Monday, 26 February 2018

Reading about Raleigh in Budleigh (3): Fairlynch Museum’s Carter Library

Continued from

With its Sir Walter Ralegh Room, and with a significant number of Ralegh enthusiasts among its volunteers over the last 50 years, it’s not surprising to find a fair number of books about the great Elizabethan in Fairlynch Museum. Here are the titles that I found in a recent exploration:  

Christopher M. ArmitageSir Walter Ralegh: an Annotated Bibliography   

Published for America's Four Hundredth Anniversary Committee by the University of North Carolina Press, 1987 pp.236  

This is described as an exhaustive work citing approximately 2000 items, including biographies and other writings about Ralegh. It encompasses all works written by or attributed to Ralegh. 

Professor Armitage joined the UNC-Chapel Hill faculty in 1967, specializing in seventeenth- and twentieth-century English and Canadian literature. After graduating from Oxford University he earned a second master’s degree from the University of Western Ontario in Canada in 1964, and a doctorate from Duke University in 1967. Since 1970 he has returned annually to England to conduct a six-week study program on ‘Shakespeare in Performance’  for students and alumni. 

His Literary and visual Ralegh was published by Manchester University Press in 2013. You can read an entertaining interview about Raleigh with Christopher Armitage at


Roger BowenFrom Lunacy to Croquet: The Life and Times of Dr Thomas Nadauld Brushfield  2013.  From the publisher’s description: ‘The story of Dr Thomas Nadauld Brushfield (1828 - 1919) richly deserves to be told. He was one of those very rare people who truly deserve the epithet polymath. As a pioneer in the treatment of lunacy he had few equals; as a bibiophile he was celebrated for his studies into the life and literary works of Sir Walter Ralegh’.  To read about the great Ralegh scholar and Budleigh resident Thomas Nadauld Brushfield click on


T.N. Brushfield MD  - Raleghana  Reprinted from the Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art  1896-1910  To read about the great Ralegh scholar and Budleigh resident Thomas Nadauld Brushfield click on


Margaret Irwin  That Great Lucifer – A Portrait of Sir Walter Ralegh   Chatto & Windus 1960  pp.320
Oxford University-educated Margaret Irwin (1889-1967) was an English historical novelist whose novels were esteemed for the accuracy of their historical research, and she became a noted authority on the Elizabethan and early Stuart era, finally producing this biography of Raleigh.  She wrote a total of 16 novels including three set in the reign of Elizabeth I.  One of them, Young Bess about Elizabeth’s early years, was made into a movie starring Jean Simmons.

Robert Lacey  Sir Walter Ralegh  Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1973 pp.415
Robert Lacey, a former magazine editor and journalist, is the author of many best-selling works of biography and history.  His book, described as ‘an insightful study - the first based on an accurate chronology of Ralegh's own writings’ which ‘offers startling disclosures about his other love affairs, an illegitimate child, and a failed suicide attempt’.

Agnes Latham, (ed)  The Poems of Sir Walter Ralegh, edited by Agnes Latham. The Muses Library, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951. pp.182
Contains an introduction and critical comments.  From the publisher’s description:
‘This volume is an attempt to collect all the poems which can reasonably be attributed to Ralegh. Some of them have not appeared in any such collection before. The autograph manuscript of Cynthia, preserved at Hatfield House, is printed with Ralegh’s own spelling, preserving something of his west-country speech. The poems are arranged in an approximation to chronological order, each furnished with a list of the known sources and a statement with regard to authenticity. There are also notes upon poems doubtfully ascribed to Ralegh and rejected by his present editor; a bibliography of earlier editions; passages of critical comment by contemporaries; and three portraits, one of them a little-known miniature from Vienna, representing Ralegh as a young man, at the age at which much of his poetry must originally have been composed.’   

Agnes Latham and Joyce Youings (eds) – The Letters of Sir Walter Ralegh, University of Exeter Press 1999. pp.403.  
From the publisher’s description: ‘This edition of the letters of Sir Walter Ralegh will replace the long out-of-print edition of Edward Edwards published in 1868. It contains the full text, in the original spelling, with modern punctuation, of all known surviving letters, 240 in all, compared with Edwards' 160, in most cases taken from the original manuscripts, many never before published. All are extensively annotated, many have been newly dated and corrected; there is a substantial Introduction by Joyce Youings. The letters help to reconcile the family man, never happier than when at home on his estate in the West Country, with one who is revered, especially in North America, as the founder and inspirer of English overseas settlement. They show him drawn both towards his native West Country, where he was not universally admired, and towards the Court at Westminster where lay the determination of the success or failure of his enterprises. Never before have we been able to get as near to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of one of the best-known figures of English history, the man who was both patriot and European; courtier and failed politician; soldier and poet; owner of ships and organiser of privateering ventures yet a reluctant sailor; greedy for personal wealth and social status but apparently ready to plead the case of the poor and disadvantaged.’

Agnes Latham (1905-1996) was Professor of English at Bedford College, University of London. Three years after graduating with a First Class degree in English Language and Literature from Somerville College, Oxford, she published in 1929 what was still described at the time of her death  the definitive edition of the poems of Sir Walter Ralegh. Her research was completed on a one-year grant from the corporation of Wakefield, and she immediately embarked on what was to prove her lifetime's project of editing Ralegh's letters, a challenge which won her international recognition.

For Joyce Youings, see below.

John Guille Millais (ed) – The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, President of the Royal Academy, 2 vols, Methuen & Co 1899. Available online because, as one reads, ‘This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.  

Photo of Millais published in this work

So you can either click here  or consult the fine edition in Fairlynch Museum’s Carter Library. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography it ‘remains the fullest source of information on Millais’.  Millais’ painting ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’ is featured.

Giles Milton  Big Chief Elizabeth: How England's Adventurers Gambled and Won the New World, Hodder & Stoughton, 2000. 416 pp.  
Giles Milton is a writer who specialises in narrative history. His books have been published in twenty languages worldwide and are international best-sellers. He has written nine works of non-fiction, a thriller, two comic novels and three books for young children. Big Chief Elizabeth relates the early attempts by Elizabethan adventurers to colonise the North American continent; the book takes its title from the Algonquian Indian word 'weroanza', used by the indigenous population in reference to Queen Elizabeth I. It focuses on the pioneering expedition of 1585 to colonise Roanoke Island in what is now North Carolina – an expedition that was financed and backed by Raleigh. The historical reconstruction of the attempted settlement makes extensive use of eyewitness accounts written by those who occupied senior positions in Raleigh's expedition – notably Sir Richard Grenville, Ralph Lane, John White (colonist and artist) and Thomas Harriot, and details the hardships faced by the colonists as they struggled to survive an increasingly hostile environment. It also seeks to explain the enduring mystery of the lost colonists – 115 men, women and children left behind on Roanoke Island when John White returned to England for help.

Lilian SheppardRaleigh’s birthplace: The story of East Budleigh
Granary Press, 1983 84 pp
Local writer Lilian Sheppard described her book as ‘Historical Jottings of East Budleigh, Bicton, Salterton, Otterton and Withycombe’. It’s a useful chronicle of local places, buildings and people, written with the thought that the author is describing ‘scenes beloved of young Raleigh’. Here, as she writes in a Preface, ‘the first sixteen years of his life were spent wandering these lanes and fields and the wide, unspoiled beach at Salterton, where the Cliffs and grassy paths reached down to the water’s edge. Here, under his fascinated gaze, the laden ships made their way into the Otter-mouth to make harbor in Budleigh Haven. Thus, perhaps, the seeds of that indomitable spirit of adventure which came to rule his life, were sown irrevocably in that young heart.’

Joyce Youings (ed) Raleigh in Exeter - privateering and colonisation in the reign of Elizabeth I : papers delivered at a conference at Exeter University on 3-4 May 1985 to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the first attempt to settle English people in North America,  University of Exeter, 1985. pp. 117
Contents include Elizabethan Privateering, The three-masted ship and Atlantic voyages, Did Raleigh’s England need colonies, The Lost Colonists, The Americanization of Raleigh, The Raleighs, Father and Son, and John White and his drawings of Raleigh’s Virginia.

Joyce Youings Ralegh’s Country – The South West of England in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I  North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources  1986. Pp.74  Described as ‘a detailed demographic, economic, political, and social study of the English counties of Devon and Cornwall’.

Devon-born Joyce Youings (1922-2011) was Emeritus Professor of English Social History at the University of Exeter. Originally intent on reading mathematics at King’s College, London, she changed her mind, reading history and then completing a PhD in Tudor studies at University College, London.  In 1951 – as a Tudor specialist – she joined the Department of History at the University College of the South West, encouraging local history studies across Devon. In 1965 the College became the University of Exeter. She is regarded as an outstanding historian of 16th century Devon producing a substantial body of publications over a wide range, including the disposal of monastic property, the cloth industry, municipal charters, the Western rebellions of 1549, Tudor maritime affairs and in particular early English colonial development in North America. Her work culminated in the meticulous collected edition of Raleigh’s letters.


Thursday, 1 February 2018

'Devon Boy, 1590'

Lympstone History Society has published Jenny Moon’s story of 16th century Devon village life and fishing in Newfoundland. It fits in neatly into the Raleigh 400th anniversary year, especially as Ralph Lane, one of Sir Walter’s captains on the 1585 attempt to colonise Roanoke Island, North Carolina, is said to have come from Lympstone. Born around 1530 he died in 1603.   

Lympstone History Society booklets can be bought at the Society’s talks, or from Graham Banks at ‘Clays’, The Strand (01395 223048) or via email:


IN 2018 CLICK ON   

Raleigh 300: How did they mark the tercentenary in 1918? (2)

The Washington Singer building on Streatham Campus of the University of Exeter.  Sir Walter Raleigh's tercentenary may have had something to do with its origins
Image credit: Benjamin Evans 

Reading through an account of Raleigh commemorations in The Times of 28 October 1918 woke me up to the fact that the University of Exeter is a relatively recent foundation, having received its Royal Charter only in 1955. Its predecessor, the University College of the South-West of England, was established in 1922. On the basis of the last paragraph in the newspaper report below, with its mention of deliberations over the setting up of a University of the South-West, I was tempted to think that American philanthropy played a part. 

No surprise therefore to find that one of the principal benefactors was an American with strong Devon links. This was Washington Merritt Grant Singer (1866–1934), son of the sewing machine magnate Isaac Singer. Born at Yonkers, New York, in 1866, he moved as a child to England and grew up in Oldway Mansion, Paignton. Later he became a prominent racehorse owner.  The Washington Singer is now the University's School of Psychology. 

In fact two of the names proposed for the new institution were the University of Wessex and Raleigh University!  The latter suggestion was made by Sir Walter Peacock, Secretary to the Prince of Wales.  

Perhaps I see now why Budleigh resident Professor Harry Kay CBE, a Budleigh resident and former Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1973 to 1984, was such a Raleigh enthusiast.  

The 300th anniversary of Raleigh's death in October 1918 was treated as an event of national importance, judging by the number of eminent people involved. But that was another time. Almost another country.

What has happened?  Could it be 'due to a failure of national confidence', as the University's Dr Robert Lawson-Peebles suggested in a 1998 History Today article? 

Raleigh 300: A memorial service to commemorate the tercentenary of Sir Walter Raleigh's death was held at Exeter Cathedral on 27 October 1918, as well as in various places in London

The Times 28 October 1918



The tercentenary of Sir Walter Ralegh’s death was celebrated yesterday afternoon by a special service at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster.

The service was arranged by the Tercentenary Committee, of which the King is the patron, and Mr. Balfour (Foreign Secretary), Mr Page (the former United States Ambassador), and Lord Reading are honorary presidents. The vice-presidents include the Lord Mayor of London, General Sir Ian Hamilton, Mr. Irwin Laughlin (American Chargé d’Affaires), Admiral Sims and General Biddle. Lord Bryce is the honorary chairman of the committee, Bishop G.F. Browne and Professor Firth are the vice-chairmen, and Professor Gollancz, the honorary secretary.
Before the service two wreaths in memory of Sir Walter Ralegh were deposited at the foot of the communion table, near the place where the body is said to have been interred. The first was from the Royal Tercentenary Committee, and it bore the inscription “To the honoured memory of Sir Walter Ralegh – ‘The Shepherd of the Ocean’”. These words are taken from Sir Walter Ralegh’s unfinished poem “Cynthia”, which has been handed down in fragments. The other wreath, entirely of laurels, was from the Royal Geographical Society, and bore the inscription “To the memory of Sir Walter Ralegh on the tercentenary of his death.” The Lord Mayor and Professor Gollancz carried the committee’s wreath, and the other was conveyed by Sir Thomas Holditch (president) and Dr Hinks (secretary of the Royal Geographical Society).
            The service began by the choir singing an introit, composed by Christopher Tye (1500-1572), followed by Psalm xlvi. (chant by Purcell, 1658-1695) and Psalm cl. (chant by Pelham Humphreys (1647-1674). The first lesson was read by Mr Balfour  and the second by Mr Irwin Laughlin, the American Chargé d’Affaires. After the Collects a hymn written by Sur Walter Ralegh on the night before his execution (music by Tallis, 1520-1585) was sung. It was as follows:-
Even such is Time who takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, and all we have,
And pays us but with earth and dust;
Who, in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days.
But from that earth, that grass, and dust,
The Lord shall raise me up, I trust.
The Intercessions and General Thanksgiving were followed by another hymn, the words of which are attributed to Sir Walter Ralegh, and it was sung to the tune of the hymn “Christians, Awake.”
An address was then delivered by Canon Carnegie, rector of St. Margaret’s and Speaker’s chaplain.
At the end of the service, and during the singing of the Battle Hymn of the Republic,
A collection was made towards a fund for securing in London a Ralegh House for promoting intellectual cooperation between American and British scholars, and to serve as their centre for meeting in the metropolis.

            Memorial services were also held at the Temple Church and at Woolwich Paris Church. To-morrow, which is the actual anniversary of Sir Walter Ralegh’s death, a commemoration meeting, organized by the Tercentenary Committee, will be held at the Mansion House. There will also be a memorial service in Exeter Cathedral, followed by a public gathering, when addresses will be given by Professor J.W. Cunliffe, D.Litt., Professor of English Literature in the Columbia University, and Mr T. Seccombe, professor of English Literature at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. It will be proposed at this meeting that there shall be a permanent memorial in the shape of a Ralegh Lectureship in subjects connected with history, navigation, exploration, and colonialization that are of joint interest to the British Empire and the United States at the proposed university of the South-West.       

IN 2018 CLICK ON   

Fairlynch Museum's Object of the Month: February 2018

Click here to see the Object of the Month for January 2018 

Click here to see the Object of the Month for March 2018


Radical Ralegh

The point about Sir Walter Ralegh: historian Anna Beer with Millais’ celebrated 1870 painting at Fairlynch Museum.  Dr Beer’s visi...