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    The Vanguard Library    (about)
    One of the most noted of Trapps Holmes titles, The Vanguard Library was published every Tuesday and ran to 152 issues in total between May 1907 and April 1910. In December 1909, the title changed format from a Magnet-sized weekly and announced in issue 137 that the following week the paper would become the Vanguard Library of Football, Sport and Adventure; however, the following issue remains untraced and may not have appeared. The following week’s issue—#139—was published as normal and the new title continued to appear until issue 153 in a larger size. The editor, at least in the latter stages, was the writer Henry T. Johnson. The Vanguard Library has been one of the most intriguing to collectors as it contained a large number of Charles Hamilton stories during a period when he was heavily involved in the launch of both The Gem and The Magnet. Hamilton wrote of various schools, including Northcote, Norchester, Larkshall College, St. Kate’s, Redclyffe and various others; towards the end of the original run, between September and November 1909, Hamilton was responsible for the bulk of the contents under various pen-names, including Gillingham Jones, Ridley Redway, Robert Stanley and a number of anonymous yarns. In earlier issues he also wrote as Roland Rodway, Cecil Herbert, Eric Stanhope, Gordon Conway and contrinued his St. Kate’s yarns under the name Frank Drake.

    The most intriguing aspect of the Vanguard Library are the stories written by H. Philpott Wright featuring the boys of Blackminster school, and starring Taffy Llewellyn, although most of the attention to the series was because of a boy by the name of Billy Bunter. Whether this inspired Hamilton when he came to name the Fat Owl of the Remove of Greyfriars is unlikely to ever be known for sure; Hamilton later claimed he had used the Bunter name in a rejected story as far back as 1899, and had kept it in mind, to be revived when he started writing the Greyfriars yarns in 1908 (he certainly recycled names endlessly; most of the boys’ names were used time and time again, and even Greyfriars School had been used before in Smiles, another Trapps Holmes paper, in 1907).

    Taffy Llewellyn, meanwhile, left Blackminster school and teamed up with a detective during which phase one of his stories was credited to Captain Addison, who was concurrently writing another detective series starring Jubal Grail. Since Wright was the pen-name of J. Weedon Birch, who later started his own publishing ventures and became a shareholder of the Aldine Publishing Co., it may be possible that Addison was also his pen-name. For some unknown reason, Birch, by far the most prolific contributor, stopped writing for Vanguard in late 1909, and the mantle was picked up by Charles Hamilton, later handing over to Stephen H. Agnew.









































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