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Who Look in Stove

Published by:
Exile Editions



Who Look In Stove is a three character one act play inspired by the diaries of Edgar Christian.

John Hornby (46), Harold Adlard (28), and Edgar Christian (18), built a log cabin by the Thelon River in Canada's Northwest Territories in the fall of 1926. They had been born and educated in England. Hornby and Adlard had served in the First World War. Hornby had spent twenty years in Canada's North as a trapper, trader, guide and amateur naturalist and explorer.

John Hornby and Edgar Christian's mother were cousins. Hornby and Edgar Christian first met in January 1926 at the Christian family home Bron Dirion. Hornby had returned to England in response to a cable telling him that his father was gravely ill. A.N. Hornby died on December 17, 1925. He had been one of England's greatest sportsmen and most celebrated cricketers. After his father's funeral, Hornby travelled from Nantwich, Cheshire to Bron Dirion for a visit with the Christian family. It was during this visit that Edgar Christian's maternal grandmother suggested that Hornby take Edgar with him on his next adventure into Canada's North.

Harold Adlard joined Hornby and Christian in May 1926 at Onoway, a small settlement about 40 miles north-west of Edmonton, Alberta. Hornby asked Adlard to join them in part as a companion for Edgar, but also because he had promised Adlard some years before that he would take him North.

Edgar Christian began his diary in October of 1926. He made his last entry on or about June 1st, 1927. Hornby had been dead six weeks and Adlard almost a month. Just before Christian died, he crawled to the small stove in the centre of the cabin and placed the diary and a letter to his mother and father in the dry cold ashes of the stove. The last thing he wrote was a note he placed on top of the stove: WHO LOOK IN STOVE. He then crawled back to his bunk, pulled a red Hudson's Bay blanket up over his head and died. The bodies were discovered one year later by prospectors. One year after that, in July of 1929, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived at the cabin to conduct a formal investigation. They found the faded note on the stove and the diary inside.

The diary was first published by John Murray Ltd. in England in 1937 under the title Unflinching: A Diary of Tragic Adventure. It was first published in Canada by Oberon Press in 1980 as Death in the Barren Ground, with an introduction by George Whalley.

Colonel Frank Christian and Marguerite Christian gave the diary itself to Dover College, the school where their son had spent his last year before leaving for Canada.

Enquiries should be addressed to: Ronald Gwiazda, Rosenstone/Wender, 3 East 48th Street, New York, New York, USA 10017

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