Crankforth is a figure from the siege of Grisly Grange of 982 and a distant ancestor of Sir Bertram Crabtree-Gore (The Pedant and the Shuffly, 21).


Crankforth is credited with defending his castle with only twelve men and a "cellarful of crabapple preserves" by devising the plan to heat the preserves and catapult it onto the attacking army.


Bowen notes that Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield (1850) (“which Bellairs had undoubtedly read”) featured an important character named James Steerforth[1]. Add the fact that the steering mechanism of an automobile is located close to the crankcase and what do we have?  Ultimately not a lot[2].


  1. Wikipedia: James Steerforth
  2. Correspondence with Charles Bowen.