Tom Gallon


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(1866–1914) was born in London and educated privately. He became a clerk, and a schoolmaster, then secretary to the mayor of a provincial town, before illness led to him giving up work and becoming a tramp. In 1895 he began to ‘hunt for stray guineas in Grub Street’. He was the author of many music-hall sketches and some fiction. The Kingdom of Hate: A Romance (1899) and Rickerby's Folly (1901) are ‘Mysteries of London’ adventures which make much of the exciting but dangerous anonymity of the city. In the former, Bernard Aubanel, one of a group of bored young men hanging around on a hot June night, undertakes for a modest wager to charm his way into the first house he sees which is showing a light—and duly finds himself caught up in a Ruritanian conspiracy involving an evil count and a beautiful princess. The Second Dandy Chater (1901) is a Dickensian tale, set in the Essex marshes, about a man who takes the place of his murdered twin brother and undoes the wrong done by his malevolent double. Equally Dickensian, and equally preoccupied with impersonation, is The Dead Ingleby (1902), about a man who passes as a respectable member of English society while also running a district in Italy through a gang of comic opera bandits. The Great Gay Road (1910) returns to favourite themes (prodigal sons, usurpers), and provides further evidence in its low-life scenes of Gallon's debt to Dickens.

From The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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