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An Auld Licht Funeral

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Barrie had sent Frederick Greenwood "An Auld Licht Community" in October 1884, and it was duly published in the St James's Gazette. Thus "bellied out by the winds of his success", he submitted other articles - we know not what, but they were rejected. Barrie later recounted what followed in The Greenwood Hat (referring to himself as Anon):

"On one of the rejected the glorious man had scribbled, ‘But I liked that Scotch thing—any more of those?’ It was Anon’s first paper on the Auld Lichts, and the terrific date of its appearance was November 17, 1884. In dispatching that article he thought he had exhausted the subject, but in no time thereafter he sent off ‘An Auld Licht Funeral’ (accepted), which led promptly to ‘An Auld Licht Courtship’ (accepted), and henceforth I tell you he was frequently at his loom weaving Auld Lichts.”

Here then is "An Auld Licht Funeral" as it appeared in the St James's Gazette on January 9th 1885. As with his other Auld Licht articles, Barrie later incorporated them into his first successful novel, Auld Licht Idylls (1888), but with names and details changed to give the stories (or idylls) a more cohesive framework, yet in doing so he modified and lost some of the zest and sting. A trivial example: in "An Auld Licht Funeral", Barrie refers - tongue in cheek - to "the godless south" (aka England), but in Chapter XI of Auld Licht Idylls, the word "godless" has been omitted and thus the humour lost.

This article is an absolute peach, and displays Barrie's dour sense of humour at its keenest.

Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved. With many thanks to The British Newspaper Archive for their kind permission to reproduce this image.


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