From a Country Hilltop (Henry Williamson Collections)

June 14, 2021
From a Country Hilltop (Henry Williamson Collections)

Henry Williamson (1895-1977), nature writer and novelist,remains best known for his nature stories set in North Devon, andparticularly the much-loved classics Tarka the Otter and Salar theSalmon.Between 1951 and 1969 he published his great work, thefifteen-volume novel sequence A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight, thestory of Phillip Maddison. While he was writing these he was alsocontinuing to write short pieces for newspapers and magazines.From a Country Hilltop is a collection of 58 such essayswritten between 1958 and 1964, which were published in theCo-operative Society's Home Magazine and, in its Out of Doorsseries, the Sunday Times.The 'country hilltop' was his haven, the field at Ox's Cross inNorth Devon that he had bought after the success of Tarka theOtter, and where he had built his writing hut. These short essays –personal musings on life, his children, North Devon (now known as'Tarka Country') and other subjects – show HW's descriptive powersat their best. Nowhere is this shown better than in 'The LastSummer', a longer piece that is an evocative personal re-creationof the last golden summer of 1914 before the outbreak of the FirstWorld War and life changed forever; it was published in 1964 in theSunday Times Magazine to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary ofthe beginning of the war.