Quiller Couch Bibliography Generator

Anthony Quiller Couch (1863-1944), [pseudonym "Q"], English author, poet, anthologist, and literary critic. He wrote many popular novels and essays and was a noted lecturer at Cambridge University. His legacy lives on in the grammar school system of Cornwall. With his vast number of short stories, Q shows his dynamic range of style and creativity with tales of the supernatural, Viking tales, satires, historical fiction, romantic adventures, tales of heroic swashbuckling, mystery and crime fiction, and sea-going adventures.

Sir Arthur Quiller Couch was born 21 November 1863 at Bodmin in county Cornwall in the southwest of England. His father, Thomas Quiller Couch, a Cornish physician, his mother Mary from Devon. His sisters Florence Mabel and Lilian would also become writers.

He attended Newton Abbot College in Devon, then Clifton College before entering Trinity College, Oxford in 1882. While there he contributed to the Oxford Magazine and wrote his adventure romance Dead Man’s Rock (Cassell, 1887) under his "Q" pseudonym. The same year he moved to London. The Astonishing History Of Troy Town (1888), and The Splendid Spur (1889) followed. The same year, on 22 August 1889, he married Louisa Amelia, with whom he would have two children. Like his father, his son Bevil would attend Oxford before joining up as special reservist, artillery officer, during World War I. He died in Germany during the great flu epidemic of 1919. His daughter Foy would become friends with Daphne Du Maurier, who would posthumously finish and publish Q's Castle D'Or, a tale where the legendary Tristan and Iseult are transplanted to Cornwall in a spellbinding love story.

While in London Q took up journalism and was assistant editor to Cassell publishing's Liberal weekly The Speaker. In 1891, on the advice of his doctor due to illness, he and Louisa settled at their home, `The Haven', beside the sea at Fowey in Cornwall. His love of rowing and yachting led to his being appointed Commodore of the Royal Fowey Yacht Club in 1911 until his death. He was the Mayor of Fowey 1937-38. His collection of short stories, I Saw Three Ships & Other Winter's Tales was published first in 1892. His Cornish The Delectable Duchy: Stories, Studies, and Sketches (1893) is a series of historical fictional sketches.

Perhaps his most famous ghost (short) story, The Roll-Call of the Reef was published in 1895, The Blue Pavilions in 1891. In 1895 Q published an anthology on 16th and 17th-century English lyrists, The Golden Pomp. Wandering Heath: Stories, Studies & Sketches (1896) contains one of his more famous stories, the Napoleonic ghost story Roll-Call of the Reef. He would later finish Robert Louis Stevenson's St. Ives: being the adventures of a French prisoner in England (1898). Hetty Wesley (1903), Fort Amity (1904), Shakespeare's Christmas and Other Stories (1904), The Shining Ferry (1905), and Sir John Constantine (1906) were some of his many titles to follow. His The Sleeping Beauty and other Fairy Tales (1910) is his re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, Blue Beard, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast, one of the morals from it;

Many shy, unhappy creatures
From the covert watch your mirth:
“Foul are we,” they mourn; “our features
Blot the sun, deform the earth.”
Pity, love them, speak them fair:
Half their woe ye may repair.

(Beauty and the Beast)

Q devoted much of his time and energy to the Oxford Book series, including the Oxford Book of English Verse 1250–1900 (1900), The Oxford Book of Ballads (1910), and the Oxford Book of English Prose (1923). Also during his years in Cornwall he held a number of public offices and committee ships, advocating school system reform, which led to his being Knighted in 1910.

".. a liberal education is not an appendage to be purchased by a few: that Humanism is, rather, a quality which can, and should, condition all our teaching; which can, and should, be impressed as a character upon it all, from a poor child’s first lesson in reading up to a tutor’s last word to his pupil on the eve of a Tripos."
Arthur Quiller Couch, 7 July 1912.

In 1912 until his death he was appointed professor of English literature at Cambridge University and also fellow of English at Jesus College, Cambridge. Q would publish many of the lectures he delivered to his students that were extremely popular, including On the Art of Writing (1916) and On the Art of Reading (1920). From his Preface of his lectures: "Literature is not a mere Science, to be studied; but an Art, to be practised."

On 12 May 1944, Sir Arthur Quiller Couch died at his home in Fowey, and was laid to rest in the Saint Nicholas Churchyard in Fowey, Cornwall, England. Memories and Opinions, Q's unfinished autobiography at his death, was published in 1945. Q's friend Helene Hanff wrote Q's Legacy (1986) which would later be adapted to the stage and film.

Biography written by C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc 2005. All Rights Reserved.

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Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch (; 21 November 1863 – 12 May 1944) was a Cornish writer who published using the pseudonymQ. Although a prolific novelist, he is remembered mainly for the monumental publication The Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250–1900 (later extended to 1918) and for his literary criticism. He influenced many who never met him, including American writer Helene Hanff, author of 84, Charing Cross Road and its sequel, Q's Legacy.[2] His Oxford Book of English Verse was a favourite of John Mortimer's fictional character Horace Rumpole.


Quiller-Couch was born in the town of Bodmin, Cornwall, by the union of two ancient local families, the Quiller family and the Couch family,[3][4] and was the third in a line of intellectuals from the Couch family. His younger sisters Florence Mabel and Lilian M. were also writers and folklorists.[5][6] His father, Dr. Thomas Quiller Couch (d. 1884), was a noted physician, folklorist and historian.[6][7] He married Mary Ford and lived at 63, Fore Street, Bodmin, until his death in 1884.[8] His grandfather, Jonathan Couch, was an eminent naturalist, also a physician, historian, classicist, apothecary, and illustrator (particularly of fish).[9] His son, Bevil Brian Quiller-Couch, was a war hero and poet, whose romantic letters to his fiancée, the poet May Wedderburn Cannan, were published in Tears of War.[10] He also had a daughter, Foy Felicia, to whom Kenneth Grahame inscribed a first edition of his The Wind in the Willows attributing Quiller-Couch as the inspiration for the character Ratty.[11]

He was educated at Newton Abbot Proprietary College, at Clifton College, and Trinity College, Oxford, where he took a First in Classical Moderations (1884) and a Second in Greats (1886).[12] From 1886 he was for a brief time a classical lecturer at Trinity. After some journalistic experience in London, mainly as a contributor to the Speaker, he settled in 1891 at Fowey in Cornwall.

In Cornwall he was an active political worker for the Liberal Party. He was knighted in 1910, and in 1928 was made a Bard of the Cornish cultural society Gorseth Kernow, adopting the Bardic nameMarghak Cough ('Red Knight'). He was Commodore of the Royal Fowey Yacht Club from 1911 until his death.

Quiller-Couch died at home in May 1944, after being slightly injured by a jeep near his home in Cornwall in the preceding March.[14] He is buried in Fowey's parish church of St. Fimbarrus.[15]

World War I[edit]

Duke of Corrnwall's Light Infantry 10th Btn. (Cornwall Pioneers).
The 10th was an unusual battalion, having been raised in March 1915, not by the War Office, but by the Mayor and citizens of Truro. It initially had only two officers – Colonel Dudley Acland Mills who had retired from the Royal Engineers six years earlier, and Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, a renowned academic but devoid of any military experience. Neither of them was paid. Their work in raising and training a battalion for war was remarkable by any standard, but their herculean efforts appears never to have been recognised by the military hierarchy. It must have been an enormous relief to these two gentlemen when the War Office took over the 10th Battalion on 24 August 1915.

Literary and academic career[edit]

In 1887, while he was attending Oxford, he published Dead Man's Rock, a romance in the style of Robert Louis Stevenson'sTreasure Island, and later Troy Town (1888), a comic novel set in a fictionalised version of his home town Fowey, and The Splendid Spur (1889). Quiller-Couch was well known for his story "The Rollcall of the Reef", based on the wreck of HMS Primrose during 1809 on the Cornish coast. He published during 1896 a series of critical articles, Adventures in Criticism, and in 1898 he published a completion of Robert Louis Stevenson's unfinished novel, St. Ives.

From his Oxford time he was known as a writer of excellent verse. With the exception of the parodies entitled Green Bays (1893), his poetical work is contained in Poems and Ballads (1896). In 1895 he published an anthology from the 16th- and 17th-century English lyricists, The Golden Pomp, followed in 1900 by the Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250–1900.[16] Later editions of this extended the period of concern to 1918 and it remained the leading general anthology of English verse until Helen Gardner'sNew Oxford Book of English Verse appeared in 1972.[17]

In 1910 he published The Sleeping Beauty and other Fairy Tales from the Old French. He was the author of a number of popular novels with Cornish settings (collected edition as 'Tales and Romances', 30 vols. 1928–29).

He was appointed King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge in 1912, and retained the chair for the rest of his life. Simultaneously he was elected to a Fellowship of Jesus College, which he held until his death. His inaugural lectures as the professor of English literature were published as the book On the Art of Writing. His rooms were on staircase C, First Court, and known as the 'Q-bicle'. He supervised the beginnings of the English Faculty there — an academic diplomat in a fractious community. He is sometimes regarded as the epitome of the school of English literary criticism later modified by his pupil F. R. Leavis.[18]

Alistair Cooke was a notable student of Quiller-Couch and Nick Clarke's semi-official biography of Cooke features Quiller-Couch prominently, noting that he was regarded by the Cambridge establishment as "rather eccentric" even by the university's standards.

Quiller-Couch was a noted literary critic, publishing editions of some of Shakespeare's plays (in the New Shakespeare, published by Cambridge University Press, with Dover Wilson) and several critical works, including Studies in Literature (1918) and On the Art of Reading (1920). He edited a companion to his verse anthology: The Oxford Book of English Prose, which was published in 1923. He left his autobiography, Memories and Opinions, unfinished; it was nevertheless published in 1945.


His Book of English Verse is often quoted by John Mortimer's fictional character Horace Rumpole.

Castle Dor, a re-telling of the Tristan and Iseult myth in modern circumstances, was left unfinished at Quiller-Couch's death and was completed many years later by Daphne du Maurier. As she wrote in the Sunday Telegraph on April 1962, she began the job with considerable trepidation, at the request of Quiller-Couch's daughter and "in memory of happy evenings long ago when 'Q' was host at Sunday supper".[19]

He features as a main character, played by Leo McKern, in the 1992 BBC television feature The Last Romantics.[20] The story focuses on his relationship with his protégé, F. R. Leavis, and the students.

His Cambridge inaugural lecture series, published as On the Art of Writing, is the source of the popular writers' adage "murder your darlings".[21]

He is mentioned briefly in The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde as one of the few authors with a name beginning with the letter "Q".

It is Quiller-Couch who originated the saying "kill your darlings":

If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.[22]



  • Dead Man's Rock (1887)
  • The Astonishing History of Troy Town (1888)
  • The Splendid Spur (1889)
  • The Blue Pavilions (1891)
  • Ia, and other tales (1896)
  • St Ives (1898), completing an unfinished novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • Noughts and Crosses: Stories Studies and Sketches (1898)
  • The Ship of Stars (1899)
  • The Westcotes (1902)
  • Hetty Wesley (1903) (This was based on the life of the poet Mehetabel Wesley Wright)[23]
  • The Adventures of Harry Revel (1903)
  • Fort Amity (1904)
  • The Shining Ferry (1905)
  • The Mayor of Troy (1906)
  • Sir John Constantine (1906)
  • Poison Island (1907)
  • True Tilda (1909)

A collected edition of Q's fiction appeared as Tales and Romances (30 volumes, 1928–29).


  • Green Bays (1893)
  • Poems and Ballads (1896)

Criticism and anthologies[edit]


  • Memories and Opinions (unfinished, published 1945)


  1. ^Brittain, Frederick, Arthur Quiller-Couch, a Biographical Study of Q. Cambridge: University Press, 1947; p. 3: "he did not adopt the hyphen until 1889"
  2. ^Hanff, Helene (5 August 1986). Q's Legacy. London: Penguin Books Ltd. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-14-008936-3. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  3. ^Johns, Jeremy Rowett (2000). "The QUILLER family of Polperro". Polperro Heritage Museum. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  4. ^Johns, Jeremy Rowett (2000). "The COUCH family of Polperro". Polperro Heritage Museum. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  5. ^Somerville, Christopher (5 November 2006). "Well founded belief in the magic of water"(newspaper). The Age. Melbourne (5 November 2006). Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  6. ^ abQuiller-Couch, Mabel; Quiller-Couch, Lilian (2009) [1894]. Ancient And Holy Wells Of Cornwall. Tamara Publications. ISBN 978-1-902395-09-8. Retrieved 3 December 2013.  
  7. ^Royal Institution of Cornwall (23 November 1864). "Antiquarian and Literary Intelligence". The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Review. London: John Henry and James Parker. 216 (January–June 1864): 68. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  8. ^Brittain (1947), p. 2
  9. ^Couch, Bertha (1891). Life of Jonathan Couch, F.L.S., Etc., of Polperro, The Cornish Ichthyologist. Liskeard: John Philp. p. 160. 
  10. ^Cannan, May (November 2002). "Tears of War:The Story of a Young Poet and a War Hero". Cavalier Books. 
  11. ^Auctioned by Bonhams on Tuesday 23 March 2010 for £32,400: Flood, Alison (24 March 2010). "First edition of The Wind in the Willows sells for £32,400". guardian.co.uk. Archived from the original on 26 March 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  12. ^Oxford University Calendar 1895, Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1895, pp.250, 339
  13. ^"Obituary - Eminent Man of Letters - Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch". Glasgow Herald. 13 May 1944. Retrieved 11 February 2016. 
  14. ^"Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch - Find a Grave". findagrave.com. Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  15. ^Of the original edition nearly half a million copies were issued, according to the introduction to the NOBEV, 1972. The extended edition appeared in 1939; NOBEV, p. v. In 1939 the content was revised: about 40 poems were then omitted from the first three-quarters of the book and about 40 others added; in the rest about 70 poems were added and roughly the same number omitted; more poems were added to represent the first 18 years of the 20th century; NOBEV, p. v.
  16. ^Woodcock, George (Winter 1974). "Old and New Oxford Books: The Idea of an Anthology". The Sewanee Review. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 82 (1): 119–130. JSTOR 27542806. 
  17. ^Eagleton, Terry (1983). Literary Theory. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 30. ISBN 0-631-13259-7. Terry Eagleton contrasts the "patrician dilettantes" and "devotees of Sir Arthur Quiller Couch" [sic, no hyphen], with the "offspring of the provincial bourgeoisie" ... "entering the traditional universities for the first time". The Leavisites, says Eagleton, had not "suffered the crippling disadvantages of a purely literary education of the Quiller Couch kind".
  18. ^du Maurier, Daphne; Quiller-Couch, Arthur, Sir (1979) [1962]. "Sunday Telegraph article published as introduction". Castle Dor (1979 ed.). 
  19. ^""Screen Two" The Last Romantics (TV episode 1992) – IMDb". Retrieved 3 March 2012.  
  20. ^Quiller-Couch, Sir Arthur (2000) [1916]. "XII. On Style". On the Art of Writing: Lectures Delivered in the University of Cambridge, 1913–1914 (Online ed.). Bartleby.com. ¶6. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  21. ^Wickman, Forrest. Who Really Said You Should “Kill Your Darlings”? Slate. Oct. 8, 2013. Accessed Jan. 10, 2017.
  22. ^Richard Greene, ‘Wright , Mehetabel (1697–1750)’, rev. William R. Jones, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, January 2009 accessed 16 February 2015


  • Brittain, Frederick, Arthur Quiller-Couch, a Biographical Study of Q (Cambridge: University Press, 1947)
  • Quiller-Couch, A. T., Memories and Opinions (Unfinished; it was nevertheless published in 1945 though only the years up to 1887 are covered.)
  • Rowse, A. L., Quiller-Couch: a Portrait of "Q" (1988)
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Quiller-Couch, Sir Arthur Thomas". Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 750–751. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Archer, William (1902). "A.T. Quiller-Cough." In: Poets of the Younger Generation. New York: John Lane, the Bodley Head, pp. 94–104.
  • Joshi, S.T. (2004). "Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch': Ghosts and Scholars". In: The Evolution of the Weird Tale. New York: Hippocampus Press, pp. 49–52.
  • Mais, S.P.B. (1920). "'Q' as Critic." In: Books and their Writers. London: Grant Richards, pp. 200–230.

External links[edit]

Sir Arthur T. Quiller-Couch Monument, Fowey

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