Trivia


John Beynon Harris re-used names and concepts a number of times over his long writing career. Some that have been discovered are included below.

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Torrence/Torrance - as the name of an authority figure.

 

The Day of the Triffids, first published in 1951.

‘Here is my husband. Bill, this is Mr Torrence. He tells us he is an official of some kind. He has proposals to make to us.’ I had never heard her voice colder.

For a second I failed to respond. The man she indicated did not recognize me, but I recalled him all right. Features that have faced you along [gun] sights get sort of set in your mind. Besides, there was that distinctive red hair. I remembered well the way that efficient young man had turned back my party in Hampstead.

The Midwich Cuckoos, first published in 1957.

‘This schoolmaster fellow at The Grange – what’s his name – Torrance?’ the Chief Constable went on. ‘Director of the place. He must, hold the official responsibility for these children, if anyone does. Saw the chap last night. Struck me as evasive. Everybody round here’s evasive, of course.’ He studiedly met no eye. ‘But he definitely wasn’t helpful.’

‘Dr Torrance is an eminent psychiatrist, rather than a schoolmaster,’ Bernard explained. ‘I think he may be in considerable doubt as to his right course in the matter until he can take advice.’

 


St Merryn's - as the name of London institutions.

 

While there is a St Merryn in Cornwall, John Wyndham used the name a number of times for London institutions.

The Day of the Triffids, first published in 1951.

Why the founders of St. Merryn's Hospital chose to erect their institution at a main road crossing upon a valuable office-site and thus expose their patients' nerves to constant laceration, is a foible that I never properly understood.

Trouble with Lichen, first published 1960.

This thought was immediately followed by a pleasant sense of self-congratulation, for in a school like St Merryn's High you not only teach and attempt to educate a child; you conduct a kind of jungle warefare on her behalf - and the better looking the child, the more slender, generally speaking, are her chances of survival, for the partisans of ignorance enfilade your route in greater numbers.

Random Quest, first published 1961.

‘Yet by all the evidence he was - until the spring of 1953, at any rate, a perfectly normal young man. His full name is Colin Wayland Trafford. He was born in 1921, in Solihull, the son of a solicitor. He went to Chartowe School 1934. Enlisted in the army 1939. Left it, with the rank of Captain 1945. Went up to Cambridge. Took a good degree in Physics 1949. Joined Electro-Physical Industries on the managerial side that same year. Married Della Stevens 1950. Became a widower 1951. Received injuries in a laboratory demonstration accident early in 1953. Spent the following five weeks in St Merryn's Hospital. Began his first approaches to members of the Harshom family for information regarding Ottilie Harshom about a month after his discharge from hospital.’

 


Lestrange Batteries

 

Worlds to Barter, first published in May 1931.

'Since the year 2000 the Lestrange battery, of which you have heard me speak, had been almost the only driving agent for machinery. In 2000, Mr. Lestrange, the internal combustion engine will have passed away. The whole world’s trams, ships, planes, radios, cranes, everything save the most ponderous machines will be depending upon your discovery.

'It is strange to tell a man of his results before the experiment has been made. Nevertheless I assure you that your little storage battery is going to have a greater effect upon the whole world than any other single invention in the history of mankind. Even the machine which brought me here depended upon a modified form of your battery to carry it across half a million years.'

Wanderers of Time, first published in March 1933.

'These,' he said, with a wave of his hand, 'are the only means we have of regaining our own time. We cannot take them bodily with us. But we must select the more intricate and essential parts and carry them off. We may be able to discover material for framework, but such things as vacuum tubes, Lestrange batteries, light-impulse cells and the like, would be a great labour to construct – even if we could do so, which is doubtful.'

 

Time Machine Appearence

 

Worlds to Barter, first published May 1931.

He snatched it, and turned to the machine behind him. Hurriedly, he raised the contraption from its side to a vertical position. More than anything else, it seemed to resemble the skeleton framework of a miniature building using, instead of steel, bright silvery bars which criss-crossed in all directions. Enmeshed in them was a bucket seat, before which were arrayed two rows of dials. There was no time for a further examination.

Wanderers of Time, first published Mar 1933.

Del's machine bore no resemblance to his own. The impression it gave was of a cubical cage with six foot sides and built of an intricate criss-cross strutting of two metals, one silvery, and the other, black. A padded bucket seat was set in the middle with a small control board before it. The driving mechanism was evidently contained in three black boxes clamped to the base framework and inter-connected by heavy cables. Roy's heart sank as he saw it. An idea that parts of his own cylinder might he used to render Del's machine workable, was roughly quashed. The two contrivances had nothing constructionally in common.