Sunday, 13 February 2011

On the Trail of Verrill, Issue 6

Issue 6 – Dated January 30 2011
This newsletter may contain news from or about Gail Kelly, Doug Frizzle and A. Hyatt Verrill (1871-1954). It’s intended as an update, and to show progress in making the prolific work of Verrill available to all.
In February, The Library of Congress promised to digitize “The Radio Detectives”, volume one of the four volume fictional series. The story was finally made digitally available on the site Archive.Org, at the beginning of October; it’s an extremely rare book. Because of this rarity, we reprinted the story in The Radio Detectives – Books 1 &2, the link is to my bookstore.
Not much has significantly changed in the bibliography of Verrill, though I did add a couple of books to my library (don’t tell Gail).
The search for Verrill did cross a couple of interesting trails that got us sidetracked. First I found a reference book, Children’s Fiction Series. Nothing new as far as Verrill bibliography but I had not known that The Boy’s Book of Whalers was a part of a fictional series published between 1911 and 1927.


Several times I have come across references to Verrill’s unsuccessful treasure hunt in Mexico, near the province of Yucatan. Quest for the Lost City by Dana and Ginger Lamb, is a travelogue initiated and inspired in part by A. Hyatt Verrill (see page 4 in that book). Subsequently, I did receive some correspondence indicating that the Lamb’s were less than truthful about their adventures and their lives, but it is a good read.
I wondered what other books had been written previous to 1950 on the Yucatan. The fictional adventure novel Tahara in the Land of the Yucatan provided a very interesting source for a couple of reasons. Unlike most juvenile novels of 1933, there is a dedication to Jacques Romano and the same character appears in the book! But that is just the start! He is described as a most amazing person, inscrutable and timeless. There are four novels in the Tahara series.
Beyond that, I did a little research on “Jacques Romano” and sure enough, a doctor wrote a book about the man some 35 years later! The Jacques Romano Story is a very interesting book but it is also a bit rare; my nearest copy was 400 miles away, I now own a copy.
The author of the ‘Tahara’ series, Harold M Sherman, went on to write over fifty books, some plays and a lot of work on extra sensory perception! One of these was “Call of the Land” a novel about 4-H and how farming can reconnect us to nature. Although the novel is a bit simplistic for nowadays, reading it brings one back to an inspirational time in America.
Some might question why I buy these books instead of borrowing them from the library. I would borrow them but almost all of these books I mention are NOT available locally. But they usually can be purchased under $20, delivered to your mailbox. I often use Abebooks.com or Addall.com if I want to search more stores worldwide. Great service, always.
On the subject of good reads, the book Fingerprints of the Gods is an exploration of a number of the geographic mysteries of the world, principally in Mexico, Peru and Egypt. The book is very readable and thought provoking.
On 9 November 2010, Scientifiction and Scientifiction 2 were sent to the Library and Archives Canada for cataloguing in the permanent collection. About 5 December 2010, all six of the remaining Verrill reprints and collections were sent to the library. This included Scientifiction 3-5, Write from the Jungle, and The Radio Detectives reprints. Now in ‘draft’ is a collection of stories with the title of Verrill Over Seas, with pirate and sea stories primarily but also containing some science fiction. When reviewing a book on the history of Science Fiction, I noticed that Verrill was paid $0.005 per word for his work; that’s about $250 for a longer story. As a new SF author, Verrill is described as a ‘bright star’ (1926).
The book or hard copy storefront is Stillwoods. Some, myself included, prefer the feel and convenience of paper.
Reading Lost Treasure – True Tales of Hidden Hoards, I came across one chapter on Oak Island, Nova Scotia. Verrill wrote this in 1930.
We now have well over 200 articles on the web; here is a searchable list of all those on the blog. There are many new postings, including a draft of “How to Publish a Book” in less than 3 hours!

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.