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Frances W. King

Six Poems

This is a slightly larger than usual small book and has only 4 pages, or 8 if you count the covers. The whole book is printed on thin card with poems inside the front and rear covers, which are held together by a single staple. There is no date and no printing details inside the book, just J.L. Carr's colophon on the rear cover, with his address and telephone number. This suggests that it was quite an early publication, perhaps in the early 1970s, before the area codes were added to telephone numbers and the four-digit number was dropped from the colophon.

The name printed on the front cover is FRANCIS W. KING but the letter 'I' in the first name has been changed by hand to an 'E'. As my copy is signed inside the front cover 'With love from Frances', this was an error and the author is Frances W. King.

This small book is not listed in JISC or WorldCat and there are no copies listed on secondhand book sites. It is the first and only copy that I have seen. I suspect that it was printed privately for Frances King in a very small edition that she may have paid for.

There is a small clue in the book as to who Frances King was, which enabled me to find the information given below. Underneath one of the poems, entitled 'Morning Hymn' is written 'F.W.K. Madagascar'. A search on JISC using her name and the term 'Madagascar' finds three items in the library of the Society of Friends by Frances W. King. A search of the Society's catalogue lists ten items by Frances W. King including Reflexions (sic) on leaving Madagascar (1956), Training for leadership in Madagascar (1958) and Life in a developing country: Madagascar revisted (1968). A note made against an entry in the library catalogue of a poem entitled High calling - a sonnet on death helpfully states that she died on 12th August 1981, as the poem was in press. She was 86.

Frances Wake King was born in Greenwich on 22nd March 1896, to Louisa Wake Cross and Arthur King. Her maternal grandmother was named Wake. Frances attended Roan Girls School in Greenwich until she was at least 17 years old and then studied English at Bedford College in London, graduating in 1917. In the early 1930s she was second mistress at Mitcham County Girls School until 1937, when she was appointed Headmistress of Farnham Girls Grammar School. She remained there for 10 years until she had a career change in 1947 to spend a year at Woodbrooke College, a Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, as a Research Fellow.


Frances Wake King in 1939

Frances King was then a member of staff in the Department of Education at Hull University from 1948 to 1956, so may have spent a part of that time in Madagascar, if the date of the first publication is correct, but I suspect not. I think she went to Madagascar in 1956, on behalf of the Service Council of the Society of Friends, after she retired from Hull University at the age of 60. A visit to the library of the Society of Friends is called for (when it opens again after refurbishment). Watch this space.

I suspect that Frances King was one of the two million women who 'survived without men after the First World War', to use the sub-title of Virginia Nicholson's wonderful book Singled Out (Viking, 2007).

I wonder where and how she met J.L. Carr?

(New entry on 11/11/2021; updated 5/12/2021)

P-FWK1: First and only impression

Publisher: J.L. Carr Publisher

Year: c 1970?

ISBN: none

Size: 152 x 99 mm

Pagination: 4 pp

Staples: one

Binding: thin white card the title and author printed on the front and the Sun face colophon of J.L. Carr Publisher on the back

Paper: white card as thick as the cover

Editor: none stated

Cover artist: none

Internal illustrations: none

Image of cover

Rear and front covers (click to enlarge)

Number in series: none given

Colophon: Sun Face 1964 with address and telephone number

Telephone number: Kettering 4995

Printing history: none stated

Number of other titles listed: none

Printed by: not stated

Contents: To L.S.B.; The still point; Morning hymn; The meeting; The pool; Twenty years later.

Notes: There are only six very short poems in this small book, and the whole thing is printed on card. It would have been easy to include more verses. There is no date and there are no printing details inside the rear cover, only the colophon shows that it was published by J.L. Carr.