Rediscovered: Frank Harris — His Own John Hancock

Last Autograph Hound weekend Kevin Cook dragged the Irish author Frank Harris into the foment via a book inscribed to the author of My Life and Loves from no less than Tod Robbins.

The association interest was immense, for those of us who have an appreciation for such things — but, hey, where’s the beef? You know, the Frank Harris John Hancock?

This Autograph Hound Saturday Brian Leno chimes in with his reaction:

“I was very interested to see Tod Robbins’ signature in a book he inscribed to Frank Harris. Very nice.

“Got up at 6:00 and checked your site to see what that damn Kevin Cook was up to and was properly jealous to see the ‘Viv’ signature, but of course the hot item was the Tod Robbins.

“The photo you had up from Freaks looked like a group photo of academics making their way to the latest Howard Days.

“Anyway thought I’d let you know I have a Frank Harris signed book, Montes, the Matador. It’s inscribed, but not to Robbins.

“Wouldn’t that have been cool?

“I can’t be certain because I’m getting old and useless, but I believe some knuckleheads are saying Harris is a Jack the Ripper suspect. Harris, somewhat of a boxing enthusiast, is mentioned in my upcoming book on Robert E. Howard and boxing, because his name gets dropped in a couple of Howard’s letters. I have some admiration for Harris.

“Robert E. Howard wrote in a letter to H. P. Lovecraft, ‘Frank Harris was once a prizefighter.’ While Harris did do some boxing he evidently did not have the love for the sport as did Howard. In My Life and Loves Harris writes, ‘I have only written these recollections of prize-fighters to justify my opinion that the prize-fight is an evil, and boxing one of the lowest forms of athletics.’ Obviously Howard would not have agreed with that assessment.

“Harris, in a chapter on boxing, writes of seeing the John L. Sullivan-Charlie Mitchell bout, and mentions that Peter Jackson was a friend of his. Harris is a notorious name dropper, and much of what he says should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

“Still, his signature is a desirable one, and it can be bagged fairly cheaply.”

Autographs, boxing, REH, Ripperology — the stuff Leno awakes to every day.

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