Unpublished biography book on Ragnar Redbeard (Arthur Desmond)

Unpublished biography book on Ragnar Redbeard (Arthur Desmond)

Unpublished biography book on Ragnar Redbeard (Arthur Desmond)

Authors Vance Marshall and Geo G. Reeve's Unpublished biography book on Ragnar Redbeard (Arthur Desmond)

One of the first Ragnar Redbeard biographers, Geo G. Reeve (George Gresham Reeve) in the article “Ragnar Redbeard,” “Ross’s Monthly,” 17 April 1920., which includes a photograph of Ragnar Redbeard” (Arthur Desmond), present a portion of what a few years later was planned to be a book—“Redbeard's Biography and Revolutionary Songs.”

Read - Ragnar Redbeard in Ross's Monthly

In 1922, George G. Reeve (1875-1933) together with James Vance Marshall (1887-1964) was in the process of writing the first Biography on Ragnar Redbeard (Arthur Desmond). The book was to be edited by Guy A. Aldred (1866-1963) and arrangements was made to have it published in England and Australia. But from what it seems, the book never saw the light of day. Instead, Vance Marshall and Geo. G. Reeve kept writing articles on the alluring and interesting character Ragnar Redbeard (Arthur Desmond). Much of the material they had collected over the years—prose, and verse, was printed in newspapers like Windsor and Richmond Gazette. Vance Marshall even held lectures on Ragnar Redbeard's “Might is Right.”

[One year before, 1921 the Australian edition of MIGHT IS RIGHT was published by Ross’s Book Service, Melbourne. Printed by Fraser and Jenkinson, 343-5 Queen St., Melbourne Ed—Robert Carmonius]

 From a scrapbook:


C.C. 17.11.1922


Vance Marshall and Geo G. Reeve have, in collaboration, written the life and Australian career of “Ragnar Redbeard” (Arthur Desmond). This Maoriland whirlwind writer flashed across the horizon hereabouts for some six years (1890-1895), most of the time being spent in Sydney.

The story is fully told of how “Redbeard” came to write his work, “Might is Right,” of his oration in denunciation of the renegades from the Labor movement in 1893 — the historical undying hostility resolution.

Many old-time fighters and their activities and deeds are again brought on the stage of history. Just to mention a few names of the honored dead, John A. Andrews, Larry Petrie (accidentally killed at Villa Riea, Paraguay, South America). Mrs. Rose Summerfield Cadogan, the poetess of “The Worker” (Syd,) (1826-1908) and lectures at old Leigh House meetings on Sunday nights; Henry Lawson, associate of “Redbeard” and Australia’s wonder child, author, short story writer and versifier, but lately deceased, and last but not least, the late W H. McNamara, husband of Mrs. Bertha McNamara; and amongst those still active in the fight might be mentioned es Justly worthy John Dwyer, harry Holland, M. H. Reps (Maoriland), and Arthur Rae.

The book contains two prefaces by the joint authors of “Redbeard’s Activities in Sydney.” Chapters dealing with some historical happenings in the sister States of Victoria and Queensland. Chapters from Labor History, together with eighteen poems or sets of verses gathered from “the ends of the earth,” with footnotes and accurate items concerning the interesting career of “Ragnar Redbeard.”

The Australian Edition is now on the press. All enquiries should be addressed to Vance Marshall, 2 Wickham St. The Valley, Brisbane.

Guy A. Aldred (1886-1963) editor of “The Red,” is publishing the English edition of “Redbeard’s Biography and Revolutionary Songs.” Those desirous of obtaining the English edition should write to Guy A. Aldred, 17 Richmond Gardens, Shepheard’s Bush. London W. 12, England.

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Guy A. Aldred was a materialist in philosophy. He had no belief in the supernatural. To him “the mortal soul of Man is the only intelligent lord of matter.” Yet many of his writings and speeches were imbued with a spirituality that raised them above the ephemeral utterances of most political speakers. What he had to say had relevance, not merely to the moment, but to the epoch. He edited many socialist papers, among them: “Herald of Revolt,” “The Spur,” “The Commune,” “The Council,” “The New Spur,” and “The Word.”

Read more here

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You can read the following articles on; “Ragnar Redbeard,” Part I by Geo G. Reeve in the “Windsor and Richmond Gazette”, 26 November 1926. The Part II article was published in “Windsor and Richcmond Gazette,” 10 December 1926.

Another interesting article is; “Arthur Desmond” (Ragnar Redbeard) published in “Windsor and Richmond Gazette,” 8 October 1926 by “Baarmutha,” this article includes another picture of Arthur Desmond (Ragnar Redbeard), but with a beard.

RAGNAR REDBEARD's UNMASKED POEMS: Batteries of pristine scorn and revolutionary songs.

By Robert Carmonius

George Gresham Reeve or Geo G. Reeve (1875-1933) as he called himself was one of the founders of the Society of Australian Genealogists. He was friends with Henry Lawson (1867-1922), and later involved with the Henry Lawson Literary Society. And at one time sec-treasurer for the INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD, (the I.W.W.) in Sydney.

As Geo G. Reeve frequently wrote for the Windsor and Richmond Gazette, one can find many of his interesting and historical articles, among them many regarding Ragnar Redbeard (Arthur Desmond), including prose and verse.

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Vance Marshall (1887-1964) also known as Jice Doone, a pseudonym. A prominent member of the Labor Party and union organiser, he was also active in British labour politics. A great inspiration to Vance Marshall was Henry Lawson (1867-1922), who also was a close friend to him. He was imprisoned, twice, under the government of W.M. Hughes which resulted in two books; Jail from within 1918, and The world of the living dead 1919.

Read more from Vance Marshall here:

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