Monday, 23 January 2017

Raymond Sheppard and William Joseph Blyton (W. J. Blyton) (Part Two)

English Cavalcade is the focus of this second article on W. J. Blyton. (the first being here on Rolling Year).

English Cavalcade Dustjacket

English Cavalcade Dustjacket


Saturday Review 20 February 1937 p135-136
Stanley B. James, for The Catholic Herald reviewed this work as its book of the week, 2 April 1937 (p.4) under the title  "Men And Shires: Geographical Approach To Literature"

Facing Page One of this pleasant book is a map of Great Britain bearing the first headline of this article. The idea of this map, which is the idea of the book, is brilliantly conceived. Instead of counties and towns one sees, scribbled in, the names of poets, novelists, essayists, etc., giving a bird's-eye view of the country viewed from the standpoint of one whose interests are tied up, at least for the time being, only with masters of the pen.
And if we have maps showing density of population or the mineral resources of our land, why should we not have one drawn to illustrate the associations of the various shires with our national literature? We frequently speak of Bookland; well, here it is, superimposed on and, as Euclid taught us to say, coinciding with, the contour of our island home. There follow pages packed with a surprising wealth of literary gossip and apt quotation interwoven with sketches of the country through which we are passing, the whole being charmingly illustrated by the author and Raymond Sheppard,
If the literary approach to geography is new, so is the geographical approach to literature. Moreover, it is not only a legitimate way in which to traverse Bookland but also, as Mr. Blyton enables us to see, a very entertaining way. Local colour is an important factor in the sort of writings here enumerated. It might be argued indeed that a love of the shires gives us the best key to an understanding of the national genius. Such a book as this does but apply to literature the test of local patriotism as expounded in, say, The Napoleon of Notting Hill. Critics might do worse than adopt categories which would enable us to leave the lecture-room behind while we took an open-air jaunt. In fact they came near doing this when they classified certain of our poets as The Lake School.
Borrow did something of the same kind for Wild Wales. The itinerary of that hefty pedestrian is almost entirely dictated by his interest in the poets of the Principality. He is happiest when, standing by some pile of litchened stones, he can recite verses from the poet of whose home they once formed a part. His narrative forms a running commentary on the bards through whose former haunts he is passing. He counted himself specially fortunate if he could meet with descendants of the famous dead or encounter in some wayside inn, as he sometimes did. -drover or cobbler or farmer who could cap quotation with quotation from the works of the local hero.
The ground Borrow covered was restricted compared with the realm in which the author of English Cavalcade moves. But what his account lost in variety it gained in intimacy. His story is that of a personal experience which has the character of a pilgrimage. More than that: for the greater part of the way he used his own stout legs to carry him over the hills. Thus he was enabled to get to close quarters with his subject and to linger, where he chose to do so, long enough to collect unrecorded local 'legend.
In days when it has become the fashion for descriptive journalists intent on Seeing Britain to take us on a scamper covering the length and breadth of the land this would he accounted a slow method unworthy of the age of express trains travelling at over sixty miles an hour and motor coaches which whirl us 'through a county at a pace which makes detailed observation impossible. Mr. Blyton's style (small blame to him seeing how much ground he must get over in 311 pages) reflects these altered conditions. We rejoice in the bird's-eye view he gives us but we miss the leisurely pedestrianism which was able to enjoy chats by the wayside with the actual folk of the countryside.
Unfortunately our author has missed one advantage which his comprehensiveness might have given him. A concluding section of his book treating generally of the relations -between our national genius and its climatic and topographical setting would have been a valuable addition. It would have been interesting to note in such a chapter the effect of foreign travel on writers of our race. The difference between Wordsworth and - say- Shelly or Byron is surely due in part to  difference of environment. But such discussions we may concede, might have robbed the book of that discursive character which is one of its charms. In these pages we are, and are meant to be literally-minded sightseers, not philosophers.
There is need of a volume of this kind. Borrow, if I may refer to him once more, concludes an account of a conversation he had with a miller in this way, " 'What a difference,' said I to my wife after we had departed, 'between a Welshman and an Englishman of the lower class.What would a Suffolk miller's swain have said if I had repeated to him verses out of Beowulf or even Chaucer, and had asked him about the residence of Skelton?'". None of us will have difficulty in answering that question and our answer will emphasise the purpose that may be served by so brightly written and informative a study of the relations between the men and shires of Britain.
 I have emboldened the only comment in this long review of Sheppard's artwork and as can be seen, Blyton also did some of the illustrations. I have reproduced these for completeness on my Visual Rants blog along with another review which doesn't mention the illustrations at all beyond "There are many satisfactory woodcuts" .

The New Zealand Herald 17 April 1937 inserted one image from the book in its review column with no actual review beyond the following text:

There are other reviews, (for example Illustrated London News, Saturday, April 24 1937 p.706) but none mention Sheppard's illustrations just Blyton's omissions in his text.










Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Raymond Sheppard and William Joseph Blyton (W. J. Blyton) (Part One)

I was lucky recently to purchase two framed originals by Raymond Sheppard. The seller had tried to sell them at various auctions houses, but I made him an offer and was over the moon to receive them in the post. Both were published in W. J. Blyton's The Rolling Year: A Farmer's Log (London and Glasgow: Blackie & Son, 1936). I'll feature them in the third article on Blyton. But first who was Blyton?

"Hay Harvest Home" - Frontispiece
In September 1936 The Rolling Year was advertised as "written with unaffected literary grace, as well as firsthand knowledge, the author of Country Airs, here takes you deeper into the joys and mysteries of the country's and farmer's craft, and lets out more secrets of a family's pioneering adventure". By November Blackie had obviously received reviews and replaced their blurb with the following: "somehow there seems more hope in life when one reads such a book...His is a lovely romance" - Yorkshire Weekly Post

"Market Day" p. 44
I read the book over the Christmas holiday and although it has dated language and ideas, the gist of it would resonate with current thinking - the return to permaculture, although a very modern word is obviously not a new concept. Some of the 'sketches' Blyton writes around farming life are brilliant and stay in the memory, particularly those around visitors and workers on the farm and their country ways. His descriptions and meditations of nature are thought provoking and peaceful.

So who was William Joseph Blyton?
"Mr. Blyton went off to be a farmer after twenty years of journalism, and the first book he made out of his experiences, Country Airs, was very well received. If we are not greatly mistaken The Rolling Year, which continues the record, will be equally welcome. It is a book for the townsman, or for the townsman " gone rural." I, a countryman-gone-journalist, find it rattles too "literary for my taste: it says a lot I want to know about the land and life on it, and a lot that I ought to know whether I want to or not. It is an encouraging book, too—but I'm not sure that the dedication is not the most significant thing in it: "To my Son and Daughters, who made it all possible." A word of praise is due to Mr. Raymond Sheppard for his illustrations. - Q.L."  From The Catholic Herald, 30 October 1936, p.4
"A paradise of solitude" p. 72
I did some more digging now that I had his full name and found a fascinating character. Let's start with the end of his life which was tragically short.

The Times Wednesday, May 17, 1944; pg. 7
This obituary appeared in The Times Wednesday, May 17, 1944; pg. 7 and a shorter biography in the Tablet, "the international Cathlolic news weekly" of 1944:

Tablet 12 May 1944 p250
I left the second person mentioned in the article for the curious! So we know now he was a journalist who couldn't write about the return to farming without being 'authentic' as we now say. He wrote pamphlets for the Catholic Truth Society and was quoted in the supplement to "Roads to Rome" - with the sub-title "A Guide to Notable Converts from Britain and Ireland from the Reformation to the Present Day"*. Follow the link to a Word document at the bottom of that page for an overview of Blyton's catholic writings where you'll read the following and more:

Blyton, William Joseph – journalist and author; b. 1887; c[onverted]. 1923; d. 1944; worked as a journalist; until World War II a farmer in Surrey; a leading spirit in Marydown Catholic land colony; returned to journalism; editor of the Ransomer 1926-1932; wrote novels and non-fiction about country life and religious issues; writer of several Catholic Truth Society pamphlets and contributor to many journals
We know that Blyton was the Honorary Secretary of the Marydown Farming Association (Tablet 21 December 1935 p87) and that the Association started on 1 August 1933 in Elstead, near Goldalming. the history of this initiative appears to be thin on the ground but does turn up in Church, nation and race: Catholics and antisemitism in Germany and England, 1918-1939


"Spring Fever! The thunder of flying hooves" p.120
"Milking Time" p.144

"An old water wheel" p. 178
"Man doth not live by bread alone" p. 216
"The Sire of Gods and men with hard decrees
Forbids our plenty to be born with ease" p. 262

W. J. Blyton select bibliography

The Witness from Outside. [Excerpts on Roman Catholicism from Protestant writers.] London : Guild of Our Lady of Ransom, [1924]
The Law of Self-Sacrifice in Nature, Man, and God. London : Ernest Benn, 1930.
The Modern Adventure. [Essays.] London : Burns, Oates & Co., [1930] - The Modern Adventure here dealt with is not political or geographical; still less is it the 'adventure' of one sort of novel. It is the religious quest at the the core of life, so much more crucial, exciting and, to many, more tantalising. Give a man his moorings on spiritual facts and he will soon think straight on issues like world-peace, social and international solidarity, economic justice, family loyalties, and the primal decencies. He will use the ground won - not to go to sleep on, but to think and act from.
Gale Warning. London : Burns, Oates & Co., 1931.
Country Airs London : Blackie, 1935. - After 20 years of journalism, the author, a London editor, abandoned Fleet Street in order to make a living out of the land. With a family to support and a derelict farm to break in, it was a lively and highly speculative adventure,chequered by many ups and downs,all of which are described with rare literary charm
The Rolling Year: A Farmer's Log London ; Glasgow : Blackie & Son, 1936.
English Cavalcade [Essays on English literature and the English countryside.] London : John Murray, 1937.
Arrows of Desire. [Essays.] London : Hutchinson & Co., [1938] - Prewar musings on social conditions and political events and personalities
Anglo-German Future. London : Hutchinson & Co., [1939] - 185 pgs of text which was published in June 1939 and argues from the position of a supporter of appeasement or at least one who hopes against hope that war will not come
Landfalls and Windfalls: a personal record. [With plates.] London : John Murray, 1940.
To Happier Days. London : John Murray, 1941.
Cakes, Ale and Virtue. A modern's testament. London : Hutchinson & Co., [1944]

So You're Going Farming!. London : Quality Press, 1946.
English Language and Literature (The New Educational Library) by Michael Blacon, W. J. Blyton, Richard Church, Sir John Ervine,et al. London: Odhams (1948)

[CORRESPONDENCE] Young nations in a hurry,  Saturday review of politics, literature, science and art Vol: 126 no.3293 (Dec 7, 1918): p.1129.
[CORRESPONDENCE] A question of ancestry Saturday review of politics, literature, science and art Vol:127 No.3310 (Apr 5, 1919): pp.325-326. 

Journal articles and pamphlets
  • More Tributes to the Church from Non-Catholics (Guilt of Our Lady of Ransom.), 1925
  • The future of the countryside, Fortnightly review: pp494-504. , Oct 1930
  • Religion - Town, and Country. Published by Dublin Review, Volume 188, Jan 1931
  • Relativity and Knowledge Published by London: Catholic Truth Society . 1934
  • William Cobbett,  The English Review, Aug 1935
  • The Second Renaissance, The Cornhill Magazine Sep 1935
  • This was a man, The Cornhill Magazine Aug 1936 
  • Pastoral, The Cornhill Magazine Oct 1936 
  • Threatened beauty,  The English Review, Vol: LXIII No. 6, Dec 1936
  • England's Waste Lands The National Review Vol. 108:648, Feb 1937
  • Wordsworth view of Europe in 1837, The National Review Vol. 109:657, Nov 1937
  • Cindrellas of the bookshelf: I: Wander-years at home The Cornhill Magazine Mar 1937
  • Cindrellas of the bookshelf: II: Sorcery in words, The Cornhill Magazine Apr 1937
  • The English idea in histories, The English Review, Vol: LXIV No. 7, July 1937
  • Historians In The Making. Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 268, 1937
  • Government And The Individual. Published by Quarterly Review, 1937, Volume 269.
  • Will Juggernaut survive?  The National Review Vol. 110:662, April 1938
  • Toll for the brave, The Cornhill Magazine Nov 1938 
  • Some Moderns And The Bible. Published by Quarterly Review, 1938, Volume 271
  • Time and Apple Platt Farm, The Cornhill Magazine Aug 1939
  • Old Germanies For New. Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 271- 273, 1939
  • The Roots Of A Nation. Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 271-273, 1939
  • The Response To Crisis: Some Contrasts. Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 276- 277, 1941
  • Britain's Cultural past and present Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 278- 279, 1942
  • Old English: A Revaluation Published by Dublin Review, Volume 210, 1942
  • The Coming Society: A Glimpse. Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 280, 1943
  • Prelude For Politicians. Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 281, 1943

Part Two of this article on W. J. Blyton will focus on the other book that Sheppard illustrated by him: English Cavalcade

*A request to Joseph Kelly to use his biography, “William Joseph Blyton, 1887-1944,” written in Catholic Life, September 2003, p.15 was not answered unfortunately. If that changes, I shall update this article
***If anyone can scan a copy of the cover of Rolling Year for me I'd be very grateful***

Monday, 16 January 2017

Raymond Sheppard and original art for sale

This is just a quick note to say that today, Liss Llewellyn Fine Art sale starts and there are 12 pieces for sale by Raymond Sheppard starting from £95

Raymond Sheppard
Portrait of young girl
£570   £ 350

ANNUAL SALE: Starts Monday 16 January 2017 at 9am 

Featured in the sale are the following at the sale prices mentioned below.

For full details, go the Liss Llewellyn Fine Art site
  1. Raymond Sheppard H.M.S. Goliath and The end of the...  £ 200
  2. Raymond Sheppard Serval  £ 775
  3. Raymond Sheppard Cristine imploring  £ 95
  4. Raymond Sheppard Studies of an Impala  £ 735
  5. Raymond Sheppard Christine and Teddy Bear, c. 1950s £ 885
  6. Raymond Sheppard The Adventures of RenĂ© Cutforth £ 675
  7. Raymond Sheppard End of a sea raider, circa 1957  £ 975
  8. Raymond Sheppard Monarch of the Glen, circa 1935  £ 860
  9. Raymond Sheppard Polar Bear, glancing right  £ 590
  10. Raymond Sheppard Portrait of young girl  £ 350
  11. Raymond Sheppard Polar Bear  £ 475
  12. Raymond Sheppard Sea Forms, circa 1950  £ 975