'The Wax Fruit Trilogy' brings together Guy McCrone's three classic novels which chronicle the life and times of the Moorhouse family as they rise from the obscurity of an Ayrshire farm to prosperity in Victorian Glasgow.
The trilogy consists of 'Antimacassar City', 'The Philistines' and 'The Puritans'.
Paperback, 618 pages
November 24th 2004
by Black and White Publishing
(first published 1947)
Guy Fulton McCrone was born in 1898 in Birkenhead, of Scottish parents.
He was educated at Glasgow and then Cambridge University and after his studies he appears to have gone to Vienna to study singing. He eventually returned to Glasgow where he was very much involved in the musical and theatrical life of the city. He became the first managing director of the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre, which was fGuy Fulton McCrone was born in 1898 in Birkenhead, of Scottish parents.
He was educated at Glasgow and then Cambridge University and after his studies he appears to have gone to Vienna to study singing. He eventually returned to Glasgow where he was very much involved in the musical and theatrical life of the city. He became the first managing director of the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre, which was founded in 1943, and his play 'Alex Goes to Amulree' was first performed at the Rutherglen Repertory Theatre in May 1944.
His 1947 novel 'Red Plush' was a Book of the Month Club selection in New York and his 'Wax Fruit' trilogy, the English title of 'Red Plush', is probably his best known work. His writings were often inspired by his interest in music and the theatre and they all had a Glasgowesque feel to them. The Glasgow Herald wrote of him "McCrone recaptures the atmosphere of the period most effectively."
He moved to the Lake District in 1968 and died there in 1977.
I tracked down an interview he gave in middle age and it went as follows:-
"I was born in Birkenhead, England, in 1898, of Scottish parents. A temporary job had taken my father there, and the household went with him. But I spent my early childhood running in the woods and farmlands of central Ayrshire. I describe this pleasant countryside in my books. It is the Burns country. Our nearest village was Mauchline, where Robert Burns first took up house with his wife, Jean Armour. The poet's haunts are well known to me and his Aryshire Scots is very familiar in my ears.
"I have no illustrious ancestors. But one of my family interests me. He was my grandfather's cousin, a certain John Macrone (writing the name thus) who went to London, established himself at 3, St James Square, became a publisher, encouraged the young Charles Dickens to collect his first newspaper pen sketches, and published them under the Macrone imprint as 'Sketches by Boz'. [Bettie, I knew I recognised the name from somewhere and when I remembered, that is what made me trace some more.]
"I went to school in Glasgow, passing the entrance examination for Cambridge, England, in the middle of World War I. But being ineligible for the army, I went to scrub floors and sell cigarettes in soldiers' YMCA in Normandy and Paris. When the war was ended, I duly went up to the university, where I took a degree in economics as it was intended I should be a business man.
"I began writing after I married in 1931. I had the good fortune to have the script of my first novel read by Michael Sadleir [another of my favourites], himself a distinguished biographer, novelist and publisher. He invited me to London, then tore my work to pieces, neither showing mercy nor predicting a future for it. It was a shattering experience; but I pulled myself together, came home to Glasgow, rewrote my book and sent it back to him. He replied almost at once that he congratulated me on being able to take instruction, that he was pleased with what I had done and would like to publish. It was on Sadleir's suggestion that I wrote a trilogy, 'Red Plush', which was chosen as Book-of-the-Month in New York for December 1947.
"People have asked me why I continue to write almost exclusively about my own kind of people, my own city of Glasgow and the countryside in which I was reared [shades of John Buchan]. Here is my reason. I had not gone far with the study of the novel before I saw that a novelist, especially if he has a recording talent and not a talent for fantasy, writes best about the place that has been his home; that is, the home of his childhood and adolescence. I found endless examples of this among other writers. I believe in travel and wide horizons, of course. But in the end these mostly serve only to pur the novelist's home background into the right proportion for him. And it is there, I firmly believe, that his creative talent can be used with the greatest force."