Ragnar Redbeard 1859-1929

The life of the fascinating character Arthur Desmond (1859-1929), (most known to have written the infamous book "Might is Right" under the pseudonym Ragnar Redbeard), is very interesting. It all starts in New Zealand 1884, when a young and unknown cattle-drover named Arthur Desmond stood for the Parliament Election in Hastings—as the radical candidate.

Biography Arthur Desmond "Ragnar Redbeard" (1859-1929)

Summarized points:

  • Arthur Desmond born 1859, from Irish and English ancestry lived in Napier, New Zealand. Arthur died January 23, 1929 in Chicago.

  • Up til 1884 the only reference to Arthur Desmond are some sporadic articles in local press. Then all of a sudden the unknown Arthur Desmond stood as candidate for the parliament election in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. Desmond came last.

  • In 1887 Arthur Desmond stood for parliament a second time.

  • June 1890 Arthur Desmond publish "Christ as a social reformer" in the Dunedin magazine Zealandia. (An article which caused accusations of plagiarism.) He also published the short lived "The Tribune." Desmond kept busy writing, agitating, and fighting for worker's rights during the Maritime strike.

  • In 1892 Arthur Desmond left New Zealand for Syndey, Australia.

  • In between 1893-1894 Arthur Desmond spent time in jail for writing the words "GONE BUNG" on the Savings Bank in Barrack Street. He put out journals like "The New Order," "The Standard Bearer," and probably the most known "Hard Cash," "A Magazine for Finance, Politics and Religion." He also started The Active Service Brigade which objectives were; "For the Nation—Social Co-operation. For the Citizen—Emancipation from Poverty Conditions, Competitive Commercialism, Industrial Wage Slavery, Tyrannical Authority, and Mental Bondage." Arthur Desmond eventually left the Active Service Brigade, John Dwyer (who wrote The Anarchist, published in "Anarchy—The Coming Terror: Courage, Freedom, and Revolution.") then kept it going. Eventually, not wanting to end up in jail, Arthur Desmond fled Australia permanently for Chicago, U. S. A.

Recommended reading for the early years in New Zealand & Australia:

Recommended reading for the Chicago years:

VISIT Gavin Gowrie's A Thousand Books of Fame - Books sold and promoted by Arthur Desmond (as Richard Thurland and Gavin Gowrie) through his mail order book business.

For EVERYONE interested in sources, inspiration, and origin of Ragnar Redbeard's poems:

Biography Ragnar Redbeard 1859-1929

As you are about to find out Arthur Desmond used a plethora of pseudonyms throughout his life, and perhaps there's even some yet to be discovered. What is known, is that he wrote that infamous book "Might is Right," under his pen-name Ragnar Redbeard.

Arthur Desmond wrote books, edited newspapers, published journals and articles in New Zealand, Australia, England, and America. He also contributed to and distributed the fantastic "The Eagle And The Serpent." (1898-1902, 1927*) A Journal of Egoistic philosophy and Sociology. Edited by John Basil Barnhill using the pseudonym of John Erwin Mccall. *Edited by Richard G. McKnight [ed.]

Publications by or contributed to by Arthur Desmond aka Ragnar Redbeard:

The Passing Away of the Land - Te rerenga atu o te whenua o nga Maori Aue!! Aue!!! Aue!!! Ko Haata Tehimona te kai tuhi tuhi "Pamphlet on the alienation of Māori land" Written By Arthur Desmond 1885. The first known printed publication by Arthur Desmond HERE

Christ as a Social Reformer -Arthur Cleave and Co., preface by Sir George Grey. Written By Arthur Desmond 1890. Visit WWW.ARTHURDESMOND.COM and get the New Book "Christ as a Social Reformer & Writings in Red"

Justice - 1894 (no pictures or scanned documents yet)

The Australian Investors Review - 1894 (No pictures or scanned documents yet)

Hard Cash - 1893 (Click here for more information, pictures and articles)

SUPPLEMENT to HARD CASH -1893 (Click here for more information and pictures)

Public Opinion - 1894 (No pictures or scanned documents yet)

The Standard Bearer - 1893 (Description based on: Chapter 1 (Nov. 19, 1893); caption title."A volume of analytical commentary in prose and verse upon contemporary finance, politics, religion and war." "Edited in parts at irregular intervals and edited by Hard Kash.")

(Click here for more information, pictures and articles. —Compleate issue of Chapter V.)

The New Order - The first number appeared on Saturday, April 7, 1894 (7th April - 25th August) (Click here for more information and articles)

Might is Right: or the Survival of the Fittest (For more information see separate page)

- 1896 Ragnar Redbeard, Chicago (Reprinted in "The House of Gowrie and Thurland & Thurland: The Devil's Book Agents" for the first time since 1896.)

- 1903 Ragnar Redbeard, Chicago

- 1910 W.J. Robbins, London

- 1921 Ross's Book Service, Melbourne

- 1927 Dil Pickle Press, Chicago

Readbeard's Review - (ca 1908-1915.) A Collection of literary indexes promoting his bookselling business. Get the NEW BOOK on his literary indexes here.

- Sayings of Redbeard, London 1896. Reprinted from Redbeard's Review

- The Sayings of Nietzsche, London 1896. Reprinted from Redbeard's Review

- The Famous Sayings of Max Stirner, Reprinted from Redbeard's Review

Distributed from Thurland & Thurland, Eagle and Serpent Publishing, and The House of Gowrie.

House of Gowrie - An Suppressed American Publisher.

The Eagle and The Serpent - (1898-1902, 1927*) A Journal of Egoistic philosophy and Sociology. Edited by John Basil Barnhill using the pseudonym of John Erwin Mccall. *Edited by Richard G. McKnight [ed.] Read Ragnar Redbeard related material from The Eagle and The Serpent here.

By Iron And By Blood (Small Pamphlet) Advertized in Woman And War.

Woman And War (Pamphlet) - London : Holbrook & Daniels, 1898, ©1897. Extract from Woman and war, chap. VI, Might is Right. (Visit separate page for more information)

War And Evolution (In Preparation 1903) Advertized in Woman And War.

The Roots Of Things (In Preparation 1903) Advertized in Woman And War.

Rival Caesars: A Romance of Ambition, Love, and War - Thurland & Thurland 1903 Written by Arthur Desmond and William H. Dilg under the pseudonym "Desmond Dilg." Get the new edition HERE

The Lion's Paw - (ca 1908-1915) Edited by Richard Thurland aka Ragnar Redbeard/Arthur Desmond. The NEW BOOK "THE HOUSE OF GOWRIE and THURLAND & THURLAND: THE DEVIL'S BOOK AGENTS" contains a whole lot from The Lion's Paw. Click the link or HERE.

The Gospel According To Malfew Seklew, Spencella & Winsex 1916. A collaboration between Ragnar Redbeard (writing as Sirfessor Superight) and Malfew Seklew (writing as Sirfessor Wilkesbarre.) A wonderful pamphlet promoting both Ragnar Redbeard and Malfew Seklew's works. Get the NEW BOOK "THE HOUSE OF GOWRIE and THURLAND & THURLAND: THE DEVIL'S BOOK AGENTS" for this complete pamphlet and more.


All of the above mentioned Journals, Pamphlets, and Books are highly sought after by us.

Anything remotly connected to Thurland & Thurland, The House of Gowrie, advertisements etc.

Please contact Ragnar Redbeard - Archive & Publisher with anything regarding items mentioned.

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WWW.RAGNARREDBEARD.COM presents a small collection of writings, articles, and correspondence written from as early as 1880 - signed by the many nom de plume used by Desmond. We also include related material about Redbeard aka Desmond such as lecturers, and reviews from both admirers and detractors. I treat this site as a living document, and information will surely be updated.

As many people have an opinion about Redbeard, you're encouraged to read his books and writings for yourself.

During the authors life five editions of the book "Might is Right" were published, and until his death, he never stopped promoting it.