“Did This Really Happen?” by Sidney Gainsley

BERNARDS Did This Really Happen FRONT COVER I have not spent any real time investigating the identity nor the history surrounding Sidney Gainsley. If any family-members ever read this article, I should love to learn more about Sidney, his exploits in publishing, etc. However, from what little investigative efforts I have made, I know that Sidney was born in 1912 and died 1982 in Sutton, Surrey, England.

Sidney married Fanny “Fay” Goldberg during the war. She was previously married to David Lyons in 1936, then to Sidney Gainsley to in 1941 (Lambeth). Sidney and Fanny gave birth to Bruce in 1942 (Surrey).

Sidney wedded again in 1971 (St. Pancras) to Agnes Gainsley (directly related or a Gainsley by marriage, I’m not sure).  Agnes Marion Gainsley died 11 March 1979 (at 5 Wentworth Close, Long Ditton, Surrey).

BERNARDS Did This Really Happen REAR COVER

Did This Really Happen?” by Sidney Gainsley was published in 1943 by Bernard’s Ltd., based out of 77, The Grampians, Western Gate, London, W.6. The book is Number 29 in Bernard’s overall publication history, nearly all of  which are part of their Bernard’s Technical Books series. Number 27 was part of their short-lived Fiction Series (see second photo for details).

This booklet is dedicated to Fay, Judith, and Bruce. From above, we know that Fay is Fanny, and Bruce was one of their children. Was Judith? I have not found any conclusive evidence to support just where she falls among the trio.

Aside from this one fiction attempt, I know that in 1945, publishers Brown Watson released a 64-page booklet entitled “Love and Dr. Hawkins” and a further title that same year is “The Expiator, and other short stories.” The lead cover title, however, appears in this blog’s featured collection.

I decided to pursue reading our featured side-stapled 60-page pamphlet because it reportedly was a collection of weird stories. In truth, it is just that, and should not be ignored by collectors of this genre.

The booklet features the following short stories:

  • (1-12) “Did This Really Happen?
    a fictional account of the Marie Celeste and the ill-fortune of a man’s whose life
    has been haunted by his misdeeds, since the inadvertent murder of Jackson,
    during The Civil War.
  • (13-23) “The Diary
    a woman’s murder is mentally recorded in a diary by the man who worked at a
    diary-binder (publishing house). A criminous, weird tale.
  • (24-31) “The Expiator
    a war veteran is reluctant to board a night train, lest he meet the ghost
    of a murderer whom fell to his death off a train trestle
  • (32-37) “Doubling the Bill
    a crime tale, where a jeweler drafts a false bill of sale to hide stolen funds,
    and uses his 3,000 to buy a house. Only, when the bill-holder dies, the estate
    finds the bill and files a claim. Now he is forced to pay 6,000 for a house worth
    only half that, and the bill collector will wonder where all money came from….
  • (38-44) “The Vase
    a fantastic tale; a vase is bought by a wealthy lady, she places flowers inside and
    they die by the next day. However, one sort of flower never dies. They flourish.
    It is learned that the vase’s former owner ONLY adored those flowers, and her
    spirit is embodied within the vase(s) she used.
  • (45-51) “To Steal Away His Brains
    an intoxicated man drives home and believes he has slain a man, when his car
    bumps over a body. At home, he washes off the blood, but come the next day,
    a policeman knocks at the door. Our man’s soul is tainted. He blows his brains
    out. The cop was only making his rounds selling tickets to a police dance! And the
    dead body? that of a sheep that strayed from its fold.
  • (52-55) “Chinese Dragon
    an antique shop owner buys a ring, and his life is ruined by constant misfortune and ill-health. When he parts ways with the ring, late in life, he later reads in the paper that the person that sold it to him has died, bequeath much of his estate to the ring’s purchaser and only has to supply the ring as evidence. The ring was sold to a sailor, whose ship ironically went down. All hands were saved, except him!
  • (56-60) “Lethal Waters
    a ship goes down at sea and the survivors day by day vanish or die from thirst. The captain, his son, and one sailor finally remain. In a fit of delirium the Captain dips his mug into the salty sea, and drinks it all down, then, in a flash, realizes his mistake, and dies. Ironically enough, the water was NOT salt, but fresh water. They had drifted into the mouth of the Amazon river overnight!

Whether the stories are all original to this volume or possibly reprinted from obscure magazines or newspapers, is not known to me. British newspapers and magazines, unlike their American counterparts, have barely been indexed to any extent.

If you enjoy collecting obscure collections of weird stories, then I heartily recommend this publication. It is a unique title and, often overlooked, no doubt, due to its association with technical books in the series and the lackluster cover art.



“Did This Really Happen?” by Sidney Gainsley

3 thoughts on ““Did This Really Happen?” by Sidney Gainsley

    1. Hello Maxine. It was a real pleasure to read “Did This Really Happen?” several years ago. That determined me to chase Gainsley’s other fictional work, “Love and Dr. Hawkins,” which I finally did and also posted here. I don’t know if you got to see that entry or not. I’ve yet to trace a copy of “The Expiator and Other Stories” edition. As you no doubt noticed I have several questions about Sidney and his family, and literary background. I believe he was an accountant or liquidator, perhaps, as a “Sidney Gainsley” does surface in the 1960s with such a registered occupation.

      It irks me that “Did This Really Happen?” has languished in obscurity despite being a genuine collection of short stories. Copies of this title are relatively cheap to obtain. Heck! Someone even took the time to digitize a copy and place it for free online.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s