Possession by N. Wesley Firth

Possession 1

Possession was published by Grant Hughes Ltd., circa 1948.
The novel carries no byline on the covers, but the interior title page gives the author as Sheila A. Firth; she was the daughter of prolific author Norman Firth. Tragedy haunted the Firth family when Norman inexplicably died at the young age of 29, on 13-Dec-1949; cause of death given then was tuberculosis. He left behind Sheila (age 4) and a young wife (age 22).

Possession was actually issued twice, both with covers by noted English artist H. W. Perl.

The first edition was printed by The Fodhla Printing Co., of Dublin, Ireland. The inside front cover sports a typical Joan the Wad ad. Interior rear cover also features an ad, for Joan the Wad and Jack O’Lantern, etc. This true first edition (featuring likely Margaret Lockwood and Michael Wilding) failed to sell. Remainder stock was returned, covers stripped, and a new cover commissioned.

The second edition was printed and published by Grant Hughes, this time featuring one of Perl’s regular models. It’s unknown how well this edition sold. Both the inside front & rear cover is entirely white, no ads present.

Remarkably, neither edition is held by the British Library nor any other known major English library per COPAC, nor worldwide per WorldCat.

Possession 2

Contrary to the typical romantic plots, our heroine does NOT give up her Hollywood job in favor of love, but she is mixed up in the cliché “eternal triangle” plot…

Andrea Ellis was a nobody until discovered by producer Harry Grant. Pairing her with Steward Tracy for 5 years, the two have made Harry Grant a fortune and Andrea Ellis is now in demand to play the lead in the film version of the same play. Only thing is, she desires a break from acting.

Refusing to inform Harry Grant where she intends to vacation, she foolishly informs her private staff, and Steward Tracy, deeply in love with her, manages to extract the information. Learning she intends to abandon New York in favor of the beaches and playgrounds of Miami, he lets slip that he will vacation with her. Frustrated at the deception, she’s doubly-cross that Steward revealed her plans to Harry Grant.

Grant sees an angle and sends publicity agent Carl Cotton south to set the ball rolling, only that “ball” turns into a wrecking ball.

Arriving in Miami, Steward proposes marriage (he has been proposing numerous times and she has always turned him down). Now, upon the beach, she finally accepts, reluctantly, and he coerces a promise from her to not break the promise. Desiring to keep the engagement secret fails when a cub-reporter for a local paper arrives on the scene. Or was the reporter tipped off, further forcing the marriage?

To further worsen matters, Carl Cotton makes an appearance during the newsboy’s interview, and announces that Andrea Ellis is to be the “prize” date at the Krackly Krispy Krunchies Hour radio show; the winner is selected from a finalist of three men who are to provide the new winning tune for the show. She is not amused. The first two contestants aren’t noteworthy, but the third dazzles her the moment they each set eyes upon one another. It’s literally love at first sight.

With a love triangle forming, Andrea finds herself morally bound to a man she does not wholeheartedly love, and a man she does not know at all but feels inexplicably drawn!

The young man is Jay Niles, a “bum” who lives in the slums of Miami, in a converted railway car. Andrea, fascinated by the musician, convinces Jay to show her where he lives. Believing she is just some snob and wants to look down on the common poor person that can’t make good, they exchange words and she finally proves she is more than just an elitist. After all, she did not dress fancy, did not put on make-up, nor do her hair. She came to the date as a normal-looking girl.

The pair elude Carl Cotton’s appointed paparazzi and spend private hours alone. Andrea is intrigued to learn more about Jay and his musical interests; he seems to be quite talented. He plays an instrumental piece for her; she then asks to have it as a keepsake. Jay doesn’t care. It’s been offered everywhere. Nobody wants that type.

Never to see another again, she returns to her life and, when the producer offers her the next Broadway gig, she learns that the entire play is to be essentially silent, and without music! Discovering that Jay’s piece would fit the play perfectly, she presents it to Harry Grant only to be rebuffed without hearing the musical piece.

She then goes to the author of Harry’s production, and there has the music played. He loves it and tells Harry it is “in.”

Displeased with her move, Harry must accept the author’s decision, and further, realizes Andrea must be in love or infatuated with Jay. He is eager to destroy this relationship as he likes her and Steward Tracy together.

Jay becomes a success along with the play; his wallet grows from dust to greenbacks, etc. All the while, Jay refuses to see Andrea alone, as he does not wish to interfere with her engagement to Steward Tracy, who he personally feels is a swell guy.

But, when Steward accepts an acting job in Hollywood, and is gone for weeks or months, Andrea and Jay can no longer repress their desires and well…you can guess the rest! Still, they must keep their meetings secret lest the press discover the truth; their bosses too, and worse yet would be for Steward Tracy to learn second-hand that she has been unfaithful.

Jay insists she inform Steward in person of her decision to break off the engagement, but before she can, on his return flight to New York, the plane goes down in flames, killing nearly everyone onboard. Miraculously, Steward survives, only to have both legs fully amputated.

Jay convinces her that she must marry Steward as the truth would devastate him. Despite her desires not to, she is eventually guilted into marrying Steward. Jay removes himself entirely from the scene, and vanishes for an entire decade…

Ten years have passed, and Steward’s health has been in continual decline. His body was severely damaged from the plane crash and is succumbing to reality: death. He finally dies a happy man and she is free to pursue Jay. But will he even want her? Is he now married to someone else? Isn’t she visually too old, no longer youthfully desirable?

Well, Harry Grant and Carl Cotton drag her out from retirement and inform her that they have just the right position in a proposed play for her to fill. Arriving at Harry’s home, they meet out on the balcony and discuss the proposal. She is mystified as the role sounds like her real life drama. Harry concludes that they have found the perfect man for the role and in walks Jay, salt-peppered hair, older, but still very much in love with Andrea Ellis after all these years … THE END.

A very pleasant romance story, delightfully written by N. Wesley Firth. I confess that I was surprised he would attach his daughter’s name to such a work, given her young age at the time. Sadly, she passed away some years back, and never had the chance to read any of the works appearing under her name, nor under her mother’s name.

NOTES: Steward Tracy clearly is clearly supposed to resonate with readers as being Hollywood actor Spencer Tracy. Harry Grant came across to me as actor Cary Grant, as I couldn’t think of a producer with a similar name. Not sure who Andrea Ellis is supposed to portray. Nor certain who Carl Cotton or Jay Niles would be. Anyone have ideas?

Possession by N. Wesley Firth

Spawn of the Vampire by N. Wesley Firth

Spawn Of The VampireSpawn of the Vampire” by N. Wesley Firth (published 1946 in Britain by Bear Hudson Ltd.) is a semi-silly / crime tale involving newlyweds on their honeymoon, in the Old Country.

The cover art is by H. W. Perl.

While there, they meet an actress, and a man; the latter is researching claims that a vampire exists in the vicinity. He learns firsthand the truth; the vampire hypnotizes and mentally forces him to run off a cliff. Splat!

The newlywed husband is mortified by the local happenings and superstitions, but, when his own wife goes missing, all fingers point to the supposed vampire.

Firth concludes this horror tale in stereotypical fashion: eliminate the villain and then they flee the area, only to arrive in ANOTHER haunted town facing their OWN vampire crisis!!!

An amusing thriller and sought-after by hardcore vampire collectors.

Personally, I enjoy Firth’s writing style, and if anyone has a Firth short story or novel, I am interested in reading more of his works. Besides writing for all genres under N. Wesley Firth, he supplied westerns as “Joel Johnson” and “Bert Forde,” etc., and crime stories as “Earl Ellison” and “Leslie Halward” (among several other pseudonyms he used during his brief writing career).

Spawn of the Vampire by N. Wesley Firth

Galaxy (a post-WW2 humour pocket magazine)

Galaxy 1946 Autumn

Published by The Star Publishing Corporation, GALAXY lasted from 1946 through at least 1949. Numbering is difficult for this publication. It began in January and ran successively for 8 monthly installments, concluding with the August 1946 edition. Then came the pictured edition here, simply dated Autumn. One “Eric H. Hale” is given to have been the editor, a man for whom I know nothing about.

These thin side-stapled pocket magazines contained photos of actresses and models, tons of cartoon drawings, numerous short stories, articles and advertisements. Interestingly enough, the last interior page has two ads, for Outlands: A Magazine for Adventurous Minds and for the New Realm Magazine.

The stories within are hardly noteworthy, running a page or two in length. This issue sports two known entities: Kay Hammond-Davies and N. Wesley Firth. The former supplies a tale in which a young couple and their dog move into a home and must rid their garden of a pesky rabbit. All three are gung-ho toward wanton murder until the girl has a change of heart for the innocent bunny. The husband blows its brains out and the dog pounces and she calls them beasts, much to their bewilderment. Firth’s short-short involves a French artist with poor English-speaking skills explaining why he will no longer paint any further nudes in the future. Most are general fiction tales, with a humorous slant.

The best features of this magazine are the assorted line-drawn cartoons. Contributors include the talented comic artists Denis Gifford and Denis McLoughlin.

Galaxy no 11 1947 SpringThe Spring 1947 issue (the year is actually  not given) sports neither a contents page nor are any of the pages numbered.

Noteworthy contents include the short fantasy “Flesh and Blood” by Eira Williams and a tale by David Boyce.

Artists include Hooper, Ynott, Sten, Anis, James Symington, Arthur Williams, Jones, Hix, and others.

While the gifted “named” artists are missing from this issue, there are some decent “indecent” illustrations that give way to a good chuckle, such as a man’s wife stuffing her bra….

Galaxy no 13 1947 Autumn

The Autumn 1947 edition provides the following data:
Editor: Eric H. Hale
Associate Editor: Beryl Cousins
Advertisement Manager: J. C. Robson
American Representative: Emil Zubryn
African Representative: J. J. Odufuwa

London offices are located at:
Temple Bar House, 23/28 Fleet St,
London, E.C.4

American Bureau
47 West 56th Street
New York City

African Bureau
58 Macullum Street
Ebute-Metta, Nigeria

Trade distributors throughout the world are given to be:
Rolls House Publishing Co., Ltd.
Rolls House
2 Bream Buildings, London, E.C.4

Fiction stories abound with the usual motley crew of illustrators, photos and a Hollywood article supplied by David Boyce. Talented artist Bob Monkhouse supplies a half-pager, while the best fiction tale is a one-page ghoul from beyond the grave! Patrick S. Selby also supplies a short story. His name might best be remembered for having copped the cover to New Worlds #2 with “Space Ship 13.”

Galaxy no 15 SpringAnd we wrap up this article with the last edition in my possession, the Spring 1948 issue.

Story contributors include editor Beryl Cousins, Joan Seager, and a tale by Cay van Ash, largely remembered for  bicycling to the home of writer Sax Rohmer to obtain an interview. He later became Rohmer’s secretary and then departed for Japan, the two becoming fast friends until Sax Rohmer’s death.

David Boyce supplies a supernatural article.

Artwork is supplied by all the regulars of the time, including Griff, James Symington, Housley, Hix, Kenneth Mahood, and the talented Bob Monkhouse returns with two witty pieces.

Galaxy (a post-WW2 humour pocket magazine)