Threnos for T. E. Lawrence

 

 

THRENOS FOR T. E. LAWRENCE

 

and Other Writings

 

with 'A Criticism of Henry Williamson's Tarka the Otter' by T. E. Lawrence

 

 

threnos    
First edition, HWS, 1994  
   
threnos ebook  
E-book edition, HWS, 2014  

Introduction, by Dr J. W. Blench

 

List of Contents

 

Extract

 

Critical reception

 

Book covers

 

 

Henry Williamson Society, 1994, paperback, x, 134pp, illus.; 700 copies

Edited by John Gregory

 

Limited edition, 1992; quarter-bound in black morocco with greyish coarse cloth boards, 50 numbered copies

 

E-book edition, 2014

 

 

The suggestion of the literary theme for this book came from my friend the late Stephen Francis Clarke of Clearwater Books, who also provided some of the material. Two pieces were omitted at the time the paperback was published for space and cost reasons, but have been subsequently added to the e-book edition.

 

These are the Introduction to The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton (1931; illustrated by Arthur Rackham) and the Foreword to The Wipers Times (facsimile edition, 1973); they are included in the List of Contents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Dr J. Wheatley Blench

 

 

Henry Williamson felt an immediate affinity with T. E. Lawrence, when in 1927 he read the first section, serialized in the Daily Telegraph, of Revolt in the Desert (the abridged popular version of Seven Pillars of Wisdom). He decided that he could not dare to write to Lawrence telling him that as a result of his reading he felt he knew him, nor to send him a copy of Tarka the Otter when it was published. However the two were brought together in correspondence by Edward Garnett, reader to Jonathan Cape, who sent a page-proof copy of Tarka to Lawrence, then stationed in Karachi, wishing to share his own pleasure in it. Lawrence acknowledged the receipt of it on 23 December 1927: ‘Tarka was good. I am having it stitched together to lend to the irks’ [i.e. erks; other ranks in the RAF]. On 20 January 1928 he sent a detailed criticism of it to Garnett, leaving it to Garnett’s judgement whether or not he passed on the letter to Williamson. He did so, and thus began the correspondence between Williamson and Lawrence which continued until just before Lawrence’s death in May 1935. This criticism of Tarka, which contains many acute observations, is printed as the last item in this book. It should be pointed out that Lawrence was a wide-ranging and stimulating critic, as can be seen by a perusal of the volume from which this critique is taken, Men in Print: Essays in Criticism by T. E. Lawrence, with an Introduction by his brother A. W. Lawrence, published posthumously in 1940, or of the recent fuller compilation, Lawrence of Arabia, Strange Man of Letters: the Literary Criticism and Correspondence of T. E. Lawrence, edited by Harold Orlans (1993).

 

In 1988 the Henry Williamson Society issued a reprint of Williamson’s Genius of Friendship: ‘T. E. Lawrence’, originally published in 1941, which contains many important quotations from Lawrence’s letters. The first item in the present volume, ‘Threnos for T. E. Lawrence’ will be seen in its middle section to be a revised version of much of Genius of Friendship. However the beginning and the ending are different, relating to the circumstances of 1954 when it appeared in The European, the distinguished periodical edited by Diana Mosley. Richard Aldington had let Williamson know by his letters that after years of research and reflection, he had come to regard Lawrence as a deeply flawed and mendacious character, very different from the popular conception of the heroic ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. Williamson, on the contrary, through Lawrence’s books, letters and two personal meetings with him, held him in the highest regard. He wanted to restate this before the publication of Aldington’s book, and so he placed his ‘Threnos’ in The European beginning with an account of his visit, in 1949, with Christine, his second wife, to Aldington in France. The key sentence in this part of the ‘Threnos’ is: ‘Even if the much publicised (by others) and mortifying (to “T.E.”) Arabian Adventure turns out to be moonshine, or mirage, it will make no difference to my feeling about “T.E.” himself, as I knew and perceived what he truly was, a wonderful man.’ When I met Williamson at Ox’s Cross in September 1975, we discussed T. E. Lawrence, and I was deeply impressed that he used with great feeling the same phrase about Lawrence: ‘a wonderful man’. Aldington’s book, Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Enquiry appeared in 1955, and caused great controversy. Of course Lawrence was a complex and in some ways a tragic figure, but now that we have to hand Jeremy Wilson’s magisterial Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorised Biography of T. E. Lawrence (1989) we have a sound basis upon which to form our own judgement of Lawrence. I myself am convinced of his essential greatness and goodness, and understand well Williamson’s enthusiasm, and why he should pay his moving tribute to Lawrence in his Threnos or lament, which is also a celebration.

 

One thing however must be pointed out. Anne Williamson, in her excellent article ‘The Genius of Friendship – Part I: T. E. Lawrence’ (The Henry Williamson Society Journal, no. 27, March 1993) has revealed the text of Williamson’s last letter to Lawrence, dated 10 May 1935, in which he asks if he might leave the typescript of V. M. Yeates’s unfinished novel [Family Life] with him to read. He mentions also his humorous portrait in the forthcoming Devon Holiday of Lawrence as ‘G. B. Everest’ [he thought of Lawrence as ‘Everest’ to his ‘Snowdon’]. There is no mention of suggesting a rally of ex-servicemen at the Albert Hall to foster international peace. Had Lawrence lived, it is of course possible that in due course, especially after his visit to the Nuremberg Rally in September 1935, that Williamson might have suggested such a rally, and indeed have tried to interest Lawrence in his current enthusiasm for Hitler, although it seems extremely unlikely that Lawrence would have wanted to get involved. As Anne Williamson points out, it seems that Williamson later transferred his own enthusiasm on to the dead Lawrence. The whole of Anne Williamson’s article, together with its companion piece, ‘The Genius of Friendship – Part II: Richard Aldington’ (The Henry Williamson Society Journal, no. 28, September 1993) is essential reading not only to a just understanding of the ‘Threnos’ but also to the whole question of the relationship between Williamson and Lawrence.

 

A later version of Williamson’s visit to Aldington in spring 1949, together with a brief account of his visit in the autumn of the same year, is included in this book. In this piece he shows deep insight into Aldington’s personality, formed during a difficult childhood and amid the turmoil of the Western Front in the First World War. He pays tribute to the help which the young Australian poet Alister Kershaw gave to Aldington by sympathetic friendship and practical assistance in the office-work of a writer. Kershaw wrote a hilarious account of his early meetings with Williamson in London and Devon in his delightful book The Pleasure of their Company (1986). In this he implies that Williamson first met Roy Campbell in Kershaw’s company in the Savage Club in the late 1940s. In fact, as we learn from ‘Roy Campbell: A Portrait’, another European piece in this book, they first met in 1924. Probably in the episode in the Savage Club the older writers were gently ‘ragging’ the younger! Williamson’s appreciation of Campbell as man and poet is illuminating and just, and shows his own generosity of spirit.

 

This generosity is frequently seen in Williamson’s help and encouragement of other writers. When he was beginning his own career he was helped by established authors, and throughout his life he was supportive of literary talent in others. This is seen very closely in his introductions to books by other people included in this volume. All these books are well worth reading and Williamson was right to draw the attention of the public to them.

 

Two deal with aspects of the First World War and two of the Second. Douglas Bell’s A Soldier’s Diary of the Great War is an absorbing account of his experiences in the infantry and as a pilot in the R.F.C. on the Western Front. It is of particular interest to readers of Williamson not only because Bell had been at Colfe’s Grammar School, Blackheath a little before Williamson’s time there, but also because both men served at the beginning of the war in the London Rifle Brigade. V. M. Yeates was a contemporary of Williamson at Colfe’s; he appears in his own name in Dandelion Days and as Tom Cundall in A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight – the name that Yeates gives to the character in his book Winged Victory based upon himself. Winged Victory itself is a totally gripping, detailed account of the fortunes of a group of Sopwith Camel pilots in 1918. The reader experiences with the pilots the sheer thrill of flying and the excitements of combat, together with life on the station and their inner mental and emotional states. Williamson helped the dying Yeates with the writing and his influence is seen particularly in the deeply moving tragic last chapter. It was owing to Williamson’s acumen and energy that the work of two Second World War authors appeared in book form – the Mosquito navigator James Farrar’s The Unretuming Spring and the stretcher-bearer with the Queen’s Royal West Kent Regiment Walter Robson’s Letters from a Soldier. It is very sad that Farrar did not survive the war; he had great promise and through his reading felt a powerful affinity with Williamson, who in turn appreciated greatly his achievement. Had he lived, I think that a very fruitful literary friendship would have developed between the two men, which would have benefited both greatly as writers and brought much joy to them on the personal level. Walter Robson was a simpler soul than Farrar, but Williamson rightly recognizes his nobility of spirit.

 

The case of H. A. Manhood is rather different. He was a somewhat eccentric person, living for a time in a converted railway carriage, and his writing is highly mannered. However, his work can still be read with pleasure. His distinction is in the short story, and although many of his tales are set in the country, his knowledge of real country life is nothing like so intimate as that of Williamson. However the cleverness of his stories and their scintillating style makes them highly individual and attractive. If, as many believe, Williamson drew the rather unsympathetic character of A. B. Cabton in A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight from some aspects of Manhood, it would seem that his attitude became less positive with the passage of time.

 

John Heygate and Williamson first met in 1928, and became friends for life, although indeed they had a serious quarrel when Heygate failed to appreciate his portrait as Piers Tofield in the Chronicle. An old Etonian and the heir to a baronetcy (from his uncle) to which he succeeded in 1940, his novel of Eton life, Decent Fellows, caused somewhat of a rumpus when it appeared in 1930. Williamson had helped him to write it, especially the ‘swishing’ chapter with its account of corporal punishment. He wrote his introduction for the American edition, in order to encourage sales and to defend the book against its detractors. It is in fact a good, lively and sensitive book, which may be compared with Alec Waugh’s The Loom of Youth or David Benedictus’s The Fourth of July. For a time, in the 1930s, Heygate worked at the UFA film studios near Berlin, and he and Williamson went together to the Nuremberg Rally of 1935. Heygate’s rather critical account of this visit in These Germans: An Estimate of their Character as seen in flashes from the Drama, 1918-1939, should be compared with Williamson’s more enthusiastic version in Goodbye West Country. It was in 1955, when staying with him at his country house, Bellarena, near Limavady, Co. Londonderry, that Williamson began to write The Scandaroon which was not published until 1972.

 

The remaining items in this volume relate particularly to Williamson himself. In ‘Some Nature Writers and Civilisation’ he discusses with fine insight the work of Richard Jefferies and W. H. Hudson, comparing with acute discernment their characteristic achievement. In a notable passage he tells how a chance reading in Jefferies’s The Story of my Heart in 1919 liberated him from the dullness and confusion of spirit which had overtaken him as a result of his experiences in the First World War. ‘In Darkest England’ is a magnificent tribute to the power of the imagination and its importance in human life, seen strikingly in the poetry of Francis Thompson, another writer who played a key role in Williamson’s spiritual development. He saw a parallel between Thompson’s vision of the miseries of London slum-life before the war, and the horror of the battlefields of the Western Front. Also, he was helped to rise above the terrible surroundings of conflict by reading Thompson’s poems and thus entering into a transcendent world of beauty and goodness.

 

The brief sketch ‘Machen in Fleet Street’ gives Williamson’s impression of the older writer, when, just after the First World War, the young ex-soldier was working as a journalist. Arthur Machen is now somewhat of a minor cult figure; there is a Machen Society with its journal. In the popular mind he is remembered as the author of the famous story about the Angels of Mons, but his more ambitious work is, generally speaking, unjustly neglected by the wider reading public. I myself rate his novel The Hill of Dreams more highly than Williamson does, and enjoy greatly Christopher Palmer’s admirable collected edition of his works.

 

Two Prefaces relate to Williamson’s own work. That to The Pathway gives a fascinating account of the growth of the book in Williamson’s mind to its published form, together with an important description of his aim in The Flax of Dream as a whole. That to The Labouring Life is notable for providing a clear formulation of Williamson’s artistic ideal, to which he strove to remain faithful; to see life with clarity and compassion, with ‘sun-like understanding’. The pieces reprinted in this volume have hitherto not been easy to come by; they are now placed before the reader in the belief that their merit demands that they should be readily available.

 

 

Durham

 

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Contents:

 

Threnos for T. E. Lawrence

 

Writers and Poets:

Some Nature Writers and Civilization

In Darkest England

A Visit to Richard Aldington

Roy Campbell: A Portrait

Machen in Fleet Street

 

Prefaces, Introductions and Forewords:

A Soldier’s Diary of the Great War [by Douglas Bell]

Decent Fellows by John Heygate

Little Peter the Great by H. A. Manhood

The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton

Winged Victory by V. M. Yeates

The Unreturning Spring by James Farrar

Letters from a Soldier by Walter Robson

The Wipers Times

The Pathway by Henry Williamson

The Labouring Life by Henry Williamson

 

A Criticism of Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter, with Some Remarks on the Style of Doughty’s Arabia Deserta, by T. E. Lawrence

 

 

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Extract:

 

The Compleat Angler

 

by Izaak Walton

 

 

What new thing can be said about Izaak Walton or his fishing book at the present time? Why is the book still read? Because people want to read it. To the ordinary Englishman the word ‘classic’ has a slightly chilling significance. During the process called education he has too often been bored by ‘classics’, usually in those languages called dead. The fruits of the minds of rare men were offered to the immature consciousness. Offered? Well, as our brother of the angle offered his barbed hook to the frog. The frog accepted the offer; and possibly in a Ranine Paradise he forgot the exactitude of the experience, and declared that it made a frog of him.

 

A classic is usually a work of art that is read from one age to another; and, in its proper function, it is read by those who want to read it, willingly, for one of various reasons.

 

While there are fish in England there will be men who dream of catching them, and of the environment of fish-capture; and so The Compleat Angler will continue to be a classic of fishing. To the modern mind – I do not refer to the scholar interested chiefly in the book as a ‘period piece’ – much of the book is tedious and prolonged, especially the earlier chapters, where the author, with his material still massed and appalling in his mind, has not got into his authentic stride. As a piece of writing it is entertaining, but for a reason other than that intended by Walton; the apologia of each of the three ambulating gentlemen – Fisherman, Falconer, and Hunter – is quaint and stuffed with all the ‘facts’ and information which the author could assemble from his various sources. Much of the book is what to-day would be called hackwork.

 

He must have made copious notes. Like most writers of any age or civilization, all was fish that came into his net. He plagiarized; he adapted; he borrowed without asking. No blame or destructive criticism is intended by these remarks; the job of writing, like that of living for a trout, is a voracious one, and Izaak Walton in several instances acknowledged his ablations by adding the names or initials of their authors. Many authors would not even do that; they would merely re-dress their material, and put it out as their own.

 

Occasionally our author does this; and in the process he paraphrases sufficiently to lose the exactitude of the ‘fact’ he would convey. For example, a Mr Barker published Barker’s Delight, or The Art of Angling, in 1651, three years before the publication of The Compleat Angler, and in the earlier book the trout fisherman is bidden to “let the fly first into the water” – which Walton renders as “let no part of the line touch the water, but the fly only.” This, to modern eyes, appears strange advice, especially as he bids the novice stand on the lee bank of the river on a windy day. It raises doubts about the extent of the author’s experience of fly-fishing; and when he further advises the fisherman to fish downstream, we doubt if he had any English fly-fishing experience at all. This doubt may reveal only the stupidity or the limitation of my own English fly-fishing experience, which directs the above criticism; for it may have been customary three hundred years ago to dap your fly on the water from the fifteen-foot or eighteen-foot rods they used ordinarily, with a fixed short line. The “casting it [the line] into the water” may not have implied what the term would imply to-day. On second consideration, and study of the text, it appears that the criticism, which was suggested to us by a senior brother of the angle, a fortunate owner of fishing on the Test, is unjust; for Izaak writes:

 

And when you fish with a fly, if it be possible, let no part of your line touch the water, but your fly only; and be still moving your fly upon the water . . . you yourself being also always moving down the stream.

 

Even so, the trout he caught like this must have been tame, and used to the sight of men.

 

Walton was a poet, and a poet who lives successfully beyond the age of thirty years cares more for precision and exactitude in what he does than the man of lesser perceptions; and if he had been a true dry-fly man he would never have been so explicit and complacent about the ways of taking trout by means of night-lines and lob-worms. But enough of this ill-humour against so sweet and gentle a man.

 

Let us suppose that the form and style of the book were such that we could lose ourselves in it. (Even in boyhood, poring over an old copy of the second edition, to discover some potent bait for the carp in the Long Pond, we could not do that.) Let us pretend that we believe, as we read, in the talk and walk of Venator, Piscator, and Auceps; in the Milkmaid and her mother and Coridon and Peter. What sort of world is it, then, what sort of human nature?

 

It is a world of excessive, almost interminable, discourse. Never did Master have such a willing Scholar. Such patience, such enthusiasm maintained despite the thousands of facts bombarding the consciousness! Every fish ever heard or read of is dragged in. At the beginning Venator, Piscator, and Auceps bombard one another; the bombardments are gratefully received, and a similar weight of verbal projectiles returned. What a chance to show knowledge! Even that tiny flyer the bee is dragged in by Auceps:

 

There is also a little contemptible winged creature (an inhabitant of my aerial element), namely, the laborious bee, of whose prudence, policy, and regular government of their own commonwealth I might say much, as also of their several kinds, and how useful their honey and wax are both for meat and medicines to mankind; but I will leave them to their sweet labour, without the least disturbance, believing them to be all very busy at this very time amongst the herbs and flowers that we see nature puts forth this May morning. And now to return to my hawks, from whom I have made too long a digression.

 

A charming way to fill up a book! It does serve, however, to break up the masses of facts about fishes. There is little action in the book; one could have wished for more accounts of actual fishing – for, as has been said often among otter-hunters, the next best thing to otter-hunting is reading about it. While we digress, in the manner of the Master, let it be said that modern otter-hunters would not care much about the seventeenth-century methods of hunting otters.

 

Now Sweetlips has her; hold her, Sweetlips! . . . come bring her to me, Sweetlips. Look, ’tis a bitch otter, and she has lately whelped. . . .

 

HUNTSMAN. Come, gentlemen . . . here’s her young ones, no less than five; come, let’s kill them all . . . now let’s go to an honest ale-house, where we may have a cup of good barley-wine, and sing Old Rose, and all of us rejoice together.

 

The last advice would meet with approval everywhere: is not the river Taw in Devon known as the Gentleman’s River, owing to the number of inns along its banks, placed as though for the reception of weary otter-hunters? But Sweetlips, she must have been an extraordinary hound to be able to retrieve an otter, even a fifteen-pound bitch, from the worry. As to the cubs – a bitch with cubs is not generally hunted nowadays. Otters are bound to be slain; farmers and water-bailiffs with shot and trap have no mercy; the otter-hunters are the only protectors of the species in England to-day, with the exception of isolated sanctuary given by rare individuals. In Walton’s day, if he be trustworthy, it was apparently jungle-law. I do not like otter-hunting myself; but I dislike the callous and unknowledgeable things said about otter-hunters and others; and I confess I am glad when one is killed on my own water, where the trout are small and scarce. Sometimes it seems that the natural world of hunters and hunted is better than our civilized world: in the natural world are zests, appetites, stimulations, and contentments rarely known by civilized man.

 

A fisherman knows a little of the delights of the natural world of his forefathers when he fishes – particularly the fly-fisherman – and, may I add (thus betraying my inclination toward prejudice), the dry-fly fisherman. I am fortunate in having two miles of a trout stream in Devonshire; and when I am in good form I may enter another world – the natural world – where the senses and instinct are harmonious and co-ordinated in one purpose. My consciousness is no longer a house divided against itself. Nowadays too many of us are going the way of Hamlet – to the wilderness. We desire, and act not, and breed pestilence: we are, metaphorically and too often literally, scant of breath. We have not enough true action. That is why the sensitive brain-worker, who must escape or perish, and who by chance is initiated a brother of the angle, becomes the kind of enthusiast that old Izaak was. When the stream is in flood, and the alders stand bleakly against the sky, we take him to our hearts, and listen to his friends the Milkmaid and her mother singing with all the charm and poise of two of Mr C. B. Cochran’s Young Ladies.

 

Our author’s desire to scoop all and any fish into the net of his book leads him to some errors of taste occasionally. Do we seriously believe that this gentle ironmonger (for that was his job in life), this scholar-poet, who does not like, as he confesses, killing anything, do we believe him when he describes for us how to make sport with ducks and pike, by tying a line with live-bait lures for pike to a duck’s legs, and she “chased over a pond”? Piscator does not appear to be easy about it, for “time will not allow me to say more of this kind of fishing with live baits”, although he has, apparently, eternity before him.

 

The Compleat Angler is, taken by and large – it is being estimated in this preface or review on its own merits for modern reading – a jolly book, a book with which, after the uneasy display of encyclopaedic knowledge is passed (in those days they wrote Histories of the World: now all they dare are Outlines of Possible Histories), we can feel at home. The inclusion of occasional verse is heartily approved. Who would miss the inexperienced Milkmaid’s song:

 

Come live with me, and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove.

 

And The Milkmaid’s Mother’s Answer:

 

If all the world and love were young,

And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,

These pretty pleasures might me move

To live with thee, and be thy love.

 

And the magnificent variation by Doctor Donne, mighty man and lover and inspired Dean of St Paul’s, the friend of our gentle angler, who was, from the evidence of the poem, vainly brought to the pleasures of the angle:

 

Let others freeze with angling-reeds,

And cut their legs with shells and weeds,

Or treacherously poor fish beset,

With strangling snares, or windowy net:

 

Let coarse bold bands, from slimy nest,

The bedded fish in banks outwrest;

Let curious traitors sleave silk flies,

To witch poor wandering fishes’ eyes:

 

For thee thou need’st no such deceit,

For thou thyself art thine own bait:

That fish that is not catch’d thereby

Is wiser far, alas! than I.

 

What can we say in conclusion? That Mr Walton will write a better book when he learns the art of selection, the art of compression, the art of construction? That it were better if his anthology of poems were not lost in piscatorial technicalities? If his fishing treatise were not spoiled by poetical excrescences? That when he learns to trust himself, and write of what he knows, he will have better chance of success? We know already the opinion of Mr Richard Franck, the celebrated sporting critic and authority on fly-fishing, author of Northern Memoirs. Mr Franck writes recently (about 1656):

 

Mr Walton lays the stress of his arguments upon other men’s observations, wherewith he stuffs his indigested octavo; so brings himself under the angler’s clause and the common calamity of a plagiary, to be pitied (poor man) for his loss of time, in scribbling and transferring other men’s notions.

 

What shall we say? Well, keep your first edition (small duodecimo for the pocket, price 1s. 6d.) in good condition; one day it may be a valuable item on the library shelves of your twentieth-century descendant.

 

 

SHALLOWFORD

24th March, 1931

 

(The river very low, the wind south-east, and the brown trout in the Bray trying to ease their hunger with caddis grubs, each belly and gut full of little stone fragments.)

 

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Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler, illustrated by Arthur Rackham, was published in 1931 by George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. With twelve coloured plates and many pen-and-ink drawings in Rackham’s inimitable style, it was issued in a finely-bound limited edition of 775 copies and a trade edition. Both are now sought-after collectors’ items. Williamson’s introduction was written four years before the publication of his classic novel Salar the Salmon.

 

 

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Critical reception:

 

Henry Williamson Society Journal (Anne Williamson), September 1994:

 

This is possibly the most important book of HW's writing that the Society has published to date, for in gathering together this collection of critical pieces, an important and neglected aspect of HW's work is revealed.

 

All those areas of his life and work with which we are familiar, the themes of war, natural history, social history and the visionary aspects are all here encapsulated in a different concentrated essence. Within the discipline of this more factual genre of writing, where his imagination had to be curbed and his attention and gifts are directed on very particular paths, HW reveals more of the reality of himself in many ways than he does in his more imaginative work. But that singular aura which prevades his imaginative writing can still be found, so that even in what might be termed 'sheer plod' writing there is 'plough down the sillion shine'.

 

The collation presented here might well have been entitled 'The Genius of Friendship' for within the covers we find many of Henry Williamson's friends in ancient sunlight: among them, Richard Jefferies, W. H. Hudson and Francis Thompson, who first fed his spirit, and sustained him spiritually throughout his life; T. E. Lawrence whom he considered 'a twin psyche'; Richard Aldington with whom he shared an 'old soldier' comradeship and whose robust honesty was much appreciated; John Heygate, 'Piers Tofield' of the Chronicle, with whom HW shared many pranks and confidences in the course of a long friendship; and those 'sons of Colfe's' who shared experiences of the first world war and whose books HW helped to establish – Douglas Bell and poor sick Victor Yeates, whose writing life was so desperately brief; and James Farrar, whom HW never knew, but whose genius he immediately recognised.

 

In his Introduction to Farrar's Unreturning Spring HW states

 

Men of genius know one another, even when they are of differing wavelengths. 'Lawrence', Yeates, Farrar – all with a 'mort of experience' in war, were of the same quality under their different powers of will. Each man in his individual way thrust through that which obscured the simplicity of life; and revealed the truth?

 

I think we can assume by inference that HW would be included within such a phrase.

 

The book also contains two important prefaces that HW wrote for his own work which have up until now only been available to those lucky enough to own the very limited editions in which they appear. Whilst the last item is the reprinting of the very important letter written by T. E. Lawrence to Edward Garnett on the subject of Tarka which left him 'sizzling with joy for three weeks'. Again this has not preveiously been easily available. John Gregory has done well to procure this important letter for a Society publication.

 

In his Introduction Dr Wheatley Blench provides much vauable background information which sets the pieces in context. Thus the book provides a most interesting collection for us as membes of the HW Society and an important reference for students interested in the development of HW's life and work.

 

 

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Book covers:

 

threnos large

 

 

The e-book cover was broadly similar, apart from the addition of some vaguely Near Eastern symbols as embellishments:

 

 

threnos ebook large

 

 

 

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