The Mallord Mystery Continues


Dear Daniel,
Thank you for your comment and your research. You are right that the Tulane Catalog lists the inscription dated January 30, 1969. But the actual inscription appears to have both dates. “20” appears to have been inscribed over “30.” It seems almost too coincidental that someone would have revised the date to correspond with the day that Toole left New Orleans, but there it is. The pen and penmanship appears similar to the rest of the note. And because this inscription includes the line “universal oneness with you and Shelley” which Mallord also wrote in a letter to philosopher Bertrand Russell, I am confident that the inscription is his.

You bring up a great point that this could be self-promotion. In fact, someone placed a newspaper ad for the book on the inscription page with the date 2-2-69 written on the ad. But the February date looks similar to Thelma Toole’s handwriting. So it seems possible, and perhaps even likely, that Mallord and Toole never met. However, I find it intriguing that a young poet, likely based in the Quarter, would seek out an Uptown professor at a small catholic college to help promote his book. And this certainly speaks to the space between Toole, perhaps the most famous New Orleans novelist, and the bohemian artists living in the quarter during the late 60s.

I have contacted one Richard Mallord Silverman in New York who replied to say that he was not the Mallord I sought.

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Idiosyncrat said…
Dear Cory:

The fact that the copy is inscribed to “Mr. Toole” certainly augurs against even a passing friendship between the two. If the Tulane Web site’s cited reference is correct, the book was actually inscribed on the 30th, not the 20th– suggesting that it was merely mailed to Toole’s New Orleans residence, not presented in person.

Might it not be that Toole had never met Mallord, and that the latter somehow knew that the former was, or had been, an English instructor, and that the latter merely sent the copy of his book to the former to promote it? If he used basically the same inscription to send a copy to a famous intellectual whom he presumably had never met, it strikes me as doubtful that the inscription to Toole would imply any necessary relationship between him and Mallord.

I ran Mallord’s full name through the Social Security Death Index, and it came up with no results. Unless he left the country and died abroad, it seems likely that he is still alive. Running the name through Intellius.com and Peoplefinders.com, there is no listing for that full name; but, unsurprisingly, there are quite a few Richard M. Silvermans. There are only a few, however, who would seem old enough to be a good candidate for Mallord. One is 71, which would have made him thirtyish in January 1969. The other two are 82 and 86, which would have made them in their forties already– which strikes me as older than the photographed Mallord appears!?!

I believe that the 71 year old is a real estate agent and landlord, with an N.Y.U. degree in Management and Marketing: http://www.bellmarc.com/agents/profile.asp?id=SIL. That seems like an unlikely match– but, then again, look what happened to Jerry Rubin, after his Yippie days!?! If nothing else, it might be worth your contacting that Richard M. Silverman to see if he has any knowledge of Richard Mallord Silverman. F.W.I.W. Good luck! I look forward to the book….

Sincerely yours,

/s/ Dan Hand

Daniel Kevin Hand, B.A., M.S., M.B.A., J.D.

DKHand@gmail.com

6/27/10 @ 5:00 a.m. E.D.T. :: 4:00 a.m. C.D.T.

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