Henry Williamson and Kit Williams in the Pyrenees, 1929

 

 

HW went on a skiing holiday in January 1929 in the Pyrenees with his friend ‘Kit’ Williams, who is mentioned in HW’s quirky mock-travelogue On Foot in Devon, published in 1933. In the first section, 'Reel I', covering North Devon, HW notes that:

 

The church at Ashford should be visited. Have you read the words of 'Saki', H. H. Munro, who was killed at Beaumont-Hamel during the battle of the Somme? He used to live near here.

 

Ashford is also the home of Capt. Christopher à Becket Williams, the composer, whose work is not a quarter so well known as it deserves to be. One of his organ pieces, an elegy written for a friend who was killed at the battle of Loos, called The Wet Flanders Plain, would, with some accident to bring it to the notice of the public, soon be played in every church in England. It is short, simple, and has the feeling of those two sonnets of Rupert Brooke, which contain the spirit of those young men who fell in 1914 and 1915, in the benison of comradeship while yet believing in the virtue of war. Kit Williams is also an author, and an authority on winter sports; his book, The High Pyrénées, should be reprinted. It is lively and informative, a cosy, friendly book, costing five shillings.

 

Christopher à Becket Williams (1890-1956) was a  composer, music teacher and author – in addition to The High Pyrénées: Summer and Winter (Wishart, 1928), he wrote Winter Sports in Europe (Bell, 1929). His works, both music and books, were usually published under the name of Becket Williams. As well as composing his own pieces, he arranged many short classical pieces, often for piano, and set poems to music for vocal performance. At one time he and HW were good friends, though they later fell out. He appears as ‘Becket Scrimgeour’ in later Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight volumes, particularly The Phoenix Generation. Little biographical information is to be found about Kit Williams, who died on 3 November 1956 and is buried in the graveyard at Ashford parish church of St Peter. Neither has it been possible to positively identify his The Wet Flanders Plain, though it is most likely to be the piece simply called Elegy, written for the organ (London, Augener, 1923). Copies are held by the British Library and the Bodleian Library, Oxford University.

 

The date of the postcard below, featuring a studio portrait of himself, is uncertain – the smudged frank looks like 22 May 29, so after their holiday:

 

innocent williams1

 

 

innocent williams2

 

 The card reads:

 

Liberal Rooms

Cirencester

 

Wrote to Augeners [his sheet-music publisher] the other day. They havn't answered!

 

How are you, & when are you coming to town again.

 

I'm beaten here . . . . .

 

Ever yrs,

 

Kit

 

 

This photograph survives in the Archive of his holiday with HW:

 

innocent williams jan29
Kit Williams, somewhere in the Pyrenees, January 1929

 

 

Three postcards from HW to his mother also survive from that holiday, which are reproduced here:

 

innocent postcard1a

 

innocent postcard1b

 

innocent postcard2a

 

innocent postcard2b

 

innocent postcard3a

 

innocent postcard3b

 

 

 

Back to 'A Life's Work'          Back to 'The Innocent Moon'

Shopping Cart


 x 

Cart empty