HT Waghorn: A Singular PortraitMartin Chandler |
Author: Rosenwater, Irving
Publisher: Christopher Saunders
Rating: 3 stars
The last Irving Rosenwater monograph to be published appeared in the year before his death, and once more was from Christopher Saunders’ imprint. One of the bulkier items produced by Rosenwater he is on familiar territory, telling the story of a cricket researcher from many years before.
The man concerned, generally known to bibliophiles by his initials HT rather than either of his given names, Henry and Thomas, was a curious character who despite getting such lengthy treatment from Rosenwater remains somewhat elusive. His life was a long one (he died in 1930 at the age of 87) but Waghorn was not a man to court any degree of recognition let alone publicise himself.
There were two books from Waghorn, Cricket Scores, 1730-1773 in 1899 and The Dawn of Cricket in 1906, and despite thereafter spending almost a quarter of a century in a happy and healthy retirement he published nothing else. That said Rosenwater is keen to stress Waghorn was not a writer in the accepted sense of the word. By employment he was, after a period of military service, an attendant in the Reading Room at the British Museum. The role was not one that required any particular skills or qualifications and neither of Waghorn’s books contain any narrative content of note. They are simply collections of the writings of others in newspapers and magazines that Waghorn located within the Museum’s extensive holdings.
Against that background Rosenwater is at pains to highlight Waghorn’s shortcomings, and indeed notes a number of errors in his books. It may be that Rosenwater, normally a fearsome critic when not impressed, mellowed with age, although if so he did still managed some barbed comments in the direction of his old and by then long deceased adversary, Rowland Bowen.
Rosenwater on Waghorn is a strange one, if only because of the usual frustration with Rosenwater that he does not set out his sources. One way or another I suspect most came directly or indirectly from Ashley-Cooper, whose presence in the Reading Room with Waghorn looms large.
HT Waghorn – A Singular Portrait is undoubtedly an interesting booklet, well written and cheerful in its outlook. It is probably a few pages longer than it need be, not because Rosenwater repeats himself so much as says the same things more than once in slightly different ways. Most of it is drawing his reader’s attention to Waghorn’s shortcomings, yet there is none of the biting criticism that Bowen receives.
There were 125 copies of HT Waghorn: A Singular Portrait so this is one of the easier Rosenwaters to acquire.