“The Dreadnought Hoax and the Theatres of War”
My article on Virginia Woolf’s hoax on the British Navy appeared in Literature and History: Special Issue—Alternative 1910s. 22 (Spring 2013) 80-94.
“In his professional log, John St. Erme Cardew, a midshipman on the H.M.S. Dreadnought, the Flag Ship of Admiral Sir William May, Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet, recorded this entry for 7 February 1910:
On Monday afternoon the son of King Menelik and heir to the Abysinnian [sic] throne came on board with his suite to visit the ship. He seemed very impressed with what he saw & somewhat awed I think. He wore his Eastern garb, which though not very seasonable was of a very brilliant nature. At 9 AM the next morning the fleet unmoored & proceeded to sea.[i]
Earlier that morning, Virginia Stephen, her brother, and friends had disguised themselves as four Abyssinian princes, an interpreter, and an escort from the Foreign Office. At Paddington Station they boarded the 12:40 train to Weymouth where they were greeted at 4:20 by a naval officer who escorted them on a steam launch to the Dreadnought. They received a 45-minute tour of the ship, then disembarked, their ruse undetected.
Five days later, the front page of the half-penny Daily Express blazed the headline: ‘Amazing Naval Hoax, Sham Abyssinian Princes Visit the Dreadnought.’ Later the same day, the Globe, a pink-tinted evening newspaper, followed with ‘Bogus “Princes” on the “Dreadnought”, An Amazing Story.’[ii]
In the following weeks, newspapers from all over the world reported the incident. Readers in Washington, D.C. and New York learned of the story the following day.[iii] Those in South Africa read of it the day after that.
A week later, on 16 February, the London Daily Mirror splashed a large photo of the hoaxers in full costume across its front page. The headline read, ‘How the Officers of the H.M.S. Dreadnought Were Hoaxed: Photographs of the ‘Abyssinian Princes’ Who Have Made All England Laugh.’
In subsequent weeks, the hoax and its aftermath appeared in papers around the world, including but not limited to the New York Times, the Salt Lake City Tribune, the Baltimore American, the Dallas Morning News, the Gulfport Daily Herald (Mississippi), the Sydney Morning Herald , the Wairarapa Daily News (New Zealand) The East African Standard, and the Beira Post (Mozambique).[iv]
For nearly three months, the hoax provided copy for newspapers worldwide.”
To read the entire article please see Literature and History: Special Issue—Alternative 1910s. 22 (Spring 2013) 80-94
Introduction by Danell Jones
Barnes and Noble Library of Essential Reading
“With her third novel, Jacob’s Room, Virginia Woolf’s style became indisputably modern.
Throwing off novelistic conventions, she devised a radical new book shaped by the memories of a lost brother, a clear-eyed feminist sensibility, and a fierce pacifism. Using a condense, imagistic method, Woolf tells the story of Jacob Flanders, a young man destined for the trenches of World War One.
Published during a year of daring literary experiment such as T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and James Joyce’s Ulysses, Jacob’s Room forged a fresh direction for the course of the novel.
“No scaffolding,” Woolf planned as she began the book, “scarcely a brick to be seen,” yet heart and passion “as bright as fire in the mist.” She finished it in 1922 with a sense of satisfaction. “There is no doubt in my mind,” she recorded contentedly, “that I have found out how to being (at 40) to say something in my own voice.” Of all her book, Jacob’s Room was her favorite.”
Buy the book: Jacob’s Room.
These Living Songs:
Reading Montana Poetry
“Discovering Grace: Coming to the Poems of Grace Stone Coates”
by Danell Jones
“Tell me what you think of these poems, she says, handing me a brown book. I glance at the cover: Food of Gods and Starvelings: The Selected Poems of Grace Stone Coates.
Who, I wonder, is Grace Stone Coates?
I find her name irresistible—ringing, as it does, of a gentleman’s jacket, the cargo that dragged Virginia Woolf to the bottom of a Sussex river, and some unbidden, undeserved gift from God. Surely this is the name of poet.
Who is this poet born on a Kansas wheat farm, drawn to Montana by a job in a school house, married to a Butte shopkeeper, then billeted to dusty Martinsdale until old age drove her to a Bozeman retirement home? What can one expect of a poet of Martinsdale? The clichés offer themselves too readily: a poet of mule teams and barns, antelope and campfires. Thumbing through her biography, I discover a different insight into her creative catalyst. “A Montana hamlet,” she writes in 1925, “offers exceptional opportunities for reflecting upon the universe!” (Rostad 41). The universe? I feel a bit skeptical.”
Help an independent bookstore: buy a book!
The profits from the sale of Sandstone, an anthology of contemporary Western writers, go directly to This House of Books, Billings’ first cooperative bookstore. You’ll read stories and poems here from writers you love: Tami Haaland, Shann Ray, Jamie Ford, Anna Paige, Dave Caserio, and many more.
I’ve even got a few in it.
Here’s one of the more whimsical:
The Morning the Pasque Flowers Bloomed
Waking with magical powers
Tim strolls with his dog across Mumbai, Aleppo, and Kabul
Off-capping to busy neighbors and offering Bella’s amiable head
to children’s’ curious hands
Later, he’ll oversee
the transformation of moldy leftovers into penicillin
He will make sure cobalt blue teapots adorn all gardens across all continents
reminding people that the sky has not always been blue
nor love so complete
After that, he will see to it
that Dr. Watson outwits Sherlock Holmes
Basking in his successes, he’ll try out the curse of the Bambino,
comma splices, accidents, illness, and heartache
He plans to do something about laundry and housework, generally
Tomorrow, just for fun,
he will see to it that on every piece of paper on every desk on the entire planet a cat stops
If only for one day, every man will lift its tender body in his hands
and feel the grumble of love against his fingertips