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Sir Bertram Crabtree-Gore, Esq., is a "kindly old sorcerer" who wanders into the Flapping Forest and almost immediately runs afoul of Snodrog and is faced with nonexistence.  He counters his predicament by presenting the pedant with a Shuffly and sits back for the ensuing chaos (The Pedant and the Shuffly).

Background

The crab apple tree was chief symbol of his coat of arms. The heraldic device originated sometime after the siege of Grisly Grange of 982, when Sir Bertram's ancestor, Crankforth, defended a castle with twelve men and crab apple preserves against an army that was, eventually, devoured by a giant toad.

Inspiration

Name

Bertram brings to mind Bertram "Bertie" Wilberforce Wooster, a character from the Jeeves series by P. G. Wodehouse, or Bertram, the Count of Rousillon, a character from Shakespeare's "All's Well That Ends Well" (1623)[1].

Crab apple trees are sometimes called crabtrees, though Bertram Crabapple Tree-Gore is too much of a mouthful. The eponymous characters in the novels by Scottish author Tobias Smollett (1721-71) were used for members of Bellairs’s Childermass family. In The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751), the character Cadwallader Crabtree appears an an old, Welsh misanthrope and friend of the title character. Crabtree habitually feigns deafness and amuses himself by playing ingenious jokes on other naive and gullible people[2].

Gore brings to mind graphic violence[3], but also gore point, the triangular piece of land found where roads merge or split. The term probably originates from the dressmaker's term for a triangular piece of cloth. While originally used to describe such shapes, today it may refer to any shape used to create a third dimension[4].

Character

If there were any autobiographical elements to any of the characters in The Pedant and the Shuffly then Marilyn Fitschen feels Bellairs would fancy himself as Bertram, sitting back and observing the pedant and the Shuffly duke it out[5].

The character was slated to make a return to print in the short story, The Paranoid Sunglasses, written in the late 1960s after Bellairs had settled in New England. In it, Sir Bertram wears vomit-colored sunglasses that revealed and ridiculed the character's paranoid peculiarities about leaving mayonnaise out in the sun, getting tetanus from rusty nails and more - in reality, the same fancies Bellairs himself had[5].

References

  1. Wikipedia: Bertram (name)
  2. Wikipedia: The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle
  3. Wikipedia: Graphic violence
  4. Wikipedia: Gore (road)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Correspondence with Marilyn Fitschen.

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