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Leonard Strong

leonard strong actor, leonard strong
Leonard Alfred George Strong 8 March 1896 – 17 August 1958 was a popular English novelist, critic, historian, and poet, and published under the name "L A G Strong" He served as a director of the publishers Methuen Ltd from 1938 to 1958


  • 1 Life
  • 2 Career
  • 3 Verse
  • 4 Fiction
  • 5 Short story collections
  • 6 Short stories anthologized
  • 7 Drama
  • 8 Belles lettres
  • 9 Autobiography
  • 10 History
  • 11 Critical reception
  • 12 References
  • 13 External links


Poet and novelist, born at Compton Gifford, Devon, of a half-Irish father and Irish mother, and was proud of his Irish heritage As a youth, he considered being a comedian and took lessons in singing He was educated at Brighton College and earned a scholarship to Wadham College, Oxford, as what was known as an Open Classical Scholar studies in literature and the arts There he came under the influence of W B Yeats, about whom Strong wrote fairly extensively; they met first in autumn 1919 Their friendship lasted for twenty years

He taught at an Oxford preparatory school, before becoming a full-time writer in 1930 His first two volumes of poetry were Dublin Days 1921 and The Lowery Road 1923, and his career as a novelist was launched with Dewer Rides 1929, set on Dartmoor

Later he formed a literary partnership with an Irish friend, John Francis Swaine 1880-1954, paying Swaine a percentage of royalties for five novels and numerous short stories, published between c1930 and 1953, which were attributed to Strong These included the Sea Wall 1933, The Bay 1944, and Trevannion 1948 Swaine’s short stories described the thoughts and experiences of an Irish character, Mr Mangan, a fictional version of Swaine himself Strong wrote many works of non‐fiction and an autobiography of his early years, Green Memory 1961 He gained a wide interest in literature and wrote about many important contemporary authors, including James Joyce, William Faulkner, John Millington Synge, and John Masefield

He worked as an Assistant Master at Summer Fields, a boys' boarding preparatory school on the outskirts of Oxford, from 1917 to 1919 and from 1920 to 1930, and as a Visiting Tutor at the Central School of Speech and Drama One of his pupils was a son of Reginald McKenna He was a director of the publishers Methuen Ltd from 1938 until his death For many years he was a governor of his old school, Brighton College Strong's autobiography, Green Memory, published after his death, described his family including a grandmother in Ireland, his earliest years, his school-days, and his friendships at Wadham College; among them were Yeats and George Moore

Following his death, a memorial service was held for him at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, on 3 October 1958

His cousin was the nurse Emily MacManus; he wrote the foreword for her autobiography, Fifty Years Of Nursing - Matron of Guy's 1956

  • John Francis Swaine reference authority the Oxford Companion to English Literature, Ninth Edition, General Editor Professor Dinah Birch Swaine's papers and manuscripts are lodged with the National Library of Ireland, Dublin


Strong was a versatile and prolific writer of more than 20 novels, as well as of short stories, plays, children's books, poems, biography, criticism, and film scripts

His oeuvre includes mystery novels, featuring Detective-Inspector McKay of Scotland Yard, and horror fiction Many of his adventure and romance novels were set in Scotland or the West of England The classic short story "Breakdown", a tale about a married man who has the perfect plan to murder his mistress, and which has a twist ending, has been reprinted often; it was a favorite of Boris Karloff Unhappy marriages were an occasional theme in his fiction, in works such as Deliverance His supernatural stories were often reprinted, as well Strong was interested in the paranormal, as his haunted house and other horror stories attest, and believed he had seen ghosts and witnessed psychic phenomena

One of his earliest writings, A Defence of Ignorance, was the first book sold by Captain Louis Henry Cohn, the founder of House of Books, which specialized in first editions of contemporary writers Cohn was a New York book collector who of necessity became a bookseller due to the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and he had Strong's manuscript, a six-page essay, in his collection Cohn published 200 signed copies of the title, priced at $200 each

Some of Strong's poems were set to music by Arthur Bliss His Selected Poems appeared in 1931 first American edition in 1932, and The Body's Imperfection: Collected Poems in 1957 He also edited anthologies of poetry, sometimes in collaboration with Cecil Day-Lewis

His 1932 novel The Brothers was filmed in 1947 by the Scottish director David MacDonald; it starred Patricia Roc One reviewer commented, "In a break from tradition, the film substitutes the novel's unhappy ending with an even unhappier one" Strong collaborated on or contributed to such filmscripts as Haunted Honeymoon 1940; a Dorothy L Sayers story about Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, Mr Perrin and Mr Traill 1948, and Happy Ever After 1954


  • Dublin Days Oxford: B Blackwell, 1921
  • By Haunted Stream New York: D Appleton and company, 1924
  • The Lowery Road Oxford: B Blackwell, 1923
  • Difficult Love Oxford: B Blackwell, 1927
  • At Glenan Cross: A Sequence Oxford : B Blackwell, 1928
  • Northern Light London: Victor Gollancz, 1930
  • Selected Verse Hamish Hamilton, 1931
  • Call to The Swan London: H Hamilton, 1936
  • The Magnolia Tree: Verses London: AP Tayler, 1953 "Limited to 100 copies printed privately for the author"
  • The Body's Imperfection: The Collected Poems of LAG Strong London: Methuen, 1957


  • Dewer Rides London: Victor Gollancz, 1929
  • The Jealous Ghost New York: A A Knopf, 1930
  • The Garden London: Victor Gollancz, 1931
  • The Brothers London: Victor Gollancz, 1932
  • King Richard's Land: A Tale of the Peasants' Revolt London: JM Dent & Sons, 1933
  • Sea Wall London: Victor Gollancz, 1933
  • Corporal Tune New York: A A Knopf, 1934
  • Fortnight South of Skye New York, Loring and Mussey, 1935
  • Mr Sheridan's Umbrella Illustrated by C Walter Hodges London: T Nelson & son, 1935
  • The Seven Arms London: Victor Gollancz ; New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1935
  • The Last Enemy: A Study of Youth London: Victor Gollancz, 1936
  • The Fifth of November Illustrated by Jack Matthew London: J M Dent and Sons, Ltd, 1937 novel about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot
  • Laughter in the West New York: A A Knopf, 1937
  • The Swift Shadow London: Victor Gollancz, 1937
  • The Open Sky London: Victor Gollancz, 1939
  • They Went to the Island Illustrated by Rowland Hilder London: Dent, 1940
  • House in Disorder London: Lutterworth Press, 1941
  • The Bay Philadelphia: J P Lippincott company, 1942
  • Slocombe Dies London: Published for the Crime Club by Collins, 1942
  • The Unpractised Heart London: Victor Gollancz, 1942
  • All Fall Down London: Published for the Crime Club by Collins, 1944 Also Garden City, New York: Published for the Crime Club by Doubleday, Doran & Co, 1944
  • The Director London: Methuen, 1944 Reprinted: Oslo: J Grundt Tanum, 1947 translated to serve as English as a foreign or second language - Norwegian language
  • Othello's Occupation London: Published for the Crime Club by Collins, 1945 Published in the US under the title Murder Plays an Ugly Scene see below
  • Murder Plays an Ugly Scene Garden City, New York: Published for the Crime Club by Doubleday, Doran & Co, 1945
  • Trevannion London: Methuen, 1948 set in the seaside town of Dycer's Bay
  • Darling Tom and Other Stories London: Methuen, 1952 "Many of these stories have been broadcast"
  • Which I Never: A Police Diversion London: Published for the Crime Club by Collins, 1950 Also New York: MacMillan, 1952
  • The Hill of Howth London: Methuen, 1953
  • Deliverance London: Methuen, 1955
  • Light above the Lake London: Methuen, 1958 posthumous
  • Treason in the Egg: A Further Police Diversion London: Collins, 1958

Short story collections

  • Doyle's Rock and Other Stories Oxford: B Blackwell, 1925
  • The English Captain and Other Stories New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1931
  • Don Juan and the Wheelbarrow and Other Stories London: Victor Gollancz, 1932
  • Tuesday Afternoon and Other Stories London: Victor Gollancz, 1935
  • Odd Man In Illustrated by Phoebe LeFroy London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1939
  • Sun on the Water and Other Stories London: Victor Gollancz, 1940
  • Travellers: Thirty-one Selected Short Stories London: Methuen, 1945 James Tait Black Memorial Prize
  • The Buckross Ring and Other Stories of the Strange and Supernatural, edited and with an introduction by Richard Dalby Leyburn, North Yorkshire, England: Tartarus Press, 2009 hardcover, ISBN 978-1-905784-13-4

Short stories anthologized

  • "Breakdown," in The Forum, September, 1929, pp 139–145 Reprinted in: Creeps By Night: Chills and Thrills, edited by Dashiell Hammett New York: The John Day Company, 1931; And the Darkness Falls, edited, with an introduction and notes, by Boris Karloff Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1946; and elsewhere
  • The Big Man With a frontispiece by Tirzah Garwood and a foreword by A E Coppard; being no 6 of the Furnival books London: W Jackson, Ltd, 1931 Reprinted in: The Fireside Book of Romance, edited by Edward Wagenknecht Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company Publishers, 1948 a short story "recounting the infatuation a British woman develops in a German resort hotel for a German guest"
  • "Don Juan and the Wheelbarrow," in John o' London's Weekly, 11 July 1931; The Yale Review, March, 1932 Reprinted in: The Best British Short Stories of 1932, edited by Edward J O'Brien New York: Dodd, Mead, 1932
  • "Harvest by the Sea, or Mr Wacksparrow, Mr Deebles and the Sea-Gull, a Story," in The Princess Elizabeth Gift Book, in aid of the Princess Elizabeth of York Hospital for Children, edited by Cynthia Asquith & Eileen Bigland London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1935
  • "A Gift from Christy Keogh," in The Queen's Book of the Red Cross London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1939 Reprinted in: Argosy, vol 3 #12 New Series, January, 1943
  • The Doll Leeds, England: Salamander Press, 1946 a tale of witchcraft
  • "Let Me Go: A Christmas Ghost Story," in The Strand Magazine, December, 1946 Reprinted in: The Fireside Book of Ghost Stories, edited by Edward Wagenknecht Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1947; Great Irish Stories of the Supernatural, edited by Peter Haining London: Souvenir Press, 1992 ISBN 0-285-63107-1; and elsewhere
  • "Danse Macabre," in The Strand Magazine, December, 1949 Reprinted in: A Book of Modern Ghosts, compiled by Lady Cynthia Asquith New York, Scribner, 1953; Great Irish Tales of Horror: A Treasury of Fear, edited by Peter Haining Souvenir Press, 1995; and elsewhere
  • "The House That Wouldn't Keep Still," in The Third Ghost Book, edited by Lady Cynthia Asquith London: James Barrie, 1955
  • "The Return," reprinted in: A Gallery of Ghosts: An Anthology of Reported Experience, compiled by Andrew MacKenzie London: Arthur Barker, 1972
  • "The Buckross Ring," reprinted in: 12 Gothic Tales, selected and introduced by Richard Dalby Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998


  • The Absentee London: Methuen, 1939 one-act play; "a powerful drama of village life, three times broadcast on the National programme" - blurb by Methuen
  • Trial and Error London: Methuen, 1939 one-act play

Belles lettres

  • A Defence of Ignorance New York: House of Books, 1932
  • Common Sense about Poetry New York: A A Knopf, 1932
  • A Letter to W B Yeats Published by L & V Woolf at Hogarth Press, London, 1932
  • Life in English Literature: Being, an Introduction for Beginners With Monica Redlich Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1934
  • The Hansom Cab and The Pigeons London: Printed at the Golden Cockerel Press, 1935 about George V
  • "The Novel: Assurances and Perplexities," in The Author, Playwright and Composer, Vol 45, no 4 Summer 1935, pp 112–15
  • What is Joyce Doing with the Novel G Newnes, 1936 6 pages Originally published as "James Joyce and the New Fiction," in American Mercury, No 140, August, 1935, pp 433–434
  • Common Sense about Drama London: T Nelson & Sons, 1937
  • The Man Who Asked Questions: The Story of Socrates London: T Nelson & Sons, 1937
  • The Minstrel Boy: A Portrait of Tom Moore London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1937
  • "W B Yeats - Ireland's Grand Old Man," in The Living Age, January, 1939, pp 438–440
  • English Literature Course London: London School of Journalism, 6 volumes
  • John McCormack: The Story of a Singer New York: The Macmillan company, 1941
  • John Millington Synge London: G Allen & Unwin, 1941
  • English for Pleasure Introduction by Mary Somerville London: Methuen, 1941
  • Authorship London: R Ross & co, 1944
  • An Informal English Grammar 2nd ed London: Methuen, 1944
  • A Tongue in Your Head London, Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1945 "About a year ago, the Incorporated Association of Teachers of Speech and Drama asked Mr L A G Strong if he would write a book which would show clearly problems relating to the everyday use of our mother speech"—Foreword
  • James Joyce and Vocal Music Oxford, 1946
  • The Art of the Story London, 1947
  • Maud Cherrill London, Parrish, 1949
  • The Sacred River: An Approach to James Joyce New York: Pellegrini & Cudahy, 1951 John Masefield England, 1952
  • Personal Remarks New York: Liveright Pub Corp, 1953
  • The Writer's Trade London: Methuen, 1953
  • Instructions to Young Writers London: Museum Press; distributed by Sportshelf, New Rochelle, NY, 1958
  • "Three Ghosts and Stephen Dedalus" in Penguin New Writings Edition NW22 Penguin, 1944


  • Green Memory London: Methuen, 1961 posthumous


  • Henry of Agincourt Illustrated by Jack Matthew London: T Nelson & Sons, 1937
  • Shake Hands and Come out Fighting London: Chapman and Hall, 1938 about Boxing
  • English Domestic Life During the last 200 Years: an Anthology London: G Allen & Unwin, 1942
  • Light Through the Cloud London: Friends Book Centre, 1946 about The Retreat
  • Sixteen Portraits of People Whose Houses have been Preserved by the National Trust Contributed by Walter Allen and others Illustrated by Joan Hassall London: Published for the National Trust by Naldrett Press, 1951
  • The Story of Sugar London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1954
  • Dr Quicksilver, 1660-1742: The Life and Times of Thomas Dover, M D London: Melrose, 1955
  • Flying Angel: The Story of the Missions to Seamen London: Methuen, 1956
  • The Rolling Road: The Story of Travel on the Roads of Britain and the Development of Public Passenger Transport London: Hutchinson, 1956

Critical reception

Kirkus Reviews asserted in 1935, "L A G Strong can be counted on for a nostalgic picture of the call of the wild, and spins a good yarn as well" Garrett Mattingly, in The Saturday Review, praises Strong's "clean, muscular prose" and the "astonishing variety of mood and incident" in a review of The Seven Arms, saying that he "treats material which has become familiar, almost conventional, in the literature of the Celtic renascence with a freshness and power which makes it seem completely new and completely his own He has been possessed by his material, and he has, in turn, completely possessed and mastered it" The review includes a photograph of Strong

Strong enjoyed describing countrysides He often dramatized the beginning and flourishing and at times tragic ending of romance between young people For these reasons, among others, his fiction writing was sometimes considered sentimental This was a quality popular among readers, though not always among those critics who embraced Modernist attitudes, which could be contemptuous of popular literature and which was a forceful influence at the time For example, a reviewer of an early novel, The Jealous Ghost 1930, the "story of an American who goes to visit for the first time his English cousins in the West Highland house where his ancestors had lived," judges that Strong's "feeling for 'the land' seems to be that of a tourist whose sensibilities are fluttered by views and sunsets," but who also concluded that in his talent "lies the possibility of a delicate comedy akin to that of Jane Austen or Henry James" Mattingly shows hostility to sentimentalism twice in his review of The Seven Arms as his own writing can wax sentimental, perhaps he slightly protests too much, given the romantic qualities he admires, declaring of the heroine, "the splendor of her legend is a romantic figure out of a romantic time but a figure too robust for sentimental tenderness, too vital to be the focus of nostalgic revery" and adding that she is drawn "with sympathy and understanding but without sentimentality or exaggeration" Richard Cordell, reviewing The Open Sky, likewise calls it "an exciting, unsentimental adventure"

However, a critic who did care for this quality in Strong's fiction wrote of the 1931 collection The English Captain and Other Stories that "there is nothing ingenious or fanciful in his writing—which means that the emotion is always preferred before the form, not the form before the emotion; and that, I fear, is uncommon enough in the short stories of today There is one piece in particular—Mr Kennedy in Charge—which contains the virtues of all the rest; delicate perception of character, tenderness, vigour, and a sublimation of brute pain It is a stupendous piece of imaginative writing"

Reviewing The Buckross Ring and Other Stories of the Strange and Supernatural, Mario Guslandi writes, "at his best, Strong has an uncanny ability to create gentle, vivid and fascinating stories bound to leave the reader enchanted" Ian McMillan of the Yorkshire Post called the stories "odd and genuinely chilling"


  1. ^ Strong, L A G September 1929 "Breakdown full text" The Forum 82 3: 139–145 Retrieved 27 August 2012 
  2. ^ Haining, Peter 1997 Great Irish Tales of Horror: A Treasury of Fear New York: Barnes & Noble Books p 69 Retrieved 27 August 2012 
  3. ^ "The Buckross Ring" Tartarus Press 2009 Retrieved 27 August 2012 
  4. ^ Seymour, Percy 2003 The Third Level of Reality: A Unified Theory of the Paranormal New York: Paraview p 149 Retrieved 27 August 2012 
  5. ^ Strong, L A G "Foreword" The Psychic Sense, by Phoebe D Payne and Laurence J Bendit London: Faber and Faber, 1944
  6. ^ Woolmer, J Howard November 1985 "The Crown Octavos and Their Authors" Columbia Library Columns New York: Butler Library, Columbia University 35 1: 15–16 ISSN 0010-1966 
  7. ^ "The Brothers" Movie Review Query Engine Retrieved 27 August 2012 
  8. ^ "Books of Special Interest: Dewer Rides" Saturday Review New York: 695 1 February 1930 ISSN 0036-4983 an ample novel of Dartmoor life a thorough, carefully documented study of characterdivided into different parts by a tendency towards violence and an opposed attachment to his ideals 
  9. ^ a b "Fortnight South of Skye" Kirkus Reviews 1935 Retrieved 26 August 2012 A poor title for a good outdoor story of fishing and adventure on the coast of northern Scotland Two boys spend their vacation together, with a Scot of the old school, and play their part in solving the mystery of the French trawler 
  10. ^ a b Mattingly, Garrett 12 October 1935 "Robust Romance" Saturday Review ISSN 0036-4983 Retrieved 26 August 2012 He writes of a peninsula in the western Highlands called, from the long sea lochs which indent it, the Seven Arms, where, amidst an isolated Gaelic speaking people who have preserved almost unchanged the manners and traditions of their ancient past lived, at the beginning of the last century, a heroine who might have come straight out of the ancient epics of Gael 
  11. ^ "Fiction: Recent Books: Nov 1, 1937" Time 1 November 1937 Retrieved 26 August 2012 The third book in three weeks others: Common Sense About Drama, The Minstrel Boy from prolific Author Strong A rugged romance, laid in the English Dartmoor country 50 years back, in which an earthy farm beauty, her rough-&-ready mother, her good, bad and indifferent suitors, a devil in a tree strive to outdo the violence of the landscape 
  12. ^ a b Cordell, Richard A 8 July 1939 "Return to Life" Saturday Review New York: 6 ISSN 0036-4983 Retrieved 28 August 2012 uses the wild Atlantic coast of Ireland as a setting 'hero,' an exhausted dilettante who has given up both authorship and the practice of medicine, is suffering from a mental breakdown 
  13. ^ "Slocombe Dies " Collins 1942 Retrieved 28 August 2012 Strong's first venture into the field of crime fiction The question that intrigues him about the mysterious happenings in a West Country village is not how the murder was done but how it came to be committed at all 
  14. ^ "Murder Plays an Ugly Scene" Kirkus Reviews 1945 Retrieved 27 August 2012 Detective-Inspector Ellis McKay confronted by the killing of the head of a dramatic school 
  15. ^ C, B 23 January 1949 "Reviews in Brief" The Sydney Morning Herald Retrieved 28 August 2012 Trevannion isalmost a fallen angel The kind of man who was once affluent and respected An 'insurance' manA 'gypsy' soothsayerA crook But into his life comes another crook Trevannionfalls in love at 60 with a girl of 18 and is almost redeemed Mr Stronghas a wealth of character, wit and humanity 
  16. ^ "Which I Never" Kirkus Reviews 19 February 1951 Retrieved 27 August 2012 the leakage of secret information provokes a probe of Nosworthy, a suspect publisher, Holland, an actor and ex-commando, and Finch, a surly historian 
  17. ^ Dodd, Craig "Andrew MacKenzie - A Gallery Of Ghosts" Vault of Evil Retrieved 27 August 2012 many illustrious names among the contributors: L A G "Breakdown" Strong 
  18. ^ "The Jealous Ghost" The Bookman New York: 83–84 March 1931  |access-date= requires |url= help
  19. ^ "The English Captain" The Bookman New York: 77 September 1931  |access-date= requires |url= help
  20. ^ Guslandi, Mario 2009 "The Buckross Ring" SF Site Retrieved 26 August 2012 
  21. ^ McMillan, Ian 1 May 2009 "Discover the Darker Side of the Dales" Yorkshire Post Retrieved 27 August 2012 

External links

  • Leonard Strong on IMDb
  • Leonard Strong at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database

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