Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Boreham's Vision of the Ordinary

Secret to His Success
What made F W Boreham such a popular writer with book sales passing the one million mark?

We have examined in previous articles Boreham's easy, simple, clear, literary style and his attention, as a wordsmith, to finding the right word for the right place.

But one of his big secrets was the way he wrote about ordinary, everyday things about which every reader had experience and from this rich sphere he extracted valuable truths that made those same readers say: "Yeah! That is so right! Why didn't I think of that?"

The Significant Arena for Reflection
Melbourne churchman Irving Benson once referred to Boreham's essays entitled ‘Strawberries and cream’ and ‘Dominoes’ as representative of the many ordinary things that F W Boreham used to commence an editorial and gather a host of associated ideas.[1] Benson then quoted Emma Herman’s description of Boreham’s process and presentation as being “reminiscent of the great Dutch manner of painting, which, by the magic play of light and shade, can make a peasant’s kitchen romantic as a fairy palace”.[2]

It has been noted in previous blog postings that F W Boreham reveled in nature and delved into history to find many of his writing themes. In these next few postings we shall explore the way Dr Boreham found the ordinary, the commonplace and the everyday to provide a wealth of truth and inspiration. As Benson and Herman hinted, this theme in Boreham’s writings was as much about style as it was about subject.

Exponents of the Ordinary
F W Boreham discovered from several important authors and teachers the importance of writing about ordinary, everyday objects and experiences.

He lauded Daniel Defoe for championing the prosaic,[3] Samuel Richardson, whose extraordinary success with Pamela and Clarissa “proved that love is human rather than aristocratic”,[4] Walter Scott and his “reverence for reality”,[5] John Constable who “insisted on painting people and things as they actually did look”[6] and Geoffrey Chaucer whose secret lay in his ability “to transfer to his broad canvas nothing but what he actually saw”.[7]

In the next few postings I want to give a more extensive examination of the thoughts of F W Boreham as they related to three people who looked at the ordinariness of life and expressed its reality in their respective medium: Charles Dickens the novelist, Joseph Turner the painter and William Blake the poet.

What sort of a speech or sermon would you be able to construct from the game of dominoes, draughts, chess or some other popular game? It is not enough to talk about some popular game- one must also do the deeper reflection and application.

If you want to know what F W Boreham made of the game of dominoes you can read about it if you have the book: F W Boreham, ‘Dominoes’, The Silver Shadow (London: The Epworth Press, 1918), 11-21. Place a comment at the bottom of this article if you'd like me to post it. It is one of the essays that might qualify for inclusion in the forthcoming book, The Best Essays of F W Boreham.

By the way Michael and I still need financial help to get this and other books by F W Boreham published. Give a gift this Thanksgiving. Check The Best Stories of F W Boreham web site to discover how you might do this.

Geoff Pound

(To be continued.)

Image: Dominoes

[1] C I Benson, ‘Dr Frank W Boreham—The man and the writer’, The last milestone (London: The Epworth Press, 1961), 9-10.
[2] Benson, ‘Dr Frank W Boreham—The man and the writer’, 12.
[3] F W Boreham, Mercury, 23 February 1924.
[4] Boreham, Mercury, 3 July 1948.
[5] Boreham, Mercury, 11 April 1925.
[6] F W Boreham, I forgot to say (London: The Epworth Press, 1939), 126.
[7] Boreham, Mercury, 2 September 1933.