The writer Henry Williamson was born in London in 1895.
Naturalist, soldier, journalist, farmer, motor enthusiast and author of over fifty books, his descriptions of nature and the First World War have been highly praised for their accuracy.
He is best known as the author of Tarka the Otter, which won the Hawthornden Prize for Literature in 1928 and was filmed in 1977. By one of those extraordinary coincidences, Henry Williamson died while the crew were actually filming the death scene of Tarka.
His writing falls into clear groups:
1) Nature writings, of which Tarka the Otter and Salar the Salmon are the most well known, but which also include, amongst many others, The Peregrine's Saga, The Old Stag and The Phasian Bird.
2) Henry Williamson served throughout the First World War.The Wet Flanders Plain, A Patriot's Progress, and no less than five books of the 15-volume Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight (How Dear is Life, A Fox Under My Cloak, The Golden Virgin, Love and the Loveless and A Test to Destruction) cover the reality of the years 1914–1918, both in England and on the Western Front.
3) A further grouping concerns the social history aspect of his work in the 'Village' books (The Village Book and The Labouring Life), the four-volume Flax of Dream and the volumes of the Chronicle. But all of these groups can be found in any of his books.
Some readers are only interested in a particular aspect of his writing, but to truly understand Henry Williamson’s achievement it is necessary to take account of all of his books, for their extent reflects his complex character. The whole of life, the human, animal and plant worlds, can be found within his writings. He was a man of difficult temperament but he had a depth of talent that he used to the full.
The Henry Williamson Society was founded in 1980, and has published a number of collections of Williamson's journalism, which are now being published as e-books.
Where to find Henry Williamson online
The Novels of Henry Williamson
This brilliant long essay by the noted literary critic considers Henry Williamson’s novels up to 1954. Murry's essay remains essential reading for those who want to understand better Williamson’s writings. It is written in a clear, elegant style, while the literary analyses of the novels are its greatest distinction. Murry thought highly of the books making up the Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight.
Threnos for T. E. Lawrence and other writings, together with A Criticism of Henry Williamson's Tarka the Otter, by T. E. Lawrence
A collection of important essays on books and writers, who include T.E. Lawrence, Richard Aldington, Richard Jefferies, W. H. Hudson, and Francis Thompson; together with Williamson's prefaces and introductions to books by Izaak Walton, V. M. Yeates, James Farrar, Walter Robson, John Heygate and others; and the text of T.E. Lawrence's long and entertaining letter of criticism of 'Tarka the Otter'.
Recreating a Lost World: Henry Williamson and Folkestone 1919-20: fact into fiction
Williamson's novel 'The Dream of Fair Women' is set in Folkestone in the post-World War I period of 1919, and tells the story of the love affair of the hero Willie Maddison with the desirable Eve Fairfax, the young wife of an army officer living in Folkestone. 'Recreating a Lost World' explores the real Folkestone of that time, identifying the real-life models for fictional characters and more.
Pen and Plough: Further Broadcasts
A further collection of 21 broadcast talks on the BBC, made between 1936 and 1967. Ten of these were broadcast in the BBC’s Empire Service in 1938/39 and concern the countryside and farming. Four talks are about Williamson’s ongoing struggle to bring life back to the derelict farm in Norfolk that he had bought in 1937, while a later broadcast has the intriguing title ‘On Seeing Marilyn Monroe'.
Genius of Friendship: T. E. Lawrence
'Genius of Friendship', long out of print, is a memoir by Henry Williamson recounting his friendship with T. E. Lawrence – ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. This was a friendship chiefly through correspondence, and the memoir quotes extensively from Lawrence’s letters to Williamson, which are both literary and personal in content, and make for fascinating reading.
Spring Days in Devon, and other Broadcasts
During the late 1930s Henry Williamson, perhaps best remembered today as a ‘nature’ writer, broadcast talks on the BBC. Scripts of those in this e-book cover various subjects on nature in North Devon from his own inimitable viewpoint, from a description of a walk along the sands with his young son to talks on the red deer, otter, barn owl and stoat; and his move to a derelict farm in Norfolk.
Green Fields and Pavements: A Norfolk Farmer in Wartime
Henry Williamson (1895-1977), nature writer and novelist, was a farmer in Norfolk, UK, during World War 2. Throughout those years he was writing newspaper articles, to help finance the farm, and Green Fields and Pavements is a collection of the articles that he contributed to the Eastern Daily Press between 1941 and 1944: on farming, the countryside and its wildlife, and literature and art.
The Notebook of a Nature-lover
An enchanting anthology originally written as a regular column for the Sunday Referee that reflects Henry Williamson’s unique ability to communicate his passion for the English countryside, whether it be observing salmon leaping in the River Bray, watching partridges in his field and a spider in its web, walking on Dartmoor and Exmoor, or tales of his young children exploring the natural world.
From a Country Hilltop
Henry Williamson (1895-1977), novelist, remains best known for his much-loved Tarka the Otter. Between 1951 and 1969 he published his novel sequence A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight. While writing these he continued to write short pieces for newspapers and magazines. From a Country Hilltop is a collection of 58 of these written between 1958 and 1964 for the Sunday Times and the Co-op Home Magazine.
A Breath of Country Air
A collection of over 80 of Williamson's weekly pieces in the London Evening Standard, written during 1944/45. The wartime articles are concerned with everyday happenings on his Norfolk farm, his young children (especially Robbie and Rikky, contributors of the Forewords), with other reflections on country life, and most poignantly, the sale of the farm and the end of his farming dream.
A Clear Water Stream
This is a newly illustrated edition of a much-loved classic of country and angling literature. Set in the first half of the 1930s, it tells of the time when the Williamson family lived at Shallowford in Devon. A two-mile stretch of fishing came with the cottage, on the River Bray, which runs through the deer park close by, and the book tells the story of Williamson's relationship with the river.
Words on the West Wind: Selected Essays from The Adelphi, 1924-1950
This selection of pieces by Henry Williamson from the literary magazine The Adelphi contains both gems and important essays that deserve resurrection, including the original ending to his celebrated classic, Tarka the Otter. Also included is an essay on Williamson by the Cornish poet Charles Causley and several fragments by the talented writer James Farrar, killed in World War 2 aged just 20.
On the Road: Contributions to the Weekly Dispatch, 1920-1921
These articles represent the very earliest published writings of Henry Williamson, appearing in the Weekly Dispatch between July 1920 and January 1921 during his short-lived Fleet Street career. They include ‘The Country Week’ (short nature sketches) and ‘On the Road’ (a weekly column on light cars that offered occasionally somewhat dubious advice!).
Indian Summer Notebook: A Writer's Miscellany
A selection of Williamson's work from different sources. The theme is one of people, places and events which had a far-reaching effect on Henry's life – his schooldays; the Christmas truce on the Western Front in 1914 (at which he was present); his Norfolk farm; North Devon; and significant essays on the Victorian nature writer Richard Jefferies and the poet Francis Thompson.
Days of Wonder: Contributions to the Daily Express, 1966-1971
The subjects of these articles range from graphic descriptions of the battles of the Somme and Vimy Ridge, written on the fiftieth anniversaries of the battles, to essays on ecology and conservation – in particular, in support of banning the hunting of otters in the UK, and a trilogy of essays on the occasion of a congress of the World Wildlife Fund held in London in 1970.
Atlantic Tales: Contributions to The Atlantic Monthly, 1927-1947
Henry Williamson's occasional contributions to the prestigious American literary magazine Atlantic Monthly are collected here for the first time: nature sketches, short stories and tales of his later experiences when farming in North Norfolk during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Central to the collection is 'Salar the Salmon', a condensed version of Williamson's best-selling 1935 novel.
Heart of England: Contributions to the Evening Standard, 1939-1941
Written originally as a way of paying off unexpectedly high bills during his early years of farming in Norfolk, these beautifully written articles by Henry Williamson, set in both Norfolk and Devon, are counterpointed and given immediacy by the inclusion of the evening’s headlines after each article, depicting the deteriorating international situation as the Second World War begins.
Chronicles of a Norfolk Farmer: Contributions to the Daily Express, 1937-1939
Covering Williamson's last months at Shallowford in Devon, the family's move to a derelict farm in North Norfolk in 1937, the difficulties encountered by a total beginner to farming – including the disastrous crash in the price of barley in 1938 – and the opening months of the Second World War, these 45 articles form a fascinating contemporary record of those times.
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