I'm back in Vancouver, but only for a few weeks. In August, I'll be presenting a paper on the British writer 'Sapper' at the SHARP conference in Helsinki. The program of the conference is HERE.
'Sapper' is mostly remembered for his Bulldog Drummond series, but he also wrote short stories during the First World War. Since the 1950s, Sapper's fiction has often been dismissed as unworthy of serious scholarship. Even scholars who have recently explored the popular literature of the Great War continue to view Sapper as a second-rate writer whose fiction sold to the mass-market.
My presentation focuses on the way the publisher Hodder & Stoughton marketed Sapper first as a realistic writer of war stories, and then as a bestselling writer of thrillers. By examining dust jackets and the advertising strategy of Hodder & Stoughton, I show that Sapper's fiction was sold as entertaining and unproblematic literature. Viewed as a "literary genius" by many critics during the war, Sapper was then pigeonholed as a thriller writer - and his voice as war witness was soon forgotten.