Bertram Fletcher Robinson

Bertram Fletcher Robinson

Bertram Fletcher Robinson [ [http://www.bfronline.biz/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1 BFRonline.BIZ - Home ] at www.bfronline.biz] was born on 22 August 1870 at 80 Rose Lane, Mossley Hill, Liverpool. He was educated at Newton Abbot Proprietary College (1882-1890) and Jesus College, Cambridge (1890-1894). Robinson achieved some distinction as a sportsman, author and journalist. He also held editorial positions with "The Newtonian", "The Granta", "The Isthmian Library", "Daily Express" (1900-1904), Vanity Fair (magazine, historical) (1904-1906) and "The World, a journal for Men and Women" (owned by Alfred Harmsworth).

Robinson's father, Joseph Fletcher Robinson (1827-1903), [ [http://www.bfronline.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20&Itemid=31 BFRonline.BIZ - Joseph Fletcher Robinson (1827 - 1903) ] at www.bfronline.biz] was the founder of a general merchant business in Liverpool (circa 1865). [ [http://www.mkr.co.uk/ Meade-King, Robinson & Co. Ltd. ] at www.mkr.co.uk] During the 1850s, he travelled to South America and was befriended by Giuseppe Garibaldi. Joseph subsequently fought alongside the Garibaldini and Uruguayans against the Argentine dictator, Juan Manuel de Rosas. Robinson's uncle, Sir John Richard Robinson (1828-1903), was a long-time editor and manager of the London "Daily News" newspaper. [ [http://www.bfronline.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22&Itemid=31 BFRonline.BIZ - Sir John Richard Robinson (1828 - 1903) ] at www.bfronline.biz]

Between 1893 and 1907, Robinson wrote or co-wrote at least 9 playlets (including 4 with his friend, PG Wodehouse), 4 songs, 179 articles (for 15 different periodicals), 24 poems, 8 books and 55 short stories. [ [http://bfronline.info/images/pdf/bibliography.pdf BFRonline.BIZ - BFR Bibliography ] at www.bfronline.biz] He also edited a further 8 books about various sports and pastimes for "The Isthmian Library" (1897-1901). In 1951, BFR's book entitled "The Chronicles of Addington Peace" (London: Harper & Brother, 1905) was listed in "Queen's Quorum: A History of the Detective-Crime Short Story as Revealed by the 106 Most Important Books Published in this Field Since 1845" (see Ellery Queen).

During July 1900, Bertram Fletcher Robinson and Arthur Conan Doyle 'cemented' their friendship aboard a ship that was destined for Southampton from Cape Town. It was Robinson who showed Doyle around Dartmoor and told him legends of ghostly hounds and Squire Richard Cabell III. [ [http://www.bfronline.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=103&Itemid=9 BFRonline.BIZ - Hugo Baskerville & Squire Richard Cabell III ] at www.bfronline.biz] The pair had previously agreed to co-author a Devon-based story together but in the end, their collaboration led only to Doyle's novella, "The Hound of the Baskervilles". Robinson also contributed an idea to the plot of a second Sherlock Holmes story entitled The Adventure of the Norwood Builder (1903).

Doyle is sometimes seen as downplaying the importance of Robinson's contribution to "The Hound of the Baskervilles". W. W. Robson wrote that it is "impossible to determine" the precise extent of BFR's role, but in all probability he merely acted as a "creative trigger". He adds that, once the element of Sherlock Holmes was added to the original idea, the novel evolved beyond the joint project that was originally posited. It should be stressed, that Robinson himself conceded that his involvement was restricted to that of "assistant plot producer".

On 3 June 1902, 31 year-old Robinson married 22 year-old Gladys Hill Morris [ [http://www.bfronline.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=62&Itemid=31 BFRonline.BIZ - Mrs. B. Fletcher Robinson (1879 - 1946) ] at www.bfronline.biz] at St. Barnabas Church, Kensington, London. Gladys was a self-proclaimed actress and a daughter of the noted Victorian artist Philip Richard Morris ARA. The couple had no children. Robinson died aged just 36 years and 5 months on 21 January 1907, at 44 Eaton Terrace, Belgravia, London. The official cause of his death is recorded as "enteric fever (3 weeks) and peritonitis (24 hours)". Robinson is buried beside his parents at St. Andrew’s Church, Ipplepen, near Newton Abbot in Devon.

Obituaries were published in "The World", "The Times", "Daily Express", "The Western Guardian", "The Western Morning News", "The Sphere", "The Athenaeum", "The Illustrated London News", "The Mid-Devon and Newton Times", "Vanity Fair", "The Book of Blues" and the "Annual Report of the Jesus College Cambridge Society" (1907).

During 1908, the popular British author Max Pemberton had a story entitled "The Wheels of Anarchy" published by Cassell & Company (London). This story is based upon notes that were passed to Pemberton by Bertram Fletcher Robinson prior to the latter man's death. It is an adventure tale about anarchists and assassins that is set across Europe. The novel’s hero, Mr. Bruce Driscoll, a recent Cambridge graduate, appears to be partially modelled upon Bertram Fletcher Robinson.

In 1912 Conan Doyle published a novel entitled "The Lost World". This story is narrated by a character called Edward E. Malone. It is possible that Malone is also partially modelled upon Robinson. Like Bertram Fletcher Robinson, Malone was raised in the West Country, became an accomplished rugby player, a London-based journalist and loved a woman called Gladys. [ [http://www.bfronline.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=123&Itemid=9 BFRonline.BIZ - Conan Doyle, 'The Lost World' & Devon ] at www.bfronline.biz]

During August 2008, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Exeter, Sir Andrew McFarlane QC [http://www.exeter.anglican.org/article.php?tabnam=newsnews&artid=115&pagetyp=full] , declined an application that sought to exhume Bertram Fletcher Robinson and test a theory that he was poisoned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (see [http://www.mx-publishing.co.uk/engine/shop/page/Authors/Arthur+Conan+Doyle] [http://www.thisiswesternmorningnews.co.uk/livingcornwall/Conan-Doyle-murder-tale-totally-unreliable/article-321570-detail/article.html?cacheBust=2Di3bn8dbA2Q#StartComments] and [http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Hounding-of-Baskerville-creator-is.4488665.jp] ).

External links

* Bertram Fletcher Robinson tribute website: [http://www.bfronline.biz/]
* Bertram Fletcher Robinson Chronology [http://bfronline.info/images/pdf/bfr_chronology.pdf]
* Bertram Fletcher Robinson related books: [http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/search-handle-url?%5Fencoding=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=books-uk&field-author=Paul%20R%20Spiring]


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