His life and books
There are three letters written by Nat Gould from Bedfont in Middlesex to his friend E.J. Brady in Australia, preserved in the archives of the Mitchell Library in Sydney (ML MSS A1760). Two were written in 1895, shortly after Nat Gould returned to England. The third letter was written in 1897, two years after the others, and shows that Nat Gould had been unable to get Brady’s manuscript accepted for publication despite all his efforts to do so. In it Nat Gould explains the difficulties faced by authors and of his own ambition to “write something out of the common”.
The first two letters were wriiten from “Cambria”, a house in Feltham which was the first home of Nat Gould and his family in Middlesex after his return from Australia in 1895. Later they moved to Wotton Grange in nearby Bedfont, and finally to the house that they had altered for their requirements and named Newhaven. The third letter was written from Wotton Grange, the second home in Bedfont.
Transcripts are as follows :
Oct 18 of [95.
Your letter papers and M.S. [[Manuscript] arrived safely. Will take the copy to Routledges as early as possible. Don’t think they’ll give £50. Its all rot about the prices fellows tell you they get for books. I don’t believe half I hear. As for commission old man I won’t accept it. I’m doing it as one pressman to another. You would do the same for me I know.
Libel actions will bring old Evans to ruin. How’s Roydhouse? Can’t stand him at any price. Tell Burta to write and old George Tatham. My regards to all the boys. The new paper should gee. Who will get the Sporting job. Shouldn’t mind it myself on a good paper. If you are making £8 or £10 week its good. You would not do more here, but as you say the class of work would be more congenial. There’s not much joy in scribbling Bird Muck.
Do what you can for my books. Can’t you get Archibald to crack me up in the Bulletin. Write a par[[agraph] and ask him to put it in. Any par[[agraph]s you see about me please send on here. Will let you know as early as possible about M.S.
Dont despair but I may tell you[[?] Becke and the others will have their work cut out
If they put on side they’ll be “goosed” for a cert. I’m all right here. Have a fine place Easy travel to the heart of London. Hope you will be happy in your new life. Wishing you luck I remain dear Brady
Nov. 29th [95.
Yours of the 12th Oct to hand. I see the copy paper has not improved at the “Reg.” office. By this mail I am returning you “Garda” [[?]. It must have cost you a heap of time and trouble to write it, but I am afraid in this prosaic and matter of fact age the theme is a bit above the heads of ordinary mortals. Have not seen Percy Spencer or any of his work or B.E. Rains [[?] either. Am glad you are doing well. Take my tip for it the London market is over stocked with men who dabble in literature. I know for a fact there are men here and not rich men either who actually pay for the publishing of their work Routledge did one book for Fergus Hume and Col. Routledge tells me “never again my boy”. I jog along O.K. with my people because I’m not greedy and don’t get a big head and think I am a Hardy or a Corelli or a Macdonald. I can assure you old man I’m not holy [[sic] satisfied with what I have done yet. It pays but I want a small share of fame if I can get it. All the tommy rot you hear about men getting big prices for books it is written don’t ask for a prohibitive price for the first. I often think when I growl at the price how Dickens began also Miss Bradden who got nothing for her first. I do hope I shall get you something on market before long. You say J.M. Ashton is doing pages for St. James’ Budget. I hope he likes it. The price is sick for paper articles without you have a name like an 80 ton gun. I get a fair price from Sporting papers but then that is different. If you are making a good living where you are try and be contented until you can land here with immediate prospects of good work. I am writing candidly. I fancy you like it best. I should say Phil May is doing splendidly making a pile. Tell me all the office news etc when you write again. I must thank you for the Bulletin.
Wishing you the best of luck in the coming year.
I remain dear Brady
Sept 24th / [97
My dear Brady
Pardon my not writing before and I will not make any idiotic excuses. I am returning your yarns by this mail. I wish I could have placed them for you. It is a difficult matter to get publishers to take a book of short stories. A.P. Watt & Son Hastings House Norfolk Street Strand are all right as agents but would want their whack out of it (Middleman ahem.) R.E. King 106 Tabernacle Street London EC wrote me but have nothing to sell him being full up. Believe he is all right as a publisher. Have not met Louis Becke. Should think he is doing well. George Bell is doing A1 on the Daily Mail a smart paper. What part does Jeffreys take in Becke’s book? As I have told you before there is a lot of humbug about prices for books. It is something in this line. A man says he gets a thousand for a book when he gets perhaps a tenth. I know ‘em old man. Have met ‘em in the street. I believe Hall Caine got over five thousand for “The Christian” and report says it is rot. Not having read it cannot say. I have one out next month the fourth this year and am booked for 4 more in 98. That’s how I stand. Roydhouse ought to come over here. There is heaps of room for men of his stamp – in the workhouse. Re that cable. Don’t believe all you are sent out – that was correct – because if an Australian hen puts down an egg here the cable man picks it up. Tell George Thatham he ought to write to me. If you see old Veale “Billy the offs boy” tell him I have his yarn but he ought to waite and see what Unwin says before I move in the matter.
Have been into Derbyshire for a month fishing, shooting and driving. We had a real good time. Bought a twin out there. My groom says its a good one. Had luncheon with Mr Chibham the other day at the Criterion. had a chat about the A.J.C. and old times. George Reid looked like a busted Tomato in the Jubilee Procession. Phil May is coining money. He’s d- clever.
Williamson & Musgrave started their London theatrical venture at the Duke of York’s Theatre last week with Francillian Mrs Porter & Bellew. Not much I hear.
I sincerely hope you will succeed in your ambition.
I hope to be able to write something out of the common with a bit more practise.
It takes time old man. Hope Harry Evans is better. He ought to take care of himself.
With best wishes