“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
— Daphne du Maurier
Nobody seems to know the exact date the original manuscript was written. All we can say for certain is that it arrived at the offices of Scribbs and Scribbs Ltd of London wrapped in a plain paper parcel, with 50p postage due. The rest, as you are well aware, is history.
Although it is difficult to believe now, the verse-tale of the Smellephant had a very modest initial print run. Mr. Scribbs senior was never in favor of the venture. In fact, in his estimation it was (to use his precise phrase) “pachydermic poppycock”. Nonetheless the first printing sold out quickly, and then the next, and the one after that as well. What had begun as a curiosity quickly mushroomed into a genuine phenomenon.
Now, of course, all former schoolchildren of a certain generation know well those opening lines:
“There once was a creature who lived in a wood
Most terribly sad, and misunderstood…”
Yet it was not always thus. Even now, not much is known about the Smellephant’s creator, the mysterious L. Ward. There is some evidence that this personage comes from Hong Kong, although other sources trace both a British and a Malaysian influence. What we can state for certain is that L. Ward’s apparently simple tale has captured the hearts and minds of millions.
If that were all, there would be little to add, and even less to remember. Yet recent documents have surfaced which cast doubt upon the entire matter. In full consideration of the natural curiosity of the public, we have collated these manuscript fragments into what appears to be a consistent narrative sequence. And therein begins a tale…
Your humble editor,
J. Wittfred Pennyglot, Esq.