Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Rediscovering Durbridge

I've mentioned Melvyn Barnes on this blog previously, in connection with the good work he's done in relation to Francis Durbridge. He's currently collaborating with an enterprising small press, Williams & Whiting, to bring more of Durbridge's work, a worthy endeavour. I invited Melvyn to tell my readers more about this project:

'My fascination with Durbridge goes back to adolescence (of blessed memory) when I was glued to the radio and later to television in my determination not to miss the next instalment of the latest Durbridge serial.  But Durbridge did not figure in the many years that I spent in writing books and articles about crime fiction, until the turning point of retirement from the day job provided more time to spend on research.  So perhaps inevitably Durbridge once again took centre stage, particularly as this multi-media craftsman had been largely neglected by the historians of popular culture.  And far worse than that, on the Internet he was misrepresented by inaccurate information that will doubtless remain in the ether forever.

Durbridge thus became my principal subject of research, the result being a self-published book Francis Durbridge: A Centenary Appreciation (2015).  That was just the beginning, however, as it had become increasingly clear that Durbridge left innumerable unanswered questions about his works, the way in which he recycled plots, things written but never produced, and other aspects that needed to be investigated and if possible clarified.  Indeed this presented a renewed challenge, requiring another lengthy period of research that led to the publication of a much larger book Francis Durbridge: The Complete Guide (Williams & Whiting, 2018).

So was this Case Closed?  On the contrary, Francis Durbridge is never that straightforward and some bombshell revelations soon began to emerge.  These arose from the fact that although he died in 1998 his widow lived for very many years afterwards, and understandably their two sons had long deferred sorting their father’s papers.  But now they discovered that numerous original typescripts had survived, some of them never available as novelisations or recordings nor even produced in their intended form - be it radio, television or cinema film.  Trumpet fan-fair - step forward the publisher Williams & Whiting, now contracted to transcribe and publish all of these typescripts as e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks.

My own role has involved validating, proof-reading and in particular writing Introductions for each book.  So far I have written thirty-four Introductions, with increasing excitement because these scripts will gradually become an impressive set of uniform volumes.  At the time of writing, those already published or imminent are – The Scarf (1959 television serial); Paul Temple and the Curzon Case (1948 radio serial); La Boutique (1967 radio serial); The Broken Horseshoe (1952 television serial); Three Plays for Radio Volume 1 (1945-46 Over My Dead Body, Mr Lucas and The Caspary Affair); Send for Paul Temple (the original 1938 radio serial); A Time of Day (1957 television serial); Death Comes to the Hibiscus (c.1942, an unproduced stage play) and The Essential Heart (1943 radio play), both written under the pseudonym Nicholas Vane; Send for Paul Temple (1943 stage play); The Teckman Biography (1953 television serial); Paul Temple and Steve (1947 radio serial); and Twenty Minutes from Rome (c.1954, an unproduced television play).

As indicated above there are many more to come, and for me it has been a labour of love.  But I gather that Durbridge’s son Nicholas is now laboriously transcribing his father’s handwritten diaries – so who knows what new information might emerge?'

Thanks, Melvyn. I'll be posting more about these interesting books in due course.

1 comment:

Rumpers Ramblings said...

I am absolutely delighted to hear this, I am such a fan of Durbridge and the Paul Temple stories in particular