Irish Wolfhound Times
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(Article compiled by Steve Tillotson, November 2012)


    1.1 History of legacy writings (courtesy Clifford Hubbard)
    The history of canine books published in English is a surprising history. A great background read on this topic is - "An Introduction To The Literature Of British Dogs. Five Centuries Of Illustrated Dog Books" by (Clifford L Hubbard, The Castle Press, Aberystwyth, Wales, 1947) which contains a chronological review of five centuries of books about dogs.

    According to Hubbard the majority of early books on the subject of dogs (typically those books being about sporting dogs and hunting dogs, rather than general all breed, or breed specfic books) were written in Latin, or a foreign language such as French. Hubbard states that the very first work on hunting to be written in English was "Master Of Game" by Edward, second Duke Of York. Amazingly this "lytel symple book" of which only nineteen written copies exist, was written somewhere between 1406 - 1413, but it was not published until as late as 1904. Apparently this book was almost a literal translation of "Miroir de Phebus" written by Conte Gaston de Foix,Viconte de Bearn. According to Hubbard, of the thirty-six chapters in "Master Of Game" five are the original work by Edward himself.

    Hubbard had an encylopeadic knowledge of canine writings, he was an accomplished author in his own right. His published works include - "The Observers Book Of Dogs", "Everybody's Dogs", "Working Dogs Of The World", "Dogs In Britain". He also collaborated with others to co-author books, including "The Book Of The Dog" With Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald and others. Hubbard even co-authored works in foreign languages, for example - Il Libro Dei Cani (in Italian) and "Hundar" (in Swedish). Readers of books about the Afghan Hound will be aware of the references to Hubbard who wrote the first book on the breed - "The Afghan Hound Handbook", (Published by Nicholson and Watson, England 1951). All subsequent Afghan Hound breed books have referenced Hubbard.

    1.2 Important legacy writings (courtesy Clifford Hubbard)

    Courtesy of Clifford Hubbard herebelow is a chronological summary of the main references often used by modern writers.

    • 1879 The Illustrated Book of the Dog, by Vero Shaw.

      This first really important work appeared in 1879-81 as The Illustrated Book of the Dog, by Vero Shaw. Later known as "The Encylopedia Of The Dog". This is the largest work of the nineteenth century to be published in English, having coloured plates of celebrated show dogs.

    • 1906 "The Dog Book" by James Watson

      The first of the great cynological works of the twentieth century appeared in 1906. This book, The Dog Book, was written by James Watson, a Scot, who was probably the UK's first sports editor of a daily newspaper. Watson quotes liberally from the best of the earlier authors and so saves the student of British dogs much wider reading. Watson carried out an incredible amount of research, and although this book by no means represents his first work it remains even to-day (1951) a monument to the prodigious labour his check-work involved. The Dog Book was originally published in ten parts in the U.S.A., but its first English appearance, was in 1906. Of the book itself, it can be said that it is easily the finest book on dogs written by a British writer until Ash's superb "Dogs : Their History and Development" appeared in 1927.

    • 1907 "The New Book of the Dog" by Robert Leighton.

      The next important general work by a British writer is that by our penultimate authority, Robert Leighton. This book is "The New Book of the Dog" (1907), which will remain an important work for all time. Leighton wrote quietly and took great pains with his work. His book covered practically every well-known breed and was certainly the first British work to describe many of the varieties of the continental mainland of Europe and Asia.* Profusely illustrated with coloured plates and photographs, the book dealt with all the important British breeds of the time, some of the chapters being written by eminent authorities and breeders.

      *Some of the articles by Leighton himself on relatively rare breeds appear to have been influenced by de Bylant's Les Races de Chiens (1894), of which incredibly comprehensive work an edition (the third) was published in 1905 with the text covering over 300 breeds and varieties written in French, English, German and Dutch

    • 1927 "Dogs : Their History and Development" Edward C. Ash

      The last and undoubtedly the greatest work on the dog ever printed in English is "Dogs : Their History and Development" (1927) by Edward C. Ash. Like Watson, Ash had learned not to place too much reliance on the earlier writers, consequently, although he took heed of their statements, he checked them himself from all available sources. Indeed, Ash went so deep into the eariy history of each breed that he accumulated a hitherto undreamed mass of data, which he generally sorted out clearly and presented in a very . readable form. His best and permanent reference work is Dogs : Their History and Development. This is a terrific work published in two quarto volumes and illustrated by hundreds of excellent photographs of selected dogs and reproductions of paintings, prints, pottery and relief work. There is no doubt that Ash's researches in the British Museum, paid handsome dividends although here and there errors crept into his books . . .especially into his smaller ones. His ready wit and cynicism is apparent in this book where, as on all other occasions, he ridicules many of the tall stories put forward in the nineteenth century by dog writers like J. C. Macdona ; Of all the published literature on the dog, in any language, Ash's Dogs : Their History and Development remains the supreme effort for original work and investigation. This great book is not the last word on dogs (no book could possibly be), -but certainly it will reign supreme as a work of reference until well into the second half of this century.

      1.3 What some others have said about legacy writings -

      1.3.1 "William D Drury in collaboration with R Hood Wright
      "British Dogs, Their Points, Selection and Show Preparation"

      "It is somewhat remarkable that, whilst we have accounts of almost all the noted breeds, including the Irish Wolfhound, there is no allussion to any such dog as the Deerhound, save in writings of a comparatively recent date". Drury again "If we look for enlightenment in the writings of the older authors, we find little; indeed rather is it a case of confusion worse confounded. In some descripions seem grossly exaggerated; while in others they are lacking in those essential details that, if forthcoming would have helped us with greater accuracy to piect together the unwoven threads of history".

      1.3.2 Edward C Ash in The Practical Dog Book, 1930

      "But in the story of the Irish Wolfhound, the name of Hogan must always be connected. First of all, the Reverend gentleman made a prodigious research, and, secondly, apparently claimed, whenever he found the word dog, that it was the Irish Wolfhound. It was he that gave the oft repeated statement that Irish Wolfhounds were mentioned in very early Irish times, in that literature (the authenticity of which is doubted) which deals with Irish heroes. "

      1.3.3 By Fredson T. Bowers American Kennel Gazette, May 1, 1939

      "One makes a great mistake, however, if one judges older scientific writers by modern standards. Accuracy is not their forte, and demonstrably many of their dogs of various breeds are drawn from imagination and gullible hearsay rather than from life; or, if from life, from a specimen which by no stretch of the imagination could be considered as typical".

      1.3.4 William Gregory Wood Martin - 1895 (From the Book - "Pagan Ireland; an Archaeological Sketch: A Handbook of Irish Pre Christian Antiquities.." by William Gregory Wood Martin - 1895

      "The difficulty of presenting a clear account of a country's antiquities is only too evident, but we have long passed the time when statements are admitted without question simply because they were made at a remote period. We call to mind, now-a-days, that the so-called ' historical' Irish writers were probably often as far removed from the events they pretend to explain as they are from our own times. Our more critical age takes account of what may be called the historical perspective. Certainly the 'age of faith' which could accept unquestioned the imaginative statements of mediaeval history-writers has long passed, and it is by patient work and study, not only of ancient writers, but still more of the strange waifs which have come down to us from bygone ages that we hope to arrive at some idea of the life of prehistoric man. Truth, it is said, lies at the bottom of the well; it is difficult, but not impossible to reach; its certain and eventual triumph over error will become a recognized fact, in material, as well as in moral matters."

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