Saturday, February 13, 2021

...And a Gazette and a Morgue

This may be exciting only to myself, and perhaps I should have come across this already, but even well after finishing the manuscript for a novel about the Llewelyn Davies brothers (George, Jack, Peter, Michael, and Nico, who inspired the creation of Peter Pan), I can't help poking around the available resources. Much to my delight, there are a lot of rich available resources, and I can continue to learn. Most of this won't end up in the manuscript, since it's finished and I did, as thoroughly as possible, research everything that does appear there. What I'm finding is a wealth of additional info that just can't be fit into the novel I wrote.

Today, there was a slight exception. I was looking back over the manuscript and realized that I might be able to double-check a fact that seemed to be hazy in my sources. The fact in question was when George and Peter were "gazetted", that is, when they were summoned in the official London Gazette to go to training for war. They enlisted as soon as war was declared August 4, 1914 and were commissioned as Second Lieutenants, but they went home until being told to go to training at Sheerness. That's what happened on September 11, 1914: they were gazetted. In the manuscript, I had written that it happened in "October". When I got to that point in my re-read, I was thinking of my sources, which I'd recently revisited. They both said the brothers were gazetted in September (no date), so I'm unclear why I wrote "October", but today it occurred to me that I might be able to look up the London Gazette online, and I did. Here is what I found:

This link is to the page that shows George's and Peter's names. This is what they saw and what they read to inform them they were about to go to war. Peter wouldn't actually see action until 1916, but George went to France in December of that year (1914) and was killed in March 1915.

The other thing I found--which might have been there for some time--was Peter's "Morgue". Later in life, Peter started to put together a family history. It included family letters from the previous several decades with Peter's intelligent, eloquent commentary. He wryly called it the "Morgue." Ultimately, he never completed the project, probably because of how difficult it was for him to revisit the past. The manuscript still exists, however, and can be found here:

I want to go through it more carefully, but I haven't done so just yet.

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