Richard Whittington-Egan : 9781-902918-59-4
In the eighteen sixties and seventies, there existed a nest of singing birds behind the grim stone exterior of the British Museum in Bloomsbury.
Poet in a Gallery of pigeons
The Museum Library's occupant flock of four, Coventry Patmore, Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Edmund Gosse, and Théophile Marzials. Poets all, they were truly prisoners of circumstance; the circumstance that none of them had enjoyed the life-enhancing benefits of Oxford or Cambridge.
In that arena of unrelenting intellectual snobbism they found themselves bullied and frankly despised. Theirs was not a happy lot. But then, the British Museum was never a happy place; it was one of carping, dissent, discontent, petty quarrels, envies, rivalries, spites and cruelties, from the highest echelons of Keepers down to the tribes of lowliest transcribers.
Patmore, O'Shaughnessy, Gosse, Marzials are some of the ghosts under the dome of the old British Museum Reading Room. Dissolved, like the books themselves, the first three have been fittingly memorialised. Marzials has, until now, remained unsung.
Richard Whittington-Egan was born in Liverpool in 1924, and he originally read medicine and was also to qualify for the Bar. During the Second World War he served in the army in France. Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy.
He has contributed articles and book reviews to many of Britain's leading newspapers and periodicals and spent 30 years on Fleet Street as a journalist with Associated Newspapers. A frequent radio broadcaster, he ran his own programme for Radio Merseyside, and made many television appearances.
A member of the Medico-Legal Society, and the Crimes Club, he is an acknowledged authority on Jack the Ripper, and has collaborated with his wife, Molly, in The Bedside Book of Murder.