And here's a preview of the first story:
The first three stories can be ordered now from Big Finish. The first volume also contains a fourth disc of music by Imran Ahmad from Dan Dare and other B7 Media productions.
Mr. Randal Charlton has given us in "Mave" a singularly romantic tale in a delightful setting of old English country life. The love affair of Robert Trayner, who goes down to a little market town to transact professional business for his uncle, the London broker, and of Mave O'Moran, the pretty assistant in the ribbon shop, is withal a sad story. The lad is honest and the maid true, but fate is unkind to both, and to one there comes a tragic ending terrible in its pathos. Mr. Charlton has worked out a plot very deftly, and drawn his characters with a strong hand. The heroine is innocence itself, fervent in her love of the impetuous youth, and trusting implicitly in his honour—and her faith in him is not misplaced. But she stands in deadly peril of two individuals of widely different temprements—one a "patron of the virtues," the other a brutal ruffian of the most degraded type. The circumstances in which the three are brought together form the main, and, indeed, the most exciting part of the story. Other personages figure in the narrative—Trip, a horse jockey, full of anecdotes of old prize-fights, and with an unrivalled capacity for swallowing strong liquor; John Moff, the landlord of the inn; and old Mosely, the shady attorney. The old-fashioned surroundings, the life in the country inn, the movement in the High-street, the talk of coaches and post-chaises, and the scandal and gossip, all go towards the making of a very charming picture of the days when the nineteenth century was young, and men of fashion, like Mr. Robert Trayner, wore green coats and fine cambrios. (Norfolk Chronicle, 14 July 1906)During 1907, Charlton was involved in the "The Cry of the Children" campaign, named after a series by George R. Sims and intended to raise awareness and push for legislation to prevent children from being allowed in public houses under a certain age. Charlton spoke at meetings, including a large meeting at The Corn Exchange in November 1907 in which he insisted that nobody could be satisfied with the state of England as it was to-day; nobody could feel that this great nation was organized as it ought to be; it seemed to him like a body in which the circulation of the blood was not active enough, and where every member of that body did not get sufficient life and power into it.
One detects in "Mave" ... a new note, which is full of promise of something greater than even the considerable achievement that stands to the author's credit in this novel. The atmosphere is charged with romance, and the story, which is by no means an easy one to present, is very cleverly told. Mave, the daughter of a woman who was hanged in the days when executions for petty offences were common enough, is the ribbon-counter girl in the millinery shop of a small country town when she excites a storm of passion which sweeps away several men. In the verse used as a motto to the book there occurs the line, "You were made from the twilight and rain"; and, consequently, no definite portrait of her is given. But Robert Trayner, whom she inspires with a great and a pure love, and Daniel Deacon, whose religious zeal is replaced by overwhelming desire, as well as Nat Avershaw, with his brutish admiration, are all drawn to the life. The end is tragic—it could not be anything else—and one perceives the hand of destiny. It is a notable and a distinguished piece of work, and much may be expected from the author. (Manchester Courier, 24 July 1906)
Originality and cleverness distinguish this novel, but it is original at the expense of probability, and its cleverness takes a morbid and unpleasant turn. An outline of the plot will help to explain our meaning. The story is told by "Mr. John," a cripple whose misfortune makes him adopt the tone of a lonely philosopher. His brother, Edward Bulmer, is dying of a wasting disease. He married – if the contract can be called a marriage – a woman who is content to be his nurse in return for a home. He then adopts, or, to be more precise, buys a child, Francine, and the happy home is complete. Edward is soon dead and out of the way.Charlton's follow-up, published in 1911, was also reviewed in the Daily News (5 June 1911):
The next important character to appear is one Bramwell Moore, a playwright, and, of course, a disappointed playwright, because nobody must be cheerful in this novel. He is a frequent visitor to 'The Farm,' where the widow resides, and she falls in love with him. But he (need we say?) loves another – the girl Francine. The plot thickens with the arrival of an Italian, one Garianni, who holds a secret of the widow's past life, and is blackmailing her. He is murdered, by whom we are left to guess. In any case, Moore is tried for the crime, and acquitted through the sacrifice of the widow, who proves an alibi for him which involves a very emphatic and quite untruthful denial of her own virtue. After this it is a bitter blow to her to discover that the man on whose behalf she has abased herself is to marry Francine, and the book ends with her death under pitiful circumstances. Such a story might have depressed Mark Tapley* himself.
* The depressed Dickens character from Martin Chuzzlewit.
It is a pleasant fancy of Mr. Charlton's to pretend that his story is founded on fact, and there is, we suspect, this much ground for his pretence, that one of the characters has been suggested to him by some living person. We mean Mr. Hillary St. Ann, a gentleman in whom the author takes great and justifiable interest and pride. He is a bachelor who is losing the bloom of youth. Untouched himself, until too late, by affairs of the heart, he contrives to be the deus ex machina for troubled lovers, and he has the two refreshing qualities of superficial cynicism and a warm heart. The other characters are either undistinguished or unconvincing. The hero, Harry Monteith, is a shallow and impressionable young man, and the "bewildered bride" herself an ingenuous young lady of little individuality. Miss Scarlett, the servant girl whose past has converged on sordid lines with that of the hero, is not a convincing figure, although Mr. Charlton deserves credit for some originality in his treatment of her. The story is very clever and interesting, in spite of incidents which the author himself excuses on the ground that he is only narrating facts—an excuse, by the way, which is never valid for the purposes of a novel.The Manchester Courier, meanwhile, thought it a "frankly sensational love story":
The author professes that it is simply a narrative of actual happenings, and extraordinary events do occur in real life. Certainly the tale is told in a matter-of-fact, off-hand style, with few trimmings and no attempt at polish, so that the profession of actuality is so far supported by internal evidence from the book itself. Anyhow, the story is readable, and that quality in this connection is of vastly more importance than mere truthfulness.The Bewildered Bride was to prove Charlton's final novel, and his literary and theatrical career tailed off after this point. In 1915, he co-authored (with Frank L. Lascot) a biography of Edith Cavell which was announced to be published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1916, but there appears to be no trace of it held by any of the copyright libraries or on sale second hand. Charlton also had a hand in the production of Joy-Land, a huge, colourful musical revue produced by Albert de Courville at the London Hippodrome in December 1915 and subsequently on tour. The music was by Herman E. Darewski and how much was contributed by Charlton is unknown as the book and lyrics were credited to De Courville and Wal Pink.
There was a large congregation at the church of Our Lady and St. Edward, Chiswick, yesterday, when Miss Birdie Coplans—well known in theatrical circles as Birdie Courtney—was married to Mr. Randal Charlton, who has been for some years past on the staff of the “Daily Mirror.” The wedding ceremony was performed by the Very Rev. Canon Egan. The bride has been appearing with great success in “Half-Past Eight” at the Comedy Theatre.
The lack of any further newspaper coverage makes it seem unlikely that the case ever came to trial. Eighteen months later, and almost unnoticed, Randal Conway passed away at the age of 49. The New York Times carried a brief note:ALLEGED PASSING OFF.Before Mr. Justice Maugham, in the Chancery Division yesterday, mentioning was made of the action by Mr. Randall Charlton against Messrs. Hutchinson, the publishers, upon which there was a motion for an injunction to restrain an alleged passing off by the defendants. It was stated that it had been agreed, subject to the approval of the Court, that the motion should stand over until the trial of the action, costs to be costs in the action. Mr. Justice Maugham approved this action.
LONDON, Dec. 27.—Randal Charlton, novelist and theatrical critic, with a wide circle of American friends, died during the week-end. Mr. Charlton for many years was one of the best known figures in Fleet Street and was chiefly associated with the Daily Mirror.Although the NY Times refers to the previous week-end, the date of Charlton's death has been given as 8 December 1931.
It appears that Mrs Randall-Charlton, the mother of Miss Courtney, while aware of her daughter's close friendship with Mr Walbrook, was ignorant of the proposed marriage.As Birdie Courtney's family were Lithuanian, she can only be talking about her late husband's family.
Immediately she learned of the plan she pointed out to her daughter that by marrying Mr Walbrook she would automatically be forced to surrender her British passport and thus lose her British nationality.
Legal advice was sought this morning, as Miss Courtney is not yet 21 years of age [she was – Steve], and, as a result of this advice Mr Walbrook and Miss Courtney have reluctantly agreed that in view of the difficulties that would arise for both parties, the application for marriage should be withdrawn.
Mr Walbrook, who has made England his home for the last two years, is still an Austrian subject, and, although he hopes to remain in this country, both he and Miss Courtney have agreed that legal obstacles have unfortunately created the postponement of their plans.
Mrs Randall-Charlton told a reporter that Mr Walbrook's nationality was the sole bar to his marrying her daughter. "Personally I think he is a very charming man," she said.
"Maudie is, of course, terribly disappointed—broken hearted. They are still friends and if there is any way of surmounting the barrier the wedding will take place as soon as ever the difficulties can be straightened out.
"In the present state of European turmoil I dare not think of my daughter becoming an alien, being married to a man without a country, and a subject of Herr Hitler.
"Mr Walbrook is a refugee—he had a Jewish grandmother—and Maudie is a Catholic. Her family is descended from the Plantagenets and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. It is one of the oldest families in England.
"How could she sacrifice this great heritage to become an outcast?"