Tales of, and Life in, a Devon Village

 

 

TALES OF A DEVON VILLAGE

 

LIFE IN A DEVON VILLAGE

 

 

 

Tales of a Devon Village

 

Life in a Devon Village

 

Critical reception

 

Book covers

 

 

In 1945 two companion volumes were published that were rearranged compilations of material originally published in The Village Book (1930) and The Labouring Life (1932), two books that contained so many tales of life, village characters and animals in and around the village of Georgeham in North Devon during HW's sojourn there in the 1920s. Stories from both these books were mixed and matched for the two new volumes, and they were given new titles. It should not be thought that this was merely a cut and paste job. Indicative of HW's meticulous working methods are these late revisions (at galley proof stage!) to the final story in Tales of a Devon Village, 'The Fox in the Moonlight':

 

 

devon tales galley

 

 

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devon tales front

 

   

First edition, Faber, 1945  

Tales of a Devon Village

 

First published Faber & Faber, September 1945 (8s 6d)

 

Faber & Faber, reprint, 1946 (8s 6d)

 

Breslich & Foss (Country Classic series), with new title: Village Tales

(a photo-reprint of the first edition, with text size enlarged slightly)

Hardback, 1984 (£8.95)

Paperback 1984 (£3.95)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first edition, as with all other books published during and just after the Second World War, carries the proviso: 'Produced in complete conformity with the authorized economy standards.'

 

There are no background details available about the preparation of these two volumes for publication. The contract for the books is dated 14 June 1944, which accounts for the date on HW's introductory note, which acts as a 'Foreword':

 

HW's introductory note is succinct:

 

 

devon tales note

 

 

This volume has 15 chapters, or stories, of which six are from The Village Book and eight from The Labouring Life; it also includes the lovely story 'The Linhay on the Downs', first published as a limited edition in 1929, but also included in the eponymous collection of articles and essays published in 1934). The simplest way to assimilate these changes is through the excellent 'Contents' list and source of the original material prepared by Hugoe Matthews (Henry Williamson: A Bibliography, 2004):

 

devon tales contents

 

Details of these stories can be found within the 'Life's Work' entries for the original books.

 

 

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devon life front  
First edition, Faber, 1945  

Life in a Devon Village

 

First published Faber & Faber, November 1945 (8s 6d)

 

The Right Book Club, reprint of first edition, second impression, July 1947 (2s 6d to book club members)

 

Faber, third impression, 1948 (8s 6d)

 

Breslich & Foss (Country Classic Series)

(a photo-reprint of the first edition, with text size enlarged slightly)

Hardback, 1983 (£8.95)

Paperback, 1983 (£3.95)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first edition again carries the proviso: 'Produced in complete conformity with the authorized economy standards.' The Right Book Club edition also carries the same statement.

 

HW expanded his introductory note for this title:

 

 

devon life note

 

 

This volume has a total of 23 chapters, or stories. It is a mixture from both The Village Book (9 titles) and The Labouring Life (12 titles). Again, the easiest way to see the origin of the stories is via Matthews’ excellent analysis:

 

devon life contents

 

Details of these stories can be found within the 'Life's Work' entries for the original books.

 

 

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Critical reception:

 

There are only two reviews in the archive. The lack of reviews may well be due to the chaos in HW’s life at this time – items may well have got lost in the final months of farm life and the sale of the farm.

 

Punch (H.P.E.), 3 October 1945:

 

devon rev punch

 

 

Cavalcade (L.B.P.), 27 October 1945:

 

devon rev cavalcade

 

 

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At some point after his return to Georgeham in 1947 HW prepared the following light-hearted 'Posters' (made of thin card, quarto size) to act as a point of sale material in the Rock Inn (the 'Higher House' pub):

 

devon hw poster1

 

devon hw poster2

 

 

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Book covers:

 

 

Tales of a Devon Village:

 

First edition, Faber, 1945:

 

devon tales 1945cover

 

devon tales 1945back

 

 

Breslich & Foss (Country Classic series), retitled Village Tales, 1984 (paperback edition):

 

devon tales84 cover     devon tales84 back

 

 

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Life in a Devon Village:

 

First edition, Faber, 1945:

 

devon life 1945cover

 

devon life 1945back

 

 

The Right Book Club, July 1947:

 

devon life47 front

 

devon life47 back

 

 

Breslich & Foss (Country Classic Series), 1983, paperback edition:

 

devon life83 front     devon life83 back

 

 

 

 

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Back to 'A Life's Work'

 

 

 

 

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