Wednesday, July 29, 2009


In June Caroline posted Deptford and the Foreign Legion about Beau Geste author Percival Christopher Wren having been born in Deptford in 1875 as plain Percy Wren. He amended both his place and year of birth in later life. As Caroline outlined accurate details about Wren's life can be hard to pin down, but are by no means impossible.

In 1933 Philadelphia autograpgh collector Frank Tricker wrote to Wren requesting an autographed photograph. Wren sent the autographed photograph (detail on right) with a cigar band attached under cover of the letter below. Frank's son Barry Tricker has kindly agreed to my publishing both on this blog. On Wren's shoulder there is a crown denoting the rank of Major. When he was a headmaster in Karachi and subsequently Assistant Director of Education of the Bombay Presidency (region) of British India Wren was also a member of the Indian Army Reserve of Officers, a position that may, or may not, have involved wearing a uniform. He resigned his commission on 1st November 1915 and was granted the honoury rank of Captain in 1918. It was only following the sucess of Beau Geste in the mid 1920s that Wren promoted himself to Major.

Wren's works of fiction sold in their millions and film adaptions were enjoyed by millions more. With copyright expiring in less than three years (he died 22nd November 1941) renewed interest in his work is quite probable. As well as his works of fiction he wrote a number of educational texts. As recently as 2003 Richard C Smith devoted 250 pages of an academic text to consideration of Wren's methods of teaching English as a Foreign Language. Wren's various embellishments of his personal history should not distract too deeply from his genuine talents.

Both the original photograph and the covering letter are for sale at STOWEVINTAGE.COM

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