Ronald Knox: Trollopian plus

I spent a rainy Easter Saturday in and around Mells in a quiet corner of Somerset. In the churchyard is the grave of Monsignor Ronald Knox, best known to Trollope fans as the author of Barchester Pilgrimage, a continuation of the Barchester Chronicles of Anthony Trollope taking the children and grandchildren of characters from that series on into the following decades.

He was also, surprisingly, a member of The Detection Club and wrote several Golden Age detective novels and collaborated with Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and others in three books written collectively by members of the club at the height of their popularity in the 1930s, Behind The Screen, The Floating Admiral and Six Against The Yard.

He is perhaps best remembered in ecclesiastical circles for his translation of the Vulgate Bible from the original Latin.

I don’t know what they would have made of his 1926 BBC radio play Broadcasting From The Barricades, a hoax programme purporting to be live reporting of a revolution taking place in London, which caused minor panic across the UK. The broadcast preceded the General Strike by some four months and anticipated the impact such broadcasts might have which was exploited to the full by Orson Welles in his War of the Worlds radio broadcast of 1938.

I’m sure he would have appreciated the joke.


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