Wednesday 27 March 2019

Mystery book written in 1930 and found in Ross attic gets published

Des Nix
Des Nix
Front cover of The Master's Choice

A novel written 84 years ago has been discovered in a house in South Street, New Ross, and is now on sale in local bookshops and on the internet.

The manuscript was uncovered in Rachel Nix's attic when she died a few years ago. It was written by her father, John A Nix, a well-known scholarly journalist, in the family home over their shop at 48 South Street, where Rachel ran a stationery and newspaper business along with a household goods and gift shop.

Rachel Nix's nephew Des said: 'I wasn't aware of it until my aunt died. We were tidying up in the attic and there it was.'

The 250 page novel is just as John A Nix wrote it, with no changes.

Des Nix, a former sub editor with the Irish Independent, said the novel is a social document, recording what life was like in Ireland at the time. 'Not a word is re-written. I thought the language would have been very archaic but the more I read into it the more I realised that the language is a vital part of the book's personality.'

'The Master's Choice' is ostensibly a novel but turns out to be partly autobiographical as well. The action is set in the author's home place in the Shannon estuary, but its rustic characters were to be found in every parish throughout Ireland during that period at the turn of the 1930s.

'The work is a beautiful depiction of country life of its time. It follows the fortunes of bachelor Marley Swanton as he evolves from a country schoolteacher into a local newspaper journalist and pursues the lovely farmer's daughter, Finola Macara. His progress runs alongside the machinations of every strata of society in the neighbourhood - the parish priest, the local builder, the publican with ambitions to scale the social ladder, the tenant farmer facing economic hardships, the landed gentry, the farm hands who observe and pass comment on every movement in the passing parade.'

John A Nix was a classics scholar and proficient in Latin and French. He wrote as a columnist for the Irish Independent and was a contributor as a news and features writer for a number of publications, among them the (Wexford) Free Press. He was politically active as a writer during the War of Independence. During the Civil War, 48 South Street was the Wexford county headquarters of the Anti-Treatyite party. Rachel was a well-liked personality in the town who socialised in the bridge club and with her sister, Buddy, in golf club circles.

Des Nix grew up in 68 South Street, where Nugent's shop is located. His father, Arthur Nix, was a solicitor who died at a young age, and his mother, Irma Nix, reared the family there.

Mr Nix worked as a reporter with the Irish Press until it closed in 1995 and with the Irish Independent as a sub-editor up to recently. The Master's Choice by John A Nix is available at Nugent's and Nolan's book shops at €12.50.

It is also available from Amazon and Kindle.

New Ross Standard