John Buchan and Johnny Depp

John Buchan clerihew  

Today’s clerihew is an hommage to E.C. Bentley, who penned the following:   

The novels of Jane Austen
Are the ones to get lost in.
I wonder if Labby
Has read Northanger Abbey? 

But who, you ask, is “Labby”?

Henry Du Pré Labouchere (1831-1912) was a British politician and journalist. Following diplomatic service (1854-64), he sat in the House of Commons (1880-1906) as a Radical. He was a supporter of William Gladstone and an anti-imperialist. During a break in his Parliamentary career, Labouchere gained renown as a journalist, editor, and publisher. His style, wit, and fearlessness gained a large audience for first his reporting, and later his personal weekly journal, Truth (started in 1876). Presumably, his fearlessness made him some enemies, including Queen Victoria (whom Labby delighted in attacking).

And why is my clerihew about John Buchan?

Well, apart from affording me the chance to rhyme “Johnny Depp” with “The 39 Steps” — probably Buchan’s most famous novel — it turns out that Bentley and Buchan knew each other, and were both students at Oxford at about the same time. According to Bentley, it was John Buchan who persuaded Bentley to write Elephant’s Work — unfortunately one of his less accomplished novels.   


“Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves.” — Queen Victoria


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