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Curious and true


Here’s a sad little story for you. Going to Bateman’s put me in mind of it.

Edward Julius and Charles Maurice Detmold were twin brothers born in Surrey in 1883. Their father was chronically ill, so they grew up in the house of an uncle who, among other things, collected Japanese woodcuts. The brothers became fascinated with drawing in the Japanese style.

It would be fair to call them prodigies: they both had exhibited in watercolor at the Royal Academy by the time they were 13. Mostly animal pictures. Before they were 20, they had several very successful picture books to their credit. Their fortunes really took off that year when they were asked to illustrate Kipling’s Jungle Book.

There’s a little room in Bateman’s that has some — maybe all — of these illustrations and a few more. I assume they’re the originals. Beautiful stuff.

The success of these pictures allowed them to divide their time between London and Ditchling, Sussex — not far from here. Half a year at each. In 1908, when they were 25, they were preparing to go down to Ditchling. Here’s where it gets weird.

Their local doctor gave them some chloroform to kill the housecat. Which Maurice did. Then he took the remainder of the chloroform and killed himself.

That’s it. That’s all the detail I’ve ever been able to glean from any source, and I have so many questions. Was the cat ill? Did people routinely kill their cats rather than bring them on holiday? I know people were shitty to cats back then, but that seems a bit much. Was Maurice depressed? Could it have been an accident? Or did he — this is my favorite theory — kill the cat and then feel so awful about it aferward that he offed himself?

Edward had a long and successful career after, though many reckon his brother had the more talent. In his seventies, Edward’s eyesight began to fail. He killed himself with a shot to the chest in 1957.

Well worth looking up their work. Here is the full image from the header. It’s a lovely thing. Not sure which Detmold did it, perhaps both. Looking at it, I think they used a combination of watered-down and full strength ink. Or perhaps it’s an etching — they did a lot of printmaking.

I know what your monkeybrain is telling you. It’s telling you if you were super careful and made a zillion little descriptive lines, you could maybe do something that looked like that. I’m here to inform you, sadly, from a lifetime of experience, monkeybrain lies.


Comment from Ric Fan
Time: September 27, 2017, 11:37 pm

Lack of ego separation? Heard a psych testify that a mentally ill woman who tried to kill herself killed her child, bc she thought the child would be left alone and die from neglect, not comprehending that the child would be found and cared for. Maybe, this guy suffered from the same delusion.

Hey, if you’re close to Ditchling, isnt there a famous arts & crafts museum there? I’m thinking of Edward Johnston, the calligrapher.

Comment from ExpressoBold
Time: September 27, 2017, 11:47 pm

I’m positive that Edward did not want the cat killed, no matter the circumstances and, after Maurice did it, Edward snagged the remaining chloroform and offed Charles Maurice. It was a flash of anger, actually, not premeditated at all and Edward suffered with the guilt of his impetuous act the rest of his life… thus with the failure of his eyesight and his infirmity of old age, he took another impetuous action and joined his dear brother.
What I cannot explain is the action of the local physician to presume that the brothers actually knew how to use a dangerous chemical and provided it or a prescription for it. What was the doctor thinking?

Comment from ExpressoBold
Time: September 28, 2017, 3:36 am

Hugh Marston Hefner (April 9, 1926 – September 27, 2017)
R.I.P spirochetes and thanks for all the mammaries…

Comment from Monty James
Time: September 28, 2017, 5:50 am

ExpressoBold beat me to it. Hef lived every 14 year old boy’s dream, for six decades. Perhaps there was some epiphany about how wrong and shallow a life devoted to hedonism and abandon was, as the darkness came upon him, but the bastard probably died happy.

Comment from Timbo
Time: September 28, 2017, 1:23 pm

Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go it’s pretty damn good!

Woody Allen

Comment from harbqll
Time: September 28, 2017, 3:02 pm

Did anyone have Hef in the dead pool?

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: September 28, 2017, 3:17 pm

What I cannot explain is the action of the local physician to presume that the brothers actually knew how to use a dangerous chemical and provided it or a prescription for it. What was the doctor thinking?

Recall that this was a time and place when cocaine use was still legal, and chimney sweeps smoked and were advised to take pipe smoke into their rectums for good health. (I read that someplace; I can’t vouch for the accuracy of it, and don’t really want to research it. The Internet has too many pictures of weird things.) The doctor may have shrugged the oddness of the brothers’ request for chloroform off, or he himself may have been doped to the gills.

Comment from Jeff Weimer
Time: September 28, 2017, 3:22 pm

Now Hugh Hefner will be buried next to Marylin Monroe, his first centerfold.

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: September 28, 2017, 3:24 pm

Hef lived every 14 year old boy’s dream, for six decades.
14? Every 24, 34, 44, and 54-year-old’s dream too! And maybe longer than that! Say what you want about the endless installments of the “Playboy Philosophy,” and all the jokes about “I only read it for the articles.” Playboy is a brand unto itself, a name for an entire class of magazine, the way “Kleenex” is used to describe any kind of tissue. “There’s some Playboys in the drawer there” could refer to Hef’s magazine, or Penthouse, or anything with nude women in it.

Such is Hefner’s monument; and perhaps it would not have displeased him.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: September 28, 2017, 3:33 pm

Hef smoked a pipe with his rect…


NO, no no no no.

Monkeybrain – and that is a demonstration of why monkeybrain knows it cannot draw all those tiny lines and come out with a picture.

Comment from dissent
Time: September 28, 2017, 5:10 pm

Formerly known as Skeptic wins dick with Hugh Hefner.

There, I said it.

Comment from thefritz
Time: September 28, 2017, 5:39 pm

I thought Wolfus was pulling my chain…


Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: September 28, 2017, 6:03 pm

He wasn’t pulling your chain, taking the piss or blowing smoke up your, uh, skirt.


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