A is for Sir George Arthur

I have been selling books for more years than I care to remember. Just at the moment I’m locked down so the one thing I don’t want to do is to sell anything. The idea is to start from A and go through to Z.

A is for Sir George Arthur Bt (1860-1946) here depicted by Spy

Sir George, grandson of the last Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, had served with the Household Cavalry in the Boer War. He wrote a two volume history of the regiment published by Constable in 1909. Alas my trade edition is one of the least attractive books in my stock.

During the First World War Sir George served as Kitchener’s private secretary at the War Office. After Kitchener’s death he wrote a three volume biography of the great man. He continued to write prodigiously ending up with the splendidly titled Not Worth Reading in 1938. WorldCat credits him with 74 works in 341 publications.

What could be more respectable? But he had a past. As a young man, like many Victorian rips, he made a habit of visiting the ladies of the night. In November 1888 he set out for one such expedition dressed in a disreputable shooting jacket and a slouch hat thus converting himself into the very picture of the public image of Jack the Ripper.

He was arrested by two vigilant policeman and then released. You won’t find a lot about this in the British press but the New York World reported it with relish on 21 November 1888. Their report begins, “The most intense amusement has been caused among all classes of the London world by the arrest last week of Sir George Arthur on suspicion of being the Whitechapel murderer….” You can find the rest on line.

Back to The Story of the Household Cavalry. Sir George had a handful of copies printed on large paper.

The special edition measures 30 cm by 24 cm rather than the trade edition’s 26 cm by 19 cm. The text and illustrations are identical though with more generous margins. My copy has an inscription to Sir George’s sister.

Farewell A for Arthur. Next up for B to be continued. To receive other blogs in this series go to the top of this page and press ‘BLOG’. On the new page go to the bottom right and press ‘follow’.

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