Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rambling Around England with W.H.Hudson

William Henry Hudson
William Henry Hudson
National Portrait Gallery, London
Artist: William Rothenstein
I discovered this little gem as the very last nonfiction ebook listed in the library's online catalog: Afoot in England by W.H. Hudson. 

It was published originally in 1909 and is still in print. I so enjoy reading a gentle book such as this that tells of the author's rambles - by foot and on bicycle - about the English countryside.

I have only read a couple of chapters - one is about the timelessness of guide books. Another offers the author's conviction that places shouldn't be revisited as one can never quite capture the charm and excitement of a first discovery. A third chapter tells his tale of arriving at a village near dark and his conversation with the vicar about how toads came to live in the pews of the damp old church and were fed by the female parishioners on Sundays. 

Now there is a story you won't hear every day!

William Henry Hudson was born in 1841 near Buenos Aires, Argentina. He settled in England in 1874 (his parents were of English and Irish origin) and wrote all sorts of ornithological studies and books about the English countryside. He was a founding member the Royal  Society for the Protection of Birds. Perhaps you know him best as the author of Green Mansions.

Here is a sample from Afoot in England:

It was the end of a hot midsummer day; the sun went down a vast globe of crimson fire in a crystal clear sky; and as I was going east I was obliged  to stand still to watch its setting. When the great red disc had gone down behind the green world I resumed my way but went slowly, then slower still, the better to enjoy the delicious coolness which came from the moist valley and the beauty of the evening in that solitary place which I had never looked on before. Nor was there any need to hurry; I had but three or four miles to go to the small old town where I intended passing the night. By and by the winding road led me down close to the stream at a point where it broadened to a large still pool. This was the ford, and on the other side was a small rustic village, consisting of a church, two or three farm-houses with their barns and outbuildings, and a few ancient-looking stone cottages with thatched roofs.

I swear this is a scene right out of Lark Rise to Candleford and I can't wait to read more.


  1. Can't remember much about Green Mansions though I'm sure it was on our high school reading list. Amazon has the book you are talking about today for $0.00 so you know what I did. I need to stop and organize the free books I've downloaded recently so I can find what I want. Sometimes my hands hurt so bad holding a book is uncomfortable and holding a Kindle is easier.

    Joyce in KS

    1. Oh Joyce, thanks for alerting me to the free ebook. It is the same edition I have from the library so when the lending time expires I know where to go to get my own copy. We love free!

      I agree. The Kindle is sometimes much easier to read and hold especially with those 500 pagers...

  2. Yes, I do know Green Mansions! Such a great book. Lovely writing in Afoot in England. I'll download it on my ereader.

    1. Kat, I do love a good armchair ramble. Of course Bill Bryson does it the funny.