Old Junk by H M Tomlinson Page 1 of 117


The author of Old Junk has been called a legend. A colleague who during the later stages of the war visited the western front assured me that this was the right word by which to describe the memory left among officers and men, not so much by his work as a war correspondent, as by his original and fascinating character.

A legend, too, he appears to be in the newspaper world of London: but there in a different sense, by reason of the singular contradiction between the human creature beloved of all his fellows and the remarkable productions of his pen.

The first thing to say about H. M. Tomlinson, the thing of which you become acutely aware on making his acquaintance, is that he is a Londoner. "Nearly a pure-blooded London Saxon" is his characterization of himself. And so it is. He could have sprung from no other stock.

In person and speech, in the indefinable quality of the man, in the humour which continually tempers his tremendous seriousness, he belongs to London. Among the men of our time who have done creative writing I can think of no other about whom this can be so precisely stated.

It was in the opening years of the century that I first began to notice his work. His name was appearing in the columns of a London morning newspaper, since absorbed by the Daily News, over articles which, if my memory is not at fault, were mainly concerned with the life of Thames side. They were written with extraordinary care.

The man who did them had, clearly, no competitor in Fleet Street. And he furnishes a striking illustration of the chances and misfits of the journalistic life. When, after some years of absence in the Far East, I was able to fit a person to the writing which had so long attracted me, I found H. M. Tomlinson on the regular reporting staff of a great London newspaper.

A man born for the creation of beauty in words was doing daily turn along with the humble chronicler of metropolitan trivialities.

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