The Scratch Society (1883-1886)
A scrapbook of handwritten short stories
written by The Hon. Eva Hanbury-Tracy, aged 14-17.

When she was about 14 years old, Eva H-Tracy (as she styled herself inside the front cover of this volume) set about writing a series of short stories. These stories were offered up for criticism to a group of family members and peers who played a literary role under the intriguing name of "The Scratch Society". There were specific rules to be followed in the writing of the Society's tales, the main one being that no story should be more than one hundred lines in length. By the time she had pasted in her last story (June 24th 1886) Eva Hanbury-Tracy was seventeen years old and writing in the smallest hand she could manage in order to keep to the hundred line rule!

About The Scrap Book.

By way of a sociological note, the Scrap Book was purchased from John Sewel (Stationer and Printer), 11 & 12 Stockbridge Terrace, Pimlico in London. In pasting blank pages into the book, for her Society colleagues to use in making their comments, she prefaced each with the words -

"Let 'em censure, what care I/The herd of critics, I defy;
Let the Witches know I write/Regardless of their grace or spite. (Prior's Poems)".

Members

Members of this illustrious circle gave their criticisms (always short, sometimes harsh, often complimentary but seldom patronising) under a chosen "Society" name. Eva's name within the Society was "Lady Macbeth".

The following members left their comments in her volume: Fenella, Witch Number One, Ellen of The Isle, Shilock, Oberon, Portia, Zara, Titania, Die Vernon, Hero, Beatrix, Perdita, Jessica, Cuddie, Brenda and Rowena.It is tempting to imagine that, perhaps - somewhere - other, similar volumes by these members still exist and that in each is a comment by their fellow writer, "Lady Macbeth"!Page 1

Robert Maxtone Graham, Dame Eva's grandson, writes about the Scratch Society:- "My mother (Jan Struther - Joyce Anstruther, Dame Eva's daughter) had some of her early verses printed in "Venture is Verse by Members of the Scratch Society" edited by Lord Darling."

The Lady Macbeth volume is some 148 sides in length with approximately 40 sides blank to the back cover. The index to her stories - written in her later, adult, hand - appears on the inside of the back cover and whilst no one story is any less worthy than another in terms of the writer's age, each bears a remarkable insight into the "human condition" albeit entrenched in the mores and aspirations of her own upbringing and generation. The first story,"A Day Out Of The Life Of A Naughty Child" (four pages) is reproduced on this site and may be viewed page by page.

Click on Dame Eva's image for the first of four pages.