Friday, March 29, 2013

My literary ancestor etc...Sepia Saturday 170

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. Click here to learn more.

In this weeks image...........The ‘Lincoln Inn’, the ‘Lincoln Coffee Lounge’, the ‘Stinkin Lincoln’ or simply the ‘snake-pit’ occupies a mythical status in the intellectual life of post-war Sydney, as one of the meeting places of the Sydney Push, a left-wing intellectual subculture in Sydney from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. Many well known names in Australia are associated with the Sydney Push, The Proletarian Push and the The Poseurs Push.

 I have to confess that such subcultures really do not connect with me very much, and the only persons who have come to my attention are Clive James and Germaine Grier, to whom I award 9/10 and 1/10 respectively for not irritating me too much for their cheek and arrogance.

So how can I connect to this image?

A little lateral thinking is required, and therein lies my luck this week. I just discovered I have ancestral connections with............ of Australia’s most prolific authors!!

My discovery goes like this:...............Do you remember my Great Grandpa William Barnes of Ashbourne freezing on the beach at Borth?

(Own collection)
Readers cannot have forgotten the old boy surely?

I was doing a little more research on the internet after a US cousin read my blog and responded....... “Is he the same guy who it is said caught a brace of trout just before he died?"

Yes..indeed it is, except that it was not a brace!! 
William Barnes, Boothby Meadow, Green Road, Ashbourne, circa 1934
(own collection)

For those tempted to be scathing about the
 size of Derbyshire trout, just ask Isaak Walton
where his most favoured fishing was.
(courtesy Wikipedia)

Getting back to the point...........

On checking out William Barnes and Ashbourne with a search, I came across a biographical site of an author about whom very few of my readers will have heard, or have read....

Nathaniel Gould !!

WHO?....I hear you say. yes that’s right....Nat Gould.


Nathaniel Gould (1857 - 1919), universally known as Nat Gould, was one of the most prolific authors of all time. During his life he wrote numerous best selling books, normally on a racing theme, and was in his day the most widely-read author in the world.

Those readers who did ever hear of him will undoubtedly leave a comment to make me enjoy my newly found pride. For others, here is a quick biography:

  • Born 1857 Manchester, of a Derbyshire yeoman family, the Goulds of Pilsbury Grange near Hartington.
  • As a young man he tried his hand at farming in Derbyshire, and in his father’s tea merchant business in Manchester.
  • Became a journalist in Newark, Nottinghamshire.
  • 1884: Emigrated to Australia. Worked on newspapers in Brisbane, Sydney, Bathurst, returning to Sydney., where he wrote his first 9 books.

  • Homesick for England he left Australia in 1895 where he settled with his family at Bedfont in Middlesex.
  • During his relatively short life of just over sixty-one years Nat Gould wrote and published over one hundred and thirty novels and stories. He died at Bedfont in 1919.
  • Nat Gould is, however, of importance even beyond his huge output of popular novels. Because his books were so widely read, his descriptions of Australian life, based on the eleven years that he spent in Australia, deeply etched themselves in the minds of his readers. Indeed it has been asserted that they were responsible for the *impression of Australia held in other countries.
(* I would assert that it was the Fosters "Australians wouldn't give a XXXX for anything else." advertisement that left the impression for my generation)

So what is my connection?

Nat Gould and I share two connections, and they are both Ashbourne. Derbyshire, “Wright” family connections. It's rather complex as there was some cousin marrying going on which make it especially confusing for someone with the very modest genealogical skills I have.

The simple one is that when working in the tea trade in Manchester he worked with my Great Great Grandfather, Francis Wright (1825-1900) and his father John (1791-?). He was a cousin of Francis also.

The ancestral connection is that Nat Gould’s Great Grandfather, John Wright, Farmer, of Crowdecote, Derbyshire (1752-1840) is............... my Great Great Great Great Grandfather.

Crowdecote, on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border, our ancestral roots.
(Courtesy Geograph)


So there you have it....Nat Gould, from Victorian Sydney Cafe fifth cousin 3 times removed.

"Nat archetypal Anglo-Australian Imperialist sportsman at the turn of the 19th century"
(and an archetypal Anglo-Blogger accountant at the turn of the 20th century).

My other connection to cafe society of Sydney

That's not all. I have a very current connection to Sydney Cafe Society. My daughter Fiona is on a gap year before university, and has been travelling in New Zealand and Australia since last October. Now she is building up some financial reserves for a little more travel, and she is working at Blend on George Street. I asked her to send me a photo of her at work in the cafe. I have no doubt she thought I was preparing a surprise Easter photo card for her Mum or something similar. I know I will be in serious trouble for blogging her photo, but it's not my fault that I have to write about Sydney cafes this week!

"Coffee is my Life"
Fiona at Blend on George. March 2013.
(She did well to get the nail varnish to match the menu!!)

Happy Easter to all readers !!
( both of you)


  1. I would be in serious trouble too, with a dirty trick like that - I hope it will have been worth it :-)

  2. It's a small world after all. I'll have to see if any of Nat's works are available in Kindle format.

    And how exactly does blogging with pen and paper work, Nigel?

  3. I've never heard of Nat Gould, but now I will certainly see if I can find anything he wrote. Thanks for that little bit of australian trivia.

  4. What a fun blog. I haven't heard of Nat Gould either, but I really like his book covers.
    I doubt if your daughter will be upset. Doesn't everyone like to see themselves in print? She's very cute by the way.

  5. A perfect journey of a post, taking me to places that other blogs cannot reach. All your photos are wonderful (they always are) but those book covers are particularly memorable.

  6. If Fiona is anything like my daughter she will have made sure that her nail varnish was the right colour.
    I'll be looking up Nat Gould too. What would be interesting to see in 2113 is whether another blogger claims to be a relative of the early 20th century blogger.

  7. A very interesting post that came full circle around the theme. I'd never heard of Nat Gould either, not surprisingly, but how wonderful to be connected to such a prolific writer.

  8. Nat Gould sounds a bit like the Louis L'Amour of the Outback.

  9. That was fun! Hope Fiona isn't too upset. My kids give me a hard time about sharing any pictures of them. But this was an important connection to the theme!

  10. I haven't heard of Nat Gould previously but will look him up as I like reading about early impressions about Australia.

  11. After the fishing image I thought you were going to head down the track of Gould's Book of Fish!