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Found Pages: The Remarkable Harold Ernest (“Darcy Glinto”) Kelly, 1899–1969.

Sidebar 8: Scandal

1. The 1942 Old Bailey Trial

(a) Reports

From The Bookseller; the Organ of the Book Trade, April 23, 1942

Front page report of the hearing before a magistrate at the Bow Street Police Court to determine whether the case should proceed to trial, Jarrolds and Wells, Gardner, Darton both being represented by counsel:

So far as James Hadley Chase’s Miss Callaghan Comes to Grief was concerned [a representative of the Director of Public Prosecutions is being paraphrased], it was far from being a work of literature, and the Court might well find it was deliberately pornographic, and pornography of the vilest type, being produced at the psychological moment when it was likely to cause the greatest evil and make the most money for its publishers. It was a new type of obscenity, so far as the Courts were concerned. In nearly every case where books had been the subject of proceedings they had dealt frankly with, or expressed too freely, normal sex relationships. Although they had been undesirable, the appeal was to a natural instinct. The book in question described acts of debased sexual perverts, and the appeal was to sadism. There were descriptions of the stripping, beating, torturing and raping of young women. This must have been abundantly clear to the publishers when they read the book, yet they had foisted it on to the public and made large profits. …

Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., Ltd., Kingsway, W.C., and Harold Ernest Kelly, author, writing as Darcy Glinto, of Curtis Mill Green, Navestock, near Romford, were at the same Court committed for trial on summonses alleging respectively the publishing and causing to be published two obscene books, Road Floozie and Lady, Don’t Turn Over.

Det.-Sergeant Norman said the managing director of the company told him all copies of Road Floozie had been withdrawn following another prosecution, adding,

“I cannot see how the books can be described as obscene.” Kelly said: “I fail to see how either of the books can be described as obscene. There is no question of perversion in any book I have written.”

The officer went on to say that Lady, Don’t Turn Over dealt with respectable women being kidnapped and confined in a brothel. He agreed in cross-examination that the company had been established 150 years and that they bore the highest reputation. Kelly had never been in any trouble before.

Mr. Lawrence Vine, defending counsel, formally submitted that neither of the books was obscene, judged by the definition in Regina v. Hickling or by any other standard.

The defendants in this case, who also elected to be tried by a jury, were committed for trial.


From The Times (London), May 20, 1942, p.8, column C (photocopy)


Messrs. Jarrold Publishers (London) Limited were found Guilty at the Central Criminal Court yesterday of publishing an obscene book, entitled “Miss Callaghan Comes to Grief,” and they were fined £100 with 50 guineas costs. The author of the book, René Raymond, 35 (James Hadley Chase), at present an Air Force Officer, was found Guilty of causing the book to be published, and he also was fined £100.

Following this case, Messrs. Wells, Gardner, Darton and Company, Limited, publishers, withdrew a plea of “Not Guilty” and pleaded “Guilty” to a charge of publishing two obscene books entitled “Road Floozie,” and “Lady Don’t Turn Over,” and they were fined £50 on each of the two charges, with 50 guineas costs.

The author, Harold Ernest Kelly, 43, was also fined £50 on each charge, on pleading “Guilty” to causing the books to be published.

A hundred pounds then would be the equivalent of at least five thousand dollars now. (See Note 8)

A pen-and-ink note, five-by-four-inches, in a small neat handwriting, in my copy of the 1940 edition of Lady—Don’t Turn Over (with on the front cover a small faded ink stamp reading “Leicester Square Book Stores, 98A Leicester Square, London, WC2. Tel Whitehall 3579), gives the following information:

This book has been withdrawn, owing to a Police Prosecution.

Publishers and author committed for trial.


Wells Gardner, Darton and Co., Ltd, publishers, were fined 50 on each of two charges of publishing obscene books and ordered to pay 50 guineas costs.

Harold Ernest Kelly (Glinto), 43, author, was also fined L50 on each of two charges and ordered to remain in custody until the money was paid.[Italicsmine.]

The titles of the two books in this case were: ‘Lady, Don’t Turn Over’ and ‘Road Floozie.’

The News Chronicle, 20.v.42

(b) Expurgation

Lady—Don’t Turn Over was reissued in 1952 by Hector and Harold Kelly’s Robin Hood Press.

The front cover of my hardcover copy of the 1940 Lady is so loosely attached now that I'm reluctant to handle the book. But the principal change is probably the one that comes at the end of chapter VIII.

In the original text, going on from what is there in the 1952 reissue, we have:

Then suddenly he leaned forward quickly, pressed off the light, and dropped down on her fumbling at her waist. He found the cord end and pulled and it unknotted. She began to scream but he was in time. He pulled up the wrap and muffled it over her face. Then he felt the warmth and softness of her body and it set him on fire. She was making weak blubbering noises under the folds of the wrap. Then she gave a convulsive heave of her body and screamed, but the wrap muffled the sound, and there was no one near enough to hear anyway.

In the third paragraph of Chapter I, instead of the first three sentences there now, we have:

“A bit late for keeping your legs private,” he said, and jerked her skirt back. His other hand held a gun. The girl half moved to resist but then went limp again. She remained with about three inches of thigh showing, but she only looked at the gun.

Having her looking at the gun with eyes covered with wool (cotton wool?) plugs suggests that the book was written and published fast.

Also, at the end of the last-but-one paragraph of chapter XIX, about the killing of Cora Bilt by Matsu, we have, "as he wiped the knife clean on her vest," the last three words being omitted in the 1952 edition.

There are a couple of places in Road Floozie where there might have been small cuts, The only copy of the original edition in captivity in Britain, according to Copac, is in the library of Trinity College Dublin. When I enquired, it had gone missing.

Copac according to its self-description, is an online catalogue providing access to the online catalogues of 24 major university research libraries in the UK and Ireland, plus the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, and the National Library of Wales.

I have since been given a photocopy of the first edition of Road Floozie. The cuts in chapter 7 were bigger than I’d assumed, and there were smaller cuts elsewhere. See Sidebar 3, XVIII and XIX. A copy of the book appeared on eBay and, I was told, went to a lucky dealer for a mere sixty pounds. I wasn’t bidding myself.

(c) Miss Callaghan Comes to Grief

According to Copac, copies of James Hadley Chase’s Miss Callaghan Comes to Grief (1941) are in three British libraries, but it appears to be unavailable commercially. I imagine it’s a collectible.

Translated into French by Jacques Legris as Méfiez-vous, fillettes! (sort of Watch Out, Girls!), it was published by the respectable firm of Gallimard in 1949 as part of their James Hadley Chase series, and is still in print.

In 2006, Benoit Tadié wrote:

I've made a lucky find today: the Scherz Phoenix edition of Miss Callaghan Gomes to Grief, published in Berne/Paris, 1947, "not to be introduced into the British Empire or the USA". Got it for the modest sum of three Euros at a secondhand bookstall. I suppose you might be interested in having the original texts of the passages you retranslated from the French, so here they are:

(1) He got off the bed, went into the other room and found some cord. He came back again, stripped off the sheet, turned her over on her face and tied her hands behind her. He turned her again and gagged her with her stockings that hung over the bedrail. Then he fastened her ankles securely to each of the bedposts. By the time he had finished she had recovered from the blow. Her eyes pleaded, but he didn't look at her.

He went out and came back after a few minutes with a small bottle containing some colourless fluid. He sat down beside her on the bed. "After tonight you'll do anything that I tell you without hesitation. I ain't got time to persuade you. I like a dame to obey. You'll obey after this."

He took the cork out of the bottle and, bending over her shrinking body, poured the fluid on to her night-dress, low down.

She jerked as the cold fluid ran down her body. A strong smell of turpentine filled the room. Raven got up and replaced the cork. "It'll take a couple of weeks to get over this," he said with a little grin. "But I can wait. I shan't have to do it again."

She lay very still, a puzzled look in her eyes. She couldn't understand why he had done this. She felt nothing, only the cold wetness on her skin. She could understand pain, she could understand beating, but this defeated her.

He made sure that the bonds were tight, testing the knots carefully. He adjusted the gag and then he straightened.

The puzzled look in her eyes suddenly gave way to fear. The fluid began to penetrate. She twisted this way and that as the horrible burning sensation began to grow.

Raven nodded. "I'll see you in the morning," he said, turning out the light, and went away, leaving her writhing in the heavy darkness. (Part II, ch. 4, pp. 156-7)

(2) Sadie flinched. "Must I talk about that?"

"I know just how you feel, but if we're to save other girls from this business we must know all about it."

"From what I heard, the girls were put in separate rooms and left to sleep off the drugs. When they recovered they found themselves in bed with a coloured man. Sometimes it was a Chink, or a nigger, or even a Phillipine. They relied on the psychological shock to lower the girl's resistance, and in most cases it was successful. Some of the girls refused, of course, and then they would beat them into submission." Sadie shuddered. "No one knows what that means unless you've actually experienced it. To be beaten every hour of the day until your body is swollen and so tender that the weight of a sheet makes you scream in agony. No one can stand that, Mr. Campbell. I don't care who it is." (Part II, ch.12, p. 197)

2. Transpositions

In the section of The Uses of Literacy (1957) headed “Sex-and-Violence Novels,” Richard Hoggart offers for our disapproval (and entertainment?) the following pastiche of gangster fiction.

And all the time old Liz squatted near the fire, like a moulting old parrot. Her eyes were nearly lost in circles of puffy fat with red rings round them. Her cheeks were cracked in lines where some white powder had stuck on and gone dirty. Her stockings were rolled down to her knees, and her knees were white like uncooked pastry. She wore an old purple lace dress, tight and bulgy round her sack-like body. Her hands were like hams going blue and bad.

“Time we fixed up Molony,” said Lefty at last.

He tossed away the butt of his cigarette and went over to where Molony was fastened to the center-post. Molony had pretty well recovered from that smack on the carotid artery when he’d gone black and dropped. By now his face was just yellow and strained with panic, and his eyes stuck out like a strangled rabbit’s.

“You can’t do this to me, Lefty,” he said.

Lefty went up to Molony and carefully showed him the knife; then let him see it placed against his stomach. Then Lefty pressed gently but firmly like a butcher going into steak. He was still grinning straight into Molony’s eyes when Molony let out one rattling scream and sagged. Lefty sniggered then, pulled out the knife and wiped it very carefully. “Now for the dame,” he said.

The girl felt herself recoiling with horror as the waves of panic and pain succeeded each other. Between whiles Butch had been slapping her hard across the eyes with his open hand, and every so often he’d make as though to drive his knee into her groin.

By now her dress was torn down to her stomach and her negligee ripped and soiled. As her almost naked breasts rose and fell, Lefty, from near the stove, watched out of the corner of his eyes and every so often spat deliberately into the embers. After a while the red waves of pain began to overwhelm her, but just before she went under she saw Lefty get up with a new and horrible look in his eyes. … She began giving little gurgling sounds and her legs twitched in spasms.

The Uses of Literacy; aspects of working-class life, with special reference to publications and entertainment, London, 1957, p.218, ellipsis sic.

This is more violent than anything that I have encountered in the Glinto novels. How representative it is of works by other writers I cannot say. For a lot of readers it has almost certainly been their only brush with the genre.

The opening paragraph is a reworking of the following from No Orchids:

Ma Grisson, from her chair, soaked Miss Blandish into her brain. Ma was big, fat and lumpy. The flesh hung in two loose folds on each side of her mouth. Her nose hooked sharply, and her little eyes were bright and unblinking. They were bad eyes, hard and shiny, like bits of glass. Her big floppy chest sparkled with cheap jewellery. She was wearing a cream lace dress which made her look like a stack of unwashed curtains. Her huge arms, mottled with veins, crawled through the network of the lace like dough bound in wire netting. She sat in a heap, her hands grasping her knees.

The knifing comes courtesy of what is surely the most remembered and most disturbing passage in No Orchids:

Slim still smiled. This was good. He liked them to turn yellow. He put his hand on Riley’s shirt and jerked it out of Riley’s trousers. With a powerful wrench he tore the shirt-tail away. Riley stood there [ tied to the tree ], yammering.

“You’re getting’ it there, Frankie,” Slim said, pricking the shuddering flesh with his knife. “Right in the guts, pal, an’ you’ll take a mighty long time to croak.”

“You wouldn’t do that to me, Slim,” Riley gasped—“you can’t do it. I’m a right guy—don’t I keep tellin’ you? I wouldn’t do nothing’ to you, Slim. You ain’t goin’ to cut me like that? No! … Slim! … No! … Help! Help! … Slim! Don’t do it, Slim! …“

Slim, still smiling, put his weight on the knife. The knife went in slowly as if it were going into butter.

Riley drew his lips back. His mouth opened. There was a long hiss of expelled breath as he stood cringing against the tree.

Slim stepped back, leaving the black hilt of the knife growing out of Riley like a horrible malformation.

Riley began uttering low, quivering cries. His knees were buckling, but the cord held him.

Slim sat on the grass a few feet away. He pushed his hat over his eyes and squinted at Riley.

“Take your time, pal,” he said, and then he giggled.

James Hadley Chase, No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1939)

There is no passage corresponding to the part after that in Chase’s No Orchids, or Miss Callaghan Comes to Grief, or Twelve Chinks and a Woman or, I am morally certain, in anything by Glinto. I am curious about its provenance.

Is Hoggart alluding to some other book? Or has he given his Id an outing?




May 2006

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