Saturday, February 21, 2015

In Memoriam

Confirmed my fears for a month (after receiving no response to two e-mails) that my dear old teacher; guide who improved my writing of poetry and prose, and by so doing gave me the will to completely alter my plan for a book on Rafael Sabatini; friend whose praise of the chapters I showed him gave me the courage to self-publish - Dr Jaysinh Birje-Patil - went to his Maker on 18 January after a heart attack. Out of the first feeling of desolation came the memory of all he taught me, and so this:

[The quotation is from Rafael Sabatini's The Minion.]


J. B-P

Always too soon they go, with no farewell,
 who caused flowers to break out upon a dried-up stem.

     They walk in the realm of endless light;
     Time buries all that time has brought.

Yea, but I shall walk with them,
The flowers in my hand.

©2015 by Ruth Heredia

Sunday, February 08, 2015


 Some Homes of the Rafael Sabatini family

After he got married Rafael Sabatini moved to Laleham on Thames, in Surrey, to the address 'Thames Cottage'. The original building was not to be found even in the 1980s, when Jesse Knight searched for it. 

But now there are some photographs, photographed from photographs (yes, that's right) stuck into albums by the Dixon nephews of Ruth Sabatini and made available to Jesse and Dollie in 1986. The negatives have recently been scanned and saved (naturally showing all the wear and tear of time and storage) and the very best of those showing Thames Cottage is reserved for Reading Rafael, the second volume of ROMANTIC PRINCE, because it contains a discovery which even I, fond as I am of Rafael, could not imagine!

In this photograph we can see a number of persons at their ease on what I shall call the front verandah because this dwelling is nearer in size to a bungalow of British India than to my idea of an English cottage. We are reminded that Rafael entertained many friends wherever he stayed.

Because the first London address that Jesse had found for Rafael after he moved to the city dates to 1917 and No 81 Albert Bridge Road, Battersea, it was assumed that this was the first address. Now I have found a letter dated May 1912, to Francis Pryor (remember the dedication of THE SEA-HAWK?) and sent from 32 Cyril Mansions, Battersea Park.

I did not really expect to locate either of these original buildings. They must surely have been destroyed by enemy action in WW II, or by developers, I thought. But these are the images I found online, from estate agents' websites, first Cyril Mansions, then 81 Albert Bridge Road. 

After the wild success of SCARAMOUCHE and CAPTAIN BLOOD the Sabatinis moved to Rafael's own house in Hampstead. It is very well preserved and recent photographs as well as some from the interior (dating to 1926) will be found in Reading Rafael.

Christine Dixon lived at 19 Stanford Court, Cornwall Gardens after her divorce. When Rafael married her it became his town address, too. Once again, this image is from an online estate agent's site.

No 22 Pont Street, to which the Sabatini couple moved after the loss of their son, has been so altered that it would not matter to us what it looks like now.

About addresses connected with Rafael in Liverpool, and about Clock Mill before and after Rafael went to live there, there will be more here on my blog as I find the time.

About Rafael in Porto there is another delightful surprise reserved for Reading Rafael!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


Jesi and Rafael Sabatini

More often than not, the biographical notes about Rafael Sabatini published in periodicals, their data obtained from publishers' handouts, would stress the medieval aspect of Jesi, Rafael's birthplace, when the child was growing from new-born to three and a half. They sometimes even implied crumbling stonework, mouldy, dank, and dark.  There is no way anyone can verify what Jesi looked and felt like between 1875 and 1878.

But here is a photograph of a crumpled photocopy of a photograph taken at some time early in the last century. It shows the Palazzo Magagnini, next-door neighbour of the house where Rafael was born. Doesn't look crumbly or mouldy to me.

Jesse F. Knight and Dollie C. Smith took some photographs in Jesi on a visit decades later (possibly in 2001). I believe they were taken with an eye to the impression created by the biographical notes I've mentioned, and to the impression in their minds of descriptions in novels and short stories by Rafael - the ones set in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

All of Jesi doesn't look like this! The Palazzo Magagnini today is brightly attractive with a cafe and shops; the whole square is full of sunshine and pleasing views. But these 6 photographs are quite imaginatively evocative ... or so I think. (There are no captions to the original photographs as received by me. Even the Palazzo above was identified by my detective work.)