|Alan Courtney Tytheridge|
Reproduced by kind permission of Jenny Stroud
This is the fascinating life story of Alan Courtney Tytheridge. He was a remarkable man who was a scholar, an author, a musician and a linguist. He lived in four different continents during his life time and lived through an earthquake and internment by the Japanese in World War 2.
Although I have researched Alan’s life for many years much of the research presented here must be credited to Jenny Stroud whose research into the life of Alan and the background information is amazing. Thank you to Jenny for giving me permission to use her research and images. Jenny is Alan’s second cousin twice removed, related to him via his mother, Lucy Winterbottom. I would also like to thank Graeme Bell and Jenny’s Japanese researchers (Miyo and Mizuyo) for the assistance they have given Jenny.
Family Life in England 1889 -1895
Alan’s grandfather was William Henry Walter Tytheridge. William moved from Portsmouth to London. He had inherited money and property from his maternal uncle and the family were well-off and well-educated. Alan’s father Walter Robert Tytheridge was sent to St Paul’s public school and then went to medical school and qualified as a doctor and surgeon.
Walter was 35 when he married Lucy Anne Winterbottom on 21 January 1885 at St Johns Church, Nottinghill. Lucy also came from a wealthy family; her mother owned several properties and her when her father died he had left quite a bit of money. Lucy’s father, Henry, had been a bandmaster in the Royal Marines and was a talented musician, a talent that was to be handed down to Alan.
Walter and Lucy’s first child, Nora, was born in Epsom Surrey in 1887, but she died just 10 months old.
On 15 June 1889 Alan Courtney Tytheridge was born and baptised on 22 July at Christ Church, Epsom. On the 1891 census the family and their servant were living at The Chestnuts, Church Street, Epsom, a very grand sounding address.
Alan's family tree can be found at this link .
Life in New Zealand
On 3 October 1895 Walter, Lucy and 6-year-old Alan emigrated to New Zealand sailing for Wellington on the ship “Ionic”. They settled at Marton, near Wellington, where Walter set up a doctor’s practice in Grey Street. During this period Alan learnt to play the piano. From 1901 newspaper articles show he passed piano exams, including when 14 years old being the only person to secure a distinction in the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music exams. It is obvious he had inherited the musical talents of his mother’s family.
In June 1904 the family moved to Opawa, a suburb of Chistchurch. Here Alan attended Christs College, Christchurch an independent school. Six months later he won his first school prize for Divinity. Alan quickly showed that he was a very gifted student in the arts, literature and languages. In 1905 he won school prizes for History, Latin, French and English. In 1906 he won prizes for Greek, English Literature, Latin, French and History. He was Head Boy at Christ's College.
In 1906 Alan’s s cousin, Dorothy May Tytheridge, visited the family in New Zealand. On her return to England she remained in written contact with Alan, and it is one of Alan’s letters to Dorothy that will tell us something of his life in Japan.
Alan was lucky enough to grow up in a family where the arts and music played an important role. His father, Walter, was involved in the cultural side of Christchurch life and is listed as a member of the Canterbury Society of Arts in 1914. From 1906 onwards, there are reports in the newspapers of Alan doing well in music competitions and reports of his performance at concerts and recitals. In 1912 there is reference to a YMCA concert where Alan performed with Eric Bell. Eric was to become his life time friend and their lives followed a very similar path. For many years Eric managed and conducted the Christchurch Salon Orchestra and Alan played in this orchestra. Alan was a superb pianist and a press story later referred to him “as a shining light in Christchurch musical circles”.
In 1907 Alan started at Canterbury College, in Christchurch which was one of the colleges of the University of New Zealand. Again, Alan excelled passing his first year German with credit and receiving an award for German in 1909. In 1910 he was awarded a B. A. first section and won awards for French, German, Latin and Greek. He was awarded the final section of the B. A. in April 1911, again, with an award for German. In April 1912 he was awarded an M. A. First Class honours in French and German. He was a true scholar.
In April 1912 Alan began his training as a journalist and went to work on the literary staff of the Christchurch newspaper “The Press”. He was paid £2 10s a week. His role was to assist the sub editorial staff, write on current topics and do some reporting.
Life in Fiji and USA 1914 - 1916
In July 1914 Alan was awarded an editorship on the Fiji Times based in Suva, the capital of Fiji. He sailed on the Marama on 1 August 1914 travelling First Class. It was while he was in Fiji that his mother Lucy died on 23 January 1915. In her will she left money in a trust to pay Alan an annual income.
Alan stayed in Fiji for a just over a year before heading to Honolulu. He sailed on the Makura which left Sydney on the 30th September 1915 and picked him up in Fiji on the way through. He arrived in Honolulu in Hawaii on 15 October 1915. His arrival on American soil was recorded by the immigration authorities and from the records we learn that he was 26 years old, 5ft 10 inches, with grey eyes, brown hair and weighed 148 lbs. He spent some time in Hawaii securing articles for his paper before going to San Francisco to attend The Panama–Pacific International Exposition. This was a world fair held in San Francisco to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, but it was also to show San Francisco’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake
Alan liked San Francisco and ended up staying there for a year and twenty years later made several return visits. San Francisco has always had a large gay community and the city has been described as "the original 'gay-friendly city".
His departure from San Francisco is recorded in an article in the New Zealand newspapers which reads
Evening Star, 25 September 1916
“Mr Alan C. Tytheridge, who was for some time on the literary staff of "The Press," and afterwards editor of the "Fiji Times," but who has been in America for about eighteen months, was recently appointed pianist and accompanist to a noted Portuguese cellist and violinist, and they are to tour Japan. Mr Tytheridge's headquarters will be Yokohama till the conclusion of his contract, which is for three years. Among the pianists who applied for the post was Mr Walter Handel Thorley, who is well known in Christchurch musical circles.”
This period was during World War 1 in Europe. At home in New Zealand they had failed to find enough volunteers to fill the army. Conscription was publicly debated in New Zealand during 1915. Laws were passed restricting the movements and activities of military-aged men, who from November 1915 were banned from leaving the country without the government’s permission. In August 1916, the Military Service Act empowered the government to call up any man aged between 20 and 45 for military service. Perhaps these facts could have influenced Alan’s decision not to return to New Zealand?
To be continued in the next blog …..