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h a manhood, life be still and other stories, mark valentine, sundial press, harold alfred manhood


  And Other Stories


With an Introduction
by Mark Valentine


A writer who has undeservedly and inexplicably achieved a level of utter obscurity. His stories are long overdue for discovery, rehabilitation and enjoyment.

h a manhood, mark valentine, the sundial press

Harold Alfred Manhood (1904-91), was a prolific writer of short stories whose work was acclaimed alongside peers such as Graham Greene and Dylan Thomas. However, while Greene and Thomas went on to become literary legends, Manhood gave it all up at the height of his success and disappeared into the Sussex countryside to live in a railway carriage and brew cider. Writer and auctioneer Frank Herrmann, paying tribute to Manhood in the Bookdealer in 1997 and issue 27 (Autumn 2010) of Slightly Foxed, said after the war he began to resent growing editorial interference with his writing and was appalled by the tiny payments he received for his output. In 1953 he stopped writing, bought more land, started brewing cider and never wrote another word. Shortly before his death aged 87, Manhood sold his life's work to the British Library.


manhood, sundial press, sherborneH. A. Manhood was one of the most highly regarded short story writers of the 1930s. His work was praised by John Galsworthy, Henry Williamson, Hugh Walpole and H. E. Bates, who was to become a good friend. His British and American publishers, Jonathan Cape and Viking respectively, thought so highly of him that they paid him a salary to give him the time and space just to write, a most unusual arrangement which demonstrated their respect for his work. His stories were in demand both from popular papers such as the Evening News and John O’London’s Weekly, and from more literary periodicals such as the London Mercury and the Adelphi. They were included in annual ‘best short story’ anthologies and in retrospectives of the masterpieces of English Literature.

Yet thirty years later he had all but stopped writing, and had become largely forgotten. This selection of some of his finest stories aims to reintroduce readers to a craftsman-writer with the skill to surprise and delight even the most jaded of readers through the freshness and succinct aptness of his phrasing, and the human insight to present the tenor of entire lives in miniature, in the telling of a single incident.

It was A. E. Coppard who noted that the short story should not be seen as a cut-down version of the novel: it was a different (and older) form with its origins in the folk tale and fairy tale, the fireside yarn, the pub anecdote. These sources influence our expectations: we look for evidence of the universal in the local, of the general lot in the particular fate. At the same time, we also seek to hear of the exception – the curious, the strange, the untoward – because they are an inevitable part of our existence too and perhaps what gives it spice. Coppard understood all this perfectly well in his own work, and so did Manhood. Their themes are ancient and everlasting: love, revenge, lust, peace, envy, generosity. These are seen at work in the lives of well-characterised individuals of the sort we might meet in a country inn, or by the wayside, yet there is still a sense of the timeless and immortal in the telling of these particular incidents. 

(From the Introduction by Mark Valentine)

Price: 17.50 ~ Limited edition Jacketed Hardback ~ ISBN-13: 978-1-908274-06-9 ~ Book Dimensions: 210148m
Publication: 30 November 2017
*     *     *     *     *
This new selection contains twenty-nine of Manhood's finest stories:

Nightseed / Brotherhood /A Simple Tale / The Unbeliever / Apples by Night / The Cough / Devil in Church / Seahouses / Crack of Whips / Three Nails / Fish for Friday / God Came Running / The Rocking Stone / Thirty-Two Teeth / Life, Be Still! / Worm in Oak / The Wooden Uncle / The Uncooked Goose / No Ghosts / Apple Women / The Black Angel / The Human Impossibility / Fine Cider / Shall We Ghost? / Midget on Horseback / Fifty Years Dead / Stars in Daylight

h a manhood, life be still and other stories, mark valentine, sundial press


And Other Stories




Publication: 30 November 2017


(EU, US, AUS, etc.)


'To labour with such quaint precision seeking patterns of behaviour where only drab muddle exists is certain evidence of gentle lunacy, a state deplorable at all times because it offers romantic excuse for self-deception and cupidity.'

h a manhood, mark valentine, the sundial press"I CAME upon the cottage quite unexpectedly, as one might a picture in a book. It was set in the curve of the Bay like an uncut and solitary gem in a crescent brooch. Approach was possible either by way of the beach, or along a blackberry-beaded path which had split on reaching the crumbling garden walls to branch on either side and unite again, as would two bent bows laid string by string, a divergence suggesting that perhaps half of the few wayfarers had lacked either courage or desire to pass the cockle-roofed porch. Three tall chimneys projected from the roof like the legs of an upturned stool, a viny wisp of smoke wavering above one of them and bird-sown oats sprouting from another, the tall stems nodding as if marking the rhythm of a divine waltz. The slates seemed to have ripened in sympathy with the few apples yet clinging to the two trees crouched together at the rear. A great iron X supported the blind and flaking side wall; rusty tears had dripped from its two lowermost points with such persistency as to make it seem as though the X was fitted with stilts and simply propped against the wall. A single poppy and a clump of mallow, St. John's wort and flowering currant shrubs sheltered as best they could behind the breached walls, the poppy leading a futile prayer against the wind that never ceased to rake them with scalding sand."


Mark Valentine is the author of biographies of Arthur Machen  and Time, A Falconer: A Study of Sarban plus several volumes of short stories, including The Mascarons of the Late Empire & Other Studies, The Collected Connoisseur (with John Howard), The Peacock Escritoire and, most recently, Seventeen Tales. He was a regular contributor to Book & Magazine Collector on neglected authors. Valentine also edits Wormwood, a journal dedicated to fantastic, supernatural and decadent literature. He has been an admirer of H.A. Manhood's work for over 25 years. He lives in North Yorkshire with his wife Jo.

h a manhood, seven volumes of short stories, sundial press

All seven original volumes of Manhood’s short stories
from which the twenty-nine featured in LIFE, BE STILL
have been selected.

A prolific writer of short stories, Manhood was widely acclaimed and admired in the thirties and forties. Since then, he has fallen into almost complete and undeserved obscurity. A short storyist who is individual, quirky and utterly unique, this selection of some of his best work makes the strongest case possible for his rediscovery and reappraisal. 

“Mr. Manhood is a poet forced by his own time and circumstances to write in prose. This could be said of a dozen other short story writers of to-day, but it seems pointedly true of Manhood, who treats the writing of prose as a tortured process of distillation or, more aptly, as the evolution of a pattern in verbal mosaic. All who know him are aware of the tortures that prose inflicts on him; those who know only his stories must be aware that deep embryonic struggles precede the birth of his beautifully plumaged sentences. His work is consistent in its rare oddity and flamboyance, its prolific use of startling metaphor and violent climax, his method of using the fantastic to illustrate the ordinary, the ordinary to illustrate the fantastic. His stories are so full of the kind of conceits that embroider the work of seventeenth-century poets that I feel he would have been happier in an age where the rich uses of imagination were not looked on with suspicion. He sports rather too fine a doublet in this age of pin-stripes and umbrellas.”

H.E. Bates who dedicated his 1937 collection of short stories Something Short and Sweet "To H.A. Manhood"

h a manhood, life be still v h a manhood, life be still and other stories, mark valentine, sundial press b h a manhood, life be still

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November 2017

h a manhood, life be still and other stories, mark valentine, sundial press h a manhood, life be still and other stories, mark valentine, sundial press, harold alfred manhood h a manhood, apples by night, paperback reissue, sundial press
h a manhood, nightseed, Sundial paperback reissue, harold alfred manhood

Sundial will be reissuing all seven of Manhood's original volumes of short stories throughout 2018.
The first two volumes of short stories Nightseed and Apples by Night
will be reissued in paperback in the New Yesr.
These will be followed by Crack of Whips, Fierce and Gentle, Sunday Bugles, Lunatic Broth and A Long View of Nothing.