Mr Key’s Shorter, Potted Brief, Brief Lives

Back in September 2013, Frank Key posted on The Dabbler his idea of writing a book of very, very brief lives. Thanks in part to the enthusiastic reaction of the Dabbler audience and commenters, this idea has now become a reality, and Mr Key’s Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives will be published by Constable in October (with an introduction by our own Brit).

You can pre-order it on Amazon here. In the meantime, here’s a taster…

It occurred to me that it would be a good idea to write a modern, updated version of John Aubrey’s Brief Lives. But it further occurred to me that some books are unimproveable, and that in trying to follow in Aubrey’s footsteps I would embarrass myself and become the butt of ridicule. The idea continued to nag at me, however, and eventually I decided the solution was to outdo Aubrey in brevity. My own Brief Lives would consist of a single, unadorned fact about each of my subjects. So the reader may not learn very much about the life of X or Y or Z, but they would be armed with one little nugget which might come in handy to chuck into a lull during the conversation at the kind of swish sophisticated cocktail party to which they no doubt get invited.

Here exclusively for Dabblers are some selected fruits of my research thus far.

Bierce, Ambrose (American writer, 1842 – vanished 1913). Bierce was one of thirteen children all of whose given names began with the letter A. His parents, Marcus Aurelius Bierce and Laura Sherwood Bierce, of Horse Cave Creek, Meigs County, Ohio, named their children, from the oldest to the youngest, Abigail, Amelia, Ann Maria, Addison, Aurelius, Augustus, Almeda, Andrew, Albert, Ambrose, Arthur, and the twins Adelia and Aurelia.

Field, Eugene (American writer, 1850 – 1895). Field had a childhood sweetheart with the captivating name Captivity Waite.

Harmsworth, Alfred, Lord Northcliffe (British newspaper magnate, 1865 – 1922). One day at a seaside resort, Northcliffe wantonly struck down a seagull with his stick and beat it to death on the sand.

Jansson, Tove (Finnish writer and illustrator, 1914 – 2001). When staying at her Finnish island retreat, it was Tove Jansson’s practice to get out of bed at four o’ clock in the morning and stand stock still, pretending to be a tree, while a squirrel ran up and down her frozen limbs.

Lennon, John (British musician, 1940 – 1980). According to Bernard Levin (q.v.), “there is nothing wrong with John Lennon that could not be cured by standing him upside down and shaking him gently until whatever is inside his head falls out”.

Levin, Bernard (British writer, 1928 – 2004, also a refrigerator) See Tippett, Michael.

Nixon, Richard Milhous (American politician and Potus, 1913 – 1994) Nixon’s favourite pastime was mashing potatoes.

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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

3 thoughts on “Mr Key’s Shorter, Potted Brief, Brief Lives

    August 7, 2015 at 10:16

    Levin’s CV will upset Arianna and may well elicit a response from the huff ‘n puff post. Never understood the attraction there, a distinctly uncool looking critic and a Greek glamour puss with a big hairdo.

    Perhaps Bernie had, as well as the cerebral, other talents. His summation of the festival weather was classic Levin ‘one must dress for Edinburgh in August as one would dress for Reykjavik in winter.’

    August 18, 2015 at 15:27

    Great Post

    Dghaies ahmed
    August 19, 2015 at 08:20

    I like this post

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