Frank Harris (14 February 1855 – 26 August 1931) was an Irish-American editor, novelist, short story writer, journalist and publisher, who was friendly with many well-known figures of his day.
Born in Ireland, he emigrated to the United States early in life, working in a variety of unskilled jobs before attending the University of Kansas to read (study) law. After graduation, he quickly tired of his legal career and returned to Europe in 1882. He traveled on continental Europe before settling in London to pursue a career in journalism. In 1921, in his sixties, he became a US citizen. Though he attracted much attention during his life for his irascible, aggressive personality, editorship of famous periodicals, and friendship with the talented and famous, he is remembered mainly for his multiple-volume memoir My Life and Loves , which was banned in countries around the world for its sexual explicitness.
Harris was born James Thomas Harris in 1855, in Galway, Ireland, to Welsh parents. His father, Thomas Vernon Harris, was a naval officer from Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, Wales.While living with his older brother he was, for a year or more, a pupil at The Royal School, Armagh. At the age of 12 he was sent to Wales to continue his education as a boarder at the Ruabon Grammar School in Denbighshire, a time he was to remember later in My Life and Loves. Harris was unhappy at the school and ran away within a year.
Harris ran away to the United States in late 1869, arriving in New York City virtually penniless.The 13-year-old took a series of odd jobs to support himself, working first as a boot black, a porter, a general laborer, and a construction worker on the erection of the Brooklyn Bridge. Harris would later turn these early occupational experiences into art, incorporating tales from them into his book The Bomb.
From New York Harris moved to the American Midwest, settling in the country's second largest city, Chicago,where he took a job as a hotel clerk and eventually a manager. Owing to Chicago's central place in the meat packing industry, Harris made the acquaintance of various cattlemen, who inspired him to leave the big city to take up work as a cowboy. Harris eventually grew tired of life in the cattle industry and enrolled at the University of Kansas, where he studied law and earned a degree, gaining admission to the Kansas state bar association.
In 1878, in Brighton, he married Florence Ruth Adams, who died the following year.[ citation needed ]
Harris was not cut out to be a lawyer and soon decided to turn his attention to literature. He returned to England in 1882, later traveling to various cities in Germany, Austria, France, and Greece on his literary quest. He worked briefly as an American newspaper correspondent before settling down in England to seriously pursue the vocation of journalism.
Harris first came to general notice as the editor of a series of London papers including the Evening News , the Fortnightly Review and the Saturday Review , the last-named being the high point of his journalistic career, with H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw as regular contributors.
From 1908 to 1914 Harris concentrated on working as a novelist, authoring a series of popular books such as The Bomb,The Man Shakespeare, and The Yellow Ticket and Other Stories.With the advent of World War I in the summer of 1914, Harris decided to return to the United States.
From 1916 to 1922 he edited the U.S. edition of Pearson's Magazine, a popular monthly which combined short story fiction with socialist-tinted features on contemporary news topics. One issue of the publication was banned from the mails by Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson during the period of American participation in the Great War.Despite this Harris managed to navigate the delicate situation which faced the left wing press and to keep the Pearson's functioning and solvent during the war years.
Harris became an American citizen in April 1921. In 1922 he travelled to Berlin to publish his best-known work, his autobiography My Life and Loves (published in four volumes, 1922–1927). It is notorious for its graphic descriptions of Harris' purported sexual encounters and for its exaggeration of the scope of his adventures and his role in history. Years later, Time magazine reflected in its 21 March 1960 issue "Had he not been a thundering liar, Frank Harris would have been a great autobiographer ... he had the crippling disqualification that he told the truth, as Max Beerbohm remarked, only 'when his invention flagged'." A fifth volume, supposedly taken from his notes but of doubtful provenance, was published in 1954, long after his death.
Harris also wrote short stories and novels, two books on Shakespeare, a series of biographical sketches in five volumes under the title Contemporary Portraits and biographies of his friends Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw. His attempts at playwriting were less successful: only Mr. and Mrs. Daventry (1900) (which was based on an idea by Oscar Wilde) was produced on the stage.
Married three times, Harris died in Nice aged 75 on 26 August 1931, of a heart attack. He was subsequently buried at Cimetière Sainte-Marguerite, adjacent to the Cimetière Caucade, in the same city.
Just after his death a biography written by Hugh Kingsmill (pseudonym of Hugh Kingsmill Lunn) was published.
In 1920, French writer and diplomat Paul Morand met an aged Frank Harris in Nice and borrowed much of his personality to create the character of O'Patah, a larger than life writer, publisher and Irish patriot, "the last of the Irish bards" in his short story La nuit de Portofino kulm (part of the famed collection of short stories Fermé la nuit) published in 1923 by Gallimard.
In 1922, Whittaker Chambers published a "blasphemous" and "sacrilegious" playlet called "A Play for Puppets" in The Morningside, a Columbia University student magazine, based on Frank Harris' 1919 play Miracle of the Stigmata, for which Chambers quit school to avoid expulsion. ("The greater part of it is so plainly sacrilegious that it cannot be reproduced.")
In 1929, Cole Porter's song "After All, I'm Only a Schoolgirl" references Harris and "My Life and Loves", in a tale about a girl who is learning about adult relationships from a private tutor.
In 1936, Harris appeared as a character in the play Oscar Wilde , by Leslie & Sewell Stokes, first produced at London's Gate Theatre Studio (1936) and later at the Fulton Theatre, New York, in 1938, in both cases starring Robert Morley in the title role.
In 1958, the feature film Cowboy is an adaptation of the semi-autobiographical novel My Reminiscences as a Cowboy. Harris is played by Jack Lemmon.
In 1960, he is seen as a minor character in The Trials of Oscar Wilde played by Paul Rogers. Harris had specifically warned Wilde against prosecuting Queensberry for criminal libel, which led to his downfall.
In a 1972 episode of The Edwardians, he was played by John Bennett.
A volume by Frank Harris held up the couch in "Six Big Boobies" (1985) episode of 'Allo 'Allo .
On television, Harris was played by Leonard Rossiter in a 1978 BBC Play of the Week: Fearless Frank, or, Tidbits From The Life Of An Adventurer.
He is a character in the 1997 Tom Stoppard play The Invention of Love , which deals with the life of A. E. Housman and the Oscar Wilde trials.
He appears as a close friend of Oscar Wilde in the award-winning play by Moisés Kaufman: Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde .
He appears in the first episode of the 2001 miniseries The Infinite Worlds of H. G. Wells , rejecting a story from Wells for being too long and too preposterous.
Harris appears as a vampire in Kim Newman's 1992 novel Anno Dracula , as the mentor and vampire sire of one of the novel's main characters.
In the ITV series Mr Selfridge (2013), Samuel West plays a newspaper editor and publisher called Frank Edwards, a character based on Frank Harris.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson meet Harris in Nicholas Meyer's 1976 novel The West End Horror. Watson comments on Harris' habit of always speaking very loudly.
George Bernard Shaw, known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist. His influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman (1902), Pygmalion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923). With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, the early 1890s saw him become one of the most popular playwrights in London. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his criminal conviction for "gross indecency", imprisonment, and early death at age 46.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a Gothic and philosophical novel by Oscar Wilde, first published complete in the July 1890 issue of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine. Fearing the story was indecent, the magazine's editor deleted roughly five hundred words before publication without Wilde's knowledge. Despite that censorship, The Picture of Dorian Gray offended the moral sensibilities of British book reviewers, some of whom said that Oscar Wilde merited prosecution for violating the laws guarding public morality. In response, Wilde aggressively defended his novel and art in correspondence with the British press, although he personally made excisions of some of the most controversial material when revising and lengthening the story for book publication the following year.
Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas was a British poet and journalist best known as the lover of Oscar Wilde.
Sir Henry Maximilian "Max" Beerbohm was an English essayist, parodist and caricaturist under the signature Max. He first became known in the 1890s as a dandy and a humorist. He was the drama critic for the Saturday Review from 1898 until 1910, when he relocated to Rapallo, Italy. In his later years he was popular for his occasional radio broadcasts. Among his best-known works is his only novel, Zuleika Dobson, published in 1911. His caricatures, drawn usually in pen or pencil with muted watercolour tinting, are in many public collections.
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1895.
Elizabeth Lucy, Princess Bibesco was an English writer and socialite. She was the daughter of a British Prime Minister and the wife of a Romanian prince. Active as a writer between 1921 and 1940, she drew on her experience in British high society in her work. A final posthumous collection of her stories, poems and aphorisms was published under the title Haven in 1951, with a preface by Elizabeth Bowen.
Michael Arlen, born Dikran Kouyoumdjian, was a British essayist, short story writer, novelist, playwright, and scriptwriter of Armenian origin, who had his greatest successes in the 1920s while living and writing in England. Arlen is most famous for his satirical romances set in English smart society, but he also wrote gothic horror and psychological thrillers, for instance "The Gentleman from America", which was filmed in 1956 as a television episode for Alfred Hitchcock's TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Near the end of his life, Arlen mainly occupied himself with political writing. Arlen's vivid but colloquial style "with unusual inversions and inflections with a heightened exotic pitch" came to be known as 'Arlenesque'.
Hugh Kingsmill Lunn, who dropped his last name for professional purposes, was a versatile British writer and journalist. Writers Arnold Lunn and Brian Lunn were his brothers.
Edward Hesketh Gibbons Pearson was a British actor, theatre director and writer. He is known mainly for his popular biographies; they made him the leading British biographer of his time, in terms of commercial success.
The West End Horror: A Posthumous Memoir of John H. Watson, M.D. is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche novel by Nicholas Meyer, published in 1976. It takes place after two of Meyer's other Holmes pastiches, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and The Canary Trainer, though it was published in between the two.
Robert Harborough Sherard was an anti-semitic English writer and journalist. He was a friend, and the first biographer, of Oscar Wilde, as well as being Wilde's most prolific biographer in the first half of the twentieth century.
Francis Martin Sewell Stokes was an English novelist, biographer, playwright, screenwriter, broadcaster and prison visitor. He collaborated on a number of occasions with his brother, Leslie Stokes, an actor and later in life a BBC radio producer, with whom he shared a flat for many years overlooking the British Museum. It was here that Sewell Stokes did much of his writing in the Reading Room, used by so many distinguished writers over the years.
The Shaw Festival is a major Canadian theatre festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, the second largest repertory theatre company in North America. Founded in 1962, its original mandate was to stimulate interest in George Bernard Shaw and his period, and to advance the development of theatre arts in Canada.
Julia Frankau was a successful novelist who wrote under the name Frank Danby. Her first novel was published in 1887: Dr. Phillips: A Maida Vale Idyll. Its portrayal of London Jews and Jewish life, and its discussion of euthanasia by a doctor were controversial. This was followed by more Frank Danby novels and by books on other subjects, including engraving, which were sometimes written under her own name. Frankau continued to write until the time of her death.
William Charles Kingsbury Wilde was an Irish journalist and poet of the Victorian era and the older brother of Oscar Wilde.
My Life and Loves is the autobiography of the Ireland-born, naturalized-American writer and editor Frank Harris (1856–1931). As published privately by Harris between 1922 and 1927, and by Jack Kahane's Obelisk Press in 1931, the work consisted of four volumes, illustrated with many drawings and photographs of nude women. The book gives a graphic account of Harris's sexual adventures and relates gossip about the sexual activities of celebrities of his day.
Oscar Wilde's colourful life and disappointing end have made him a continual fascination for biographers, beginning soon after his death by people known to him.
Anti-mimesis is a philosophical position that holds the direct opposite of Aristotelian mimesis. Its most notable proponent is Oscar Wilde, who opined in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying that, "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life". In the essay, written as a Platonic dialogue, Wilde holds that anti-mimesis "results not merely from Life's imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realise that energy."
How These Doctors Love One Another! is a short playlet written in 1931 by George Bernard Shaw which satirises a dispute between two doctors about the use of antiseptics in surgery. Shaw regularly attacked conventional medicine in his works.
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