I don't suppose Lewis Carroll knew this solemn young lady, but I'm delighted and honoured that the poet, novelist and medical doctor, David Wheldon, has just dedicated a fascinating short story to me which refers to the instrument she's holding - a Stroh violin. The story is called THE SERJEANT'S DAUGHTER and it deals - basically - with what happens after a trial. As the story progresses, the narrative seems to disintegrate and re-form itself into a completely different story, which has echoes of both Carroll and Kafka. It features a young woman - the Serjeant's daughter of the title - who plays a Stroh violin.

Graham Greene considered David Wheldon's first novel, THE VIADUCT, to be "remarkable," and he and the other judge of the 1982 Triple First Award, William Trevor, gave it first place, with a prize of 5000. It was published by The Bodley Head, Penguin Books and the Book Club Associates in London, and by George Braziller in New York His next book, THE COURSE OF INSTRUCTION, was published in hardback by The Bodley Head (as was his next, A VOCATION) and in paperback by Black Swan. AT THE QUAY was published by Barrie and Jenkins. If you go to his website you can learn more.

And, I have just heard that David has put the story online, here, together with a link to his short story titles, here.

So what does a Stroh violin sound like? Well, I don't know. But here is a cover version of one of Adele's songs, played on something that looks rather like it, although the player, Stephanie Valentin, doesn't remind me much of the Serjeant's Daughter of the story, and probably doesn't sound much like her either.



And this is a non-electric version, which might sound more like the one in the story.