Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Boreham and the Itch to Write

Instrument of Escape
Like many writers, F W Boreham was afflicted with what Juvenal called “the itch to write.”[1] Boreham humourously blamed this compulsion on his “incontinent pen”[2] or “this truant pen of mine [and] its inordinate garrulity”.[3] From his childhood days, his pen had been an instrument of escape, a means of self-expression,[4] as it provided him with “a form of self-indulgence.”[5]

Throbbing with Passion
In discussing the subject of communication, Dr Boreham was prepared to excuse a manuscript’s stylistic deficiencies and structural crudities so long as it “throbs with passion.”[6] To lose the “faith and the rapture” was for him the worst tragedy that could befall any communicator.[7] Even though he confessed to “a pride such as Lucifer can never have known”[8] when he gazed at his first editorial in print, Boreham did not suffer from what sociologist Robert Merton, called the “itch to publish.”[9] Boreham knew that it was different to write “with the knowledge that the sentences that flow from your pen will soon appear in the bravery of print and quite another to write for the sheer sake of writing.” He also testified to his joy in writing with no thought of publication or simply to improve the ability to “marshal his ideas and to present them in the most forceful and attractive way.”[10] Boreham’s passion to write was borne out of the pleasure he got out of something shared.[11] The communication passion so that he instilled his readers with a love for literature and history was an important motivation behind Boreham’s editorials. His hope was “to make people enjoy life.”[12]

Geoff Pound

Image: “this truant pen of mine…”

[1] Juvenal Satires 7.1.51. The Latin term is ‘scribendi cacoethes’.
[2] F W Boreham, The passing of John Broadbanks (London: The Epworth Press, 1936), 7.
[3] F W Boreham, The golden milestone (London: The Epworth Press, 1914), 9.
[4] F W Boreham, A witch's brewing (London: The Epworth Press, 1932), 100.
[5] F W Boreham, My pilgrimage (London: The Epworth Press, 1940), 153.
[6] F W Boreham, Ships of pearl (London: The Epworth Press, 1935), 30.
[7] F W Boreham, The other side of the hill (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1917), 244.
[8] F W Boreham, My pilgrimage, (London: The Epworth Press, 1940), 151.
[9] Robert K Merton, ‘The Matthew effect in science’, Science 159 (1968): 61.
[10] Boreham, My pilgrimage, 152-153.
[11] Boreham, The golden milestone,37.
[12] Boreham, The golden milestone, 9.