There are, I notice, giants in the land in these days among men of letters (we are growing accustomed to the association of big brains with big bodies), but I doubt if there are many, if any, among all the ranks of literary men, who over-top Mr. Hesketh Prichard.
He is one of those fortunates whom Providence has favoured with a happy-go-lucky disposition—whose every enterprise goes merrily.
The most amusing fact in his history is that he was refused admission, on the score of health, to the British Army!
This was a disappointment, for through five generations his family had served their country. So the law claimed him for her slave—and in spare time he, in collaboration with his mother, wrote short stories, most of which found a home in the Cornhill Magazine.
He has travelled considerably in Mexico, Central and South America, the West Indies, and Spain.
One of his most interesting journeys was that which he made to the island of Hayti on behalf of the Daily Express, to see how far the negro republic there had advanced on the road to adequate self-government during a hundred years of freedom. His book, “Where Black Rules White,” was the outcome of this journey.
Then off to Patagonia, in the interests of the same paper, to examine the facts as to the possible survival of a prehistoric beast, the mylodon, or Giant Sloth, supposed on the strength of certain discoveries of remains still to exist. Close investigation tended to convince Mr. Prichard that the sloth would probably not be forthcoming—but a vast amount of information about the country, its people, the animals, birds and flowers, was collected for the great work, “Through the Heart of Patagonia”—a new variety of puma was discovered, and new regions visited.
It was on the explorer’s return that he wrote the series of brigand stories, now beginning on the opposite page. In and between the foregoing doings, he found time to play cricket for the country of Hampshire.
“I owe everything,” he says, “to my mother. She has helped me with all that I have written, and without her I should probably have written nothing.” This collaboration of mother and son is said to be an almost unique literary partnership.
It is strange that, whereas the sea-brigand or buccaneer has had so large a share of the attentions of authors, no convincing land-brigand has ever been portrayed in English fiction. This remark does not, of course, include the highwayman, who has had many historians. But the powerful robber of Southern Europe, who holds his captives to ransom, lives a very different life to that of the knight of the road.
Hidden in the fastnesses of some such range as the Sierra Morena of Spain, he weaves a web like a gigantic spider, and often grows rich before his enemies, the Civil Guards, can mete out to him his just deserts. Sometimes his daring adventures and extraordinary escapes make for him a European reputation, as happened in the case of the prototype of Don Q., to whom our readers are now introduced.
Please consider subscribing, to help pay our web hosting and keep us writing!
Plus, you get your name listed on our Editors' Corner page.