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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Title: William Blacklock, Journalist

Author and Title: Thomas Banks Maclachlan. William Blacklock, Journalist: A Love Story of Press Life

First Edition: London: Oliphant, 1894. 1 volume, post 8vo., 3s. 6d.


Summary: An ambitious young reporter William Blacklock leaves his Scottish village to join the staff of the Mercury, one of the "great morning newspapers." He leaves behind an elderly father and his childhood love Ruth Wilton. On his way there, he is lightly injured in a deadly train crash. His first-person account of the accident becomes his successful journalistic debut. During his time in the town, he meets Gertrude Hoffman, the daughter of a German music teacher. Through a series of events, including the discovery of her father's opium addition, his intimacy with the family increases and his name becomes linked with hers in the town's gossip. Ruth visits the town, but shyness prevents them from confessing their feelings for each other. Eventually, however, they confess their love to one another. William goes to break off his relationship with Gertrude but finds her grief-stricken over the sudden death of her father. The journalist, unable to break her heart further, offers his protection to the bereft woman thereby engaging himself. He writes to Ruth, who stoically accepts the situation. William goes heavily in debt to set up a house for the extravagant and spendthrift bride. His financial troubles lead him to accept a bribe from a lawyer to keep his client's name out of a story. When his understanding editor finds out, he castigates the journalist but forgives the sin. Unhappiness drives William to ask Ruth to run away with him—which she respectively refuses. Unfortunately, Gertrude finds the torn fragments of William's rash letter to Ruth. Feeling crushed on all sides, William disappears. Five years pass during which Gertrude moves to Germany and dies. An unrecognizable and ill William returns to town, reunites with Ruth, and dies. Reviewers commended the novel's realistic presentation of newspaper life, details drawn no doubt from the author's own experience. (TJB)

Title Tags:

References: BL; EC


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