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A Literary Light
by [?]

ANNESLEY BUPP was born one of the Bupps of Hampshire–the Fighting Bupps, as they were called. A sudden death in the family left him destitute at the early age of thirty, and he decided to take seriously to journalism for a living. That was twelve years ago. He is now a member of the Authors’ Club; a popular after-dinner speaker in reply to the toast of Literature; and one of the best-paid writers in Fleet Street. Who’s Who tells the world that he has a flat at Knightsbridge and a cottage on the river. If you ask him to what he owes his success he will assure you, with the conscious modesty of all great men, that he has been lucky; pressed further, that Hard Work and Method have been his watchwords. But to the young aspirant he adds that of course if you have it in you it is bound to come out.


When Annesley started journalism he realized at once that it was necessary for him to specialize in some subject. Of such subjects two occurred to him–“George Herbert” and “Trams.” For a time he hesitated, and it was only the sudden publication of a brief but authoritative life of the poet which led him finally to the study of one of the least explored of our transit systems. Meanwhile he had to support himself. For this purpose he bought a roll-top desk, a typewriter, and an almanac; he placed the almanac on top of the desk, seated himself at the typewriter, and began.

It was the month of February; the almanac told him that it wanted a week to Shrove Tuesday. In four days he had written as many articles, entitled respectively Shrovetide Customs, The Pancake, Lenten Observances, and Tuesdays Known to Fame. The Pancake, giving as it did the context of every reference in literature to pancakes, was the most scholarly of the four; the Tuesday article, which hazarded the opinion that Rome may at least have been begun on a Tuesday, the most daring. But all of them were published.

This early success showed Annesley the possibilities of the topical article; it led him also to construct a revised calendar for his own use. In the “Bupp Almanac” the events of the day were put back a fortnight; so that, if the Feast of St Simon and St Jude fell upon the 17th, Annesley’s attention was called to it upon the 3rd, and upon the 3rd he surveyed the Famous Partnerships of the epoch. Similarly, The Origin of Lord Mayor’s Day was put in hand on October 26th.

He did not, however, only glorify the past; current events claimed their meed of copy. In the days of his dependence Annesley had travelled, so that he could well provide the local colour for such sketches as Kimberley as I Knew It (1901) and Birmingham by Moonlight (1903). His Recollections of St Peter’s at Rome were hazy, yet sufficient to furnish an article with that title at the time of the Coronation. But I must confess that Dashes for the Pole came entirely from his invaluable Encyclopaedia….


Annesley Bupp had devoted himself to literature for two years before his first article on trams was written. This was called Voltage, was highly technical, and convinced every editor to whom it was sent (and by whom it was returned) that the author knew his subject thoroughly. So when he followed it up with How to be a Tram Conductor, he had the satisfaction not only of seeing it in print within a week, but of reading an editorial reference to himself as “the noted expert on our overhead system.” Two other articles in the same paper–Some Curious Tram Accidents and Tram or Bus: Which?– established his position.

Once recognized as the authority on trams, Bupp was never at a loss for a subject. In the first place there were certain articles, such as Tramways in 1904, Progress of Tramway Construction in the Past Year, Tramway Inventions of the Last Twelvemonth, and The Tram: Its Future in 1905, which flowed annually from his pen. From time to time there would arise the occasion for the topical article on trams–Trams as Army Transports and How our Trams fared during the Recent Snow, to give two obvious examples. And always there was a market for such staple articles as Trams in Fiction….