Some weeks ago I ordered a book from a bookseller in Scotland, The Great Book of School Stories for Boys (1933). According to the web site where I found the book, it contained stories by Hylton Cleaver, Captain G.A. Hope, N. Humphrey, Davy John Sweet, etc. The web site also had a picture of the book cover, an image of some rowers and with ‘Pull!’ written on the left-hand corner.
Anyone interested in rowing history would immediately recognise Hylton Cleaver’s name as he was a great authority on the sport several decades ago. His most famous book about rowing is A History of Rowing, which was published in 1957. This is an entertaining book with a lot of good stories and anecdotes about The Boat Race, Henley Royal Regatta, the European Championships, Olympic rowing, The Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race, the professionals, ‘sea rowing’ (which today is known as ‘coastal rowing’). etc. For one of Cleaver’s good stories, about Ran Laurie and Jack Wilson, see HTBS 1 June 2009.
What is maybe not that much known by rowers and rowing historians today is that Hylton Cleaver began his writing career, not as a sport journalist, but as a short-story writer, novelist and playwright. As Cleaver wrote tons of stories for boys, I thought, or hoped, that the rowing image on the cover of The Great Book of School Stories for Boys would be related to a rowing story by Hylton Cleaver, maybe with the title ‘Pull!’? Not so! When the book arrived on my doorstep, I could see that there is no fictional rowing story by Cleaver in this book, nor is there a rowing story at all… Of course, I should have checked with the bookseller before I ordered the book, but the book was very cheap, and the cover is still very nice, I think.
But let me ask you, dear reader, do you know of any fictional rowing story by Hylton Cleaver? If you do, please contact me!