State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 78 Spring 2006


Cecily Close
Arthur Greening, Publisher of The Scarlet Pimpernel

Photograph of Arthur Greening in The House of Jarrolds 1823-1923: A Brief History of One Hundred Years, Norwich, Empire Press, 1924. Courtesy of the Elder family.

In July 1935 David Elder began his lifelong career in the book trade as a trainee respresentative with Thomas C. Lothian, publishers' agent and publisher in Melbourne. Not yet ninteen, he found there a kindly mentor some fifty years his senior, former London publisher but now sales representative and de facto publishing manager Arthur William Greening. Elder remembered him in neat but old-fashioned dress, walking slowly and absent mindedly, tall and painfully thin. Already subject to depression and recently
widowed, Greening was lonely, and also sick, condemned by an ulcer to a sparing, vegetarian diet and the ingestion of powders. In 1938, aged 731, though now liable to muddle booksellers' orders and doze off in the office, he bitterly resented learning, first, that he would no longer handle correspondence for the firm, and then, that he must retire. Lothian arranged for him to move to Brisbane, with a small pension to be supplemented with what he could earn representing the firm; but on 28 December, the day before he was to sail, he attempted to gas himself in his flat, as a result of which he died three days later.
David Elder, who had enlisted at the outbreak of World War II and been taken prisoner by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore, typed up his recollections of Greening to read, perhaps, to the Changi Literary Society. Greening had talked readily to the interested young man of his humble birth (in Clapham, according to Census records), employment from ‘a ridiculous age’, sub-editing a provincial newspaper at 17, working on and off stage, and commencing publishing with the aid of loans. He told anecdotes of authors and publishers, and when visiting Elder's home entertained the ladies with colourful stories of the London stage. Elder remembered seeing his album containing signatures of ‘most writers of note between 1900 and 1920, witty pieces by stage celebrities and exquisite sketches by artists of repute’. There were, however, matters that he did not discuss, leaving some mystery which, as Elder later suspected and investigation confirms, arose at least partly from the circumstances of his private life. Gaps remain, which private papers, and business records other than those kept by the Registrar of Companies, might fill if they appeared.
Greening's taste for expensive cigarettes and wine with meals bespoke some past prosperity, such as when he dined in London with the ‘Hefty League’, including entertainer George Robey, Australian singer Peter Dawson, and Sax Rohmer (later of Fu Manchu fame). His small flat in the Melbourne suburb of Kew contained his ‘fine record collection of classical music (mostly pre-1914)’ and some 1000 books remaining of his London library, including a ‘fine run of authors like Galsworthy, Conrad, etc’. Among volumes given to Elder was his own The Curse of Kali (1922), ‘written in my “teens’”, which, along with his The Better Yarn (1919), he had published while general manager at Jarrold & Sons.
Elder's paper remained unfinished and forgotten until in 1978 he read Canadian art librarian Sybille Pantazzi's request in the Times Literary Supplement for information about Greening & Co. His cordial response led to a correspondence which, with the Changi piece and her unpublished draft, is now in the State Library of Victoria. This article takes up their ‘Quest for Greening’.
Announcing The Better Yarn in March 1919, the Bookseller2 outlined Greening's book-trade career from ‘the bottom rung’ as ‘collector’ for Bechoffner, Clapham, followed by employment with other well-known booksellers and as advertising manager in the Free Press Company of Brixton. Without capital but with a printer and binder willing to take a risk and an author (journalist and drama critic Clement Scott) entrusting him with two books, he started publishing in 1897. Having been ‘much in request for music-hall and

Left: Greening, Arthur. The Curse of Kali. [1922]. Inscribed by Arthur Greening to David Elder in 1937. Courtesy of the Elder family. Right Title page of 1907 edition of The Scarlet Pimpernel in Greening's Colonial Library. Courtesy of Rare Books, Monash University Library.

concert work as a humorous entertainer’, it had been a ‘toss-up ‘between business and the stage.
Greening's first book, The Wheel of Life; a few Memories and Recollections, which comprised articles by Clement Scott from the Whitehall Review on places Scott had visited at home and abroad, was advertised in March 1897 (1/- [one shilling] net, Library Edition in buckram with gilt top 2/-). It was published by Lawrence Greening, of 5 Earl's Court, Cranbourne St., W.C., and printed by the Free Press Printing Company of Brixton and London. Sisters by the Sea, a collection of Scott's Daily Telegraph articles on East Coast watering places, soon followed from the same printer3. With its illustrated cover, in contrast to the plain red of the first, the Bookseller found it a pleasant little volume, ‘nicely-got up externally’. This second title and Ross Ferguson's The Art of Education and Public Speaking came from Lawrence Greening & Co., now of 20 Cecil Court, Charing Cross Road, W.C., the
address retained until the firm moved in 1907 to 51 Charing Cross Mansions, 91 St. Martin's Lane.4
Advertisements and notices record the progress of Greening's publishing. For Christmas 1897 were announced Yule Tide Tales; The Favourite Christmas Annual at 6d. [sixpence]; ‘Chas L'Epine's’ The Devil in a Domino: a Realistic Study, at 1/-; and a 6/- novel ‘of Bohemian life’, Fame the Fiddler: a Story without a Plot, by actor-turned-journalist Shafto Justin Adair FitzGerald (also ‘Justin Hannaford’). During 1898 the firm issued The Pottle Papers by ‘Saul Smiff’ (Tristam Coutts), ‘humorous and interesting sketches of lower middle-class life in Camden Town’ with L. Raven-Hill's illustrations, which was reprinted later in the year. Christmas brought Coutts' A Modern Christmas Carol (6d.), Gustave Doré's Chimes and Times, and novels by already published authors, now forgotten. Mrs. Albert S. (Annie) Bradshaw produced The Gates of Temptation, a Natural Novel, and Clement Scott Madonna Mia and other Stories.
For several years from 1898 Greening issued advertising agent James W. Cundall's sixpenny America Abroad; the Annual Handbook for American Travellers and his 1/- London: A Guide for the Visitor, Sportsman and Naturalist. The Hypocrite appeared anonymously but was afterwards acknowledged by Cyril Ranger Gull, who would later also write as ‘Guy Thorne’. This was the first Greening book sent to H.H. Champion in Melbourne and mentioned in his Book Lover (July 1899). Although it was said to have caused some sensation in London and been excluded from Mudie's Library, Champion thought its moral powerful and the story unharmful to adults; but in December he censured the firm for its ‘unhealthy, clever sort of fiction’ — citing Shams and Gull's Miss Malevolent — to which authors declined to append their names. He praised some productions, however, and all were thriftily added to the Book Lovers' Library, which Elsie Belle Champion conducted at 239 Collins Street.
Books for Christmas 1898 were announced not by Lawrence or L. Greening but by Greening & Co., soon to be purchased by Greening & Co. Ltd., formed for the purpose in May 1899. No Greening appears in the records of these arrangements. Vendors were Arthur William Collins and Henry John Alfred Baker (of whom nothing is known but his address), who had ‘for some time past’ been publishers, booksellers and export agents, and were to be the new company's first directors. Subscribers to the Memorandum of Association were Clement Scott, Collins and Baker (each designated ‘Publisher’), Mrs. Baker, Arthur Pallett (the Company's Registrar), William Snow Rogers (Artist), and Irene Janet Nason, Spinster, of 77 Park Road, West Dulwich, the address of greengrocer William Collins, who advertised his ‘Herbacia’ food flavouring in some early Greening publications.5 The Limited Company registered on 25 May, with normal capital of 6000 £1 [one pound] shares, promptly concluded the purchase as from 1 January 1899. On discharging obligations standing at that date, Collins and Baker received £2000 in shares.6
Sybille Pantazzi had puzzled over biographer Stanley Weintraub's reference to Reginald Turner's publisher as Arthur Collins (trading as Greening & Co.), ‘whose personal
economies such as a cottage rented at £3 per annum did not avert bankruptcy'.7 Alerted to the problem, Elder was surprised to discern Collins's bookplate under Greening's in a volume in his possession. Indeed, at 12 Albert Mansions, South Lambeth Road, S.W., Collins's address, as supplied to the Registrar of Companies in 1899 and 1901, appeared in the Electoral Roll of 1900-02 as that of Arthur Greening; and the 1901 Census noted Arthur C. Greening, ‘Publisher Books’, as living there with his wife Martha, young son and daughter. Irene Nason was there too, as a visitor. It is not Arthur Greening but Arthur W. Collins who appears in this area in earlier census records: in 1891 at Newington St. Mary's, not far from the family home, with wife Margaret, some 10 years older himself, both ‘music-hall artistes’ and baby Constance Margaret; in 1881, at 14 the eldest of seven children, ‘fruiterer's assistant to his father, William Collins
By October 1899 Managing Director Collins, on £120 per annum, and Baker (soon to disapper) held 901 shares each. In late 1901 director Clement Scott (301 shares) resigned and was replaced by Arthur Hewson, former bookseller's assistant; W.S. Rogers (300) was a third director. Irene Nason held fourteen shares, William Johnston Yapp, of Carreras, tobacco merchants, and John H. Young of Colston & Co., Edinburgh, who did some printing for the firm and lent it money, 50 each. Mrs. Bradshaw, with 100 shares, published another novel with the firm; and in 1906 her 1/- Star Reciter. Cundall, with five, wrote Pipes and Tobacco... in 1902. Rogers' numerous illustrations included full-page pictures in William Beckford's The History of the Caliph Vathek (1900), edited by Justin Hannaford (S.J. Adair FitzGerald); his A Book of the Poster … Illustrated with examples of the work of the principal paster artists of the world, appeared in 1901; his Villa Gardens: how to plan and how to plant them … (Grant Richards, 1902) joined the firm's Useful Handbook series in 1907. Scott's collection of first-night notices, Some Notable Hamlets of the Present Time … (June 1900) included a warm appreciation of Scott by ‘L. Arthur Greening’.
In August 1904 Collins and ‘I. Collins Nason’ were registered at separate addresses at New Malden.8 In 1909 Arthur W. Greening replaced Collins in the record, while giving william Collins's address in West Dulwich for registration purposes. His Cornish cottage near Zennor (medical advice had sent him there, according to David Whitelaw) was now the address of Mrs. Irene (Nason) Greening and Greening's later estranged son, H. Douglas, who had fifty shares. Whitelaw, friend of C. Ranger Gull and designer and illustrator for the firm, which published his first book in 1906, refers only to ‘Greening’, whom he met weekly in London and whose remote cottage he visited and with whom he tramped and learned to love the Cornish countryside.9
The name ‘Collins’ being already that of an established publisher is a sufficient reason for seeking another; and if works associated with the theatre were envisaged at the outset, the prominence of Arthur (Pelham) Collins at Drury Lane would have reinforced the necessity Why ‘Greening’ was adopted remains unclear.
By 1909 Greening (699 shares) and Hewson (503) were Joint Managing Directors.
Further shares had been issued. Alfred Edye Manning Foster, editor, writer10 and half-proprietor of the new, largely religious, publishing house, Cope & Fenwick, joined Rogers as a director, having in June 1908 bought 603 shares. He sold 300 of them to his publishing partner, the Hon. H.F.W. Manners-Sutton, who soon lodged them with a London silversmith as part-security for a loan of £2000.11
David Elder recalled Greening's affection for the 1890s and admiration for Oscar Wilde (whose autograph appeared in his album) and his circle. The firm published novels by Reginald Turner, Gull's friend as well as Wilde's and like Scott connected with the Daily Telegraph. Cynthia's Damages (1901), relating to ‘stage affairs and society’ was followed by seven more by 1911, none particularly successful. Though Max Beerbohm dismissed Turner's chances of good sales with Greening, other houses seemed to serve him no better.12 Doubtless, Turner introduced Louis Wilkinson, who believed that to Turner he remained the boy who had written a letter of sympathy to Oscar.13 His first novel, The Puppets' Dallying by ‘Louis Marlow’, written at Cambridge, was accepted by the firm in 1905 after rejections elsewhere. Robert H. Sherard's adaptation from the French, The Lyons Mail… by A. Excoffon, appeared in 1903, and his Oscar Wilde; the Story of an Unhappy Friendship (the first biography, privately printed in 1902) in 1905. Lord Alfred Douglas's satirical verse, The Duke of Berwick and The Pongo Papers (1907), was illustrated by David Whitelaw. Elder recalled that Douglas wrote to Greening and sent him autographed copies of his books.
Publications of theatrical interest regularly appeared. Dan Leno: Hys Booke, by Himself (1899), with illustrations by Rogers and others of this well-loved entertainer, proved popular. George Robey's My Life up Till Now (1909) was followed by the anonymous Pause! (1910), the result of Robey's suggestion to Sax Rohmer that they compile a collection of pieces. In 1911 Greening invited Rohmer to write an ‘autobiography’ for another popular comedian and friend, ‘Little Tich’.14 This sold well but neither benefited because of the firm's failure.15 Several books were planned to coincide with stage performances, the first perhaps being Alexandre Dumas's The Black Tulip (Haymarket Edition, 1899), translated and introduced by S.J. Adair FitzGerald, who edited The Playgoer, which, like The Play and The Play Pictorial, was published by the firm for a time.
No Greening book connected with the theatre rivalled the popular success of The Scarlet Pimpernel, issued in standard 6/- form in January 1905 and reappearing at Christmas, now with H.M. Brock's well-known illustrations.16 Baroness Orczy has told her story of writing the book first and then the play, the former's rejection by ‘a round dozen’ publishers and her determination not to pay for publication or sell her copyright, and the play's eventual success after acceptance by Fred Terry and Julia Neilson. With a London opening in prospect (5 January 1905) she again sought a publisher for the book, finally turning to Greening, whom she had noticed as publisher of The Play Pictorial and who offered ‘quite a good contract’ for an unknown writer. Her story of his expressed intention of submitting it to the judgment of his ‘quite unsophisticated’ old mother in Cornwall17

Left: Title page of Madame Bovary, Lotus Library edition published by Greening & Co. in 1905. S 843.8 F61MB. Right: Arthur Greening's bookplate, drawn for him by David Whitelaw in 1906. Courtesy of the Elder family.

Greening angrily denied, telling Elder that he had decided to publish it after reading it on the train, though at home his mother found and liked it. Elder remembered Greening reading aloud to him a short letter — ‘My Dear Baroness / You have been writing fiction so successfully and for so long that now you have no power to write the truth. / Arthur Greening’ — then addressing an envelope, fumbling for a coin, and saying to him: ‘Post it quickly, boy, before I change my mind.’
The Scarlet Pimpernel and Guy Thorne's When it was Dark (1903), both of which later appeared in a list of 14 Edwardian bestsellers,18 he recalled as having set the firm on its feet and attracted new authors. Thorne's novel, its theme an archeological forgery designed to disprove the Resurrection story, the resulting break-down of public order and its restoration with the discovery of the deception, had ‘widespread pulpit advertisement’.19 It is now a rare
item in Australia20, unlike Orczy's creation which, as Peter Craven has observed, ‘represents the high level of escapist literature that is not art but partakes of the nature of art by not going away’.21
The firm early launched two short-lived ‘Libraries’ (3/6d., cloth gilt, gilt edges): the ‘Masterpiece’, by Christmas 1900 comprising five titles, four introduced by J. Adair Fitz-Gerald (‘Justin Hannaford’);22 and ‘English Writers of To-day’ introduced in October 1900 and by 1902, including an updated Rudyard Kipling by G. F. Monkshood (William James Clarke), and books by various authors on Bret Harte, Swinburne, Arthur Wing Pinero, Hall Caine, and George Meredith.
The firm issued foreign novels from 1901 at 2/6d. to 5/-, commencing with Count C.S. de Soissons' translations from the Polish of Eliza Orzeszko's The Modern Argonauts and the Russian Where the Oranges Grow by N.A. Layren. In July 1902 the ‘Lotus Library’ format was adopted for Ernest Tristam's translation of Anatole France's Thaïs. Numerous translators included F. Rothwell, A.J. Adair FitzGerald, Henry Blanchamp (formerly editor of the Fortnightly Review), and G.F. Monkshood, who in addition to his Kipling produced epigram collections and two stories.23 No general editor is identified. This Library, in slim volumes at 1/6d. (leather 2/6d.), in purple cloth stamped with a stylised representation of the lotus flower and with interior decoration, was welcomed and thrived. Its modern classics, chiefly French, included Flaubert, Georges Ohnet, de Maupassant, Emile Gaboriau, Alfred de Musset, and Zola; but it also accommodated The Adventures of Baron of Munchausen, Vathek, The Black Tulip, and even When it was Dark.
The sixpenny ‘Useful Handbooks’ (1907-1908) by various authors advised on gardening, pets and poultry, home decoration, sports and how to insure payment of debt. Novels were reprinted in Greening's Shilling and Sixpenny series (the latter briefly named ‘Thistledown’)24; and a Colonial Library exported authors in ‘home edition’, including Orczy, Lucas Cleeve (Mary Walpole), the American Cyrus Brady, Tristam Coutts, Adam Lilburn, Gerald Biss and M. Halidom. Some non-fiction (but little verse or children's material) was issued, including Lt. Col. Edward Gorton's Some Home Truths re the Maori Wars (1863-1869)… (1909); W.R. Pope's The Science and Art of Physical Development (1902); Richard R. Terry's Catholic Church Music (1907); and J. Angelo S. Rappoport's Royal Lovers and Mistresses… (1909).
From 1907 the firm's staff enjoyed an annual summer outing for sight-seeing and refreshment, toasting everybody from directors to packers on the return rail trip.25 Colston & Co.'s loan was repaid by the end of the year. In January 1908 the Bookseller included the firm, issuer of ‘some notable and successful novels’, in a series of articles on publishers; in October, Greening attended the Publishers' Circle Book Trade Dinner celebrating the impending conclusion of the Times ‘book war’.26 In 1909 he and Hewson joined both the Publishers' Circle and the Publishers' Association. In February that year the firm obtained a larger warehouse. Troubling signs were appearing, however.
David Elder found Greening unforthcoming with details of the company's failure, though he mentioned directors, bad times, and the burden of constantly reprinting the Orczy books ahead of receipts from sales. David Whitelaw later described Greening both as energetic and in ‘very poor health’; the firm as ‘not quite big enough to carry the work of so popular a writer’ and facing competition far too great for its resources.27 For whatever reason, Orczy's The Elusive Pimpernel (1908) and Petticoat Government (1910) appeared from Hutchinson and Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (1910) from Cassell.
The first financial report available (April 1909) noted further improved trading in 1908 despite a depressed year.28 In the same month that this report was presented, the Bookseller featured the worrying problem of the falling sales in the last six months of the standard 6/- novel,29 threatened by the 7d. cloth-bound novel with which Nelson was doing so well that others were following suit.30 Greening & Co.'s letter to the Bookseller (21 May 1909) echoed widely expressed views on publishers' ‘suicidal apathy’ as new novelists and those with limited sales faced extinction, while even famous authors would suffer as customers waited for the sevenpenny edition of new works which yielded 2d. royalty instead of 1/6d. The paper-covered sixpenny novels were another matter, the firm averred, discarded after reading and issued ‘many years’ after their appearance at 6/- (The Scarlet Pimpernel, now a ‘Sixpenny’, had appeared in 1905). They called for collective action and a minimum time to be set before cheap editions were issued. In mid-1909 they abandoned their own sixpenny large 8vo for Crown 8vo, ‘practically equivalent to that of the average 6/- novel without its bulk’,31 in neat paper wrapper with cover design by H.M. Brock. In July 1909 the Bookseller reported business ‘positively the dullest on record, the impending general election threatening to ‘paralyze’ the book market. In 1910 another was ‘suddenly and remorselessly forced upon the country’.32
J. Cuthbert Haddon in 1904 had deplored the ‘The Plague of Novels’33, bad and unwanted at 6/- but praised by reviewers in fear of the advertising manager; and the custom of author's subsidy of £50 to 100. Publishers feared to lose a success, refusing only the outrageously bad; libraries bought them as remainders and authors received nothing. Even reputable firms, he wrote, were obliged to use authors' money, a dozen or more being ‘practically dependent on the author's cheque’. Was Greening & Co. sometimes, or often, among the latter? Indications of their publishing terms are few. The highly successful Orczy, Greening informed a discontented Australian author in July 1930, received from him ‘about £36000’ for her various books, with 1/9d. royalty per [6/-] copy on her last book for him (The Nest of the Sparrowhawk, 1909); his highest payment on sixpennies had been 20/- per 1000 but he had known 10/- paid, with little profit from print-runs less than 20-50,000.34 Orczy was exceptional. T.W.H. Crosland, author of the introduction to the firm's Hudibras (1903) and Three for a Penny (1905), refused to deliver Indictments in 1905 because, as he wrote when ‘Arthur Collins’ complained of the delay, he had received a written request for £100. Though he produced The Country Life for the firm in 1906 and had had troubles with other publishers, Greening was probably among those he condemned in 1909 for their
general practice of seeking ‘say £100’ towards costs, especially for a first book, despite a favourable readers' report.35
Also in 1909 Crosland drew the firm into his and Lord Alfred Douglas's quarrel with Manners-Sutton arising from the latter's refusal of a loan to the Academy, edited by Douglas with Crosland as assistant-editor. In the Academy, 12 June 1909, Crosland referred to a person involved in a ‘religious, high-toned business’ while a ‘large shareholder in “one of the grub-along, foolish, low comedian, anything-for-money houses’, earning ‘fat dividends’ from stories of ‘a highly spiced character and anything else that will bring grist to the mill without actually compelling the intervention of the police’.36 The firm unsuccessfully demanded a public apology but withheld the promised writ. Crosland cast a wide net to catch other connections of Greening & Co., especially Manning Foster, as a promoter of Cope & Fenwick's Re-Union Magazine, which he suggested was compromised by the associations of the laymen involved.37
Manners-Sutton sued Crosland but found his private life subjected to embarrassing scrutiny when the charge of criminal libel was countered with a plea of justification. In court Manners-Sutton's counsel spoke of Greening & Co. as a firm holding ‘a very high position indeed’, which had printed works of great importance, including Crosland's and Douglas's own works.38 Manners-Sutton denied that the firm published indecent matter, but two passages read out from ‘Lotus Library’ volumes left a different impression. Crosland was acquitted. The case over, Greening & Co. protested in the press that historical romances by well-known authors and innocuous domestic novels, not ‘improper books’, were its main business, the Lotus Library, ‘a purely subsidiary branch’, providing cheap translations of various French classics for those unable to read the originals. Might not any London publisher's works appear improper, it asked, if isolated extracts were read out of context?39 Crosland ridiculed the complaint. An ill-timed though unrelated controversy erupted from the Circulating Libraries' proposal to London publishers of December 1909 to forestall the purchase of books which might prove objectionable.
Both Manning Foster and Manners-Sutton withdrew from Greening & Co. The latter's silversmith creditor insisted on receiving his shares, and the directors after delaying had to comply and pay costs when he sought legal redress. By 1 December 1911 there were new shareholders: W.S. Spark and his wife of Cambridge (200); R.M. Foot of Berkhamsted, Gentlemen (100), and Herbert Snowball, the firm's clerk, now held 300. The balance sheet for December 191140, including a statement of accounts up to 2 August 1912, told a depressing tale. The subscribed capital, £3077 in 1909, was now £4,477, and shareholders had received £448 in dividend and bonus; but creditors were owed £7,520, sundry debtors owed £5,756.11.10, and £383 was withdrawn from the Reserve Account of £4,117 to give a balance in the Profit and Loss A/c of £2,373 The current account was overdrawn by £331. Valuations appear high: stock at £8,960.1.0, blocks, moulds, electros, drawings and designs at £565.2.11, and copyrights, cautiously annotated ‘valued by the Directors’ at £1300.0.0.

Arthur Greening in New Zealand, 19 June 1927. Photograph by courtesy of the Elder family.

In 1912 The Scarlet Pimpernel passed to Hodder & Stoughton on terms unknown.41 By March 1913 Stanley Paul42 had acquired the firm with (it was said) some 800 titles. Greening & Co. moved to 31 Essex Street, Strand, to continue under its own name under Paul's management; the Registered Office of Greening & Co. Ltd., ‘Book and Music Publishers’ in Voluntary Liquidation, to the Liquidator's office.43 The Company was wound up on 19 November 1914.44
Greening & Co.'s advertisements appeared in the Bookseller from May 1913 under
Stanley Paul's. Greening's name recurred in announcements until only reprints of the Lotus Library were listed. In September 1920 Paul sold this to W. Collins, Sons & Co. who, to Greening's annoyance, discarded the name and format.45
Some years after his firm closed Greening told of a year's ‘hard work on the land’ in Cornwall, then representing J.M. Dent & Sons and Stanley Paul & Co. in the West Country and working for T.P.'s Great Deeds in the Great War.46 The war perhaps improved the employment prospects of an experienced man of fifty, for in 1915 Greening became general manager at Jarrold & Sons, where works by former associates appeared: W.S. Rogers, David Whitelaw, Sax Rohmer, G.R. Sims, Monkshood and Guy Thorne contributed one or more items each (when the last-mentioned died early in 1923, it was Greening who led the appeal for a subscription for the impoverished widow)47.
War had brought shortages of men and materials, and rising costs; in peace costs continued to rise, a slump followed the boom of 1919-1920 and book-trade employees went on strike in March 1922.48 These common concerns, and Greening's ill-health, seem to have led to his retirement in December 1923. Talk of better book production and jackets and higher literary merit under the new management hints at other problems49, but perhaps Jarrolds did not prosper after he left. In 1926 they passed to Hutchinson, as did Stanley Paul a year later.
The Greenings sold up their effects in Cornwall for £20050 and on New Years Eve 1924 sailed for Australia, seeking health after ‘years of worry and illness’. Passing through Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Townsville, Greening called on booksellers (in Melbourne Thomas Lothian's friend T.P. Pyke, at Cole's Book Arcade, and John Wyatt, bookseller and publisher's representative), before joining John W. Frings, late of W.H. Smith & Son, on Brisk Island, North Queensland. He regained strength working in the garden, and wrote on island life for the Brisbane Mail.51 He described his journey in the Publishers' Circular and Bookseller (25 November 1925), mentioned the trade's great future in Australia, especially for fiction, and passed on the local opinion that London publishers might advertise more here, where representatives had many thousands of miles to travel.
Greening now needed an income and Lothian, on hearing of him from Wyatt, invited him to Melbourne. He arrived on 3 December 1926, and after five days of meetings was appointed to ‘actively sell in Australia’ from 1 February 1927, for £300 p.a. (to be revised in December) and expenses. Lothian trusted Greening's hand had not lost its ‘selling cunning’.52
On 30 March Greening sailed for New Zealand on his first journey. During his absence, Lothian noted in June a trade depression in the news and all business ‘very bad’. The agency branch made a serious loss and staff were laid off. When Greening returned on 2 August with the worst sales remembered (£1700) his commission was cancelled, an arrangement which proved permanent to his increasing resentment. Moreover, all salaries were reduced as the depression deepened.
As a sales representative Greening visited booksellers to solicit orders, smoothed over complaints, made interstate journeys and corresponded with Sydney agents as required. He soon became involved in Lothian's publishing, dealing with authors directly and conveying (not setting) terms, settling publishing details and organizing publicity. It is in this role that we chiefly see him in the Lothian Publishing Co. records. He missed London and was glad to renew connections and tried to enlist them in his new employer's service. However, congratulation on his reappearance was sometimes mingled with surprise, and he seemed now to be out of touch with developments. He unsuccessfully approached W.T.F. Jarrold in Norwich to take up Life's Panorama by J.A. Gurner, of East Anglian ancestry. ‘We are all struggling along”, he remarked of the Depression, “hoping that better times will come sonner than we are led to believe. Oh, for an end to Labor Governments in Australia’.53
The firm had always received manuscripts from hopeful authors. To revive Lothian's business of sending manuscripts to London, Greening wrote on 2 October 1927 to the agent Robert Somerville to whom he had introduced Sax Rohmer, unaware that this relationship had collapsed in litigation. He outlined the proposal: the firm would seek a fee from authors to cover Somerville's costs and its own, and commission being shared when the books were published and Lothian buying the colonial edition of a few hundred copies. Somerville agreed but acceptable manuscripts were few, and publishers from whom Greening had expected sympathetic attention were unhelpful. A.E. Yarra, proprietor and editor of The Independent, Deniliquin, N.S.W., was the first to find a publisher, with The Vanishing Horseman. Somerville placed it with the Hutchinson Group's Selwyn & Blount on the condition that Lothian would take at least 500 copies.
Finding a publisher was difficult. The firm preferred one whom it represented in order to earn agent's fees from sales, but of these only Cecil Palmer welcomed the manuscripts, and he (as Somerville hinted, though not strongly enough) was in difficulties. Among the authors whose books were embroiled in Palmer's financial failure, was Stella Miles Franklin, whose acquaintance with Lothian had been cordially resumed after some twenty years in May 1930. He hoped to secure Australasian rights for My Brilliant Career but meanwhile accepted Old Blastus of Bandicoot54. At first doubtful about London publication by one of the firm's principals while Lothian took the colonial edition, she agreed after making her own enquiries. In her case Somerville was not approached, the firm itself acting as agent. Again, however, only Palmer made an offer, which included (though it was never paid) a £20 advance. Lothian's postponement of publication in hopes of a lowering of depression imposts and so avoiding too high a price meant missing the Christmas trade, but further delays puzzled her. While Greening was writing of forwarding reviews of her book in Australia in August 1932, Palmer's estate was assigned. Her troubles multiplied and recriminations followed.55
When Somerville expressed reluctance to accept fees or work for manuscripts in which he found Greening's enthusiasm misplaced, Greening turned in July 1931 to another
old acquaintance, the well-known Raymond Savage; but he would work only for a children's book with illustrations he thought ‘extraordinarily good’. Collins published it with a specially written new story.56 Thereafter the firm found and dealt directly with a London publisher for those who would pay.
Meanwhile, Greening saw locally produced books to publication. Having in August 1933 persuaded the popular radio 3DB announcer Charlie Vaude to produce ‘a volume of funny stories’ for Christmas, Greening (doubtless drawing on his stage experience) sent some of his own which ‘did good service years ago’ but might be new to the present generation. Vaude liked them and asked for more. When the manuscript arrived, Greening recommended replacing verse with ‘snappy, funny stories’ (some at least remain), and substituting better jokes for two Irish yarns tested on ‘half a dozen persons’. He also seems to have provided the matter needed in a hurry to fill five pages left by a printer's miscalculation, early in December. Chuckle with Charlie Vaude sold slowly after Christmas despite price (1/-), Vaude's popularity, Robertson & Mullens' window show, and a ‘very nice’ wireless review.
A very different publication on which Greening worked was John Shaw Neilson's Collected Poems (1934). He had to conduct the complicated negotiations with the anxious and suspicious Neilson, and Constance Robertson, daughter of A. G. Stephens, the copyright holder who had died in early 1933. ‘Mr Greening does not strike me as a very straightforward man’, Neilson confided to his brother when a ‘slight hitch’ occurred. ‘Mr Lothian I like better. He is a big man like a prize-fighter, very hard but seemingly with some honesty about him’. Neilson was pleased with the book when it appeared, and hoped to have further work published by the firm. Unhappily, it was Greening who, in June 1936, had to write the letter rejecting Neilson's Beauty Imposes, in which regret did not succeed in softening the wounding opinion (said to be that of himself, Lothian and unnamed others), that it was too inferior to his previous work.58
Elder recalled Greening as generally loved by the staff, except by one, himself unpopular, who became manager. Other changes must affect Greening's future: Elder's own appointment, he believed, was made with Greening's retirement in view; Lothian's second son, John, joined the firm in 1936 and his youngest, Louis, would do so early in 1940. Lothian and Greening had had some pleasant times together, Greening sometimes accompanying his chief on his occasional escapes from the office to the theatre or cinema. After his wife's death in September 1935 the Lothians frequently had him to dinner, producing a cake for his birthday. Illness, depression and resentment over remuneration persisted, however, exacerbated by an accident which left him in considerable pain; and this relationship was overset as retirement approached.
Lothian anticipated David Elder's return to the firm after the war, the more warmly for kindnesses he had shown to his son John during their shared internment. Instead, Elder joined the Oxford University Press, rising to be Deputy Manager for Australia. He
generously made his extensive knowledge of the trade available to those who shared his interest, including this writer, who regrets that he did not see this article to which he contributed so much. He died on 11 October 2005.


Census and birth records suggest that he was born no earlier than 1866; however, he celebrated his 70th birthday in November 1935. His wife, Irene Janet, née Nason, died that year, aged 66 years.


Bookseller, March 1919, p.94.


Times, 7 Aug. 1897, 12E; Bookseller, 4 Nov. 1897, p. 1131.


Bookseller, 9 March 1907, ‘Trade and Literary Gossip’, p.175.


For example, C. Scott's Selections from Sisters of the Sea, 1898.


Greening & Co. file, No. BT 31/8546, 62224, National Archives, Kew, U.K.: Memorandum and Articles of Association, 19 May 1899; Agreement between Wm. Collins and H.J.A. Baker and Greening & Co. Limited, 12 June 1899, for registration with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies.


Stanley Weintraub, Reggie, a Portrait of Reginald Turner. N.Y., George Braziller. 1965. T.W.H. Crosland referred to ‘Greening formerly Collins’ in the Academy, 12 March 1910, p.243. W.Sorley Brown, in The Life and Career of T.W.H. Crosland, London, Palmer, 1928, pp.163-164, writes as though Collins and Greening were two people, but Crosland is clear on the point.


Company return 4 Aug. 1904. Greening & Co. Ltd. file, P.R.O., Kew.


David Whitelaw, A Bonfire of Leaves, London, Bles, 1937.


He compiled war anthologies, was the author of The National Guard in the Great War, 1914-1918 (1920), and later wrote extensively on bridge.


Affidavits submitted in the case. Chancery Division, J4/7865, National Archives, Kew, U.K.


Stanley Weintraub, Reggie; a Portrait of Reginald Turner, N.Y., George Braziller. 1965, pp.3, 112-148.


Louis Marlow, Swan's Milk, London, Faber, 1934, p.65.


Cay Van Ash and Eliabeth Sax Rohmer, Master of Villainy, a biography of Sax Rohmer. Bowling Green, Ohio, Popular Press, 1972, p.64.


ibid., pp. 79–81.


Christmas Bookseller, 1905, p. 125.


Baroness Orczy, Links in the Chain of Life. London, Hutchinson, 1947, pp.86-108. As Elder had referred to Greening's reaction in his Changi draft, he realised that Baroness Orczy's story must have appeared earlier, but he did not know where.


Sybille Pantazzi, in her unpublished article, ‘Greening & Co., Publishers, 1897-1914’, mentions an essay on reading in Edwardian England, ed. S. Nowell-Smith, London, Oxford University Press, 1964, p.315: information extracted by Derek Hudson from Desmond Flower's A Century of Best-Sellers, 1930-1930, The National Book League, 1934. Greening's two books appeared in Hudson's list of 14 bestsellers published between 1901 and 1910.


Compton Mackenzie, My Life and Times, Octave 3, 1900-1907, Chatto & Windus, 1971, p.12.


Only one copy is registered as being publicly available in Victoria, a 1974 reprint.


Peter Craven, ‘Second Thoughts’, Age, 20 April 1997.


Thomas Moore's The Epicurean, William Beckford's Vathek and Samuel Johnson's Rasselas and Dumas' The Black Tulip, all introduced by J. Adair Fitz-Gerald (‘Justin Hannaford’), three illustrated by Rogers; and John Galt's Ringan Gilhaize, A Tale of the Covenanters (the latter at 5/-).


Woman and the Wits: Epigrams on Woman, Love and Beauty, which would reappear from time to time, The Wit and Wisdom by Edgar Saltus, by Monkshood and Gamble late 1902 and 1905; The Worldings' Wit; and stories in one volume, ‘My Lady Ruby’ and ‘John Basilion, Chief of Police’.


Henryk Sienkiezic's In Monte Carlo at 6d. was so named.


For example, Bookseller, 29 July 1910, ‘4th Annual “wayzgoose”.


Bookseller, 14 Oct. 1908, p. 829.


David Whitelaw, p. 111.


The Reserve Account stood at £2500, with £250 reserved for Bad Debts and a balance on the Profit and Loss Account of £4148 was carried forward. Debts stood at £6,469.8.1, debtors owed £7,885. The valuation of stock was £6271.16.2, of copyrights, £1,500. The Directors recommended payment of an additional dividend (21/2% added to an interim 71/2%) which, with a bonus of 20%, made a 30% distribution of profit.


Bookseller, 2 April 1909, p.489.


Bookseller, 23 April 1909, p.582.


Bookseller, 7 May 1909.


Bookseller, 25 Nov. 1910.


J. Cuthbert Hadden, “The Plague of Novels, The Fortnightly Review, Jan-June, 1904, p. 1087 ff.


Greening to A.E. Yarra, 1 November 1929. MS 6026, Lothian Papers, SLV.


The Academy, 1 May 1909, pp.11-12.


The Academy, 19 June 1909, p.219.


The Academy, 13 Nov. 1909, p.724.


Times, 11 Feb. 1910, p.4D, “Central Criminal Court, Feb. 10.


Greening & Co. file BT 31/8546, 62224, National Archives, Kew.


Bookseller, 31 May 1912, ‘Publications of the Week’.


David Elder had been told ‘by an ex Hodder man that the legend in their Sydney office’ was that H & S paid £10 or £20 [the typescript is unclear] for the Orczy rights, but was unable to confirm it. John Attenborough in Living Memory, Hodder & Stoughton Publishers 1868-1975, p. 72, 243, mentions only the rights in The Scarlet Pimpernel. In 1913 they published this, but also other Orczy titles of Greening's.


Bookseller, 4 April 1913, p.473.


H.A. Moncriefff, Liquidator, to the Registrar of Companies, 10 April 1913. See note 40.


The Liquidator's return, 25 November, 1914. See note 40.


Southland Times Magazine, Saturday, 25 Feb. 1928. ‘The Voice of Barrabas’ by S.G.A. on a visit by Greening (‘Redding’). Greening's Notebook, MS 6026, Lothian Papers, SLV.


Bookseller, March 1919, p.94. This says that he ‘published’ it. The publisher was the Daily Telegraph.


Bookseller, Feb. 1923, p.87.


Bookseller, March 1922, p.84.


Bookseller, Aug. 1924, p.77.


Bookseller, Feb. 1924, ‘Commercial Intelligence’, p. 110.


Greening's note-book, MS 6026, Lothian Papers SLV. Not all cuttings are sourced and dated.


T.C. Lothian to Greening, 8 Dec. 1926. Elder's folder, SLV.


Greening to W.T.F. Jarrold, Norwich, 16 Sept. 1930, J folder, Box 1, MS 6026, Lothian Papers, SLV.


1 December 1930: he hoped for improvement in trade and noted her agreement to paying agents' fees.


Miles Franklin file, MS 6026, Lothian Papers, SLV; Colin Roderick, Miles Franklin: her brilliant career, Sydney, Lansdowne Publishing Pty. Ltd, pp. 164, 173-174.


Lennie Young, Peter and Judy's Adventures in Bunnyland.


Neilson's opinions of Greening and Lothian are quoted in Hugh Anderson and L. J. Blake, John Shaw Neilson, Adelaide, Rigby, 1972, p. 197.


Greening's correspondence with Neilson appears in Helen Hewson, John Shaw Neilson: a life in letters, Carlton South, Miegunyah Press, 2001.

Please note: Some endnote links are inactive as they were missing from the text in the original printed edition.