Note #1O: George W.M. Reynolds And The Norwood Builder

January 12, 2022

Note #10

George W.M. Reynolds And The Norwood Builder


R.E. Prindle

In Vols. III & IV of the Mysteries of London George Reynolds included his version of The Norwood Builder.  Writing at the same time James Malcomb Rymer, included the same story in his Varney The Vampire.  Reynolds and Rymer were friends so they either worked the story up between them, were reacting to a true incident in Norwood at the time, or may have been aware of some sort of legendary Norwood Builder.

Rymer’s and Reynolds’ stories are quite similar while Reymer’s is a short story but Reynold’s saga is strung over seventeen hundred pages.  One wonders what could have inspired these two men.  Brainstorming, or a real incident?

Forty some years later  Arthur Conan Doyle retrieved the story publishing it in his Sherlock Holmes story, The Case of the Northwood Builder.  The story must have tickled Doyle’s funny bone too.  As his story closely follows that of Rymer I imagine that it was the source for Doyle.  It is possible that he was also familiar with Reynold’s version but except for the core story they aren’t even close.

I suppose Vols. III and IV of Reynolds might even be titled The Norwood Builder as the same characters carry the story throughout the whole work of 1700 pages of my copy published by the House in San Bernadino, Cal. That provides no other information about publication except the exact date of printing, 14 July 2019.

I suppose Vols. III & IV might even be titled The Norwood Builder as the same characters carry the story through the whole work.  The two volumes are deceptive.  I didn’t think much of it the first time as the novel takes a long time to build while integrating the characters, while their individual stories don’t connect until integration time.  Then the mustard seed of the highway robbery becomes important.

Our highwayman Tom Rainford or Rain as he is known, stops a coach that carries Lady Georgiana Hatfield.  I let that silly incident throw me.  That seeming frivolous incident was the mustard seed from which the tremendous story developed.

I’m not going to give a full review here.  I’m going to let the story sink in a littler further first.  It is quite a study.  If you don’t have a copy pick up one if you can find it.  This is as fine a novel as you will ever see.

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