Authors: Henry Williamson

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English novelist

Author Works

Long Fiction:

The Beautiful Years, 1921

Dandelion Days, 1922

The Dream of Fair Women, 1924

The Pathway, 1928 (the 4 previous volumes known collectively as The Flax of Dreams, 1936)

Tarka the Otter, 1927

The Star-Born, 1933

Salar the Salmon, 1935

The Phasian Bird, 1948

The Dark Lantern, 1951

Donkey Boy, 1952

Young Phillip Madison, 1953

How Dear Is Life, 1954

A Fox Under My Cloak, 1955

The Golden Virgin, 1957

Love and the Loveless, 1958

A Test to Destruction, 1960

The Innocent Moon, 1961

It Was the Nightingale, 1962

The Power of the Dead, 1963

The Phoenix Generation, 1965

A Solitary War, 1966

Lucifer Before Sunrise, 1967

The Gale of the World, 1969 (the 15 previous volumes known collectively as A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight)

The Scandaroon, 1972

Short Fiction:

The Old Stag, 1926

Tales of Moorland and Estuary, 1953

The Henry Williamson Animal Saga, 1960

Collected Nature Stories, 1970, 1995

Nonfiction:

The Story of a Norfolk Farm, 1941

Life in a Devon Village, 1945

Tales of a Devon Village, 1945

A Clear Water Stream, 1958

Spring Days in Devon, and Other Broadcasts, 1992

Pen and Plough: Further Broadcasts, 1993

Edited Texts:

Anthology of Modern Nature Writing, 1936

Richard Jefferies: Selections from His Work, 1937

Biography

Henry Williamson’s lonely childhood was spent in a Bedfordshire house that had belonged to his family for more than four centuries. During his formative years he read and admired the writings of Richard Jefferies, who thus provided the inspiration for his later work. When World War I began Williamson enlisted; he was then nineteen. He served throughout the war in Flanders, where some of the bitterest fighting occurred and casualties were appalling. He returned to civilian life with gray hair and shattered nerves in 1920. Completely unable to cope with the hectic pettiness of the life around him, he attempted to earn a living as a reporter for the Weekly Dispatch, but he was forced to give up the position. He then tried to eke out an existence on his pension, which provided the meager income of forty pounds a year; this was supplemented by small sums received for nature articles that he contributed weekly to the Daily Express. He slept in haystacks in the nearby countryside or under trees on the Thames embankment. He was depressed and morbid, and he contemplated suicide. He had almost reached the end of his tether when he decided to abandon his impossible urban existence. He walked to Devonshire and settled down in a cottage at Exmoor to complete his first novel. As time passed, he found it possible to earn a living with his pen, and he found contentment in his rural surroundings. His work was admired by such famous writers as Walter de la Mare, Arnold Bennett, Thomas Hardy, and T. E. Lawrence. His nature novel Tarka the Otter won the Hawthornden Prize in 1927 and brought him widespread recognition; it has remained a modern nature classic. Two of his later books, Salar the Salmon and The Phasian Bird, the story of a pheasant, are considered equally significant.{$I[AN]9810000055}{$I[A]Williamson, Henry}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Williamson, Henry}{$I[tim]1895;Williamson, Henry}

Although Williamson was a prolific and successful writer, much of his work has not been issued in the United States. Nevertheless, he is widely regarded as one of the most gifted of nature writers; his novels reveal the lives of wild creatures from their own viewpoints, as evoked by a mind of deep insight and understanding. His somber prose transmits, faithfully, the eternal struggle of living things to survive and with it a deep awareness of the transitory fragility of life.

In his later years, he returned to the themes of his first series of novels, known collectively as The Flax of Dreams, which concerns an idealistic young officer who seeks to understand the causes of war. In A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight, a vast, autobiographical series of fifteen novels, he updates his themes into the 1950’s and reaches a happier conclusion. His accounts of rural life in Devon and Norfolk have also retained some of their popularity.

BibliographyCaron, Sue. A Glimpse of the Ancient Sunlight: Memories of Williamson. Wirral, England: Aylesford, 1986.Cook, Don. “The Great War and Its Effect on Henry Williamson.” Contemporary Review 244 (June, 1984).Farson, Daniel. Henry Williamson: A Portrait. London: Robinson, 1986.Fullager, Brian. “Henry Williamson and the Battle of the Somme.” T. E. Lawrence Newsletter 2, no. 9 (November, 1991).Lamplugh, Lois. The Shadowed Man: Williamson, 1895-1977. Swimbridge, Devon, England: Wellspring, 1990.Williamson, Anne. Henry Williamson: Tarka and the Last Romantic. Stroud, Gloucestershire, England: Alan Sutton, 1995.Williamson, Anne. A Patriot’s Progress: Henry Williamson and the First World War. Stroud, Gloucestershire, England: Sutton, 1998.
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