Jump to content

J. D. Beresford

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from John D. Beresford)

J.D. Beresford
BornJohn Davys Beresford
(1873-03-17)17 March 1873
Died2 February 1947(1947-02-02) (aged 73)
GenreScience fiction, horror, ghost stories, mystery novel
ChildrenElisabeth Beresford
Marcus Beresford (a.k.a. Marc Brandel)

John Davys Beresford (17 March 1873 – 2 February 1947) was an English writer, now remembered mainly for his early science fiction and some short stories of the horror story and ghost story genres. Beresford was a great admirer of H. G. Wells, and wrote the first critical study of Wells in 1915.[1] His Wellsian novel The Hampdenshire Wonder (1911) was a major influence for the author Olaf Stapledon.[2] His other science-fiction novels include The Riddle of the Tower, about a dystopian, hive-like society.[3]



His father, John James Beresford (1821 – 1897),[4] was a clergyman in Castor, now in Cambridgeshire near Peterborough. His mother was Adelaide Elizabeth Morgan (1837 – 1902).[5] J. D. Beresford was affected by infantile paralysis, which left him partially disabled.[6][7] He was educated at Oundle.

After training to become an architect, he became a professional writer, first as a dramatist, and journalist. During early adulthood, he rejected his father's theism and became a "determined but defensive" agnostic.[8] He combined a life in Edwardian literary London with time spent in the provinces, in particular Cornwall, where D. H. Lawrence had an extended stay in his Porthcothan cottage. Later in life Beresford abandoned his earlier agnosticism and described himself as a Theosophist and a pacifist.[6]

Beresford was also interested in psychology, and attended several meetings organised by Alfred Richard Orage to discuss psychological issues. Other attendees at these meetings included Havelock Ellis, Clifford Sharp, David Eder and Maurice Nicoll.[9]

Beresford also contributed to numerous publications; in addition to being a book reviewer for The Manchester Guardian, he also wrote for the New Statesman,[10] The Spectator, Westminster Gazette, and the Theosophist magazine The Aryan Path.[11] At one time, Beresford was offered the editorship of the pacifist magazine Peace News but refused because he claimed he "would be a bad editor".[12]

Beresford's interest with spiritualism and philosophy may be illustrated best by the publisher's notes to his novel, On A Huge Hill:

"Mr Beresford's readers have long known that that for him there are more things in heaven or earth than are dreamt of in official medical philosophy. He has used his novelist's skill to convince the sensitive reader that the age of miracles is not over, and that, in certain circumstances, the spirit may exercise what seem to us miraculous powers over the substance of the body. This he did in 'The Camberwell Miracle' and 'Peckover'; and in this absorbing novel, he returns to the theme, with the study of a man fitting himself to become a great healer."

Dorothy L. Sayers quotes from Beresford's essay "Writing Aloud" in her book on theology, Mind of the Maker.[13] She also mentions him in passing in Whose Body?.[14]

George Orwell in 1945 described him as a "natural novelist", whose strength, particularly in A Candidate For Truth, was his ability to take seriously the problems of ordinary people.[15]

Elisabeth Beresford (1926–2010), children's writer and creator of The Wombles, was his daughter. Through his son, writer Marc Brandel (Marcus Beresford),[16] he is the great-grandfather of American actors Griffin Newman and James Newman.

He was married twice, first to Florence Linda Brown (1870 – 1916) and then to Eveline "Trissy" Beatrice Auford Roskams (1880 – 1975)[17]


  • The Early History of Jacob Stahl (1911), the first of a trilogy of novels with A Candidate For Truth and The Invisible Event
  • The Hampdenshire Wonder (1911) Novel
  • A Candidate For Truth (1912)
  • Goslings: A World of Women (1913) Novel
  • The House in Demetrius Road (1914) Novel
  • The Invisible Event (1915) Novel
  • H.G. Wells (1915) criticism
  • These Lynneskers (1916) Novel
  • William Elphinstone Ford (1917) biography, with Kenneth Richmond
  • House Mates (1917) Novel
  • Nineteen Impressions (1918) stories
  • God's Counterpoint (1918) Novel
  • The Jervaise Comedy (1919) Novel
  • The Imperfect Mother (1920) Novel
  • Signs and Wonders (1921, Golden Cockerel Press) stories
  • Revolution (1921) Novel
  • The Prisoners of Hartling (1922) Novel
  • The Imperturbable Duchess and Other Stories (1923)
  • Monkey Puzzle (1925)
  • That Kind of Man, or Almost Pagan (1926) Novel
  • The Decoy (1927) Novel
  • The Instrument of Destiny (1928) mystery novel
  • All or Nothing (1928) Novel
  • Real People (1929) Novel
  • The Meeting Place and Other Stories (1929)
  • Love's Illusion (1930)
  • The Next Generation (1932) Novel
  • The Old People (1932) Novel
  • The Camberwell Miracle (1933) novel
  • Peckover (1934) Novel
  • On A Huge Hill (1935) Novel
  • Blackthorn Winter and other stories (1936)
  • Cleo (1937) Novel
  • What Dreams May Come (1941) Novel
  • A Common Enemy (1941) Novel
  • Men in the Same Boat (1943) (with Esmé Wynne-Tyson)
  • The Riddle of the Tower (1944) (with Esmé Wynne-Tyson) (reprinted by Solar Press in 2023)
  • The Gift (1947) (with Esmé Wynne-Tyson)
  • The Prisoner
  • Love's Pilgrim
  • The Tapestry


  1. ^ Michael R. Page, The Literary Imagination from Erasmus Darwin to H.G. Wells:Science, Evolution, and Ecology Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2012 (p. 191) ISBN 1409438694.
  2. ^ Brian Stableford, The Hampdenshire Wonder in Frank N. Magill, ed. Survey of Science Fiction Literature, Vol. 2. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, 1979. pp. 945–949. ISBN 0-89356-194-0
  3. ^ Brian Stableford, The Riddle of the Tower in Frank N. Magill, ed. Survey of Science Fiction Literature, Vol. 4. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, 1979. pp. 1780–1783. ISBN 0-89356-194-0
  4. ^ "John Davys Beresford 1873-1947 – Ancestry®".
  5. ^ "John Davys Beresford 1873-1947 – Ancestry®".
  6. ^ a b Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft, Twentieth Century Authors, A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature, (Third Edition). New York, The H.W. Wilson Company, 1950, (p.p. 130-1)
  7. ^ George M. Johnson, J. D. Beresford. Twayne Publishers, 1998 ISBN 0805770399. (p.2)
  8. ^ SF Encyclopedia article
  9. ^ Mathew Thompson, Psychological Subjects: Identity, Culture, and Health in Twentieth-Century Britain. Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0199287805 (p. 78-80).
  10. ^ Bashir Abu-Manneh, Fiction of the New Statesman: 1913 – 1939, Lexington Books, 2011 ISBN 1611493528. (p. 37)
  11. ^ Johnson, ( p.177)
  12. ^ Johnson, p. 30.
  13. ^ Dorothy L. Sayers, Mind of the Maker, Continuum, 2005 ISBN 0826476783 (p. 25). Reprint of 1941 edition.
  14. ^ Dorothy L. Sayers, Whose Body?, Gollancz, 1947 (p. 141). Reprint of 1928 first edition.
  15. ^ "Good Bad Books" Tribune 2 November 1945
  16. ^ Joseph F. Clarke (1977). Pseudonyms. BCA. p. 26.
  17. ^ "John Davys Beresford 1873-1947 – Ancestry®".
  • Bleiler, Everett (1948). The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Chicago: Shasta Publishers. p. 49.

Further reading

  • Frank Swinnerton, "Oliver Onions and J.D. Beresford", in The Georgian literary scene, 1910–1935. London, : London, Heinemann (1935).
  • George M. Johnson, "J.D. Beresford". Dictionary of Literary Biography. British Short-Fiction Writers 1915–1945. Ed. John H. Rogers. Detroit: Gale Research (1996).
  • Richard Bleiler, "John Davys Beresford" in Darren Harris-Fain, ed. British Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Before World War I. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, (1997).
  • George M. Johnson, J.D. Beresford New York : Twayne Publishers. (1998)
  • George M. Johnson, "J.D. Beresford". Dictionary of Literary Biography. Late-Victorian and Edwardian British Novelists, Second Series. Ed. George M. Johnson. Detroit: Gale Research, (1999).
  • George M. Johnson, Dynamic Psychology in Modernist British Fiction. Palgrave Macmillan, U.K., 2006.
  • George M. Johnson, "The Other Side of Edwardian Fiction: Two Forgotten Fantasy Novels of 1911". Wormwood: Literature of the fantastic, supernatural and decadent. U.K., No. 16 (Spring 2011) 3–15.
  • George M. Johnson, "Evil is in the Eye of the Beholder: Threatening Children in Two Edwardian Speculative Satires". Science Fiction Studies. Vol. 41, No.1 (March 2014): 26–44.