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Jefferies was a Victorian writer with a passion for the countryside and richness of nature that he saw all around him. Jefferies was born at the house which is now the museum, in Swindon, on the 6th November 1848, and died at the tragically early age of 38 on 14th August 1887.

Illustration from Bevis, by E. H. SheperdJefferies' extensive writing demonstrates a wide variety of outputs, including:

  • journalism for various local newspapers (e.g. Swindon Advertiser, North Wiltshire Herald);
  • essays and articles for a variety of publications, many in London, such as the Pall Mall Gazette and the Standard;
  • two children's novels, Wood Magic - A Fable and Bevis, later to be illustrated by E. H. Shepard who also illustrated Winnie-the-Pooh (Bevis is also featured in the 2009 publication: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up);
  • philosophical offerings, perhaps best encapsulated in the autobiographical The Story of My Heart;
  • and complete novels, such as his post-apocalyptic 'sci-fi' vision in After London.

Pioneer Ecologist
However, although Jefferies explored differing literary genres, it is his conviction in the power and importance of nature that underlies everything he produced. Much of Jefferies' work isGreen man from the house directly related to nature; for example, The Gamekeeper at Home, which was so well received that Jefferies was compared with the great English nature writer, Gilbert White. But even books like Bevis and After London are woven through with Jefferies' extensive knowledge and understanding of nature and, perhaps more significantly for today's eco-aware world, the tentative and often destructive relationship between humans and the natural environment. Though Jefferies wasn't any sort of 'eco-warrior', clearly believing that the pen was mightier than the sword.

For more detail of Jefferies' life and works, explore the websites given on our Links page.

Manuscript for Wood Magic
Quote from The Life of the Fields
The Richard Jefferies Museum Trust, working with: