Books by Henry Williamson

 

This list is offered as a guide to the extent of Henry Williamson’s writing. It is not exhaustive and only first and major editions are given, although many titles have more recent paperback editions. In order to make the list more readily comprehensible, the books in the two main series The Flax of Dream and A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight have been grouped together, although this slightly distorts the chronological order.

 

The dust jacket illustrations are of the first editions. Click on the thumbnails to link to Anne Williamson's descriptive bibliography and detailed analysis of the book in her 'A Life's Work' series, or, if this is yet to be written, to bring up larger and more detailed images. Alternatively, click on the title. Almost all the titles below are out of print – we would suggest that those seeking secondhand copies either consult Clearwater Books, who are specialists in Henry Williamson's works; or search AbeBooks, a website which lists the stock of thousands of independent secondhand and antiquarian booksellers.

 

For new collections published since Henry Williamson's death, see the Society Publications page.

 

 

THE FLAX OF DREAM – a tetralogy. The four novels follow the life of Willie Maddison.
 

The Beautiful Years

Vol. 1 The Beautiful Years

Collins, 1921; revised edition Faber, 1929; Dutton, USA, 1929

 

The lonely childhood of Willie, whose mother dies in childbirth, in the West Country in the early years of this century, who finds solace in the countryside around his home.

   

Dandelion Days

Vol. 2 Dandelion Days

Collins, 1922; revised edition Faber, 1930; Dutton, USA, 1930

 

Continues the story of Willie's childhood, with some hilarious accounts of escapades both at the local grammar school and roaming the countryside.

   

The Dream of Fair Women

Vol. 3 The Dream of Fair Women

Collins, 1924; Dutton, USA, 1924; revised edition Faber, 1931; Dutton, USA, 1931

 

Willie Maddison returns from the First World War and isolates himself in a remote Devon cottage, where he begins to write books, but he is embroiled in a disastrous love affair with Evelyn Fairfax.

   

The Pathway

Vol. 4 The Pathway

Cape, 1928; Dutton, USA, 1929

 

Willie returns to his writing and meets up with his childhood friend Mary Ogilvie. Their love story is set in idyllic scenes of the North Devon countryside, but Mary’s mother objects and in despair Willie decides to leave Devon – but is drowned as he tries to cross the estuary. His bereft friends hold a Shelley-like scene on the beach to bid him farewell.

   

The Flax of Dream

A further revised edition of The Flax of Dream was issued in one volume, Faber, 1936. (This is considered to be the definitive edition, but many readers prefer the original versions.)

 

   

 

 


   

The Lone Swallows

The Lone Swallows

Collins, 1922; revised edition illustrated by C. F. Tunnicliffe, Putnam, 1933 (This was HW’s second book)

 

A collection of lyrical essays describing the minutely observed sights and sounds of the countryside in the early years of the twentieth century.

   

The Peregrine's Saga

The Peregrine’s Saga, and Other Stories of the Country Green

Collins, 1923; published as The Sun Brothers, Dutton, USA, 1925; revised edition illustrated by C. F. Tunnicliffe, Putnam, 1934

 

A collection of vivid short stories the subjects of which which include badgers, ravens, peregrine falcons and a humble roadside weed.

   
midsummer night tiny

The Incoming of Summer [and] Midsummer Night

Collins, undated (c. 1924)

Two volumes of stories taken from The Peregrine's Saga, possibly for use by schools. While the cover of the book illustrated states 'A Midsummer Night', the title page correctly shows 'Midsummer Night'.

   

The Old Stag

The Old Stag

Putnam, 1926; revised edition illustrated by C. F. Tunnicliffe, Putnam, 1933

 

A further collection of short stories, the central one being ‘Stumberleap’ (the old stag of the title) but including the amusing ‘Flight of the Pale Pink Pyjamas’ and the highly dramatic account of ‘The Yellow Boots'.

   

Tarka the Otter

Tarka the Otter: His Joyful Water-life and Death in the Country of the Two Rivers

Putnam, 1927; Dutton, USA, 1928; revised edition illustrated by C. F. Tunnicliffe, Putnam, 1932; Penguin, 1937; Puffin, 1949 to present day; edition illustrated by film stills, introduction by Richard Williamson, Bodley Head, 1978; edition illustrated by photographs by Simon McBride, introduction by Richard Williamson, Webb & Bower, 1985; The Folio Society, 1995

 

This classic story follows the birth, ‘joyful water-life’ and inevitable death, hunted down by otter-hounds, of a male otter in the rivers and countryside of North Devon.

   

Linhay on the Downs

The Linhay on the Downs

Limited edition, Woburn Books, 1929

 

Two short stories: a ‘linhay’ is a shelter for animals on the moors and the story tells the simple tale of two people who take shelter there from a sudden storm. The second story is about an old woman gathering sticks on the beach. They are superb examples of the short-story genre.

   

The Ackymals

The Ackymals

Limited edition, Windsor Press, USA, 1929

 

An allegory linking the death of a baby with the shooting of small birds wrongly supposed to be stripping the pea harvest of John Kift. Incorporated into The Village Book. 

   

The Wet Flanders Plain

The Wet Flanders Plain

Limited edition, Beaumont Press, 1929; Faber, 1929; Dutton, USA, 1929; edition with introduction by Richard Williamson and additional material, Gliddon Books, 1987; p/b ditto

 

Henry Williamson’s thoughts as he returned to the battlefields ten years after the end of the First World War, with the underlying theme of homage to all those who had died.

   

The Patriot's Progress

 

The Patriot’s Progress: Being the Vicissitudes of Pte John Bullock

Geoffrey Bles, 1930. With lino-cuts by William Kermode. Sutton Publishing, 1999, paperback edition (co-edition with the Imperial War Museum)

 

This starkly powerful novel of one man’s experiences in the First World War captures to the full the grim flavour of the ordinary man caught up in a conflict over which he has no control. John Bullock is the archetypal common soldier, fighting from blind patriotism for a cause he does not understand, living through the bewilderment of his brutal initiation into army life, and finally facing the terrors of trench warfare on the battlefields of France. Illustrated with the lino-cuts of William Kermode, the book draws on Williamson’s own war experiences, and is a vivid and unforgettable portrayal of the war machine.

 

'Its power lies in the descriptions, which have not been surpassed in any other war book within my knowledge... It amounts to a tremendous, and overwhelming, an unanswerable indictment of the institution of war.’ – Arnold Bennett

   

The Village Book

The Village Book

Jonathan Cape, 1930

 

The stories in this volume provide a true picture of life in the village of Georgeham and the surrounding countryside in the 1920s, covering winter and spring.

   

The Labouring Life

The Labouring Life

Jonathan Cape, 1932; published as As the Sun Shines, Dutton, USA, 1932

 

A companion volume to The Village Book, covering summer and autumn, capturing village life during a time now long lost.

   

The Wild Red Deer of Exmoor

The Wild Red Deer of Exmoor

Limited edition, 1931; Faber, 1931

 

Puts forward the arguments for and against the hunting of deer in a chatty and story-like way, showing us that the theme is not black and white but all shades of grey. It shows us this problem has existed for many years.

   

The Star-born

The Star-born

Illustrated by C. F. Tunnicliffe, Faber, 1933; revised edition illustrated by Mildred Eldridge, Faber, 1948

 

Supposedly written by the fictional Willie Maddison of The Flax of Dream novels, this book is intended as a pendant to that tetralogy, but its strange mystical content makes it stand apart. The story is set in the gorge of the River Lyd on Dartmoor, but has a surreal element as the spirit world of nature pervades our world, until we no longer know which is the real world.

   

The Gold Falcon

The Gold Falcon ,or the Haggard of Love

Faber, 1933; revised edition Faber, 1947

 

Originally published anonymously, this book caused a great stir when it first appeared, as it contains several caustic vignettes of well-known writers and critics of the time. It is the story of Manfred, war-hero and poet, who flees to America to seek new experience, but all goes wrong yet again, and he embarks on a solo flight back across the Atlantic in a desperate attempt to reach his dying wife in England. Midway he is forced down into the sea and after a dying vision, drowns.

   

On Foot in Devon

On Foot in Devon

Alexander Maclehose, 1933

 

A walk undertaken by Williamson in 1933 along both the north and south coasts of Devon, lifted out of the ordinary by the lively conversation that Henry has with himself along the way.

   

The Linhay on the Downs

The Linhay on the Downs and Other Adventures in the Old and New Worlds

Jonathan Cape, 1934

 

Apart from printing the original stories and many more about Devon and the English countryside, a large section of the book is devoted to articles written during a visit he made to Georgia and South Carolina in the USA. It also contains the important essay ‘Reality in War Literature’.

   

Devon Holiday

Devon Holiday

Jonathan Cape, 1935

 

Ostensibly a walk over Exmoor and Dartmoor with close friends, it is again the conversation which gives this book a twist.

   

Salar the Salmon

Salar the Salmon

Faber, 1935; edition illustrated by C. F. Tunnicliffe, Faber, 1936; Penguin, 1949; edition illustrated by Michael Loates, with introduction by Richard Williamson, Webb & Bower, 1987

 

A year in the life of Salar (Latin for 'leaper') in the rivers running off the western side of Exmoor, showing the reality of exhilaration and danger of his water-existence.

   

Goodbye West Country

Goodbye West Country

Putnam, 1937, Little Brown, USA, 1938

 

A journal recording Williamson’s wide-ranging thoughts and activities over one year as he prepares to leave the West Country. This is the most truly autobiographical volume he wrote.

   

The Children of Shallowford

The Children of Shallowford

Illustrated with family photographs, Faber, 1939; revised edition Faber, 1959; new illustrated edition with Afterword by Richard Williamson, Macdonald, 1978

 

An enchanting picture of Williamson’s family growing up in the freedom of the countryside around their home next to the River Bray.

   

The Story of a Norfolk Farm

The Story of a Norfolk Farm

Faber, 1941

 

Williamson bought a very run-down farm on the north Norfolk coast in 1937. This is the story of his struggle to reclaim it within the problems of rural England, just before the onset of the Second World War.

   

Genius of Friendship

Genius of Friendship: T.E. Lawrence

Faber, 1941; Henry Williamson Society, 1988

 

Tells the story of the friendship between Williamson and Lawrence.

   

As the Sun Shines

As the Sun Shines

Faber, 1941

Using the title of the American edition of The Labouring Life, this volume is in fact a utilitarian war-time volume containing extracts from many of Williamson’s books.

   

Life in a Devon Village

 

Tales of a Devon Village

Life in A Devon Village

Tales of a Devon Village

both Faber, 1945

 

These companion volumes were rearrangements of the stories from the earlier Village Book and Labouring Life.

 

   

The Sun in the Sands

The Sun in the Sands

Faber, 1945

 

Starting with Williamson’s life in the years immediately following the First World War, and supposedly autobiographical, this book actually drifts off into fictional scenes of what might have been!

   

The Phasian Bird

The Phasian Bird

Faber, 1948

 

Set on the Norfolk farm, Williamson entwines the stories of the struggles of the stranger, Wilbo, to improve the farm in the difficult war years with that of the rare Reeve’s pheasant’s struggle for survival. In the end they both die from the senseless greed and ignorance of poachers and soldiers. The climactic scene of death at a time of severe frost is classic Williamson.

   

Scribbling Lark

Scribbling Lark

Faber, 1949

 

Ostensibly a children’s story about two monkeys, Zig and Zag, who escape from a zoo and in a hilarious romp disguise themselves and an old horse and win The Derby, this book is actually an allegory about social conditions.

   

Tales of Moorland and Estuary

Tales of Moorland and Estuary

Macdonald, 1953

 

A selection of short stories set in Devon, including an extraordinary ghost story.

   

A Clear Water Stream

A Clear Water Stream

Faber, 1958. New edition Henry Williamson Society, 2008

 

A more factual account of Williamson’s life in preparing the River Bray at Shallowford for salmon fishing at the time of the writing of Salar the Salmon. See the Society Publications page for further details about its new edition.

   

Essays by Divers Hands

Some Nature Writers and Civilisation

Published in Essays by Divers Hands, Vol. XXX, the Proceedings of the Royal Society Literature; also issued as a separate pamphlet; reprinted in Threnos for T. E. Lawrence, Henry Williamson Society, 1994

 

The Wedmore Memorial Lecture 1959 for the Royal Society of Literature, in which Williamson expounds on W.H. Hudson and Richard Jefferies.

   

In the Woods

In The Woods, a biographical fragment

Saint Albert’s Press for the Aylesford Review, 1960

 

A description of a trip taken during the Second World War to harvest logs from a small wood in Devon.

   
   

A CHRONICLE OF ANCIENT SUNLIGHT – The 15-volume series follows the life of Phillip Maddison from the time of his birth at the end of the nineteenth century until the early 1950s. Although based on the life of Henry Williamson himself and his family and friends, there is a very large fictional element that enhances the overall structure. The work as a whole shows life in England, in great detail, during the first half of the twentieth century, a time of upheaval and change encompassing two world wars.

 

The Dark Lantern

Vol. 1 The Dark Lantern

Macdonald, 1951; 1984; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1994

 

Sets the scene of the last years of the nineteenth century in south-east London, following the life of Richard Maddison (based on Williamson’s father) as he meets and courts Hetty, describing their strange secret marriage and the birth of their son, Phillip.

   

Donkey Boy

Vol. 2 Donkey Boy

Macdonald, 1952; 1984; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1994

 

Phillip’s young life as a difficult child with a worried father and anxious mother is intertwined with the background of the Boer War and the growth of the Suffragette movement.

   

Young Phillip Maddison

Vol. 3 Young Phillip Maddison

Macdonald, 1953; 1984; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1995

 

Phillip’s schooldays, his first passionate and unrealistic love for the beautiful well-to-do Helena Rolls and his escape into the world of nature. The world of his family is further explored, especially Aunt Dora’s role in the Suffragettes, and includes the loss of the Titanic.

   

How Dear is Life

Vol. 4 How Dear is Life

Macdonald, 1954; 1984; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1995

 

Opening with Phillip’s first day at work in the Moon Fire Office in 1913, it leads to his enlistment in the Territorial Army in early 1914 until the inevitable mobilisation when war is declared.

   

A Fox Under My Cloak

Vol. 5 A Fox Under My Cloak

Macdonald, 1955; 1984; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1996

 

Depicts the early months of the war and particularly the 1914 Christmas Truce, which affected the whole of Henry Williamson’s life.

   
The Golden Virgin

Vol. 6 The Golden Virgin

Macdonald, 1957; 1984; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1996

 

Phillip is invalided home after being gassed and lives rather wildly to the horror of his father, but then is sent out for the Battle of the Somme in July 1916; again wounded he returns home. He has been involved with Lily but in the final scene she is killed in a Zeppelin raid over London.

   

Love and the Loveless

Vol. 7 Love and the Loveless

Macdonald, 1958; 1984; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1997

 

Phillip trains as a transport officer and returns to France in charge of donkeys and men, taking ammunition and supplies up to the front line, an appalling situation portraying the hopelessness and desolation of Passchendaele.

   

A Test to Destruction

 

 

 

 

Vol. 8 A Test to Destruction

Macdonald, 1960; 1984; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1997

 

Phillip is on home duties in a Suffolk barracks but is determined to return to the Front and is soon back on the Hindenburg Line, where he is temporarily blinded. Back in England Phillip is sent on convalescent leave to the West Country and is awarded the DSO. Then the war ends and Phillip is demobilised.

   

The Innocent Moon

Vol. 9 The Innocent Moon

Macdonald, 1961; 1985; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1998.

 

Phillip obtains a lowly post for a London newspaper and begins to write short stories and articles. He pursues a series of unfulfilling love affairs, and then goes to live in the West Country where he meets the gentle childlike Barley.

   

It was the Nightingale

Vol. 10 It Was the Nightingale

Macdonald, 1962; 1985; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1998

 

Phillip and Barley are married and are idyllically happy, and visit the battlefields of France, which disturbs Phillip. Barley becomes pregnant but tragically dies giving birth to Billy. Phillip is distraught but then meets Lucy who comforts him and, knowing Billy needs a mother, they marry.

   

The Power of the Dead

Vol. 11 The Power of the Dead

Macdonald, 1963; 1985; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1999

 

Phillip is farming in the West Country but gets drawn into the financial problems of Lucy’s family. He struggles with his writing and finds himself reliving the battles of the war. He is constantly unhappy and irritable, but eventually meets Felicity, who is like Barley.

   

The Phoenix Generation

Vol. 12 The Phoenix Generation

Macdonald, 1965; 1985; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1999

 

The domestic scene remains complicated. Set against the background of the 1930s, this volume explores the rise of Fascism: Phillip goes to Germany where he gets invited to the Nuremberg Rally and is impressed by all he sees. On his return, Phillip buys a farm in East Anglia as the threat of war looms once more.

   

A Solitary War

Vol. 13 A Solitary War

Macdonald, 1967, 1985; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1999

 

The difficulties of Phillip’s farming life and the suspicions of the local people are well described in the opening months of the Second World War.

   

Lucifer Before Sunrise

Vol. 14 Lucifer Before Sunrise

Macdonald, 1967; 1985; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1999

 

Continues the story of life on the Norfolk farm with all its complexity and problems in great detail. Phillip struggles against all odds to make the farm efficient, and to write to earn money to keep things going. Increasingly distraught, as the war ends his marriage is over, Billy has been killed in a raid over Germany, and Phillip decides to sell the farm and return to Devon.

   

The Gale of the World

 

Vol. 15 The Gale of the World

Macdonald, 1969; 1985; paperback edition Sutton Publishing, 1999

 

Phillip lives alone in a remote and primitive cottage on Exmoor but his life is very complicated. Desperately searching for love and support he turns back and forth from the schizophrenic Laura to his sophisticated cousin Melissa, and Miranda, the young daughter of local friends. Everyone gathers for the traditional annual cricket match in the Valley of the Rocks near Lynton on the North Devon coast. Phillip in despair goes up onto the moor intending to light a huge fire and commit suicide but a huge storm erupts and he is hit by lightning. The torrent pours down the gully of the River Lyn annihilating the people and houses of Lynmouth (based on the real tragic event). Miranda is drowned but Melissa nurses and comforts Philip who, as the series ends, prepares to start writing his great series of novels – his chronicle of his friends in ancient sunlight.

   
 

 

   

The Henry Williamson Animal Saga

The Henry Williamson Animal Saga

Macdonald, 1960

 

(Tarka the Otter, Salar the Salmon, The Epic of Brock the Badger, Chakchek the Peregrine)

   

Collected Nature Stories

Collected Nature Stories

Macdonald, 1970; p/b edn Little Brown, 1995

 

(The Peregrine’s Saga, The Old Stag, Tales of Moorland and Estuary)

   

The Scandaroon

The Scandaroon

Macdonald, 1972

 

Henry Williamson’s last book tells the story of a boy and a pigeon, the pigeon-racing world, and the poisoning of peregrine falcons who kill the pigeons to eat. The human details and descriptive narrative combine to make a classic story.

   
 
   

Books edited by Henry Williamson include:

 

 

 

An Anthology of Modern Nature Writing

Nelson, 1936

   

Richard Jefferies

Richard Jefferies: Selections of his Work

Faber, 1937

 

   

Hodge and His Masters

Hodge and his Masters, Richard Jefferies

Methuen, 1937

 

   

Norfolk Life

Norfolk Life, Lilias Rider Haggard

Faber, 1943

 

   

The Unreturning Spring

The Unreturning Spring: Being the Poems, Sketches, Stories & Letters of James Farrar

Williams & Norgate, 1950

   

My Favourite Country Stories

My Favourite Country Stories

Lutterworth Press, 1966

 

   
 
   

‘Introductions’ by Henry Williamson in other books include:

 

A Soldier's Diary of the Great War

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

Faber & Gwyer, 1929

 

 
   

Decent Fellows

Decent Fellows, John Heygate

Cape, 1930; introduction by HW in USA edition only; reprinted in Threnos for T. E. Lawrence, HWS, 1994

 

   

Letters from a Soldier

Letters from a Soldier, Walter Robson

Faber and Faber, 1960; reprinted in Threnos for T. E. Lawrence, HWS, 1994

 

   

Nature in Britain

Nature in Britain: An Illustrated Survey [no editor]

Batsford, 1936

   

Winged Victory

Winged Victory, Victor Yeates

Introduction by HW in 2nd impression, Cape, 1935; reprinted in Threnos for T. E. Lawrence, HWS, 1994

 

   

The Wipers Times

The Wipers Times, Foreword by Henry Williamson, compiled by Patrick Beaver

Peter Davies, 1973

 

   
   

For books published since Henry Williamson's death, see the Society Publications page.

 

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