About the Society
The Henry Williamson Society
PRESIDENT: Richard Williamson
The Countess of Arran
The Society was founded in Barnstaple, North Devon, England, in May 1980 at a meeting between keen and interested people. Membership grew quickly and is drawn from all over the British Isles and with a growing overseas membership. Members are from all walks of life; their common bond being an interest in the work of Henry Williamson. From its inception the Society has sought to further the appreciation of Henry Williamson’s work. The Society is a Registered Charity, and is governed by its Constitution. It is non-political and is dedicated solely to its literary aim.
The President is Richard Williamson, who is one of Henry Williamson’s sons. Other members of the Williamson family are equally supportive. Mrs Loetitia Williamson (Henry Williamson’s first wife) particularly took a keen and active interest in the Society’s affairs until her death in December 1998.
The Society organises two meetings annually. An autumn meeting (at which the Annual General Meeting takes place) is held in October in North Devon with Henry Williamson’s Field and Writing Hut a major focus. The Spring meeting is based in other areas with a particular Williamson connection, for example, the Lewisham area of London, north Norfolk, Bedfordshire, etc. The programme typically includes a major presentation and Society Supper on the Saturday evening, with talks, discussions, slides, displays, films, walks and visits to places of especial Williamson interest occurring during the rest of the weekend. Smaller local meetings are encouraged and draw considerable support. Apart from the organised side of these meetings, they provide an opportunity to meet and talk with people of similar interest. Successful visits to the Battlefields of France have also been arranged.
The Society publishes a Journal and Newsletter annually containing reviews, correspondence, reminiscences of, and work by, Henry; criticism of, and articles based on research into, the man and his writings. The wide and varied content has greatly added to the knowledge and understanding of this foremost writer.
A major project of the Society is to collect and collate the ephemeral writings and articles which previously only appeared in newspapers and magazines. Under the editorship of John Gregory a number of volumes have been gathered together and published under the Society imprint – see the Society Publications page.
There is a very considerable Society Archive, housed at Exeter University, Devon, England which, together with the original gift by HW to the University in the mid–1960s of a selection of manuscripts, and the deposit after his death by his Literary Estate of the entire remainder of the MSS and TSS accepted by the Nation under the National Heritage Scheme, provides primary source material for members and students. A page will be added to this website in the near future which gives further details about the Archive.
A main concern of the Society, with the Williamson family, is the preservation of the author’s Writing Hut at Ox’s Cross, Georgeham, North Devon which was extensively renovated in 1985 but is kept exactly as it was when Henry Williamson was alive, and serves as a memorial.
In 1984, with Lewisham Borough Council, the Society placed a commemorative plaque on the house, 21 Eastern Road, Brockley, where Williamson spent the greater part of his childhood and youth, and which is the setting for the early volumes of A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight. In 1995, to celebrate the centenary of his birth, similar plaques were placed on Crowberry Cottage, Georgeham (where Tarka the Otter was written) and Owl Cottage in Stiffkey, part of HW’s Norfolk Farm.
Henry Williamson has been much criticised for his involvement with fascism. If this is your prime reason for visiting this site, please click here.