Nat Gould

His life and books

Beatrice Harraden 1864-1936

Beatrice Harraden was a distinguished author and feminist, and a tireless worker for wounded soldiers in the First World War. She was a keen suffraggette, and the close friend of Mrs. Pankhurst. Even when too ill to march in processions demanding votes for women, she would follow on in a hansom cab.

She sold her book Ships that Pass in the Night for almost nothing, and when it became a best-seller she bore her misfortune with characteristic sporting courage.

After the publication of her obituary notice of in The Times, her friend "C.M." wrote in the issue dated 7 May 1936:

"Beatrice Harraden had more vitality than others, more scorn of convention, more ardour to initiate and to save. In the nineties in old Hanpstead her frail, distinguished figure came and went joyously among delightful people, and she revelled in the gifts of life ..... She was indefatiguable in the War, meeting Belgians at the station when tired out, finally joining her admired Dr. Garrett Anderson and Dr. Flora Murray at Endell Street Hospital as librarian. It was a sight not to forget seeing her sensitive face beaming as she found out just which Nat Gould the Tommy wanted to read! (1) .....

Her merciful nature, discerning and always forgiving, came to the rescue in various contingencies over and over again ..... She was at her best when giving little feasts to her comrades, when hearing music, when enjoying colour, when discussing some subtle point in a book. Very happy days she had in London, in America, and in Rome, where she enjoyed with every fibre the coming of spring."


(1) "Speaking yesterday as one of the librarians at the Endell Street Military Hospital, which houses 550 men, Miss Beatrice Harraden told the Home Reading Union what books her soldiers liked best. She explained that no attempt was made to influence their taste, but were given any book they they asked for, even when it was a book on high explosives costing eighteen shillings.

The supreme favourite was Nat Gould. They bought him in dozens, and the minute a parcel of his books entered a ward they disappeared, seldom to be seen again. The books were passed from hand to hand in a sacred, secret, underground way, and if any appeared again they looked centuries old. Even if a man were too ill to read he loved to have a Nat Gould by his bedside to gloat over.” [[Manchester Guardian dated 5 January 1916 at the top of page 3.]