Friday, February 6, 2015


Web of  intrigue
The BBC documentary about crime writer Agatha Christie and  actor David Suchet, who magnificently  played  Poirot ,  sent  this  blog  searching  through several  boxes, drawers and filing cabinets for associated items  of interest . One  is  this  1950s grubby copy  of  Christie's play, Spider's Web, bearing the  Sydney trade sticker  of  Will Andrade , dealer  in  plays, stage make up, novelties , magic and  books , a  family  firm with  trading links to  America . William Andrade (1863-1939) , bookseller, anarchist and anti-conscriptionist, was born in Collingwood, Melbourne   as  was his older brother, David (1859-1928) . In 1886 David helped form the Melbourne Anarchists Club .Inspired  by the American Liberty magazine , David was committed to ProudHonest Anarchism , a  libertarian  doctrine of  individual emancipation, rather  than mass revolution .

It was he  who first became a bookseller ,stationer, newsagent  and printer. An active speaker , he wrote several books  on  economics, the social system  and two utopian novels ,The Melbourne Riots  and  How Harry  Holdfast and his friends Emancipated the Workers . In 1890 he was made secretary of the Unemployed Workers' Association ,eventually  falling on hard times, he  went  bush .

His  brother Will represented  the Anarchists' Club at the Australasian Free Thought Conference in Sydney and  tried to influence the  newly formed Australasian Socialists' League.  After  spending some time in Mackay, Queensland,  Will returned to Melbourne, opened a grocery shop and indulged  his interest in acting , stocking theatrical  supplies, novelties   and books on conjuring  and magic. The shop also became the centre  for  socialist and free thought  movements in Australasia. During WWl books ordered  by left  wing organisations were stopped from  entry into Australia .  

Will Andrade made three trips to Europe and the US during 1910-l935 . Returning from one in 1935, he strongly criticised Australian censorship of literature , saying it savoured of   persecution . Most of the books banned  in Australia were being openly sold in England ."Censors may be fine fellows , but officially they are  dunderheads ," he was quoted as saying . In London he had contacted publishers and suggested they should  engage  visiting Australian Prime Minister Lyons in a discussion about censorship. In  Italy he noted that the average pay of workers was less than  the  dole in  England . 

Having  moved to Sydney in 1920, Andrade  was  dumped  on  his head  while  surfing   at  Manly and   died  in  hospital, survived  by his second wife ,their  son, and two daughters from  his   first  marriage .

A stamp on the  title page  of  the  play  states  the play may not performed in Australia until permission is first obtained and a licence issued by Messrs.Samuel French (Australia) Pty. Ltd.,  Elizabethan Theatre Trust Building , to whom all  royalties  first  must  be remitted. 
The play, first produced in 1954, was specifically written  for actress  Margaret Lockwood.  She and Agatha Christie  met in the Mirabelle restaurant, in London's fashionable Mayfair , and discussed  the   play . The character eventually written for Lockwood  was named  Clarissa , after  Christie's  late  mother .  A part was  also  written   which could have been  performed  by  Lockwood's 14 year old daughter . 

POIROT BAFFLED :  After  Agriculture Minister  Barnaby Joyce explained the answer to  the  nation's housing problem,  based on algorithms and betting on who will be the leader of the Federal government at the next election  ,  David Suchet   seems  mystified  on the  ABC Q and A  television show, .