur criminologists. The Rev. Dr. Fitchett (not " Fidget," as one would-be prizewinner unjustifiably called him) wrote a best-seller, Deeds that Won the Empire. Mrs. Ormiston Chant was also interested in the Empire. But it was a different Empire, and dealt with the promenade of the Leicester Square establishment. In her efforts to make women " trousers-conscious," Mrs. Bloomer was obviously before her time ; and in these days of " bikini beach-wear " and " hiking shorts " she would be con- sidered ultra-prudish. More than one entrant expressed regret that Wackford Squeers had not been elected a member of the Headmasters' Conference ; and the financial operations of Horatio Bottomley met with a good deal of adverse criticism. The prizewinners are Sheila Wheeler (£1 10s.), Granville Garley and James Bowker (£1 5s. each), and E. Bedwell (£1). Commended are the entries of J. R. Hodgson, Samuel G. Taylor, Findlay P. Murdoch, Nancy Gunter, Alan M. Laing, D. R. Peddy, H. A. C. Evans, Basil Lee, the Rev. C. L. S. Linnell, and Mrs. Window.


(SHEILA WHEELER) Mrs. Amelia Jenks Bloomer

It is with regret that we announce the death yesterday, December 30th, of Mrs. Amelia Bloomer.

This gallant lady, in order to extend the stride in the progress of feminine advance, was the first to brave the astonished gaze of the public when she ventured forth in a pair— they come in pairs like shoes and gloves— of " bloomers.

Striving to establish a sensible and carefree reform in female dress, Mrs. Bloomer did not get the whole-hearted support of the less mobile members of her sex, who, seemingly, preferred the tyranny of the ground-length " hobble " skirt. Her generous act won, how- ever, the undying gratitude of that splendid creature of no longer hampered paces, the Outdoor Girl, who may now firmly take her Seat as the indispensable rear partner of a Bicycle built for Two. She will not be for- gotten : the garment named after her has now become a household word. Moreover, any reliable dictionary will prove that her unique and daring gesture has been epitomised in the explanation given for an impetuous action which is followed by singular conse- quences.

(GRANVILLE GARLEY) Wackford Squeers

As an educationist Mr. Wackford Squeers was strikingly successful ; he left his mark on every one of his pupils, stamping them for life. It was his proud boast that a product of the " shop " (as he jokingly called his school) could be spotted at a glance anywhere in a crowd. He was an originator of Parent- Teacher Associations ; the child's home background he made it his business to investi- gate thoroughly ; and he always reserved a special welcome for orphans and step-children. He realised the importance of diet and regular meals in the upbringing of the young, and was an advocate of plain food of high vitamin content. But he will be remembered chiefly as a pioneer of practical teaching methods. The humblest domestic crafts found an hon- oured place in his curriculum. He once said at an Old Boys' Reunion in Dachau that he had helped to make Britain a nation of winder- cleaners. It is a pity that his acute business sense and highly individualistic personality prevented him from accepting an important executive position under the Welfare State, and that he died before the new Comprehen- sive Schools came into being.


Dr. H. H. Crippen Hawley Harvey Crippen, who died early yesterday while away from home, had not only earned a reputation on both sides of the Atlantic for his experiments in advanced toxi- cosis, but had also played a prominent part in work connected with wireless telegraphy.

Crippen was, in a professional sense, a self- made man. His surgical practice, which he carried on privately, developed out of his interest in pathology.

In 1893 he married. Miss B. Elmore. Her untimely death had an important influence on Crippen's subsequent career, for he seemed to become unsettled in England and ultimately sailed for North America, where he intended to make his home. However, it was not long before he bowed to requests to return so that research might continue into his earlier work with poisons. The discoveries arising from this soon became recognised as of great significance, 'though it would be untrue to say that univemal approbation was accorded to them. Indeed,

Dr. Crippen's final decline may be attributed to his failure to carry public opinion with him. Though he had been under observation for some time, his end came suddenly.

(E. BEDWELL) Charles Mudie Charles Edward Mudie began to lend books in a small way in 1842. By the 'sixties, his was truly a household name in the new villadom of the Victorian suburbs. From Wimbledon to Southgate, from Syden'ham to Hampstead, no drawing-room table was complete without its novel from the " Select Library."

Mr. Mudie was the first to discern, and cater for, the vast literary appetite of the stay-at- home wives and daughters of City men. His success, however, derived not more from his enterprise, than from the confidence inspired by the epithet in his title. By " Select," he meant a rigorous exclusion of all that was unhealthy and subversive in the literature of his period. To the Victorian paterfamilias, his yellow label was as reassuring as the imprimatur to Catholic readers. With the Mudie novel as her reading, Suburbia was safe from the dubious affaire with Continentals like Zola or Flaubert ; or from any acquaintance, no less deplorable, with the native seduction of George Moore. A notable bulwark fell when Mudie died. Only he, perhaps, could have shielded the English reading public from Ulysses.