EVERY PRODIGY HIS OWN PUBLISHER.
Punch, October 19, 1904
[Florizel von Reuter, the boy musician, publishes a periodical entitled “Reuter’s Express.” It deals mainly with his career and exploits.]
Some features of the November Magazines:—
Reuter’s Express. “Master Workers.”
1. Mr. Laffan.
“Notes.” By the Editor.
“Instruments I have never played.”
1. The Jews Harp.
“Too old at eight.” By the Editor.
The Trundley Times. (Odder and Stout’un.)
“Mr. Eustace H. Miles as Feeder and Thinker.”
“Books that have influenced me.” By the Editor.
1. Lt.-Col. Newnham-Davis’ “Dinners and Diners.”
2. Smith’s “What to do with the cold mutton.”
3. H. G. Wells’ “Food of the Gods.”
“Publishers I have met and appreciated.”
1. Tuck. By the Editor.
“Master Workers.” 1. Dr. Russell.
“Fifteen handy ways of pronouncing my name.” By the Editor.
“Master Vocalists.” 2. The Prince of Piedmont.
“Fashion Notes: Bibs.”
“Court Gossip.” By the Editor.
“Parties I have belonged to.” By the Editor.
Unsigned article as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 127 of Punch.
Here is indeed a tangled knot of topical references! As a beginning to research into the reasons why Punch readers would have been amused by this, here are some starting notes.
Florizel von Reuter: American-born child prodigy violinist (1890–1985)
Mr. Laffan may possibly be William Laffan (1848–1909), publisher of the New York Sun and proprietor of Laffan’s Agency, a wire news service in competition with the Associated Press.
Too old at eight: a play on the phrase “too old at forty” which was then topical in discussions of age discrimination in employment, for instance this article by Sir Isaac Pitman.
Trundley: John Trunley or Trundley (1898–1944), known as “the fat boy of Peckham.” By age four he weighed 12 stone (168 lbs.) and at age six had a 44-inch chest and a 46-inch waist.
Odder and Stout’un: Hodder and Stoughton were and are well-established British publishers since 1868, with names easy to caricature in this context.
Eustace H. Miles: British player (1868–1948) of real tennis, and a prolific author including Muscle, Brain, and Diet and Failures of Vegetarianism.
Lt.-Col. Newnham-Davis: British writer (1854–1917) on food and wine. His Dinners and Diners – Where and How to Dine in London came out in 1899.
Veczey: Franz von Vecsey or Veczey, Hungarian-born child prodigy violinist (1893–1935)
Prince of Piedmont: the future King Umberto II, the last King of Italy in 1946, was born September 15, 1904, and as the first-born son of King Victor Emmanuel III, was created Prince of Piedmont at birth, thus was a newsworthy prodigy (vocalizing as a crying baby, apparently) a month later when this article was published.
Czarevitch: Alexei Nikolaevich, heir apparent to Czar Nicholas II of Russia, was born August 12, 1904, and so also falls into the celebrity prodigy category.
Winston: Winston Churchill, not yet thirty and so a political prodigy in the House of Commons, “crossed the floor” in Parliament from the Conservative to the Liberal party after the 1904 Whitsun (late-spring) recess.
I can’t claim to have penetrated the fog entirely, but this at least gives some meaning to most of the references. —Neil Midkiff