“Love and Dr. Hawkins” by Sidney Gainsley

BROWN WATSON  Love And Dr Hawkins
Love and Dr. Hawkins (Sidney Gainsley)

Love and Dr. Hawkins” by Sidney Gainsley was published in 1945 by Brown Watson Ltd, runs 64-pages, measures 4.75 x 7 inches. At first glance, this booklet appears to be a romance. The cover art (unsigned) depicts a young lady clasping her forehead and looks surprised. At the top, the cover proclaims this publication to be “A Sidney Gainsley Thriller!!”

The novella is narrated by Dr. Hawkins, relaying to Professor Norden a past, strange criminal case that he solved.

(NOTE: these characters originally debut in Gainsley’s Did This Really Happen?weird story collection, with the taleThe Diary which I’ve already been blogged about. Refer to THAT entry for biographical data on the author.)

When Anthony Tidmarsh fails to rise and take his breakfast, the staff worries, and finally, they bring in a strong-man to bash down the door, which takes multiple attempts. They find Tidmarsh very much dead. The police are phoned.

Tidmarsh is found brutally murdered, with a common household kitchen butter knife forcefully thrust into his spinal column. He is found, face forward, his face contorted, upon his desk. Under him is a partially written document to his young brother.

Police are baffled. Who murdered the man? How did they lock the door from outside? All we know is that Mr. Tidmarsh was alive beyond the setting of the house alarm….

Inspector Saltash–as narrated by Dr. Hawkins–takes on the case, and from here on, we are mostly given the story from Saltash’s viewpoint. He interviews the staff (kitchen, yard, garden, etc.) and the household members (his much younger brother and a young lady as their ward, set to inherit a fortune quite shortly). We learn that Tidmarsh was possibly in love with the young lady, however, she repelled his advances and preferred the company of his kindly young brother, who in turn was truly in love with her.

After our author establishes fine grounds for every person to have committed the crime and wondrously provides us with the usual Sherlock Holmes pastiche backdrop, Dr. Hawkins diverts the waning chapters back to his viewpoint, when he is reintroduced to the case. Hawkins, a psychologist, investigates, by asking the inspector to re-enact the position in which Anthony Tidmarsh was found at his desk. Crawling about, Hawkins finds some fine wood powdered particles, and learns that these came from nearby a wood mill.

We learn that the gardener works at that mill in his spare time. He is in love with one of the house staff, who has been holding a deep secret. She had an affair years ago with Tidmarsh and sired a boy. Wanting not to claim the boy as his own, nor wishing to marry the woman, he avoided scandal by keeping her in his employ, but, neither of them informed the child as to his social standing nor parentage. Ergo, both the child’s mother and her suitor have reason to murder Tidmarsh, for being an outright prick.

Hawkins further learns from the accounting books in the safe that someone has been embezzling tens of thousands of pounds from the young lady’s inheritance. The finger points toward the younger brother. Further evidence in the form of a rope and nail that may have been used to secure Tidmarsh’s door are found hidden in his room.

To add to the mystery, Hawkins, after inspecting all the ancient antiquities in the room,  discovers a replica crossbow firmly anchored to the shelf in a position established to murder Tidmarsh from behind. So, who set the device?

Dr. Hawkins reconstructs the scene to prove that Tidmarsh was not murdered, but, rather, he committed suicide, but with the intention of sending his brother to the gallows for the supposed crime!

His facial contortions in death were not from pain, but, immense concentration from realizing that the knife would soon impale him. The note on the desk did contain factual business data, but was written with a slant to be damning evidence against his brother. He hated him because the girl had refused his loving marital attentions. And, he himself was the one embezzling the funds. By marrying the girl, he avoids scandal; she could hardly bring her husband to court without testifying against him, etc.

In conclusion, Hawkins ends by discussing Norden’s “author friend,” and noting that he appears to have written quite a romance around the “Diary” episode. Hawkins inquires if Norden intends to relay this crime tale to the author, and he indeed shall. Hawkins says he has no objection, but, asks for it to be called “Love and Doctor Hawkins.” The author, obviously, is OUR author, Sidney Gainsley, having a little tongue-in-cheek poke at himself.

While my relaying of the plot may seem blasé stuff, I assure you, this novella is well-worth the read.

Currently I am chasing “The Expiator” by this author. This title story originates within his 1943 weird collection. I do not know what other tales appear; the National Library of Wales possesses a copy of this 32-page pamphlet, noted as published by Brown Watson, circa 1945. If anyone owns a copy, and is not firmly attached to it, I would love the opportunity to own and read this item…

“Love and Dr. Hawkins” by Sidney Gainsley

“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