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The Lusty Youth of Roger Brook
Possibly the most important find of recent years, 'The Lusty Youth of Roger Brook' has only been known to a handful of enthusiasts from a brief reference in DW's unpublished Will of 30th June 1971- unpublished because it was superseded by a later Will. In this very long and detailed document, the book received a four line mention, with DW requesting 'every effort is to be made to see publication of this; but not until after my wife's death'. This request did not feed through to his final, and very much shorter Will.
Up until now it was not clear that it had survived, and nothing at all was known about its contents.
As DW outlines in his 'Author's Note', the core of the book is the published version of 'The Launching of Roger Brook' plus a section of 'The Man Who Killed The King' – this latter being the section of TMWKTK in which Roger is briefly re-united with Athenais and temporarily staves off her execution. This is added as a 'glimpse of things to come', and there is another short glimpse of the future at the very end of TLYRB which briefly outlines some of Roger's later campaigns and refers to 'a kindly fate' decreeing that he and Georgina should 'die unexpectedly, suddenly, and in one another's arms.'
Into this narrative are woven accounts of all of Roger's physical encounters with the opposite sex, from fumblings in early adolescence through to his losing his virginity to Georgina in the tower and onwards.
Altogether, the book describes Roger's encounters with just over a dozen members of the opposite sex, with only a few of the characters receiving mention in the published works.
For example, there is a rather moving account of a one-night-fling Roger has with a pretty girl with a damaged right foot called Pauline Corneille; they arrange to meet up again the following day, but although Roger waits and waits, she never turns up - and he is left to wonder whether she has stood him up or some terrible disaster has befallen her. He never finds out.
The section dealing with Roger's reunion with Athenais not only describes this, but also fills in gaps about what has happened to her in the intervening years, including her own active sex life.
She was physically under-developed when she knew Roger in TLORB, but has made up for it in the intervening years, taking some dozen lovers, including our old friend Chenou !
DW lives up to the promise in his Author's Note not to make the book a boring piece of pornography, and everything is as well written and fast paced as one has come to expect.
In terms of content, it is extremely explicit – sufficiently so that I cannot show excerpts on these pages. Some idea of the contents can however be gleaned from a close examination of the chapter headings – see opposite ! In all, the book contains ten new chapters *, and making allowance for the chapter taken from TMWKTK, is about a third longer than the published book.
When did DW write it and why ?
In writing this piece in 2008, I speculated that the book was written in the early sixties, and it had to have been written before 30th June 1971, because that was when the typescript was mentioned in DW’s then Will. The wrappers with the original manuscript have since been found (February 2021), and they provide us with conclusive evidence that the book was written between 1965 and 1967.
What is of particular interest is that although it was written in 1965-7, the book contains a number of references to Roger’s later life (including to how he and Georgina die) which were only to be written down at length and published some time afterwards. It therefore seems pretty clear than DW had mapped out in his mind at least parts of the Roger Brook saga well in advance of the time when he came to write about them in the later books.
As for why DW wrote it, we can only speculate, but I think we can rule out pure sensationalism – otherwise he would have sought to have it published before his and Joan's death, difficult as it might have been to find a publisher.
My personal view is that if you take the story of his life as a whole, it is pretty clear that sex played a very important part in it, and my personal feeling on reading this work is that he wanted to 'lift the lid off sex' in his own way, and with a work which was far more graphic than almost any other.
One thing is abundantly clear – if the book was on the national curriculum, there would be no need for any other form of sex education !
How his old mentor Gordon Eric Gordon-Tombe would have smiled at the thought of it....
* Chapters XIV, XVI, XX,XXI,XXII, XXX, XXXI,XXXII and XXXVI are new, with Chapter XXIX being added from 'The Man Who Killed The King'. Both these and several of the existing Chapters contain significant amounts of new material.
January 2008 (updated March 2021)
Copyright © 2002-2006 Bob Rothwell. 2007-2022 Charles Beck.