Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Reading about Raleigh in Budleigh (2)

Following on from my previous post about Raleigh-related books on the shelves of Budleigh Salterton Library I made a return visit a few days later, to be told by librarian Jane Cordy that there were further books that I might like to list. These are kept in a cupboard, and may be for consultation only because they are out of print and quite rare.

T.N. BrushfieldA Bibliography of Sir Walter Ralegh Knt  James G. Commin  Exeter, 1908  181 pp. Second edition.

You can read all about the great Ralegh scholar Dr Brushfield at

Edward Edwards - The Life of Sir Walter Ralegh  2 vols
724 pp; 530 pp  Macmillan & Co 1868

This book is a real treasure. Google Books tells me that the work ‘has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.’ So it can be read online. 

For Budleigh it’s especially important because it was published just before Millais came to the town to paint his celebrated ‘Boyhood of Raleigh’ and may well have been one of the reasons why he chose the subject of young Walter on the beach with his half-brother Humphrey Gilbert. Apart from that, the book was notable for publishing Raleigh’s letters, being based on contemporary documents preserved in the Rolls House, the Privy Council Office, Hatfield House, the British Museum, and other manuscript repositories. 

The story of its author has a rather sad ending. He is described on Wikipedia as the son of a builder, born in 1812, into a not especially privileged background. He was an important figure in the establishment of free libraries in the United Kingdom, but seems to have upset people with his impatient temper.  In his final years on the Isle of Wight, in Niton, where he had settled in retirement, we are told that he lived in poverty, on the charity of Rev John Harrison, a Baptist minister. In November 1885, he was found in a state of hypothermia on the nearby downs, and caught pneumonia. He died at Niton, on 10 February 1886, and is buried in the graveyard of the local Church of England church.

Walter ScuttA short account of East Budleigh & Hayes Barton, birthplace of Sir Walter Ralegh  Printed at Cranford by the author  1936  63 pp

Walter Scutt was trained as an artist, and after his career as Chief Examiner of Schools under the Board of Education was cut short because of ill health, he settled in Budleigh Salterton in the late 1920s. 

He wrote three books on subjects of local history including the above title, which he illustrated with his own wood engravings, and printed by hand on his own small printing press.  The others are Otterton, a village of East Devon (1935), in an edition of 75 copies and Pride of Devon (1938), in an edition of 36 copies.  

A.T. Thomson (Mrs) – Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Ralegh, with some account of the period in which he lived  Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green  1830 496 pp

‘This is a good book and worthy of recommendation,’ stated a review in Fraser’s Magazine for Town and Country, Volume 5 (1832). ‘Mrs. Thomson set a high task for herself, and she has accomplished it with zeal and ability. There is an occasional tendency to indulge in conjecture when authorities are defective, and a fondness for lingering over trifling incidents, and giving them the importance of main incidents: but the book is a valuable production.’ 

From Wonderful Wikipedia I learnt that the author was Katherine Thomson (1797–1862), an English writer, known as a novelist and historian who wrote as Mrs A. T. Thomson, and also used the pseudonym Grace Wharton.  She was the seventh daughter of Thomas Byerley of Etruria, Staffordshire, a nephew by marriage and sometime partner and manager of the pottery works of Josiah Wedgwood. She married, in 1820, the physician Anthony Todd Thomson, as his second wife. During their residence in London, for some of the time at Hinde Street, Marylebone, she and her husband assembled an artistic and literary circle, among their earlier friends being the poet Thomas Campbell and the artist David Wilkie (artist). Later, in Welbeck Street, they saw much of Thackeray, Robert Browning, and also of Lord Lytton, who became a close friend. Mrs Thomson was the author of many other works, including novels, biographies and histories such as Memoirs of the Court of Henry the Eighth.  

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