T.E. Brown

TEB is, as we all know, little read and known not at all outside of the Isle of Man. His fate, like other figures of Victorian fiction and poetry, is similar to that of George Borrow, influential in his day but now equally neglected. As was written recently of him and his decline in popularity: “Since then he has suffered the characteristically British fate of a decline into biography.” [Duncan, Ian. “Wild England: George Borrow’s Nomadology.” Victorian Studies 41.3 (1998): 381–93.] This too has happened with TEB; for example Winterbotton, Derek. T.E. Brown: His Life and Legacy. Douglas: The Manx Experience, 1997. Much earlier, though a different kettle of fish, is Tobias, Richard. T.E. Brown. Twayne’s English Authors Series. Ed. Herbert Sussman. Vol. 213. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1978. Tobias has shown himself to be a sensitive critic of TEB and this is an essential read for those even mildly interested in him.

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Castletown School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Witches Mill Pamphlet

Long before Rowling, Potter and Hogwarts, the Isle of Man could itself, if only for a brief period, boast a position as the focal point of British witchcraft. Many of the leading figures in witchcraft were attracted to the disused mill on the outskirts of Castletown where they came to meet, learn and practice with one of the leading figures in the modern witchcraft tradition, or Wicca, Gerald Gardner. Despite being one of the most (in)famous individuals in post-war Britain, Gardner has been largely been forgotten in the Isle of Man. More memorable was Gardner’s other legacy, The Museum of Magic and Witchcraft.

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T.E. Brown on the Manx weather

This quote does not really fit into the North/South or Celtic/Norse threads but I find it quite intruiging:

“How the wind howls! It has now been at it for some three weeks, and there is no sign of a change. That is the Manx climate. I remember when I never noticed it; but long familiarity with the effeminate skies of England has made me sensitive. O for a bit of the primitive hardihood! The capacity of roughing it.”

Letter from the Rev. T.E. Brown to S.T. Irwin, 18 September 1892. In Irwin, Sidney T., ed. Letters of Thomas Edward Brown. Vol. i. 2 vols. London: Archibald Constable, 1900.


Again, while filing material away I came across this piece that throws an interesting insight into the Northside/Southside division.

Isle of Man Government. Northern Railway: Report of Committee. n.p. [Douglas]: n.pub. [Isle of Man Government], 1877.

[1] “In addition to this the Railway will tend to consolidate the interests of the North and the South.
The line of mountain land which separates one side of the Island from the other, has a tendency to cause the interests of these portions to be looked upon as separate and distinct from each other, and prejudices occasionally show themselves, which more frequent communication will lessen or prevent.”


Celtic and Norse

Filing some transcripts recently I came across this piece by Canon John Quine:

Quine, Canon John. Handbook en Route. Isle of Man. Souvenir of Coast & Mountain Electric Railways. n.p. [but Douglas]: n. pub. [but Isle of Man Tramways and Electric Power Co. Ltd], n.d.

[4] “Manx life is touched still with the glamour, it has still the form, of olden times. The people are a blend of Celtic and Scandinavian. The Norse tongue has left its traces in local names; the Celtic in vernacular speech. The people in the south are more Celtic, more smooth-spoken and of average mould. In the north more Scandinavian, of finer than average figure, broad in speech, brusque in manner, with all the qualities that wear best. In the north are found most choice types of manhood and womanhood, the most distinctive physique and beauty of the Manx race.”

Whilst a familiar comment by this period, it would be interesting to gather together similar comments and trace the development of this notion.