John Yunge–Bateman (1897–1971)

Naval officer and artist John Yunge–Bateman will be known to most readers of this essay mainly for his somewhat erotic illustrations of The Rubaiyat. But though he certainly had a penchant for depicting naked women, there is more to him than that, and he deserves also to be remembered for his other wide–ranging book illustrations, notably for works of natural history and educational books for children. But let us begin with his Rubaiyat.

The Rubaiyat

It is difficult for most of us to see anything even vaguely erotic in FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat, and yet, for whatever reason, some illustrators have seen in its quatrains a good opportunity for depicting scantily clad, and even naked, women. Some of the more overtly erotic illustrations are those by John Yunge–Bateman (hereafter JYB, with or without the hyphen), done for Christopher Sandford’s Golden Cockerel Press edition published in 1958 in a limited edition of 200 numbered copies (1a). Indeed, Brigid Peppin and Lucy Micklethwaite, in their Dictionary of British Book Illustrators: the Twentieth Century (1983), wrote of JYB’s illustrations for The Rubaiyat that “he attempted to give a cultural veneer to ‘page three’ titillation” (p.31.) This is certainly true, and his exaggeratedly voluptuous naked and semi–naked women remind me of some of the figures in today’s fantasy comics. There were seven illustrations in all, accompanying the text of FitzGerald’s first edition.

Fig.1a is the title–page with vignette, but clearly relates to verse 75. Note that in addition to the voluptuous leading lady turning down an empty glass, JYB has pictured naked lady guests “star–scattered on the grass”, albeit with their backs to the viewer! The male guests, meanwhile, remain fully clothed (the one on the left wearing a turban to confirm the oriental nature of the scene!)

Fig.1b is the frontispiece and doesn’t seem to relate to any particular verse, with its nude black musician, who is more like the Abyssinian Maid in Coleridge’s Kubla Khan than anything in FitzGerald! The topless white girl is apparently the Daughter of the Vine of verse 40, since she is clutching a bunch of grapes in her left hand. Note also that the handles of the drinking–cup in the right foreground are in the form of naked women! The theme here is clearly wine, women and song.

Fig.1c This doesn’t appear to relate to any particular quatrain, but seems rather to be a generic illustration depicting Omar and his Beloved.

Fig.1d This, of course, illustrates verse 11, the Loaf of Bread, the Flask of Wine and the Book of Verse being clearly visible in the right foreground. But JYB adds to FitzGerald by having Omar’s singing lady companion naked and playing a lute – the wine, women and song theme again.

Fig.1e This directly illustrates verse 40 – the Daughter of the Vine is here again, and Old Barren Reason is exiting at the bottom left.

Fig.1f This seems to be another generic illustration relating to no particular quatrain or quatrains, the girl here presumably being a Saki or wine–server.

Fig.1g Given that the girl is carrying a rose, and is accompanied by a pair of doves (?) and a pair of deer (male & female), she is perhaps Spring, “Rose–in–Hand”, of verse 70.

The above images can be browsed here.

Ovid’s Metamorphoses

In addition to illustrating The Rubaiyat for the Golden Cockerel Press in 1958, JYB also illustrated for them, in the same year, an edition of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Again in a limited edition of 200 numbered copies (1b), it appeared under the grandiose title of The Metamorphoses of Publius Ovidius Naso, translated by the Most Eminent Hands, a Selection from the 1717 Edition. [The massively impressive and sumptuously bound 1717 edition, in contrast, appeared under the more modest title of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Fifteen Books, the eminent translators including Dryden, Addison and Pope.]

The Golden Cockerel Edition was designed to impress, and the selections from Ovid gave enough scope for JYB to weave in plenty of naked women, which he did with gusto. Six of the eleven illustrations are shown here, and it is immediately noticeable that they are by the same hand as The Rubaiyat illustrations!

Fig.2a: This relates to the Creation of the World, and depicts a newly created Man and Woman (Metamorphoses Book I.) JYB has been somewhat free in his interpretation of the text here, for Ovid says nothing about the Adam–and–Eve–like ‘naked and unashamed’ figures depicted, let alone the ship in the background! The figure in the upper right is certainly Ovid’s “Creator”, and JYB clearly follows Ovid’s suggestion that Man was fashioned from earth and rainwater, for some half–formed figures appear in the foreground.

Fig.2b: This depicts Pan in lustful pursuit the nymph Syrinx (Metamorphoses Book II.)

Fig.2c: The youth Actaeon is here shown being turned into a stag for having accidentally seen the goddess Diana bathing naked. (Metamorphoses Book III.)

Fig.2d: This depicts the familiar story of Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the Sea–Monster (Metamorphoses Book IV) – a favourite theme with many artists, of course, both for its action and for the occasion it provides for depicting a nude. (See, for example, William Etty’s “Andromeda: Perseus coming to her Rescue,” dating from 1840, and Edward Burne–Jones’s paintings “The Rock of Doom” (c.1884–5) and “The Doom Fulfilled,” (c.1888).)

Fig.2e: Here we have another well–known story, that of Pygmalion (Metamorphoses Book X.) This is another favourite theme with many artists, of course – again notably Burne–Jones in “The Soul Attains,” the fourth of his series “Pygmalion and the Image,” painted in 1875–8. Perhaps the most graphic depiction of the story is to be found in the paintings by Jean–Léon Gerôme, which view the drama of the statue coming to life from different angles. There are at least two of these which have survived, dating from 1890–1, the most famous of which depicts the statue from behind, leaning over on her plinth to kiss her creator. The figure in the back ground of JYB’s picture is that of the goddess Venus, with her characteristic doves.

Fig.2f: I include this mostly by way of a change from naked women! This illustration depicts the lesser–known story of the Centaurs Cyllarus and Hylonome (Metamorphoses Book XII.)

The above images can be browsed here.

Though published in 1958, this edition of Ovid was commissioned in 1957, and it was after seeing JYB’s preliminary drawings for this that Sandford commissioned him to illustrate The Rubaiyat. As it happened, The Rubaiyat came out first. Interestingly, JYB’s illustrations for the Ovid led to something of a falling out between Sandford, and Gwyn Jones, who had edited the text of the 1717 edition. Jones was horrified by JYB’s illustrations, telling Sandford that they “go past the delicate and indefinable limit that separates decency from indecency. Seen as a set, there’s too much nudity and it’s the wrong sort of nudity,” adding that, “there’s too much bosom and too much pubic hair throughout.” (2) As a result, Jones didn’t want his name to be associated with it, which is why his name doesn’t appear on the title page.

Sandford had apparently hoped that JYB’s spicy illustrations would revive the flagging fortunes of the Golden Cockerel Press, but in fact, they had the opposite effect, and repelled many (2). A year later, the publisher Thomas Yoseloff took over the Golden Cockerel Press – hence the Thomas Yoseloff (of London) and A.S.Barnes (of New York) reprints of the JYB Rubaiyat which appeared in 1965, 1967 and 1970. These are much more readily available than the original Golden Cockerel Press edition, and retain the same illustrations and the same text & pagination.

At this point we should take a break from art, and look at the artist.


John Erskine Joseph Yunge–Bateman, to give him his full name, was born in Folkestone, Kent, on 5 March 1897, the son of Marcus G, Yunge–Bateman, a surgeon, and his wife, Evelyn G.Yunge–Bateman. The 1901 census records the family living at 15 Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone – his father was aged 39, his mother aged 33, JYB aged 4 and he had an older brother, Esmé, aged 6. The family was well enough off to be able to afford four servants.

In 1910 JYB was admitted as a cadet at the Royal Naval College at Osborne, on the Isle of Wight, which is where we find him, age 14, in the 1911 census. It is convenient to interweave his naval career with his artistic career, since his two careers can seem at times to relate to two different men sharing the same unusual name. That they are the same person, though, will become clear as we go along, but suffice it to say at this stage that a note appended to his naval records does refer to him as “Wood engraver, book illustrator and author who worked for Golden Cockerel Press in its declining years, in a style reminiscent of John Buckland Wright.”

At the outbreak of the First World War, JYB was a Midshipman, and by the end of it was a Lieutenant. He retired as a Lieutenant–Commander in 1926, having achieved distinction early in the War at the Battle of Jutland, when his ship was torpedoed, and again later, having served as a Commander in the destroyer service at the end of the War.

Curiously his activities during the First World War came to light not from naval records but from newspaper accounts of his engagement to Miss Eileen Magee, the grand–daughter of the Archbishop of York. This ‘society’ event attracted widespread newspaper coverage, the front–page notice of it in The Bath Chronicle & Herald on 14 January 1928 being a good example (Fig.3) (3). As can be seen, Lieut. Commander JYB is “the well known artist” who “had some notable society portraits in his show last year at the Pandemonium Club [London].” Note also that he was “appointed to a Professorship at the Heatherley School of Art on his retirement from the Active List” (presumably in 1926.) Such a prestigious appointment surely indicates a considerable reputation as an artist at that time, for the School counted among its alumni Millais, Burne–Jones and Rossetti, not to mention Kate Greenaway and Walter Sickert.

The couple were married at St. Joseph’s Church, Maidenhead, on 28 April 1928, the event being reported in The Times on 30 April (p.17, col.3.) The report gives us little information of use here beyond the fact that at the time JYB was living at 29 Upper Cheyne–row, Chelsea, and that Miss Magee was living with her mother at Keith Lodge, Maidenhead, where the reception was held. The newly–weds spent their honeymoon in Cannes. During the honeymoon JYB did a number of watercolour landscapes and drawings which, on their return to London were exhibited at the Blake Studios, New Bond Street, London (4).

The couple had only one child, a daughter, Ann T. Yunge–Bateman, born in 1930.

During the Second World War JYB combined art with naval practicalities by becoming the head of a British naval camouflage section at Leamington Spa (5). In this role, in 1943, he did an oil painting, “The Outside Viewing Tank: Directorate of Camouflage, Naval Section”, currently in the collection of the Imperial War Museum. (Fig.4) This viewing tank was actually set up for conducting experiments on sea–going camouflage.

Interestingly, the earliest precursor of the nudes in The Rubaiyat and in Ovid’s Metamorphoses dates from 1940 and was a result of the War. This is his illustration for “Invocation addressed to a new Wartime Goddess” by “J.S.” It appeared in The Sketch on 11 September 1940 (p.323), and is shown here, with the text of the Invocation itself, in Fig.5. Note the signature Yunge in the lower right of the picture – we shall meet it again later.

The War also saw the end of his first marriage, for in 1941 JYB married Gladys E. Wells in Warwick, and, in the same year, his first wife, Eileen Yunge–Bateman (née Magee), married Giles Borrett in Westminster.

It appears that JYB and his new wife Gladys had a daughter, Jacqueline Elizabeth Yunge–Bateman, who was born in 1940, before their marriage. What is not clear is whether she was born out of wedlock, thus, perhaps, causing the break–up of JYB’s first marriage, or whether she was a daughter of Gladys by a previous marriage or relationship, and adopted by JYB as his step–daughter (6).

In 1950 we know that JYB was a member of the newly formed Marlborough Artists’ Group who had a travelling exhibition of some 80 paintings and drawings by their members – it had been in Marlborough and Swindon before moving to Cheltenham in September. According to a report in The Gloucestershire Echo for 5 September 1950:

Mr J. Yunge–Bateman, a distinguished commercial artist, has some striking black–and–white sketches, illustrating Shakespeare’s plays, on view. (p.4, col.6)

Unfortunately, no further details are given.

On 21 April 1956 the first issue of the comic Rocket appeared, billed as “The First Space–Age Weekly”, and with the war–time flying–ace Douglas Bader as its (nominal?) editor. It only ran for 32 weeks before folding, but during that period JYB contributed to it an illustrated series of space–related articles. Actual copies of this comic are very rare, and I have never seen one, but fortunately all 32 issues have been put online by dedicated comic enthusiasts. By way of a sample, then, the front cover of the first issue is shown in Fig.6a, this giving a good idea of the bulk of its contents, and JYB’s article on guided missiles, on p.15 of this issue, is shown in Fig.6b. The second of JYB’s articles, in the issue of 28 April 1956 (p.15), is shown in Fig.6c, and a contemporary review of the comic is shown in Fig.6d. The review is interesting, for the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, was actually launched into orbit in October 1957.

JYB died in Hastings on 16 September 1971.

Let us now turn to some of the other books illustrated by JYB. After seeing his erotic illustrations for The Rubaiyat and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, some of these will come as a surprise.

Books Illustrated

The earliest book illustrated by JYB which I have traced is an edition of King Lear published by David Magee in San Francisco in 1930, and it is no accident that the maiden–name of his first wife was also Magee, for David Magee was her younger brother (7). A limited edition of 240 copies, it is extremely rare today, the only copy known to me to be in a UK library being that in Cambridge University Library. It contained ten illustrations by JYB, five of which I give here. The captions are quotes from the play, (a. b. c) signifying, as usual, Act a, Scene b, Line(s) c:

Fig.7a: “When Majesty falls to folly!” (1.1.151)
Fig.7b: “If you come slack of former services, you shall do well.” (1.3.10–1)
Fig.7c: “If only to go warm were gorgeous, why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear’st, which scarcely keeps thee warm.” (2.4.271–3)
Fig.7d: “Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once.” (4.1.59)
Fig.7e: “But I am bound upon a wheel of fire.”(4.7.46–7)

Note again the signature “Yunge” on Figs.7c & 7d, already ecountered in Fig.5. (None of the illustrations in The Rubaiyat and Ovid’s Metamorphoses are signed.) Figs.7a & 7d bear comparison with some of Harry Clarke’s work, whilst Fig.7b has a definite Aubrey Beardsley feel to it.

The above images can be browsed here.

The next book illustrated by JYB appears to have been an English translation of a French erotic novel by Pierre Louÿs, translated by, and with an introduction by, Arthur Symons, The Woman and the Puppet. Published in London in 1935, it is the story of Dona Concepcion Perez (Concha for short), a fickle Spanish temptress & femme fatale, and her besotted ‘puppet’, Don Mateo Diaz. Its title–page & frontispiece are shown in Fig.8a. The frontispiece, together with the three sample illustrations shown in Figs.8b, 8c & 8d, will give the reader a good idea of the raunchy nature of the plot – Fig.8c is where the already tormented Don Mateo finds Concha performing as a nude dancer in a club, and Fig.8d is where she torments him further by forcing him to watch her seducing another man in a house he has just bought and furnished for her! (And yes, he does eventually lose his temper, knocking her down with a single blow, but by the end of the novel, he is begging her to come back to him, so that he can kiss her naked feet...) Note that JYB appears on the title–page as John Yunge, and that all of the illustrations pictured are signed Yunge. Only later, it seems, did he become J. Yunge–Bateman, with or without the hyphen. Note too that though we do have naked women in Fig.8c, they are not yet as exaggeratedly voluptuous as those in his Rubayat and Metamorphoses. (The above images can be browsed here.)

There is then a gap, until 1946 when JYB began book illustration in earnest, continuing thus well into the 1960s, almost until he died in 1971. Here the surprises begin.

In 1946 he illustrated two books by Charles N. Buzzard, namely Bomba the Bumble Bee and Shining Hours – the former was an educational book for children; the latter essentially an account of the author’s bee–keeping experiences in the South of France. The first of these is extremely rare, but a spin–off from it is more accessible: The Bumble Bee – a special visual aid book for schools, published by The Daily Mail in 1946. The front cover, title–page and Plate 1 are shown here as Figs. 9a, 9b & 9c respectively. It is worthy of note that Brigid Peppin and Lucy Micklethwaite, in their Dictionary of British Book Illustrators: the Twentieth Century (1983), after dismissing his Rubaiyat illustrations as “page–three titillation,” wrote of JYB, that, “his best drawings are documentary close–ups of bees.”

Sticking with a natural history theme, he also illustrated John Crompton’s book Ways of the Ant (1954) and Nesta Pain’s book Lesser Worlds (1953), a book about spiders, wasps, beetles, bees and ants. Two illustrations from the latter are shown here as Figs.10a & 10b. Later, in 1963, he illustrated Oren Arnold’s book, Marvels of the Sea and Seashore. He does seem to have had a particular leaning towards natural history illustration, then.

Backtracking in time slightly, but moving closer to our particular interest in The Rubaiyat, for Winchester Publications, he illustrated two companion volumes of Shakespeare’s longer poems, The Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis. (Recall his King Lear.) Both were published in 1948. As might be expected from their titles, both contain mildly erotic drawings, clear fore–runners of his Rubaiyat illustrations of a decade later. Five examples (out of 21) from The Rape of Lucrece are shown in Figs.11a, 11b, 11c, 11d & 11e and five examples (out of 16) from Venus and Adonis are shown in Figs.12a, 12b, 12c, 12d & 12e. They can be browsed here.

Some explanations might be in order here. The Rape of Lucrece is the story of Lucrece, the loyal and virtuous wife of Collatine, a Roman army officer, who is raped by Tarquin, a friend and fellow officer of her husband. She subsequently stabs herself in the chest after revealing all to her husband, in the presence of his fellow officers. As a result, Tarquin is banished from Rome for life. Line numbers are given for the captions of the illustrations.

Fig.11a: Tarquin in contemplation of Lucrece and Collatine (lines 288–9).
Fig.11b: The rape about to happen (lines 391–2).
Fig.11c: After the rape – Lucrece with the symbolically black face of Tarquin in the background (lines 734–5).
Fig.11d: Lucrece stabs herself, with Tarquin’s face inset (lines 1721–2).
Fig.11e: The seems to represent the soul of the dead Lucrece, with the Roman Capitol in the background (lines 1835 & 1841).

Shakespeare’s version of the story of Venus and Adonis is somewhat different to the Roman myth, for in Shakespeare the goddess Venus becomes enamoured of the handsome mortal Adonis, but her advances are rejected by him, as he is more concerned with going hunting. As in the traditional myth, however (eg Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book X), Adonis is killed in a boar hunt, the goddess mourns for him, and the anemone is created from his blood, its annual flowering to serve as a perpetual reminder of his death. Again, line numbers are given for the captions of the illustrations.

Fig.12a: Venus attempting to seduce Adonis (lines 45–6).
Fig.12b: Venus and Mars – the relevance of the god of war is that Venus once managed to seduce him (8a), so how can Adonis be so difficult to seduce (lines 109–10)?
Fig.12c: The goddess Venus, with her characteristic doves, addressing Adonis as her deer (lines 231–2).
Fig,12d: Adonis still resisting the advances of Venus (lines 355–6). If Adonis looks somewhat effeminate here and in Fig.12a, this perhaps reflects his disinclination to seduction, and indeed, in at least one ancient account Persephone describes Adonis as “a mere mortal, and effeminate at that!” (8b)
Fig.12e: The mourning Venus at the time of the creation of the anemone from the blood of Adonis – Shakespeare’s “purple flower” (lines 1165–6).

Note particularly the similar couples in Figs. 12b & 1c and the doves & stag in Figs.12c & 1g – this last is interesting because the Italian goddess Venus was originally a goddess of gardens and spring flowers (8c).

Looking at these illustrations, particularly the nudes, one does wonder if it was these Shakespeare illustrations which prompted the choice of JYB as illustrator for the Golden Cockerel editions of Ovid’s Metamorphoses and The Rubaiyat. Cave & Manson (2) say that the choice came about after Christopher Sandford saw some of JYB’s work at an exhibition in Foyle’s Gallery in London in 1956, but unfortunately they don’t give any details of the work exhibited.

But despite yet more nudes, as indicated above, we must remember that JYB illustrated books on widely different fronts. For Winchester Publications he also illustrated Roy Lacey, Wanderlust – a Travel Anthology (1948). The anthology was divided into eight parts, each of which was prefaced with a drawing by JYB, three examples of which are shown here as Figs.13a (Departure), 13b (People) & 13c (Places). On a different front, with wonderful irony given his fondness for naked women, he illustrated Louise Fellowes, A Girl’s Hobby Book (1950), three examples from which are shown here as Figs.14a (Butterflies), 14b (Gardening) and, rather oddly, 14c (Palm–reading.)

He also, incidentally, designed the dust–jackets for Eric Baume’s novel Devil Lord’s Daughter, published in London in 1949 (Fig.15a), and, more famously, for the first UK edition of Patricia Highsmith’s novel Strangers on a Train, published in London in 1950, and made famous a year later by Alfred Hitchcock’s film (Fig.15b).

JYB also illustrated Christopher Woodforde’s collection of tales of the supernatural, A Pad in the Straw (1952) (Figs. 16a & 16b); John Davey’s book for schools, Coal Mining (1960); Millicent Thomas’s story for children, Runaway Cousins (1963) (Figs.17a & 17b); Agnes Booth’s Harry Potter–ish book The Quest of the Stone (1963) (Figs.18a & 18b); and Charles Trivet, Let’s look at Cats (1964). The illustrations for the foregoing are chosen to show the wide scope of JYB’s art–work once he could tear himself away from naked women. Fig.18b incidentally reveals what seems to have been an interest of JYB’s – numismatics – for he illustrates a coin of George III in A Pad in the Straw; three ancient coins (two Greek, one Roman) in Past Glory, the first in a series of six illustrated history books for children (the “Time Remembered” series), published between 1962 and 1966; plus the Frontispiece of The Rape of Lucrece is in a medallic format.

Finally, there are three odds and ends worthy of note.

At some stage JYB seems to have been involved in illustrating the Biblical Song of Songs, though for whom and when, is not known. Certainly, it was never published, and Fig.19, an original oil–painting, seems to be the only survivor of the project. It was sold, as “the property of a gentleman” (apparently a member of the Yunge–Bateman family), in a Bonham’s auction in 2013 According to a note pasted on the back of the picture, it depicts “Song of Songs II.5, plate 3”, so we know there were at least two others in the series. (Song of Songs II.5 reads: “Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples; for I am sick of love.”)

At some stage, too, JYB seems to have been involved in illustrating the Irish legend of Cuchulain (9), though again this seems never to have been published in book form, and only one pen and ink drawing, “The Death of Cuchulain”, seems to have survived. Currently in a Private Collection, it is shown in Fig.20. It is thought to date from about 1940.

Lastly, the original pen and ink drawing shown here as Fig.21, sold by Heritage Auctions in 2016, certainly belongs to JYB’s ‘naked lady decade’ of c.1948 to c.1958. It clearly depicts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Eve being tempted by the Serpent into offering Adam the Forbidden Fruit. I am puzzled by what the Serpent has on its head – my first thought was that it was a Papal Tiara, but on closer inspection I am in two minds about that. The drawing invites comparison with Fig.2a, of course.

The above images can be browsed here.


Note 1a: Copies numbered 1 to 75 were specially bound and issued with an extra set of the seven plates together with two not printed in the book.

Note 1b: Copies numbered 1 to 75 were specially bound and issued with an extra set of the eleven plates together with three not printed in the book.

Note 2: Roderick Cave & Sarah Manson, A History of the Golden Cockerel Press 1920 – 1960 (2002), p.223–5.

Note 3: A less detailed account can be found in The Observer on 8 Jan 1928, p.23 col.2.

Note 4: The Tatler 27 June 1928, p.76 col.2; Folkestone Herald 9 June 1928, p.7 col.2.

Note 5: Guy Hartcup, Camouflage (1979), p. 53.

Note 6: Both Gladys and Jacqueline are curiously elusive in online records. Gladys E. Wells certainly married JYB in Warwick, for she is named as such in the official register of marriages for the second quarter of 1941, but then she seems to turn up nowhere else, either as Gladys E. Wells or Gladys E. Yunge–Bateman. Naval records indicate that they had one daughter, but do not name her – the name Jacqueline and her 1940 year of birth are both given in an online family tree, and the informant on JYB’s death certificate is named as Jacqueline Elizabeth Yunge–Bateman, daughter of the deceased. But I could find no official record of the birth of either a Jacqueline Wells or a Jacqueline Yunge–Bateman (with or without the Elizabeth), in the range 1940 ± 2 years, which linked up with JYB. Added to which, the online family tree names her mother and JYB’s second wife as Elizabeth J. Wells, born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire in 1919. She is easy enough to find, but the official quarterly register of marriages reveals only that in the third quarter of 1938 she married a Frederick E. King in Swindon, and that in the fourth quarter of 1945, she – “Elizabeth J. Wells or King” – married an Arthur Raywid at Colchester. Either way / both ways, JYB does not feature. Finally, the online family tree indicates that Jacqueline was adopted, but gives neither details of the circumstances nor any documentation. This could, of course, include legal adoption of a step–daughter.

Note 7: Eileen Magee and her brother David Bickersteth Magee were both born in Gargrave (near Skipton), Yorkshire, she in 1899, and he in 1905. They were two of the many children (at least seven) of John A.V. Magee, a Church of England clergyman, and his wife Gwendoline. David Magee emigrated to America in 1925, settling in San Francisco, where he eventually established a business as an antiquarian book dealer and publisher. He died in San Francisco in 1977. His sister Eileen died in Eastbourne, East Sussex, in 1981.

Note 8a: Robert Graves, The Greek Myths (1980 ed), vol.1, ch.18 (Aphrodite), sections a to c. This is the original Greek version of the story, of course, involving Aphrodite (= the Roman Venus) and Ares (= the Roman Mars). The story is most famously told by Demodocus in Book VIII of Homer’s Odyssey.

Note 8b: Robert Graves, as in note 8a above, section j. In this Greek version, Persephone taunts the war god Ares (Mars) by telling him that Aphrodite (Venus) now prefers the effeminate Adonis to him. In jealousy, Ares turns himself into the wild boar that gores Adonis.

Note 8c: See the article on Venus in G.E. Marindin, A Smaller Classical Dictionary (1910 ed), this being an edited, revised, and in some parts re–written, edition of Sir William Smith’s larger dictionary.

Note 9: Recounted, for example, in Cuchulain of Muirthemne, the Story of the Men of the Red Branch of Ulster, a version of the Cuchulain legends based on oral and written versions as collected and translated by Lady Augusta Gregory. It was first published in 1902, and ran to numerous editions, the last of which, prior to 1940, seems to have appeared in 1934. Another re–telling of the legends was in Eleanor Hull’s book, Cuchulain: the Hound of Ulster, whose first edition appeared in 1909, with numerous other editions following, the last of which, prior to 1940, seems to have appeared in 1937. All of these editions of Hull were illustrated by Stephen Reid, however.


I must particularly thank Joe Howard not only for locating the online copies of Rocket and directing me to them, but also for proof reading this article and raising a number of useful points. I must also thank Sandra Mason & Bill Martin, Fred Diba, and Roger Paas for their proof reading and their various helpful suggestions.


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