Coulson Kernahan letters

Scope and Content

24 letters and 3 postcards to various recipients including Mrs Watts Dunton and Arthur Morrison

Administrative / Biographical History

[John] Coulson Kernahan was born in Ilfracombe on August 1st 1858, third of the 8 children (3 sons and 5 daughters) of Rev Dr James and Comfort Kernahan, who were both born in Ireland. Coulson's father was a congregational minister in the West Country, Gloucester and St Albans and also wrote on religious and geological subjects. Coulson was educated at St Albans School and privately by his father.

Little is known of Coulson's early career but he worked for the publishers Ward Lock & Co for many years and they published his first book. A Dead Man's Diary appeared anonymously in 1890 with a preface by G. T. Bettany [1850-1891], a colleague at Ward Lock. Coulson and Bettany's family were close. Bettany's last child, born in 1891, was named George Kernahan Bettany, and less than a year after Bettany's death Coulson married his widow, Jean Gwynne Bettany.

Coulson and his wife were both prolific and successful writers of fiction. Coulson also turned his hand to many different subjects and styles as well as writing a memoir of famous authors he had known, including Swinburne. Coulson Kernahan, with his wife and daughter, lived at various places on the coast, first in Essex and then in Kent. They settled finally in Hastings where his wife died in 1941 and he died in 1943.

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Acquisition Information

Purchased 1981

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Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Gil Skidmore