I have now invested several days in the record office at Bury St Edmunds and the British Library following up various ‘issues’ on the Red Barn and previous books on the subject. McCormick cites the Settler’s Sentinel, published in Sydney in 1859 as one of his references. The National Library of Australia has never heard of it, and they are in the middle of scanning literally hundreds of early newspapers and journals.
I have already commented on some astonishing falsehoods in Haining’s book, but the latest twist to the story is the identity of “J Curtis” who wrote the first history of the affair. He was present during the trial and was even mistaken for Corder by one of the provincial newspapers. All of the books on the Red Barn call him ‘James Curtis’, a reporter for The Times. In fact all that we actually know about Curtis comes from a book by James Grant called Great Metropolis published in 1837. He refers to ‘J Curtis’ (not James) and says that he is a short-hand writer not mentioning any newspaper.
Successive books on the Red Barn affair appear to have accepted, without checking, what previous books have asserted as being true.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs