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Richard Jefferies Centenary Celebrations, June 1948




HW attended as an 'Honoured Guest' the Richard Jefferies Centenary Celebrations held at Swindon in June 1948. HW took Ann Thomas (AT) and her mother, Helen (the widow of Edward Thomas). HW's diary records, in AT's handwriting, that there was a 'Lunch at the Goddard Arms’ at 1.00 p.m. on Saturday, 19 June, at which he gave a speech – although there are no details. 'Thence to Coate Farm, then to Day House Farm.'


A booklet was produced to mark the occasion, containing a short résumé of Jefferies' life and a Programme of events:



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There was also a comprehensive catalogue of the exhibition of books by Jefferies:



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There are two press cuttings of the event in HW's archive:


From the North Wilts Herald:



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From The Times:



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Afterwards the Mayor of Swindon sent HW a copy of the official photograph taken to make the occasion.



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Left to right: HW, Samuel J. Looker, Mayor of Swindon, Reginald Arkell



HW himself subsequently wrote up the event for The Adelphi, of which he was the Editor at that time (October‒December 1948 issue), taking the opportunity to also review The Notebooks of Richard Jefferies, edited by Samuel J. Looker:



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At the Centenary celebration HW met Samuel J. Looker for the first time. Looker was considered the authority on Jefferies, and was very active in promoting his writing. Apart from working on new editions of Jefferies’ books (similar to HW's editions), he had assiduously transcribed a selection of material from Jefferies’ important manuscript 'Notebooks', an enormous task. Before meeting, the two men, who might be called  'rivals', had been somewhat wary of each other; but they now became friends, each respecting the other's integrity, as seen by the following extracts. After the Centenary event, Samuel Looker sent HW a copy of the Notebooks, which he had inscribed:



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Looker also gave HW (possibly while at the actual event) a copy of a booklet containing the speech he had made in 1939, on the occasion of a plaque being placed on the cottage 'Sea View' in Worthing, where Jefferies had spent the last few months of his life.



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It would seem that Looker sent an article on Jefferies for inclusion in The Adelphi which HW turned down – deduced from a postcard from Looker accepting this quite graciously. The front of this postcard is completely redolent of seaside holidays in time past!



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The text of the postcard reads:


Thank you for returning the Jefferies so promptly. But I do understand your reasons for declining to publish and, in the circumstances, to avoid making it too much R.J. it may be wise. Moreover, I see the point about it generally. However much I may like it myself I am open to reason and can feel the justice of what you say. Ever, S. J. Looker


On the actual anniversary of Jefferies birth – 6 November 1948 – a Memorial Lecture was given by Richard Church in Swindon which HW evidently attended:

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