Saturday, February 27, 2010

Too few people know about Richard Jefferies

So said a feature in the Swindon Advertiser a couple of weeks ago. Its writer had approached "about 30 random strangers" in the town's Regent Street and found that only four had heard of him.


The Richard Jefferies Museum, based at his old house, has been open since the early 1960s, having been acquired from a private owner in the 1920s by the old Swindon Corporation under the visionary eye of councillor and mayor Reuben George.

... the visitor to the Jefferies Museum can know for certain that they are standing where the author stood, gazing from the windows he gazed from and looking into the gardens that inspired some of the most beautiful prose in the language.

This photograph shows the top floor of the house at Coate, which is where Jefferies wrote as a young man. I took it when I visited the museum last summer.

The lifesize figure on the bed, reading intently with his heels kicked up, was rather sweet. But one thing puzzled me.

"Did Victorian boys wear short trousers?" I asked the guide from the Richard Jefferies Society.

"Well, you see," he said, "there was an exhibition in town last year about Swindon in the Second World War...."

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