Genius Friend: G.B. Edwards and The Book of Ebenezer Le Page

by Edward Chaney Blue Ormer Press

George Basil Edwards (1899-1976) was born in Guernsey, Channel Islands but left the island toward the end of WW1 and attended Bristol University.  During the 1920s, whilst teaching at Toynbee Hall and working as a WEA lecturer, he became a contributor to the Aldephi magazine.  Through this he was commissioned to write the study of DH Lawrence, and travelled to Switzerland intending to meet with him but abandoned the book when Lawrence died.

He resurfaced in Bolton in the late 1930s, formed a Drama school and worked as a Mass Observer.  During WW2 he joined the Department of Employment, and became increasingly reclusive, retiring in 1961.  After several years moving around, he settled in Weymouth in the 1970s and met and was befriended by a young art student, Edward Chaney.   Chaney encouraged him to finish the novel The Book of Ebenezer Le Page however it was only posthumously published - after the typescript was bequeathed him.  Since its publication in 1981, has been recognised as the greatest work of literature by a native Guernseyman, and indeed one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.

This two part biography reconstructs Gerald’s Guernsey origins and his status as the ‘genius friend’ of a group of writers who contributed to Middletone Murry’s Adelphi in the 1920s.  It then documents his descent into obscurity in the 1940s. 

The second part relates how Chaney met Edwards in Dorset in 1972 and how the novel came to be published and was enthusiastically received.

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