THE ROMANCE OF THE SWORD
Celebrating Swashbucklers & Heroic Fantasies
Haarrrrr, mates! If I believed in reincarnation I should think I was once Anne Bonny, a "lady pirate" as some have called her, though none who met Anne & her life's companion Mary Reed ever thought them ladylike. Anne & Mary sailed the high seas doing mischief in the company of two chaps who some would have us believe were Anne & Mary's lovers & who knows, maybe they all did a bit of the hankypanky now & then in every possible combination of human flesh. The chaps' names were Calico Jack with his life's companion Pierre the Pansy Pirate, I kid you not, that was his handle. Pierre sewed all the crew's clothes & word has it they were the cutest-dressed pirates of the Carribean. Pierre worked longest & most lovingly on Jack's costumes, which is how Jack came by the nick-name Calico. The whole history of Carribean piracy is a homosexual history & "mate" has implied buggery from time immemorial where the sea is concerned. So too the earliest "gay bars" in North America were pirate hang-outs in the Carolinas. So that's right, a dyke couple, Mary & Anne, & a faggot couple, Pierre & Jack wrongly though popularly misconstrued as heterosexuals because, I guess, being a murdering pirate is hunkydory but being a god damned queer has to be covered up.
And if I was once Anne Bonny, then my sweetums, Rhonda, who goes by Granny Artemis, must've been Mary Reed. Granny Artemis & I live in a big Edwardian house on top of a hill with a sweeping view of Sinclair Inlet, a deep bay connected to Puget Sound. Once were clipper ships & then steamships anchored out there, but today there are big naval warships & not everyone agrees these make for a beautiful view. One aging Viet Nam protesting buddy who thinks it is still 1966 told me it was a horrible view because there was evidence of America's repugnant Military Machine out there beyond the window. Yeah right, like my old view of a dark alley & a brick wall was as thrilling. Personally I think the Navy ships look grand there in the bay. And seeing as how I have not had a "real" job in a couple decades but have lived off what I could make writing new books & selling antiquarian books, & have managed nevertheless to become a homeowner with books scattered about all three floors, I consider myself just about the luckiest bum that ever was.
The great authors of swashbuckling romances did their research & though it went unspoken, they well knew of the underlying history that embraced such handsome & likeable felons as historyi's Calico Jack & Pierre the Pansy Pirate. It's why the Scarlet Pimpernel & Zorro were heroic only when in disguise; their "real" selves were fops. So too with the works of Jeffery Farnol & Stanley Weyman, & in the heroic fantasy tales of Cugel the Clever by Jack Vance. Fops, nabobs & dandies left & right.
Well, I dunno if that has anything to do with why I love the tales. But love 'em I do. For several years I studied iai-do the way of the fast-draw sword, though I've not done it for some while & no good at it anymore. It was undertaken partly as research while I was writing the Tomoe Gozen Saga, three novels about a woman samurai that were originally published by Ace Books. Tomoe Gozen actually existed in medieval Japan, but my books were fantasy with only an echo of authentic history about them, though I think ther is something of true spiritual history of martial philosophy in those pages. The first of these novels was recently re-released by Pacific Warriors, Inc., in a corrected edition & titled The Disfavored Hero. You'll find a little advertisment on how to obtain this book if you go to the written for sale in the Announcements Page & scroll dow nto the illustration of Tomoe on horseback with swords upraised. When I finished the lengthy process of writing those tales of swashbuckling mayhem of bloody slaughter, I sort of drifted away from studying martial arts. At heart I'd rather be up on the fo'castle reading a book rather than hone skills that might permit me to lop a few heads off their shoulders.
I founded Violet Books Dot Com not just as a place to sell books of the sort I could honestly praise, but also to in general celebrate the kinds of fiction that the literary academicians have too often poo-poo'd as "merely" escapist or anti-intellectual or down-market. But even the academics have come around & the popular literature of each generation is increasingly recognized for its merits. Violet Books Dot Com has been linked to fan websites, university websites, & all kinds of bibliomaniacal locations all over the web. Which suggests I'm succeeding at my main goal: To have an information-rich website that will be exceedingly valuable to anyone who loves old adventure tales & fantasies & vintage juvenile books, whether or not there is ever any need to purchase a book from me.
I cover a wide spectrum of vintage fiction & over time the number of essays & art features just on swashbucklers, historicals, & heroic fantasy all manner of "sword fiction" is getting to be impressive all by itself. If you want to see the full array of essays, bibliographies, & galleries at Violet Books Dot Com you can use the navigator bar at the bottom of the page to negotiate the complete website. The present page, however, is all you need to find your way amidst an array of material about swashbucklers.
On Swashbucklers & Other Histories:
On Stanley Weyman, greatest of the Yellow Nineties Swashbuckling Romancers.
The Annotated Stanley Weyman Bibliography will acquaint you with all his works.
The Pirate Novels of Col. Prentiss Ingraham illustrated with very colorful dustwrappers for the whole series.
The Life & Times of Jeffery Farnol, Esq is a short biography of the last great master of swashbuckling romance.
Arthur St. John Adock on Jeffery Farnol is a leading critic's 1923 assessment if the great romancer.
The Jeffery Farnol Dustwrapper Gallery will acquaint you with illustrators for one of the masters of swashbuckling fiction.
Annotated Jeffery Farnol Bibliography shall assist you in compiling a set of his thrilling swashbucklers.
Gadzooks! It's Jeffery Farnol! is a minor whimsy.
Films based on the works Jeffery Farnol has been annotated for thy idle interest.
Annotated bibliography of Robert Neilson Stephens provides an introduction to this neglected swashbuckler author of the Stanley Weyman school.
M. B. S. Strode-Jackson's Elizabethan Romance Tansy Taniard is accompanied by a portrait of the author.
Rose Petals, Drops of Blood: The Life of Marjorie Bowen will acquaint you with a very prolific author of of both swashbuckling historicals of the moodiest kind & supernatural horrors generally set in historical periods.
The Gallery of Historical Delights is a collection of beautiful dustwrappers on vintage swashbucklers & historicals.
Gallery of Swashbucklers is another collection of rare dustwrappers on vintage action-historicals.
Gallery of Pirates & Swordsmen offers another dozen dustwrappers on books dear to our hearts.
Emma-Lindsay Squier & the Dancing Pirate is one of several articles in my Emma-Lindsay Squier Webpages that will acquaint you with a neglected author of the 1920s & 1930s.
Emma-Lindsay's Magic Wand is a rembrance of the author br Aileen Bloch, a family member.
About Cynthia Stockley & Her South African Romances is a revealing article about this forgotten chronicler of South African life a hundred years ago.
The Cynthia Stockley Annotated Bibliography is illustrated with images of the excellent bindings her books were given.
The Fantastic Historicals of Leo Perutz is an overview of this great Jewish author.
Romantist Illustrations by Joseph C. Leyendecker, from Egerton R. Williams, Jr.'s 1906 swashbuckler Ridolfo, The Coming of the Dawn: A Tale of the Renaissance. Leyendecker was a gay artist best known for his illustrations of the Arrow Shirt Man, who was his lover!
Illustration Plates by Arthur I. Keller for a tale of Provence in days of the Troubadours, namely from William Lindsey's The Severed Mantle (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909)
Me & My Westerns is a sentimental reflection on what wild west fiction has meant in my life, & despite that the gun has supplanted the sword, westerns tend to be swashbucklers of a sort with a lot of Sir Walter Scott underlying the conventions of the genre.
On Heroic Fantasies:
Thoughts on the Enjoyment of Heroic Fantasy with special reference to Robert E. Howard.
Chronological Checklist of the Biography of Manuel or the Chronicles of Poictesme according to James Branch Cabell, incorporating ammendments proposed by later commentators.
Amazon Heroic Fantasy: A Critical Overviewlooks at a popular element of today's continuing fascination for sword fiction in the mass-market.
On Robert E. Howard's "The Swordswoman" takes a close look at a Dark Agnes.
Conab the Bonehead, A Tale spoofs one of my favorite literatures.
Strange Compassion: The Genius & Tragedy of David Madison is the only extant chronicle of a brilliant young fantasist who died before his time.
King Arthur & His Knights Illustrations by J. Allen St. John, namely from William Lindsey's The Severed Mantle (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909)
Persian illustrations for The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, this fabular artwork having appeared in an actual Iranian edition of the tentmaker's great poem.
Illustrations by Norman Little for Ethel M. Wilmot-Buxton's "Faust & Marguerite," a tale of swashbuckling mayhem & diabolism.
Romanticist Fairy Tale Illustrations for Wolfgang Hacklander by an uncredited artist in an old German edition of Hacklander. From this page you can link to an index numerous other Golden Age of Book Illustration "rooms."
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