The Old House at Coate: And Other Hitherto Unpublished Essays

The Old House at Coate: And Other Hitherto Unpublished Essays

The Old House at Coate: And Other Hitherto Unpublished Essays

The Old House at Coate: And Other Hitherto Unpublished Essays

Excerpt

Although born and brought up as a London child, I awoke to the delight of country sights and sounds very early. My maternal grandparents, the Hintons, lived near Danbury, in Essex, a very beautiful rustic unspoiled spot in the 'nineties of last century. It was my visits there in infancy which first taught me the joys of the open air. Later on, as a schoolboy of twelve onwards, I read Nature books avidly. I remember as if it were yesterday, when I was just over thirteen, reading for the first time The Story of My Heart. It was a landmark in my life.

Richard Jefferies had been dead for fourteen years only, and his books, since so difficult to obtain, were then easy of access, although he was passing through a period of comparative neglect. I read every one of his books on which I could lay my hands. It was then, many years ago, that I first made the resolve that, if I lived, I would one day edit this great writer and devote all my energies to making his creative and consoling work more widely known and appreciated. I have been able, in spite of many difficulties in the way, to keep this vow of early youth.

From a comparatively early period of my love for Richard Jefferies, I began to seek out not only every book and every scrap of information, but also every scrap of his manuscript, which either came into the market or was to be had by private treaty. In particular, I sought for his field note-books [I did not find them until much later on] and occasional Nature notes, which . . .

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