Henry Williamson: letters to Joyce Wright

Scope and Content

This collection consists of about 20 letters from Williamson to Wright, written between 1953 and 1960. These include a few letters written to Wright by Christine Williamson. Also contained are newscuttings relating to Williamson, collected by Wright [undated].

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Williamson (1895-1977), writer, was born in south London and educated at Colfe's Grammar School, Lewisham. He fought in the army in the First World War and gained a deep sense of the futility of conflict as a result. He worked as a journalist for a short while before writing his first novel, The Beautiful Years, in 1921. This became volume one of a quartet, named The Flax of Dreams. At the same time he moved to North Devon and, in 1927, wrote there Tarka the Otter, the book on which his fame most heavily rests, and A Patriot's Progress (1930), based on his trench experiences. After Salar the Salmon (1935) he became an outspoken supporter of German reform and British fascism, which led to his being briefly interned at the start of the war. His postwar work, which is arguably his most important, is a cycle of fifteen novels entitled, A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight, which was completed in 1960.

Joyce Wright was daughter of Tom Sargent, a railway engineer, and his wife Minnie, an artist. She was born in August 1924 in Singapore, and was educated partly in Samatra. Returning to the UK, her parents died and she was brought up by her aunt and uncle and sent to school at St. Elphins. She initially trained as a secretary in Newquay, and then joined the Wrens as a writer, based at Charlton Hawthorn, Devon. She was then posted overseas to Ceylon, where she met Robert (Bob) Wright, whom she married in February 1946. Returning to the UK, they eventually settled in Cornwall, before moving to Devon in 1954. She initiated a personal correspondence with Henry Williamson, whose work she greatly admired, in 1953, which continued spasmodically until her death on 10 October 1960.

Conditions Governing Access

Access restricted: please refer to the Archivist for details.


Catalogued by Charlotte Berry, Archivist,10 Oct 2003, and encoded into EAD 25 May 2004.

Other Finding Aids

Correspondence is listed; newscuttings are unlisted.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying restrictions: please refer to the Archivist for details.

Custodial History

Held by the Library on deposit.

Related Material

See also EUL MS 43, 71, 74, 78, 91 and 106 for other collections relating to Henry Williamson, held at the University of Exeter. Papers relating to Henry Williamson are also held at the following repositories: Dartmouth College, Library, Reading University Library, King's College London, Royal Society of Literature and Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies.


It is not known whether any publications have resulted from use of this collection.