Front page news - archive

 

 

 

12 October 2017  The ninetieth anniversary of the publication of Tarka the Otter. The October 2017 issue of The Countryman carries an illustrated appreciation of the book by Miriam Darlington, acclaimed author of Otter Country, in its 'Country Bookshelf' column.

 

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13 August 2017  It was forty years ago today that Henry Williamson died. The Henry Williamson Society was formed three years later, with the aim of encouraging interest in and a deeper understanding of his life and work.

 

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19 May 2017 The Eastern Daily Press publishes both on its website and in print a feature on Henry Williamson's Norfolk farm (Old Hall Farm at Stiffkey), using family photographs taken from our own website page 'Life on the Norfolk Farm: an essay in photographs'.

 

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9 April 2017 The centenary of the storming of Vimy Ridge by Canadian forces (the webmaster's grandfather among them), on Easter Monday, 1917. To mark the fiftieth anniversary Henry Williamson wrote 'The Battle of Vimy Ridge', published in the Daily Express over two days, 6/7 April, 1967. Williamson was Transport Officer for 208 Machine Gun Company, situated only a few miles away, at the time of the battle, and the article relates his experiences, vividly recalled.

 

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11 March 2017 A bronze cast statue of Tarka the Otter is unveiled. One and a half times life size, it is sited next to the famous longbridge over the River Torridge at Bideford. See the North Devon Gazette's report.

 

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February 2017 100 YEARS AGO: On 27 February 1917 Lieutenant Henry Williamson, Transport Officer of the newly formed 208 Machine Gun Company, returned to France for his second period of service on the Western Front. 208 MGC joined the 62nd Division on the Somme sector of the British line, and took part in the Arras offensive and the Battle of Bullecourt in April and May 1917. Williamson was invalided home on 18 June after eighteen weeks’ active service in France, after being gassed when caught in a night bombardment while he and his mule teams were taking replacement machine guns and supplies up to the front line. Henry Williamson and 208 Machine Gun Company explores Henry Williamson's experiences and duties as transport officer through his letters, diary entries and other archival material, including original documents, and photographs of 208 MGC officers and men from Williamson's personal album.

 

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November 2016 Announcing a new web page, Henry Williamson and the London Rifle Brigade, 1915-1915: An Illustrated Timeline as a part of the Henry Williamson and the First World War area of the website. In August 1914 Williamson, then an 18-year-old Territorial private with the London Rifle Brigade, volunteered for overseas service. The page looks at his progress – mobilisation, embarkation, introduction to trench warfare at Ploegsteert Wood, and then being invalided home in January 1915 suffering from dysentery and trench foot  through his letters home and the records of the London Rifle Brigade. It is generously illustrated with unique material from the Literary Archive and other sources.

 

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1 July 2016 The centenary of the disastrous opening day of the Battle of the Somme. To mark the fiftieth anniversary Henry Williamson wrote two articles. The first is 'The Somme - just fifty years after', which was published in the Daily Express over three days, on 29 and 30 June and 1 July 1966. This brilliant and moving article, just as relevant today, deserves a wider readership, but regrettably the Express ignored our suggestion that they reprint it to commemorate the centenary. The second, published in the Evening Standard on 4 July 1966, is '7.30 a.m.: a time of hope that became an execution hour'.

 

somme

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December 2015  We now have a Henry Williamson Society shopping bag, with HW's striking owl colophon printed in dark green on one side, and on the other the first sentence from his well-loved prize-winning novel Tarka the Otter:

 

 

HW bag web

 

The bags are eco-ethically sourced and manufactured at a Fairtrade factory. Just £5.50 each, they are strongly made of natural canvas, with short handles, and measure 42cm high x 37cm wide, with a 10cm gusset. Use one (or two) for your weekly shop, and avoid ever again paying 5p for a plastic bag!

 

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August 2015 The Society is very pleased to announce that it has reprinted as e-books Richard Williamson's first two books: his memoir The Dawn is My Brother, first published in 1959 and runner-up for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize; and his novel Capreol: The Story of a Roebuck, published in 1973. These are available at just £3.50 each directly from the Society, and at approximately that price from Amazon's Kindle Store and other e-book retailers. Please click on the links or the images below for full descriptions and/or to order the e-books.

 

 

dawn cover web               capreol cover web

 

 

Richard Williamson is the fifth child of the author Henry Williamson. Educated at schools in Worcestershire and Devon and self-educated in the local woods and fields, as well as in the marshlands of the North Norfolk coast, he joined the RAF on leaving school and wrote The Dawn is My Brother out of his experiences. He joined the Nature Conservancy in 1963 and became warden of Kingley Vale nature reserve near Chichester in Sussex, where, now retired, he lives with his wife Anne. He has been President of the Henry Williamson Society since its formation in 1980.

 

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May 2015 On Saturday, 16 May, Anne Williamson, the Manager of the Henry Williamson Literary Estate, presented the Literary Archive to Exeter University Library, Heritage Collections. The presentation was attended by other members of the Williamson family, members of the Society and officials of Exeter University, and formed the centrepiece of the Henry Williamson Society's spring meeting.

 

 

exeter presentation150516 web

Left to right: Robert Williamson, Richard Williamson, Anne Williamson, Dr Christine

Faunch (Head of Heritage Collections) and Michele Shoebridge (Deputy COO, Exeter

University). Anne is holding an original poem and sketch by the Cornish poet Charles

Causley, presented to her and Richard by the University as a token of thanks.

(Photograph courtesy of Robert Walker)

 

 

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February 2015 The Society is pleased to announce the publication, as an e-book only, of Anne Williamson's Following in Henry Williamson's Footsteps, an explanatory commentary on Williamson's On Foot in Devon, the quirky mock travel guide that he published in 1933. A detailed knowledge or prior reading of On Foot in Devon is not a prerequisite, for the numerous and sometimes lengthy quotations mean that the commentary can be read and enjoyed independently of the book itself. The price is £2.50. See our online shop for further details.

 

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August 2014 The personal diary of a fellow Territorial in the London Rifle Brigade, Rifleman Hubert 'Hob' Brown, is being published for the first time by his step-grandson on a dedicated website, each entry 100 years to the day from the time of writing. The diary was kept between 2 August 1914 and 1 July 1916, when Hob Brown was wounded at Gommecourt on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and repatriated to England. A little older than Henry Williamson (he was born in 1889), Hob joined the LRB in 1909 (Army No. 8699), shortly after it was formed, while HW joined on 22 January 1914 (No. 9689). While they were in different companies, they must have known each other, and their two diaries align perfectly until HW was invalided home in January 1915. It will be interesting to follow the fortunes of Hob (and thus Henry) on a daily basis.

 

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July 2014 Henry Williamson's Writing Hut has been granted Grade II listed status by English Heritage; see the BBC report.

 

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May 2014 — Update on the February announcement on this page of the forthcoming auction of Henry Williamson's Writing Hut and associated land: the BBC announced on 22 May that the Hut and land has been sold privately ahead of the auction.  The BBC's webpage also contains a link to a short extract from a 1965 interview with HW previously unknown to this webmaster.

 

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April 2014 — BBC Desert Island Discs: Henry Williamson appeared on Desert Island Discs on Saturday, 11 October 1969, and the programme has only been heard since on private recordings of variable quality made at the time of the broadcast.  The BBC has now added the complete programme to its online Desert Island Discs collection of interviews, a most welcome addition.

 

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March 2014  We bring to your attention I Was There: The Great War Interviews (BBC2 television, 14 March, 9.00 p.m.), which reveals poignant personal stories from people who took part in the First World War, one of whom is Henry Williamson.

 

The programme uses archive material recorded by Julia Cave for the landmark television series The Great War (made and shown in 26 episodes in 1964 by Gordon Watkins, who was a friend of HW and at one time a member of the HWS), but not used then and not previously seen. This material has been blended into a powerful, sensitive and moving film by Detlef Siebert for the BBC.

 

HW has only a few brief remarks (as one of several others) in this actual film, but the BBC has made available on iPlayer The Great War Interviews: thirteen full-length interviews that were originally recorded for the series; only short excerpts were used at the time, and the complete interviews have never before been broadcast. Interviewees included Norman Macmillan (infantryman turned fighter pilot, and author of Into the Blue and Offensive Patrol); Charles Carrington (who, writing as Charles Edmonds, published A Subaltern’s War); and Cecil Lewis (author of the classic memoir of the air war, Sagittarius Rising). Click on the link for HW's interview, which lasts almost half-an-hour.

 

The programmes are curated by Sir Max Hastings (well-known authority on the Great War and son of Macdonald Hastings, another friend of HW, who wrote up the well-known shoot on the Norfolk Farm for Picture Post (see HWSJ 40, Sept. 2004, pp. 22-36, where a fully illustrated account of this event is given).

 

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February 2014  It is with the greatest reluctance that the Williamson family has announced that Henry Williamson's Writing Hut, together with the studio close by and an acre of land, are to be put up for auction on 23 May. It is to be hoped that the buyer will be sympathetic to the hut and its environs, given its great literary significance. For HW it was a place of sanctuary, and many of his works were written there, including books in the Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight series. It has become, for Williamson readers, a place of pilgrimage, with visitors from as far away as the United States and Australia. The auctioneers are Webbers Property Services, from whom further particulars can be obtained. The news recently featured in the Daily Mail and the Mail Online, with some excellent photos.

 

 

writing hut 2009
The Writing Hut in 2009
HW building hut
Building the Hut in 1929
hw in hut
Henry Williamson by the Hut fireplace . . .
HW outside hut
. . . and at the Hut doorway

 

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NEW! — We have finished the conversion of our all publications to e-books, both as a means of keeping available out of print titles and to attract readers who possess Kindles, Nook and Kobi readers, iPads, tablets etc., and who enjoy taking their library with them wherever they are. Twenty-three e-books are now available, just click on the E-books button on our main menu bar for full details and descriptions of individual titles - or go to Amazon.

 

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June 2012 — The haunting music that accompanied David Cobham's 1973 BBC film The Vanishing Hedgerows, which featured Henry Williamson returning to his Norfolk farm, was composed specially for the documentary by Paul Lewis. 'Norfolk Idyll', the concert work based on the score, has been released in its original orchestration for flute and harp on the CD Summer was in August – British Flute Music, performed by Rachel Smith, flute, and Jenny Broome, harp, Campion Cameo 2030, available from Amazon. Four other pieces by Paul Lewis are also included among the twelve tracks.


The sheet music of 'Norfolk Idyll' bears the dedication “In memory of Henry Williamson”, and is published by Broadbent and Dunn, available direct or through music shops.


The work has also been recorded in a version for harmonica and harp under its previous title 'Norfolk Rhapsody' on the CD Serenade and Dance – the Romantic Harmonica Music of Paul Lewis, performed by James Hughes, harmonica, and Elizabeth Jane Baldry, harp, Campion Cameo 2024, again available from Amazon.

 

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February 2012 — Last September Manchester University Press published Adam Reed's academic monograph Literature and Agency in English Fiction Reading: A Study of the Henry Williamson Society. The recommended retail price is a steep £65, though it can be bought slightly cheaper from Amazon. 'This book represents the first anthropological study of fiction reading and the first ethnography of British literary culture. It is the outcome of long-term engagement with a set of solitary readers who belong to a single literary society.' Many members of the Society were interviewed by Adam over a period of years, though in a manner reminiscent of Henry Williamson himself, he has disguised their identities. His non-literary approach to a literary society makes for most interesting reading.

 

 

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