An enchanting little story, of book nooks, an idea that could well grace a military or fantasy modeller’s book shelves? Lots of examples of these on Pinterest. Lots more pictures and links at this BBC article including Harry Potter style Diagon Alley type streets between books:
Around the time in 2019 that Charlotte Bronte’s last surviving little book was saved by fundraising to be returned home to Haworth, I was lucky enough to spot this charming little handwritten book online. I bought it and asked its origins but the seller knew little about it, other than his father had picked it up somewhere.
Now The Warrior and Pacific August 1901 issue will be shared with the world to boost its tiny circulation and family readership.
The Bronte family wrote tiny book parodies of magazines and adverts of their early Nineteenth Century and Victorian times as part of their ImagiNations of Glasstown, Gondal, Angria and Gaaldine. These are housed at the Bronte Parsonage and have inspired my ImagiNations Games for many years.
Jump forward to the end of the Victorian era in 1901.
Entitled the Warrior and Pacific magazine, this tiny postcard sized ‘magazine’ appears to have been hand written and hand drawn around Maidstone in August 1901, possibly by a group of young boys or girls on summer holiday.
Some of the pen names are suitably grand – Montagu Fontenoy, John Fitzgerald, Major Pearl, Dick Iberville, Lady Sagasso …
Queen Victoria had died months earlier, this was written in the first Edwardian summer, August 1901.
Why was it written? It mimics and maybe mocks the thrilling, moralistic, mawkish and dull magazines of the day, based on the small sample that I have read. I have a few such random bound volumes of the Strand, Boys Own Paper and Girls Own Paper, Windsor Magazine etc. which make great Wellsian Little Wars hills.
Page 1 – Maidstone News Cs and B’s
“As the inhabitants of Maidstone seem to have left their native town to its solitary fate, Maidstone news is not flourishing. In fact about the newest thing about Maidstone is its emptiness.
The Creepers have joined the Boswells at Felixstowe where we hope the united forces will spend happy times.
This month saw two little Creepers born. Princess Winifred celebrates her eighth birthday on the twenty ninth and Princess Cecily her fifth on the nineteenth.
We congratulate them and wish them many happy returns on their respective birthdays.
We may expect in the near future to hear something definite about a certain Princess Eloise and a certain Earl Haynaught.”
Portraits of Cecily and Winifred appear on page Seven, alongside ‘Mary’ and a dog Maurice Bernard. The C’s and B’s are presumably the Creeper and Boswell families.
Are these real people?
A quick check on Ancestry and Find My Past on 1901 Census and elsewhere reveals no Winifred or Cecily Creeper born on those dates or at all anywhere, not just in Maidstone, although the Creeper surname does really exist. Similarly there is no R. Springfield in Maidstone but there were several Boswell families living in Maidstone in 1901 and 1911.
The main editor or illustrator appears to be one R. Springfield, ‘Warrior and Pacific, Maidstone.’
Page Ten and Eleven – A ‘Brothers Revenge’ and remedies for sunburn in the August issue 1901
Memories – “In the heart are many spots / sacred to Forget-Me-Nots”
Montagu Fontenoy? This may be an unconscious echo of “Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Montagu KB (died 1 August 1777) who was a British Army officer. He was the son of Brigadier-General Edward Montagu, colonel of the 11th Foot and Governor of Hull, nephew of George Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, and great-nephew to the celebrated minister Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax. He had an elder brother, Edward, who was killed at the Battle of Fontenoy, being lieutenant-colonel of the 31st Foot.” Or maybe just a good made up name?
Some of the portraits look as if they have sketched from magazines and may or may not be based on real people. Captain Earl Haynaught appears to be a made up name (the Earl of Hainault appears in medieval times in Froissart) but his portrait does look like Victorian army officer’s hat.
Other contributors include the grandly named Montagu Fontenoy, Major Pearl, Dick Iberville, Lady Sagasso and illustrator R. Springfield.
Page 2 – Editors Notes
“This is our grand August double seaside number and is generally considered the best paper of the month. We do not think that this year it will fall far below its usual high standard. We have many articles of interest this month that we have not had before and it bids fair to be a good success.”
“There is very extra special superfine, pluperfect competition specially designed for the pupils of Ronde College belonging to the Lower School and we hope to have a great many competitions for it. The prizes offered will be very handsome ones. There will only be two prizes for the two sets which are nearest right.”
Page 3 – ‘Model Mothers to Be – An Improvement on Home Chat Model Mothers’ by Lady Sagasso. An amusing little mock article about a warring celebrity couple and their darling only child that could have been written today …
Home Chat was obviously a style model to follow or mock – to make “an improvement on”. Alfred Harmsworth founded Home Chat which he published through his Amalgamated Press in 1895. The magazine ran until 1959. It was published as a small format magazine which came out weekly. As was usual for such women’s weeklies the formulation was to cover society gossip and domestic tips along with short stories, dress patterns, recipes and competitions. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Chat
Illustrators D. Iberville, H. Vaughan, C.U. Boswell, K. Selagein, S. Howard …
“It is an insoluble Chinese puzzle to Maidstone why they ever did it” is a good closing line to ‘Model Mothers to Be’.
Page Six and Seven – Dog breeds, royal portraits of Princess Winifred and Cecily (the Creeper sisters, with Cecily’s Fifth Birthday on the nineteenth, see page 1 Cs and B’s?) ,
Scene or art competitions ‘you have to sketch a scene in pencil or crayon. It may be a landscape, seascape, fire escape or any other scape. Size half this page. Paper provided’. R. Springfield.
Page Seven – Hints on Etiquette …
“When introduced to a complete stranger, there is no need, as a general rule, to shake hands, but to bow.”
“It is now fashionable for a bridegroom to wear lavender suede gloves”
“A gentleman should precede a lady in a crowded street, in order to clear a way for her.”
Page Twelve – ‘My First Attempt at Novel Writing’ a comic article by ‘John Fitzgerald’ – ‘extracts from JF’s novel next month’ – were there more issues of Warrior and Pacific?
Page Thirteen – Nature Competition’ – for the best pressed flower leaf or seaweed “sent to us before September 1st.” 
A Brother’s Revenge by Montagu Fontenoy
Stretched on the ground her lover lies,
With dagger drawn, her brother stands
“My brother, go” she sadly cries
“Oh Philip, hasten from these lands.”
He turns, then mutely kneeling down,
Beside that prostrate form,
With lips compressed, and beating heart,
She ———– his lifeblood warm.
She see the face she dearly loves
Now stamped with death’s grey hue
Grow fainter, fainter as she looks
With loving eyes and true.
One glance, one kiss, one gasp, one tear and all is o’er
She knows that brave heroic heart
Will beat on earth no more.
Then rising quickly from her knees
With a steadfast upward glance
She stoops beside the fallen man
And holds his fatal lance.
“I will not live my life” she cries,
With the passion of despair
Then with one sharp homeward thrust
She lies beside him there.
A variety of article styles are parodied or pastiches from dramatic poems, romantic gothic melodrama stories to nature notes and etiquette observations.
Page Fourteen – a portrait of Dick Iberville by R. Springfield ‘An Eminent Member of our Staff’
Page Fifteen – ‘By The Old Style’ [Styal?] story by Major Pearl: the heroine’s face “beautiful it is beyond doubt. Beautiful in the full beauty of womanhood and yet there is a winning girlish charm about it. She raises expressive blue grey eyes to the man’s face …”Etc, etc.
‘To be continued in our next’ issue – by Major Pearl – do any other issues of Warrior and Pacific exist?
Hold the Back Page! For the next 120 years …
I shall type out a few more of these strange little mock articles in the coming weeks.
Warrior and Pacific Magazine – Excellent for the ImagiNations?
I feel the Warrior and Pacific should have a travel writer or war correspondent. Maybe we can send an eminent member of our staff Dick Iberville or hope that Captain the Earl of Haynuaght is not too busy with Princess Eloise to provide some Churchill style dispatches from the front?
Warrior and Pacific – It ought to have a railway company named after it.
I feel sure that we should ‘find’ a few more back issues of the Warrior and Pacific, (c/o The Editor Maidstone) in future.
Why do I like this tiny very fragile magazine?
I really like the mixture of tones in the article, faithfully recreating or mocking the magazines of their day.
As a comic book writer and cartoonist at school, I was part of an underground 1980s fanzine / samizdat culture of small comics and magazines satirising events and caricaturing school and national personalities. These were often in small runs of a couple of hand stapled photocopies or hand-drawn originals circulated to avoid unwanted attention from “the authorities”. A scurrilous rival comic in the sixth form got busted, snitched or grassed to teachers (not by me, I hasten to add), shortly before we left school and expulsions were threatened.
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
Interesting comment from Rosemary Hall on the handmade little books, worth sharing:
A delightful find! It reminded me of a handwritten (but full-size) Edwardian magazine, written by members of a family, at least one of whom was awarded a military award – as featured in episode 3 of History Hunters, originally shown on Yesterday, and still, I think, available on catch-up (UKTV).
The writing of such magazines was not unusual, in the days before the availability of commercial entertainment – think of the Hyde Park Gate News, the magazine that Virginia and Vanessa Stephen (to become Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell) and their siblings produced during their childhood. &, while not a magazine, there was the Journal that Beatrix Potter kept for several years, a journal that was not just in tiny writing (like the Brontes’ little magazines) but in code.
Another example of the kind of writing produced for amusement by young people in the past is the collection of handwritten little books produced by the Nelson brothers in 19th century America. The collection was discovered by Pamela Russell when she was at an auction house in southern New Hampshire, and came across a ‘flimsy, old shoebox filled with tiny carefully handwritten books’ – a collection consisting of over 60 volumes!
They are described as comprising ‘an astounding, one-of-a-kind trove of stories and drawings [revealing]…what life was like for …[youngsters] growing up in rural 19th century America.’ The books are now in the collections of Amherst College. To find websites describing the collection, go to a search engine, and type in ‘Amherst Nelson brothers’- and on one website there are digital images of pages from some of the booklets (which always made me think of the Brontes.) You see how the brothers combined accounts of their ordinary daily life with imaginative embellishments.
As a big fan of the Bronte Imagi-Nations for my games table, I was interested to read about a campaign to save one of the Bronte tiny books designed in matchbox size for the toy soldiers that inspired their juvenile fictions:
Another writer famously inspired by toys was Robert Louis Stevenson. In turn, early wargamer Stevenson’s works like Treasure Island will surely have inspired many pirate games.
“The Land Of Counterpane” from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885) is a poem I have enjoyed since I was a small child, because it chimed with my own happy memories and experiences of bedtime and playing with toy soldiers.
It reads as if this poem child, this I Of the poem, really was Stevenson who lived and then relived this Land of Counterpane situation through verse, as he was at times a sickly bed-bound child; A Child’s Garden of Verses is dedicated to his nurse or nanny Alison Cunningham.
Something to save for another blogpost but several other verses in his classic book of poems are about toy soldiers (‘The Dumb Soldier’ and ‘Historical Associations’, both precursors of garden Wargames) or ‘Block City’, which seems an early wooden precursor of Minecraft.
Some of his lead toy soldiers appear to have survived in this RLS museum collection in America and are pictured by Nancy Horan on Pinterest:
Just tracking the many illustrations of this poem online is an interesting web browsing activity, easy to do on picture sites like Pinterest.
When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.
And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;
And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.
I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.
In this book of poems, there are some interesting ideas of scale, scenarios and temporary miniature worlds that are explored playfully and humorously as proper ‘Art’ and ‘Photography’ by artists today such as Slinkachu. http://www.slinkachu.com
Lots of ideas to explore or return to over the coming months and years!
On Pinterest you can find several illustrated versions of The Land of Counterpane poem by different illustrators including the famous one by Jessie Willcox Smith in the USA.
A patterned bedspread or counterpane is obviously an early version of a grid square or grid hex wargame, or any early improvised version of what today we would call or buy as an wargames terrain mat.
Hexscapism and War Gaming in Bed
Donald Featherstone in his Solo Wargames book mentioned in a chapter on “Wargaming In Bed” exploring the apparent possibilities of lying in bed as wargames terrain
“At first glance beds , with their blanket-covered hummocks, hills and valleys, might seem pretty reasonable places upon which to fight a wargame, but experiment soon proves that this is not so. In the first place, the figures will not stand up and even the most judicious positioning of the legs under the bedclothes so as to make the hills less steep will eventually be defeated by cramp if nothing else …”
This excerpt is from Chapter 20, “Wargaming in Bed” in Solo Wargamingby Donald Featherstone (1973 /2009 reprint p. 139), an excellent chapter full of suitably simple rules for skirmishes with jousting knights or duellists.
After all, the easiest wargames terrain is a cloth draped over hills made of books, again if only you can manage to get your figures to stand up on it.
Using Hex boards it should be possible to recreate the 3D terrain of legs, knees and bumps(adaisies) to recreate those Counterpane type battles.
When I get sufficient spare Heroscape hexes and cover these with offcuts of patterned fabric, I hope to build a ‘Land of Counterpane’ type terrain with those suitable tiny German wooden toy buildings and trees, beloved of ‘old school’ and grid wargamers.
On this patchwork grid or ‘counterpane’ terrain I should be able to play out further Toysian / Wellsian adventures using my version of Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars simple two page appendix rules, a bash about mash up of rule versions I have called Close Little Wars.
On a vintage gaming site recently was a clever reprint of an article on how to convert your bed into the footings of a wargames table (and still sort of sleep in it). Brilliant – but I can’t find the link at the moment.
Redesigning the Counterpane bed for more gaming value
Alternatively, bed manufacturers could embrace the wooden shapes of the bed into suitable features for imaginative play for the child and young at heart! Imaginative Counterpane redesigns include:
More interesting blogposts from the web on Robert Louis Stevenson and toy soldiers: