Faye Rossignol – who is (or was) she?

Search for Faye Rossignol on Google and three attractive ladies bearing her name are listed (at the time of writing, which is 2014). None of them is “our” Faye Rossignol, which suggests that the name is, in any case, a nom-de-plume. “Rossignol” was French slang in the 19th Century for the female pudendum – and our Faye would most certainly have been aware of that! In fact, little or nothing is known of the life (or possible death) of this female (or was she male?) writer. Her seventeen manuscripts were discovered on Saturday, September 19th, 1988, just after dawn. They lay in a skip filled with builder’s rubble in London’s fabulously wealthy and upmarket Eaton Square. Despite that, it is clear that they were not simply thrown out at so much junk; they were intended to be discovered and, eventually, to achieve the publication they so richly deserve. How can we assume that? For a start, they were heavily wrapped in a waterproof oilcloth before being completely heat-sealed in two layers of heavy-duty polythene; and the outer layer was of the UV-resistant kind so that they would have survived exposure on a garbage tip, even in direct sunlight, without degradation. And they were carefully placed right on top of a full skip – in plain view of any passer-by of average height. Whoever dumped them was probably still in Eaton Square when they were spotted and rescued. Alas, the luck that any bibliographer might have enjoyed ended right there and then.

 

They contained not a single handwritten word that might have helped trace them to the hand that wrote them. Each manuscript was neatly typed using a daisywheel printer, so we know that the writer had access to the primitive word-processors of the early-to-mid-eighties (and it would surely have taken that many years for “Faye” to have written all seventeen volumes). The paper was in standard A4 sheets of various brands, all widely sold throughout the country. In short, there is little hope of tracing “her” through either the paper or the method of printing.

 

Various names have been suggested for the true author, including the satirist William Donaldson (1935-2005) and the politician the Right Honourable Enoch Powell (1912-98). Donaldson (most famous as the author of The Henry Root Letters) is suspected because he once lived in a brothel run by his girlfriend in the nearby Fulham Road and because of the prankish nature of the manuscripts’ discovery. And Enoch Powell because anybody taking a late-afternoon stroll around that part of Belgravia in the 1980s and ’90s was almost certain to see the British Warm overcoat and the black Homburg hat that both clad the man and trumpeted his sartorial fanfare; one saw them well before those large, limpid, ice-pale eyes loomed out of the circumambient fog of fashionable London, mesmerizing pedestrians to step off the kerb and lower their gaze until he had floated by. He was the very spirit of the place, and perhaps death itself has been unable to prevent his apparition even today? Of the two, we must lean toward Donaldson or some satirist poured into a similar mould. The addresses given by “Faye” in various Introductions in the books – Bushey Arches ... Bushey Park ... Much Hadham ... Crouch End ... Effingham (all genuine places in England) – point to that sort of humour, which is too playful for old Enoch.

 

But perhaps Faye really is a woman after all. Many of her most ardent fans would dearly love to have it proved. A Scarlet Woman? Here one can paraphrase the doggerel about the Scarlet Pimpernel:

 

They seek her here.
They seek him there.
The fans they seek “Faye” everywhere.
Has she a hole or has he a pole?
That damned elusive Rossignol!

 

When all’s said and done, we are left (most fortunately) with the writing. Despite its subject matter, the literary merit of “Faye’s” work was soon recognised by, it so happens, a beneficed clergyman in the Church of England. He, however, wishes to remain anonymous. Indeed, everyone connected with the rescue and publication of “her” works, is by choice anonymous. The media feeding-frenzy that would be unleashed were even one of them to be named in public would divert all attention away from the books, whose merits are great enough for them to speak for themselves. If “Faye” herself desired to remain unsung, how could lesser mortals muscle in openly by name and bask in the light that “she” had shunned? It would be unconscionable. In short: Shallow-minded seekers after any sort of “celebrity” link must learn to grow up and content themselves, instead, with these seventeen bright jewels of modern erotic fiction.

 

(Shortly after www.Fayerossignol.org/asm went online an anonymous surfer submitted an image found among items left by his late father, who operated a photo booth on New York’s Coney Island. Its attractions included a six-foot image of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, with a hole where the face would be. People would poke their heads through the hole and have their photograph taken. He prided himself on being able to smooth out the edges of the hole in the finished print. The name, place, and date were then written on the back of the print. [“And,” our surfer adds, “Dad made a fortune for supplying pictures with falsified dates to most of the adulterers in New York.”] If this is, indeed “our” own dear Faye, it is the only known picture of her to have surfaced so far. The text has, of course been added.)

 

possible image of the author