Henry Williamson Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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,...

(The entire section is 463 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Caron, 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.