“Mystery of Murdon Grange, The“


“Mystery of Murdon Grange, The“
   Round-robin serial tale; apparently “published” in a typewritten manuscript magazine, Hesperia, circulated by HPL in 1918–21. Apparently nonextant.
   HPL first describes the item in a letter dated June 27, 1918: “My Hesperiawill be critical & educational in object, though I am ‘sugar-coating’ the first number by ‘printing’ a conclusion of the serial The Mystery of Murdon Grange. …It is outwardly done on the patchwork plan as before—each chapter bears one of my different aliases—Ward Phillips—Ames Dorrance Rowley—L.Theobald, &c.” (SL 1.68). This would seem to suggest that the serial—evidently a parody of a dime-novel mystery— was written entirely by HPL, each chapter or segment affixed with a different pseudonym; but the one segment that has actually been located suggests otherwise. This segment appeared in the amateur journal Spindrift 5, No. 1 (Christmas 1917): 26–27, and contains the end of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3; it is signed “B[enjamin] Winskill,” an amateur journalist living in Buxted, Sussex, UK. The journal was edited by Ernest Lionel McKeag of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
   What this suggests is that the story was a round-robin serial, with several different amateurs writing various segments; at best, HPL wrote one or more subsequent chapters in Hesperia,perhaps issuing them as continuations of the serial presumably begun in Spindrift. HPL never mentions “The Mystery of Murdon Grange” in any other extant correspondence, but mentions Hesperiain June 1921 as an ongoing enterprise ( SL1.136). HPL would type several carbon copies of the paper and send each copy on a designated round of circulation to amateurs; HPL appears to allude to it in “Amateur Journalism: Its Possible Needs and Betterment” (a lecture delivered on September 5, 1920): “I myself attempted to circulate [a manuscript magazine] two years ago, yet it disappeared before it could leave New England” ( MW449). No issues of Hesperiahave been found.

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