6 March 2014

Who Was E. M. Martin?

Thanks to Mike Gilleland at Laudator Temporis Acti I learn that Miss. Edith Lister (1867-1938) was the author of Wayside Wisdom.

Edith Lister and her sister Alys Lister lived with the publisher A. H. Bullen. According to an article by Pierre Coustillas in Vol. XIV, No. 2 (PDF) of The Gissing Newsletter, Bullen called the two women his cousins "but the relationship is obscure."

Besides serving as Bullen's secretary, Edith Lister wrote novels and articles under various pseudonyms, including E. M. Martin and Noel Ainslie. I am particularly interested by the fact she knew George Gissing (A. H. Bullen was Gissing's publisher until the late 1890s) and spent some time with him after his return from Italy in 1898.

After Gissing's death, Lister wrote a brief article about him for the Gentleman's Magazine. That number (February 1906) is one of the few volumes that isn't available on Archive.org, but I have managed to track down a copy. Since it's in the public domain, I plan to post Lister's recollection of Gissing at a later date (I need some time to scan it and extract the text, as it's too long to type).

I've also purchased a copy of E. M. Martin's The Happy Fields, which one bookseller describes as an "attempt to preserve these few peace pictures of a vanishing landscape and of those who once made it their home," and says it is "dedicated to those who love the countryside." This sounds promising.