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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch (1863–1944)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
THE FICTION of the English writer who began by signing his literary work with the initial “Q.,” is among the most virile and pleasing written by the younger British school. A. T. Quiller-Couch—the full name of this author—makes stories that are full of vigor and invention; romantic in treatment, yet realistic in their close observation, and in the understanding sympathy with which he studies the life of humble folk and the types and scenes of his native country. He is a Cornishman, and has given his main attention to the people of that locality, spending most of his time within the sound of the Cornish seas. His novels and short tales in spirit and method affiliate him with Barrie, Kipling, and Stevenson, and he is little inferior to them in strength and originality. Although his literary production includes criticism and poetry, his reputation is based substantially on his stories. ‘Dead Man’s Rock’ in 1887 won him much favor, and other books followed in due course: ‘The Astonishing History of Troy Town,’ ‘The Splendid Spur,’ ‘The Blue Pavilions,’ ‘Naughts and Crosses,’ ‘I Saw Three Ships; and other Winter’s Tales,’ ‘The Delectable Duchy,’ ‘Wandering Heath,’ ‘The Ship of Stars,’ ‘The Westcotes,’ ‘Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts,’ ‘Hocken and Hunken: a Tale of Troy,’ and ‘News from the Duchy.’ ‘Ia,’ a novelette, is a tale of love in a Cornish fishing village. Quiller-Couch’s strongest novel is the brilliant ‘The Splendid Spur,’ recognized by the critics as one of the most stirring romances by a contemporaneous English novelist. In ‘The Delectable Duchy,’ which is finely representative of his short-story work, are grouped a number of Cornish tales and sketches, exquisite for truth, pathos, and poetry, rich with feeling for the lights and shadows in the life of the Welsh poor. The writer thus ranges from the dramatic to the idyllic, and is successful in both veins. His fiction as a whole is thoroughly healthy and inspiriting. The unpleasant realism and the decadent pessimism of the day he stands quite apart from. Like R. L. Stevenson, he unites the power of making stories instinct with adventurous interest, with a literary gift and an insight into character which have gained him the approval of captious critics, and made him a favorite with those who read a story for the story’s sake. He completed Stevenson’s unfinished ‘St. Ives’ (1897).  1
  In his personality and manner of life, Quiller-Couch seems a man of affairs and of outdoor sports rather than the traditional book-man. He was born November 21st, 1863. His family has lived in Cornwall for generations, and he comes of good stock; father, uncle, and grandfather being distinguished scientists in the fields of biology and medicine. He was educated in various Devonshire schools, then went up to Trinity College, Oxford. As an undergraduate he contributed clever verse to the college paper, adopting the pseudonym “Q.” He was a notable athlete,—as one might infer from his books,—and in his day was stroke of the college boat. He took his degree in 1887, and was appointed classical lecturer at Trinity; but soon turned to fiction, went to London, and joined the staff of the Speaker—Barrie being a fellow-worker. This newspaper connection has been retained ever since, although the author long ago removed to a charming country house at Fowey in Cornwall. ‘Adventures in Criticism’ and ‘From a Cornish Window’ are volumes of essays representing his journalistic work, which is decidedly fresh and good. The Elizabethan anthology, ‘The Golden Pomp,’ also testifies to his reading and scholarship.  2
  He was knighted in 1910 and in 1912 appointed King Edward VII. Professor of English Literature at Cambridge University. His first course of lectures took permanent shape in a book entitled ‘The Art of Writing’ (1914).  3
 
 
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