Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sorry for the delay--the holiday and an eight-month-old boy are keeping from updates. I'll resume on the 2nd.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chapter One: "In Which I Venture to Introduce Myself to My Readers"

The blood and its author.

The blood in question is On The Queen's Service (OTQS hereafter). OTQS first appeared in The Boys' Standard in 1875 and 1876 and was published as a collection sometime around 1885. The Boys' Standard, which ran for 868 issues, from 1875-1892, was one of the major organs for penny bloods, and ran such immortal storylines as “Blue Cap the Bushranger,” “Broad Arrow Jack,” “Handsome Harry of the Fighting Belvedere” (the first appearance of penny blood/story paper icon Ching-Ching), and “Spring heel’d Jack: The Terror of London.”

OTQS was written by “J.J.G. Bradley,” the pseudonym of James Skipp Borlase. Borlase (1839-?) is one of the more interesting scoundrels of the penny blood milieu. He was English, but moved to Australia in the mid-1860s. He began work as a solicitor in Melbourne, but he tried to desert his wife, which destroyed his marriage, his reputation, and his legal practice. With no other profession available to him, he began writing for the bloods and story papers, collaborating with Mary Fortune, a significant early Australian detective writer (and someone of much greater talent than Borlase). Borlase wrote prolifically, both original material and stories he plagiarized from other writers.