10 July 2011

Chronology of Bony's cases revisited

As the author of When Bony Was There: A Chronology of the Life and Career of Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, I was interested to compare my conclusions of the dates - especially the years - for each of Bony's "documented cases" with those of Michael Duke in his biography of Bony, Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte: His Life and Times. As a result I changed my conclusions for 3 cases. I now agree with Duke in 23 cases (although for the same or similar reasons in only 14 cases); and I disagree in 6 cases.

The current status for each of the 29 cases is summarised immediately below. Asterisks (*) indicate those I changed, and question marks (?) identify those Duke seemed inclined to agree with but without reaching a conclusion.

My reasons for changing decisions and disagreeing with Duke are set out further below. The references to Lindsey are Lindsey, Travis B. Arthur William Upfield: A Biography (Thesis: Murdoch University, West Australia), 2005.

The Sands of Windee - agree 1924 - same reasons
The Barrakee Mystery - agree 1927 - different reasons
Mr Jelly’s Secret - agree 1931 - different reasons
Wings Above the Diamentina - disagree - Kees 1934/Duke 1935
Winds of Evil - disagree - Kees 1936/Duke 1937
The Bone is Pointed - agree 1937 - similar reason
Mystery of Swordfish Reef - disagree - Kees 1939/Duke 1937
Bushranger of the Skies - agree 1939 - similar reasons
Death of a Swagman - agree 1944 - similar reasons?
The Devil’s Steps - agree 1945 - similar reasons
An Author Bites the Dust - agree 1947 - different reasons
The Mountains Have a Secret - agree 1947 - different reasons
The Widows of Broome - disagree - Kees 1949/Duke 1948
Cake in the Hatbox (Stones) - disagree - Kees 1949/Duke 1948
The Bachelors of Broken Hill - agree 1950 - similar reasons
The New Shoe - agree 1950 - different reasons
Venom House - agree 1950* - same reasons
Murder Must Wait - agree 1952 - different reasons
Death of a Lake - agree 1953 - similar reasons?
The Battling Prophet - agree 1954 - similar reasons
Bony Buys a Virgin - agree 1956 - similar reasons
Man of Two Tribes - disagree - Kees 1956/Duke 1954
Bony Buys a Woman (Bushman) - agree 1957- same reasons
Bony & the Mouse (Hangman) - agree 1958- different reasons
Bony & Kelly Gang (Smugglers) - agree 1959 - similar reasons
Bony & the White Savage - agree 1960 - similar reasons
Will of the Tribe - agree 1960* - different reasons
Madman’s Bend - agree 1961* - similar reasons
Lake Frome Monster - agree 1962 - different reasons

For Wings Above the Diamentina I had said Bony was there in 1934 because:
1. Ted Sharp had arrived 11 years earlier and it was not long before he was promoted to boss stockman which was when he inherited some money in 1928. The year could have been as early as 1928 and as late as 1934 if Sharp had been promoted after 4 years.
2. Charles Kane had eloped with his future wife in 1914. Muriel, their daughter who was found in the plane, may have been born as early as 1914, or as late as 1920 when her parents died. Dr Knowles estimated her age to be between 20 and 25 years, suggesting the year was as early as 1934 or as late as 1945.
3. Dr Knowles was 38 years old and was in his third year of medical studies when his girlfriend died in 1915. If he had been 19 in 1915, then 19 years later was 1934; if he had been older in 1915, the year would have been before 1915.
4. Upfield began writing this novel in October 1934, and had finished it by September 1935.

Duke agreed Upfield began writing the story in 1934, and had completed it by September 1935. However “[t]here are problems with the year ... Ted Sharp came into a small fortune in 1928 but then joined the staff at Coolibah ... [H]e is said to have been there for 11 years. This brings us to 1939, but this is after the publication date. Overall, the year has to be 1935.”

I agreed the year could have been 1935 on the available evidence. Duke’s choice appears to have been influenced by finding Ted Sharp joined the staff at Coolibah after he came into a small fortune in 1928. My Angus & Robertson 1936 (1940 reprint) edition states: “Ted Sharpe had arrived ... 11 years before and ... it was not long before he was promoted as boss stockman” (p1); “[H]e came into a small fortune in 1928. That year he was employed here as boss stockman” (p157). That is, he arrived some time before he received the inheritance in 1928, so the year was less than 11 years after he was promoted and, perhaps, even less after he received the inheritance.

I agree with Duke that Upfield’s usual practice was to set the story at the time of writing, and certainly not in the future. My preference for 1934 is consistent with that. It is also supported by my points 2 and 3 above.

For Winds of Evil I had said Bony was there in 1936 because:
1. Martin Borrodale was born in January 1910 and was 27 years of age when the story began [in October], which suggests the year was 1937 but could have been 1936 [as it was only three months before his 27th birthday].
2. Dr Tigue had fallen mortally ill early in 1922 and his replacement had been in Carie for 14 years, suggesting the year was 1936 but it could have been later.
3. If the year was 1937 the dates would overlap with the dates of The Bone is Pointed.

Duke said the story was [first] published as a book in 1937. According to Lindsey, Upfield began the novel in 1935, although I (Kees de Hoog) say 1936 citing letters [from Upfield] to Charles Lemon. It was serialised in The Australian Journal (TAJ) from March 1935 which would make it earlier. However, Martin Borrodale was born in January 1910 and is said to be 27 at the time of the story. Hence the date of the story should be 1937.

Lindsey at p139 does say it was serialised in the TAJ from March 1935, but that was clearly an error; p137 he indicates it was 1937. An editorial titled “In Passing” of TAJ of 1 March 1937 says the serial commenced in that edition.

I was not able to find any suggestion in Lindsey that Upfield commenced writing it in 1935, and Duke did not provide a reference for it. In a letter to Charles Lemon of 10/10/1936 Upfield said, after talking about Wings Above the Diamentina, he was “presently typing another Bony story”, suggesting this story was written in 1936.

My conclusion is consistent with Upfield’s usual practice of setting the novel at the time it was written, particularly not in the future. It is also supported by my points 1 to 3 above.

For The Mystery of Swordfish Reef I said Bony was there in 1939 because:
1. According to Lindsey, Upfield began writing it in 1938 and had finished it by March 1939.
2. Joe Pearce said the biggest marlin was caught “back in thirty-seven”, namely 1937, and he probably would have said “last year” if it had been 1938.

Duke added that it was published in June 1939. The book was completed in February 1939 according to Lindsey, hence the story must be set a year or two previously. He leaned to towards 1937 or 1938. If Upfield’s writing time of eight months was average, then it should have been started about 1938, hence the events must be 1937.

The story is that some men and their boat disappeared in October one year, and Bony was there for ten days in January of the next year. I said Bony was there in 1939, so the men would have disappeared in 1938. Duke clearly understood that when considering 1937, 1938 and 139 as possibilities.

If, as asserted by Duke, Upfield’s average time of writing a novel was 8
 months, and he had finished it by February/March 1939, then he would have started writing about August/September 1938, and the story was would have been set during the period it was written in accordance Upfield’s usual practice. Duke does not explain why he thought the dates must be a year or 2 earlier, and I disagree.

I agree with Duke that The Widows of Broome immediately precedes Cake in the Hatbox, and are set in June-July and August respectively, so Bony was at both in the same year.

For The Widows of Broome I said Bony was there in 1949 because:
1. Sergeant Sawtell said Jean Eltham’s husband died during “the ‘47 pearling season”, which was from April to November each year, and he probably would have said something like “the last pearling season” if the present year was 1948.
2. This story was first published in early 1950, so it was probably written in 1949 soon after Upfield’s first visit to Broome in 1948.

Duke said the The Widows of Broome “was [first] published in January 1938. The case starts on 25th June (stated on p2 of my [Penguin 1962] edition.” He also said Cake in the Hatbox “starts on 17th August 1948 (p11 of my [Heinemann 1955] edition)”.

I am advised that page 2 in the Penguin 1962 edition of The Widows of Broome is blank; page 8, the 2nd page of text, does mention 25th June but does not mention 1948. Similarly, my copy of the Heinemann 1955 edition of Cake in the Hatbox mentions August 17th on p10, but there is no mention of 1948.

Upfield lead an expedition to the Kimberleys in 1948. According to a report in Walkabout of 1/10/1948, they left in June and, after driving 5,000 miles, reached Perth at the end of August, so he probably did not return home until mid-late September 1948. Lindsey at pp 192-3 suggests he did not commence writing The Widows of Broome before his return to work, and that it and the first version of Cake in the Hatbox had both been written by the middle of 1949.

Both 1948 and 1949 are possible. Upfield may have intended The Widows of Broome to be set during the period he was in the Kimberleys to celebrate his visit. On the other hand Cake in the Hatbox may have been finished as late as early August 1949, with Upfield’s usual practice setting the story at the time of writing. But the only “evidence” available is the reference to “the ‘47 pearling season” which suggests the year was 1949. I would not normally give such “evidence” a lot of weight, but without more it is determinative.

For Venom House I said Bony was there in 1951 because:

1. Albert Blaze had begun working for the Ainsworths in 1924, and was there when Jacob Ainsworth married his second wife. Deputy Coroner Harston estimated their son, Morris, to be 26 or 27 years old, which suggests the year was 1951 or later.
2. This novel was [first] published early in 1952, so Upfield probably wrote it in 1951.

Duke said it was published on 17 January 1952. It was being proof read (Lindsey p179) in New York by September 1951; thus it is set in mid-September 1950, given Upfield’s usual writing time of about 7 to 8 months.

The reference to p179 in Lindsey was a letter from an editor, not a proof reader, so publication was at a much earlier stage. Nevertheless, it does suggest Upfield had finished writing it by July or August 1951, possibly earlier. The story is set in September, and for the year to be 1951 would have been contrary his usual practice of setting it at the time of writing. The “evidence” about Morris’ age etc is imprecise, so I agree with Duke. The year was 1950.

Duke said The Man of Two Tribes was [first] published in April 1956, having arrived at the publisher Doubleday in September 1955. He says it is set in October (p9 of his [Penguin 1960] edition) and the year should be 1954 based on the date of receipt of the manuscript.

My copy of the Penguin 1960 (reprinted 1962) edition states at p81 in chapter 10, that it is 1956, and my Heinemann 1956 edition says the same thing at p75.

For The Will of the Tribe I said Bony was there in 1961 because:
1. Old Ted told Bony that he had seen a Buddha tattooed on a man’s chest in “June 1959”. If the year was 1960 he would probably have said “last year, so the year was 1961 or later.
2. Upfield finished writing the novel in 1961. [Lindsey at p244 suggests it was July or August.]

Duke said it was [first] published in 1962. The murder occurs about 27th April probably 1960 (p8 and p49 of his [Eden 1988] edition. Dating is again a problem. Old Ted says he saw a man with a Buddha tattoo in June of 1959, so the story should be after this. If the story is set in 1960, that fits with Lindsey’s statement at p243 that Upfield started writing it in April 1961.

I have not been able to find that statement by Lindsey at p243. Nevertheless, I agree with the conclusion because Bony was there from 7 to 15 August; on those dates in 1961 he was investigating crimes in western New South Wales, (The Body at Madman’s Bend); and on those dates in 1962 he was working on the Dog-proof Fence on the New South Wales - South Australia border (The Lake Frome Monster).

For The Body at Madman’s Bend I said Bony was there in 1963 because:
1. Ray Cosgrove’s grandfather had died in 1943. Ian MacCurdle had been sent to replace him, and had been in Australia for 20 years. This suggested the year was around 1963.
2. Bony was there from 19 July to early August, was at a meeting elsewhere on 1 July 1961 (The Will of the Tribe), and was working in the Dog-proof Fence on the New South Wales - South Australia border (The Lake Frome Monster) on some of those dates in 1962.

Duke said [the manuscript] was finished in August 1962, was [first] published in 1963, and the date for the story is probably 1961. William Lush’s father died in 1957; Lush came down from Cunnamulla after this, worked for Mrs Madden for a year, then was married for a year; this adds to the idea that the date for the story is about 1961.

It seems to me that Lush’s history simply suggests the year is later than 1959. Nevertheless I agree with Duke that Bony was there in 1961, not 1963. Lindsey at p248 indicates the story was accepted in autumn of 1962 for publication. That fits with Upfield writing the story in the latter half of 1961 and early 1962, and his usual practice of setting the story at the time of writing.

When doing the calculation for 1963 based on MacCurdle’s history, I assumed he had come from the UK to replace Ray Cosgrove’s grandfather, but there is no “evidence” to support that and he may have been in Australia for some time before going to Madman’s Bend.

I will publish a revised When Bony Was There: A Chronology of the Life and Career of Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte accordingly when time permits. As an interim measure I have created a page in the web site with an outline of my current chronology with locations for the Bony novels

A Royal Abduction republished

It is not well known that, in addition to the 29 Bony novels, Arthur Upfield wrote six novels without Bony. I republished one - Gripped by Drought - earlier this year. A Royal Abduction is another. It was also first published by Hutchinson & Co Ltd, UK in 1932. Copies of that edition are extremely rare and inaccessible to the average reader being mainly in university libraries and private collections.

It was republished without licence by Dennis McMillan Publications, USA in 1984. Only 400 copies were published, and they are hard to find and expensive. As I write this an AddAll book search found three copies, one for US$209 and the other two for US$400 each.

The story takes place in 1928. During a state visit to Australia, Her Royal Highness Princess Natalie, heiress to the throne of Rolandia in Europe, is abducted from the transcontinental train at Cook on the Nullarbor Plain by a gang lead by two American gangsters, Earle Lawrence and Van Horton. They hide her in caves near Eucla on the Great Australian Bight until the search is called off and ransom is arranged. Then two adventurers from Adelaide, Raymond Lund and William Snell, stumble across the abductors’ path and are forced join them in the caves.

I republished A Royal Abduction on 24 May this year. The cost of this new edition is US$44.95.

Copies are available online from my Arthur Upfield Bookshop.