Gauging the Propagandist's Talents

William Le Queux's Dubious Place in Literary History: Part One

in Critical Survey
A. Michael Matin Dept. of English, Warren Wilson College, USA

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Shortly after the outbreak of World War One, Charles Masterman was appointed by Prime Minister Asquith to oversee a covert literary propaganda campaign in support of the British war effort. Although William Le Queux had been one of the most prominent British anti-German writers during the prewar years, he was not recruited for this governmental endeavour that included many of the nation's best-known writers. Nonetheless, he continued on his own to publish anti-German propaganda throughout the war. These two articles assess Le Queux's national security-oriented writings within that broader context, and they offer a methodology for gauging the potential efficacy of such texts based on recent developments in the field of risk-perception studies. Part One provides a historical and methodological foundation for both articles and assesses a number of Le Queux's pre-1914 works. Part Two (published in Part II of this issue) examines Le Queux's career and writings from 1914 through to his death in 1927.

Contributor Notes

A. Michael Matin is a member of the Warren Wilson College Department of English. Although he has been engaged in a variety of writing and editing projects, the British invasion-scare genre (of which William Le Queux was a leading practitioner) has been a longstanding focus of his scholarship. For his work on this body of literature, he has been awarded a US National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. His previously published articles on these texts range from an analysis of the form's popular emergence in the mid-Victorian period to an assessment of some of its twenty-first-century cross-Atlantic manifestations.

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