I was looking through the introduction by Kenneth W. Faig, Jr. to the list of Lovecraft’s correspondents, to be found in the 2012 Lovecraft Annual [“Lovecraft’s 1937 Diary”, by Kenneth W. Faig, Jr.]. The list was originally transcribed by Robert Barlow for Derleth. In concluding his introduction Faig notes he was unable to identify anyone for sure who was the Geo. Fitzpatrick of Sydney, Australia.
This Fitzpatrick seems a highly likely personage of the time…
“George Fitzpatrick was a Sydney book collector and literary character of the 1920’s and 1930’s. He formed associations via mail with many writers of his day, both in Australia and overseas — this book includes Fitzpatrick’s magnificent woodcut bookplate depicting Circular Quay, with ferry wharves prominent and a Sydney ferry in the foreground.”
In the 1920s Fitzpatrick collected bookplates, and ended up with a collection of 840 of them. Lovecraft had a notable example of a personal bookplate designed in late summer 1927.
One wonders if Lovecraft sent Fitzpatrick a few samples of his new bookplate for his collection, thus sparking a correspondence. Perhaps a researcher would find Lovecraft’s bookplate if they went looking in the Fitzpatrick collection?
Fitzpatrick was reaching out to America at exactly the right time to encounter Lovecraft and his new bookplate…
“The collection [of bookplates] probably belonged to George Fitzpatrick, editor [actually possibly only a Director] of the Sydney Sunday Times. Fitzpatrick made a request for copies of book plates of prominent people in The Milwaukee Journal May 18 1929 p.6, ‘Book plates wanted’…”
He was later a PR man so I imagine he also savvy enough to post similar notices in the press across the USA. Indeed, I have also found a similar notice from him in Plain Talk (1929), and another in Time magazine (13th May 1929) in which he notes…
“Already I am obligated by able assistance so graciously given by such fine [then famous literary] folk as Mencken, Theodore Dreiser, Fannie Hurst, Frank O’Brien”
His life and work:
Fitzpatrick started work as a telegraph boy in New South Wales, and was inspired to succeed by the real-life example of the Prime Minister of New Zealand (who had worked himself up to that position from being a humble telegraph boy). He married in 1910. By 1920 he was involved in many charitable and boosterist campaigns for his state. An academic journal article on Fitzpatrick has just been published…
Damian John Gleeson, “George William Sydney Fitzpatrick (1884 – 1948): An Australian Public Relations ‘pioneer'”, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, 2013, Volume 13, No. 2. [free online]
“He was a member of the Australian Journalists’ Association, and became editor and also part-owner of newspapers, including being deputy governor of the Sunday Times and director of the [sports paper] Referee.”
He appears to have visited America in the 1930s, and was a “very genial friend” of American capitalism…
“His [post 1929] PR campaigns, grounded in research trips to America and Europe in the 1930s, reflected considerable understanding of the ‘science of persuasion’ to influence public opinion.”
The journal article hardly mentions his wartime activities, but it seems that Fitzpatrick later used his American contacts to become a key conduit of digests of American commercial news to the Australian government and other members of the press during the Second World War (Ross Fitzgerald, Stephen Holt, Alan “The Red Fox” Reid: Pressman Par Excellence, NewSouth, 2010, p.35.)
Like Lovecraft Fitzpatrick was a British patriot…
“From his father, Fitzpatrick inherited strong patriotic sentiment towards the British Empire.”
He might even have had some Theosophical connections, since he corresponded with the Theosophical Club of Lomaland, sending them a letter on the weird curiosities of the Australian fauna and flora, as printed in Lucifer Magazine (1930). He had been a Mason since the 1910s, being reported in the press in 1920 as being a Director of the Freemason Magazine.
He was also a campaigner against the then-common practice of wearing hats indoor and out, something which Lovecraft also seems to have disavowed.
His business partner:
His 1920s business partner and manager was Hugh D. McIntosh, a prominent and flamboyant businessman and then member of the Upper House of New South Wales. Hugh D. McIntosh had made his name and fortune in theatres with “lavish revues, plays and musicals”, and McIntosh later dabbled in exotic ‘spiritual’ cinema…
“With colourful Canadian entrepreneur J.D. Williams he contracted with Rudolph Valentino to star in the film The Hooded Falcon [originally The Scarlet Power]. He claimed to have clinched the deal by giving Valentino’s wife a mysterious ring that Lord Carnarvon had taken from Tutankhamen’s tomb, but the film was never completed.”
“One of the biggest projects ever” in Valentino’s own words, he would have played a “Saracen nobleman” at the time of the Spanish Moors, playing off the El Cid story. But the film was apparently scuppered, partly because of “the overspending of Rudy and Natacha’s trip overseas to obtain authentic antiques and clothing for the film”.
Fitzpatrick was a Director of the McIntosh’s Tivoli Theatres of Australia at 1920. Fitzpatrick was also the Director (perhaps meaning also editor?) of McIntosh’s Sydney Sunday Times. McIntosh owned the Sydney Sunday Times and its sporting papers, but sold it in 1929 after his finances collapsed. If Fitzpatrick remained as a Director of the paper after 1929, then perhaps a local Lovecraftian might look in the Sydney Sunday Times archives circa late 1929— for any Lovecraft poems or letters published there?
In regard to the cultural scene in Sydney in the 1920s, it’s interesting to note that Fitzpatrick may have told Lovecraft of a rather suitable Sydney publication for his work…
“Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) was an Australian tabloid newspaper published from 1919 to 1950. An independent weekly published in Sydney, but read all over Australia, Smith’s Weekly was one of Australia’s most patriotic newspaper-style magazines. […] Mainly directed at the male market, it mixed sensationalism, satire and controversial opinions with sporting and finance news. It also included short stories […] It was a launching pad for two generations of outstanding Australian journalists and cartoonists. Three rare Lovecraftian stories were originally published by the well-known “Witch of the Cross” in Sydney, Rosaleen Norton in Smith’s Weekly. They were later reprinted as, Three Macabre Tales (US: Typographeum Press, 1996).”