Sometimes, I just love my job. A gentleman came into the library today asking if he could check an address for someone in the name of Reynolds in the 1850s in Herne Bay. He then asked me if I had heard of him and, when I replied that I did not, was rather surprised. He went on to tell me that his full name was George William MacArthur Reynolds, a Victorian era writer who was, in his day, as successful as Dickens (if not more so). The name rang a bell, but I had certainly never read any of his books. Anyway, he was clearly very interested in the subject and his enthusiasm began to rub off on me. I wanted to find out more about this writer, not least because it was a little embarrassing that I was unaware of him and his connection with Herne Bay!
Anyway, shortly after he had left the building, satisfied that he had got what he came in for, I decided to see what I else could find out about this forgotten Victorian writer. A colleague of mine looked up his entry in the DNB, which appeared to have pretty comprehensive information on the writer. I quickly printed out the article and rushed outside to see if I could catch the man I had just been speaking to. Luckily, he was still right outside. When I showed him the article, the man looked at me and said that he had seen this before and then pointed out a name in the text and said:
It emerged that he had contributed some material to the article and actually knew the man who had written the article itself! Having realised our information on the author was a little sketchy, I suggested we exchange emails and asked if he would be willing to share any further information that he discovers during the course of his research. He said he was more than happy to do so and that he would be in touch. I was thrilled! Now, I know this sounds a bit nerdy, but that really excited me. The subject sounded fascinating, particularly given that he lived locally and appears to have been erased from the literary canon since his death. I detected an opportunity to put on a event of some description in the future on George Reynolds, as he certainly sounded an intriguing character who should be recognised by the local community.
After exchanging email addresses, I had a poke around on Amazon and discovered that, although there weren’t many books by Reynolds available now, the ones that were available had been edited by the very man I had been talking to early in the afternoon, namely The Necromancer and Wagner the Werewolf. Needless to say, as the latter is under £3 on Amazon, I might well have to make a purchase and donate it to the library. Who knows, George Reynolds may be re-discovered and there could be a sudden surge in demand. Well, you never know.
Like I said before, this is one of the things I love about my job. Chance encounters such as this that broaden your knowledge and give you the opportunity to expand on a certain aspect of the service. Maybe I should get out more, but it sure got me excited. Now, I must go and find some more material on George Reynolds, I have a thirst that needs quenching