In a previous post I wondered whether the authors of the 1934 knock-out blow novel Invasion from the Air, Frank McIlraith and Roy Connolly, might have been left-wing, as the artist who (apparently) was supposed to illustrate the book was a communist. I hadn't been able to turn up any biographical information about either of them in the usual places (eg Oxford DNB or Who's Who). But thanks to the magic of the Internet I've tracked down Connolly, in 5 easy steps!
The first breakthrough came when I looked for other books by McIlraith or Connolly in the British Library catalogue, and I found one called Southern Saga (1940), which was published by the same company as Invasion from the Air - which is suggestive but not conclusive. Then Google led me to "New literatures" in The Year's Work in English Studies which in turn led me to "Literary imaginings of the Bunya" from the Queensland Review, then "The Making of a Queensland Politician: Jack Duggan's life before parliament 1910-1935" from the Journal of Australian Studies, and finally I used the very handy AustLit (subscription only, unfortunately) to confirm that it was indeed the same Roy Connolly who wrote both Invasion from the Air and Southern Saga. So it turns out that Connolly was not British at all, but an Australian! He was the political journalist for the Queensland Labor Party's Daily Standard in the 1930s (and so it is probably safe to assume that he was a Labor man himself). What he was doing writing air-scare literature for the British market, I have no idea, but if I can scare up a biography of him it might give me more of a clue. (I tried the Australian Dictionary of Biography today at the library, but naturally the volume I needed was not on the shelf.)
It makes me wonder how I would have found this out 15 or even 10 years ago, before masses of this sort of information became available on the Internet. Even if I'd thought to check non-British biographical dictionaries, there's still no guarantee that I would have found Connolly, and without any clues I wouldn't have known where else to look. In the end I probably would have given up: it's not really all that important and there would be better things to spend my time on. But now, thanks to Google and other resources, this kind of sleuthing is both painless and fast - in fact, I spent more time writing this post than I did on the search itself!
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