The Dark Lantern

Paperback, Pocket Classics series, Alan Sutton, reprint, 1994.

Book condition: a fine copy, unread and as new.

Price: £10.00


Volume 1 in the 15-volume A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight series.


The publisher's blurb for the first edition (1951) states: 'The Dark Lantern is the first of a sequence of novels in which Henry Williamson will mirror the fortunes of a family from late Victorian times to the period of the Second World War. The Dark Lantern establishes the family and is set in Surrey and north-west Kent, on the eve of becoming part of London during the last decade of the nineteenth century. It is the story of the troubled courtship and subsequent marriage of Richard Maddison, a countryman by birth and with a countryman's feeling for nature but working in a London banking house by necessity, and Hetty Turney, younger daughter of a prosperous City merchant. Here, in the words of Lawrence of Arabia when writing of an earlier novel of Williamson's, "is the reality itself" – an evocation of place, time, character, habit, and thought. The still semi-rural suburbs dominated by the glittering bulk of the Crystal Palace, the country homes of wealthy business men within a dozen miles of London itself, are seen in the warm glow of the Victorian sunset – such a sunset as burnishes the sky when Thomas Turney walks complacently through the streets of the City of London in one of Mr Williamson's most memorable passages of descriptive writing. The Dark Lantern is a novel in which the tenderness of the human heart is exposed to the lack of understanding that accompanies selfish materialism. There are no villains, though the drama is often tense; the characters are always human. This long and absorbing story marks the beginning of the fulfilment of a task its author recognised as his life's work so long ago as 1919, but which extraneous circumstances kept him from approaching until a second great upheaval had shattered the remnants of the world he seeks to re-create.'


(For a further consideration of the book and the background to the writing of it, see Anne Williamson's The Dark Lantern.)