Hay, we got it wrong
William Beach Thomas was a quietly successful countryside columnist and literary gent who became a calamitous Daily Mail war correspondent.
A true-life man of that comic classic 'Scoop'?
A dead-ringer for Evelyn Waugh's 'Boot of the Beast'?
Absolutely not. In our first year of TLS publication, this all-too-real Boot was a poor choice to 'take on' (as we say) Conrad's modern masterpiece.
Possibly our worst ever.
Beach Thomas, Lord 'Copper' Northcliffe's favourite water-bird correspondent, did not like Conrad very much.
Too much 'horror'.
It was 'quite extravagant according to the canons of art'.
Ah well. We win some, we lose some.
Then and now.
The prescribed subject this past weekend was the connection between Conrad and Waugh, two great writers on the Dark Continent, what they shared in common, what they did not.
African agonies were a strong theme in Hay's wind-and-rain-swept opening days - and attracted big crowds.
We moved briskly through racism, cannibalism, Freud and Mugabe - tentatively in some parts, more boldly in others, while the cold wind howled, the tent-ropes screamed and the questioners set the pace.
But this discovery of the Beach Thomas connection was the oddest link for me.
Just as Waugh's comic mischief in the 1930s was to send William Boot, countryside author of 'Lush Places' , to cover an incomprehensible conflict in Ishmaelia, so, twenty years earlier, a real rural writer was moved from his own world of books and badgers to the battlefields of Flanders.
This real William B, so beloved for his journalistic contributions 'From a Hertfordshire Cottage', was, sadly, less of a credit to his craft when he came to describing Britain's first battle day on the Somme.
'All went well' - according to William (third from left) and his colleagues briefed by false intelligence reports from their own side.
His earlier rejection of Conrad's masterpiece in the TLS seems to have been just a warm-up, his dislike of 'indulgence in picturesque horror' merely a bizarre trial disservice to the truth.
Then even more strangely.
In the very year that Beach Thomas was away, with others, like Percival Phillips of The Daily Express, the more generally accepted models for Scoop, all reporting what they didn't know about the First World War, The TLS decided that our original review of Heart of Darkness could not be allowed to stand.
This time we took no chances, asking Virginia Woolf - anonymously, of course, in those days - to 'take on' a new edition.
In our issue of September 20, 1917, Mrs Woolf reported that reading it, even holding it, was so different from the usual run of books 'that even our minute duties with regard to it maintain a momentary dignity'.
She lauded Conrad's genius and its 'most complete and perfect expression'.
It was this rare 'completeness' which most attracted her - 'something solid like a principle and masterful like an instinct'.
And citing Conrad's own words, 'that hidden something, that gift of good or evil, that makes racial difference, that shapes the fate of nations'.
Racial difference. Racial perceptions of difference. Different perceptions of race.
Uncomfortable thoughts that still confront us, that should not be ducked or half-seen.