The World Shot Through With Magic

L & V Interior

Linnets & Valerians interior of The Manor

At first glance, Linnets & Valerians by Elizabeth Goudge, doesn’t look like children’s fantasy at all: No one goes to a school for wizards, or meets an elf, or a fairy; no one travels to another dimension, or to another time; there are no talking animals, no invisibility cloaks, no magic mirrors or poisoned apples. And not one character flies through the air on a broomstick, or on anything else: everyone’s feet are firmly planted on the good rich English earth.

And yet, in some ways, none of that is true, and many of those things DO happen. Because Linnets and Valerians is a book of both the purest naturalism and the purest magic. There are guardian bees and a shapeshifting cat and a book of evil spells, and at least three people are bewitched. There is one character who may be an elf and another who is almost certainly a very nasty witch. There is a mirror that on one occasion seems to reflect something, or someone, from the past. There is a statue that may or may not occasionally come to life. There are corridors, and woodland paths, that lead different ways at different times. There is evil, and there is good, and both those things have demonstrable power.

The plot is like a delightful mash-up of E. Nesbit and Frances Hodgson Burnett: the four Linnet children run away from their prim-and-proper grandmother and, almost by accident, end up with their curmudgeonly but secretly doting Uncle Ambrose, a curate and retired schoolmaster. The children ramble freely in the nearby countryside and village where they meet a bevy of characters: Lady Alicia Valerian, a recluse who, grieving for the long-ago loss of her family, never leaves her manor; Daft Davie, a mute hermit who lives and paints in a cave on the mountainside; and Emma Cobley, who owns the village shop and whose sweet candy-selling surface disguises sour intent. There is also, importantly, Uncle Ambrose’s servant, Ezra, who sings and dances in the moonlight and talks to the household bees, which he insists need to be told about any new residents or other important events. Through curiosity, friendliness, and sheerest bumbling, the children uncover long-held village secrets and enable generations-old wrongs to be put right, and in the end, everyone lives happily ever after.

The real-life magic of the English countryside is part of why the book resists easy categorization, why it’s a toss-up to describe it as a book that feels naturalistic although it’s all about magic or one that feels magical while being firmly grounded in the natural world. The beauty of the landscape — the flowers, the woods, the hillside, the tor — literally enchants the children, who’ve grown up in India and don’t know anything first-hand about England. So the magic seems natural, and nature seems magical, and it all gets mixed up together in their experience of the place and their new life.

The natural and supernatural are intertwined for the author, too. In her afterwards, she describes talking with people in a Dartmoor village much like the one described in the book, and the stories she heard of woods appearing out of nowhere one evening and never again, and of people seeing elves on the stairs, and of witchcraft black and white.

I read Linnets and Valerians as a child and remembered it as one of those books like The Secret Garden that plays with the tropes of fantasy, and with the reader’s desire to believe in magic, without actually being fantasy. I started rereading a few weeks ago, armed with sticky notes, and a plan to mark each point where something magical, or something that could be interpreted as magical, was mentioned. I figured I could review the marked places when I was done, and see if the balance tipped towards fantasy or realism. But when I finished, my copy was bristling with sticky notes, too many to count: the whole book is shot through with magic.

It’s all, to use Jo Walton’s lovely phrase in, “Among Others” deniable magic: nothing happens that couldn’t be explained naturalistically. The shape-shifting cat could just be frightened children imagining things. The bees leading them into discovery or out of danger could be…bees, flying around. The book of magic spells could be mere ill-wishing. What Nan, the oldest child, sees in the sewing room might simply be an odd reflection in an old and wavy mirror. The most frightening scene where the two boys are trapped in a beech tree, and Emma Cobley and her confederates plot to counter the protection of the beech with their own wicked power could just be grownup bullies trying to scare kids.

But there are other explanations, that Ezra believes wholeheartedly, and the children come to believe, and even Uncle Ambrose, who explains at one point that as a curate he is not permitted to believe in ancient gods or supernatural powers, shows signs of accepting as real. Emma Cobley certainly does believe she’s casting spells, with intent to do harm, and harm is done. And Ezra and the children set out to undo — and, it’s not too much of a spoiler to say, succeed in undoing — that harm, on the same terms.

So the question hangs in the air: if everyone believes it, and it has the desired effects, is it real?

The answer, for the characters and the author, for the bees and the woods and the statue in the garden, is a resounding “yes.”

Elizabeth Kushner

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A Torminster Tale

 

IMG_3058Wells Somerset, a perfect late summer morning. A dark dogs leg of an arch and we enter the circle of The Green, lined with its gracious houses and the back of  The Swann Inn, the very one from which the pumpkin shaped coach left to pick up travellers from the train station when Elizabeth lived here. The grass, velvet in the shadows, gardens hung with their late season’s colours and a few people wandering or going purposefully about their business.

We had come to find Tower House, where Elizabeth had been born and where is lived out the first few years of her life. We knew, thanks to Sylvia Gower approximately whereabouts it was, but I thought I would ask at the local museum anyway. After a little investigation with the help of Google, the curator told me she thought it was in St Andrews Rd and gave me directions, it wasn’t far.

We passed mullioned windows where the notes of practising musicians fell over the pavements, an older melodious sound in contrast to the modern noise of traffic. Tall stone walls and mature trees seemed to hide the most likely candidate. But although there were doors in the wall, there was no indication of a name or anything to confirm our belief. Along one side of the garden wall the ground was raised and we tried from here to glimpse a view, to gain some clue as to what lay behind its defences, but no luck. We crossed the road and mounted the step to a Music college, balancing precariously, but still trees blocked a view. We walked back around the perimeter, and I picked up a chestnut from amongst the debris fallen from what we really thought was Elizabeth’s garden. She was fond of redheads, and the poll of the cob in my hand was a small consolation.

tower-house-wall

My partner, however, was a little more pro-active and tried the green door in the wall as we passed. I think we were both a little surprised when the handle turned and the door opened to his touch. There could be no doubt, we had found Tower House, easily recognisable from George’s black and white photo. Nick quickly snapped a few shots and we were just about to close the door and quietly leave when the most Goudgian moment occurred.

A woman was walking towards us burdened with bags of shopping and I knew from her expression and the route she was taking that she was the owner and resident of the house. I stepped forward and asked her if she was indeed the person who lived here, and if this was Tower house, the Tower House that Elizabeth Goudge had been born in? At the mention of Elizabeth’s name she smiled and assured us we did indeed have the right house and then invited us in for a better look!

After putting her shopping away she introduced herself as Pam. She told us she had lived here for many years and had got a little wary of tourists. I told her about the website and she confessed that “she didn’t do them” but seemed pleased and interested that we had met so fortuitously.

She asked us if we would like to see something rather special, indeed something unique to the place we were in. We were as intrigued as she intended us to be and followed her, without turning round as she also requested. We walked through the walled garden, past herbaceous beds and through an orchard which would have delighted the young Elizabeth, tawny grass with the dew still on and caught leaves dealing out splashes of colour. It was quiet, the sound of traffic muted by the high old walls, covered with climbers.

As we drew closer to the wall we had tried so hard to see over, she asked us to turn around and look.

Wells Somerset

Wells Somerset

It was a view that only those who lived there would be able to see. The towers of the cathedral rising over the walls and greeting the tower of her home across the city streets. A ripple of roofs, a mountain side of carved stone and pinnacles, trees from other gardens. The view that Hugh Anthony and Henrietta would have seen from their bedroom window, the view that had shaped Elizabeth’s early world.

Pam had also met Kate Lindeman from the states and had shown her a rosemary tree such as Elizabeth had written about, growing to “the height of Our Lord while he was alive on earth.” My partner snapped away while we spoke and then we took our leave, speechless at our luck. If we hadn’t persisted and hung about, if we hadn’t had the courage to try the door, to “walk into the painting”  we would not have been in the right place at the right time to have gained access to a place so connected with Elizabeth, which had helped to shape the person she became.

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Elizabeth’s Favourite Story Book

the-cockyolly-bird

 

This was Elizabeth’s favourite book as a small child. I know nothing about the story it contains, except that he has a series of adventures with two friends called Kit and Jum-Jum.

Cocky Olly means yellow cockerel.

Elizabeth’s favourite colour was yellow. The image it gave to her was of a man standing on a mountain with his arms lifted high praising God.

 

 

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Elizabeth Goudge and Her Books

The Guernsey Society was formed in London in 1943 (whilst the Channel Islands were under German Occupation), and a number of high profile Guernsey exiles, as well as prominent UK residents with Guernsey connections, were invited to join in order to lobby the British Government on behalf of the occupied islanders, and evacuees in the UK.

After the war, the Society continued, but as more of an social organisation, connecting Guernsey people who did not live in the island, and those with a special interest in the island, with news from Guernsey. The prime means of doing this was through a magazine, The Quarterly Review of the Guernsey Society. It appears from the article, that Elizabeth Goudge joined in 1947 (as it mentions she had recently become a member), and had written this article for publication in The Quarterly Review. (The magazine, The Review, moved to three times a year in 1971, and has continued to be published ever since).

The Guernsey Society still organises meetings, talks and social gatherings in the UK and further afield.

 

 

GREEN DOLPHIN COUNTRY. By Elizabeth Goudge. (Hodder & Stoughton. 12/6 net.)

This novel was first published in September, 1944, and since that date has run through no fewer than five printings. It has been immensely popular on both sides of the Atlantic, no doubt partly due to the publicity given to it when it was awarded the Louis B. Mayer prize of £30,000, for the best novel of the year published in America. The film rights have been acquired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The book has caused much interest in Guernsey.

Below we print Miss Goudge’s own comment on her story, answering a number of critics and questioners, who have sought to “recognise” many of her descriptions of buildings and localities described.

We welcome this distinguished novelist as a recently joined member of the Guernsey Society.

***

I paid my first visit to Guernsey when I was eighteen months old (and that was forty-six years ago!), and my last in 1930.

My grandfather was Adolphus Collenette, famous for his weather lore, and my grandmother was Marie-Louise Ozanne, who was brought up in Hauteville House, now the Victor Hugo Museum. My great-grandfather sold the house to Victor Hugo. He came to see it before buying it, and my grandmother took him over it on her eighteenth birthday. So that on one side I am proud to call myself a Guernseywoman.

I spent many glorious holidays in Guernsey in my childhood, and I loved it so intensely that my memories of the Guernsey of those days are all extraordinarily radiant, and the most vivid that I have. Guernsey must cast a very strong spell over her children and her half-children that the very thought of her in after years can bring such happiness.

My first bit of writing to meet with any success was a novel about Guernsey called Island Magic, that I wrote after my last visit there, when I stayed with Miss Cownellan in her cabin at Le Gouffre. I had had no success with my writing until I began to write about Guernsey.

In their childhood my mother and her brother and sisters lived in a house then called Le Hêchet, that is now the Alexandra Nursing Home, and my mother’s stories of the Le Hêchet of those days were always to me more exciting than any fairy tales. Miss Cownellan, when I stayed with her, told me more Guernsey stories, and adding to them my own childhood’s memories wrote Island Magic.

The family of children in this book I called du Frocq, after a Guernsey ancestress, and I loved them so much that I wrote short stories about them for years. Those stories came out in English and American magazines, and I was always getting letters from readers asking for “more about the du Frocqs”. But though I have enjoyed writing about Guernsey more than any other place I have liked writing about my own homes too.

I was born in Wells in Somerset, where my father was principal of the Theological College, and later we lived at Ely in Cambridgeshire, and those two lovely cathedral cities together made the Townminster of my book The City of Bells. In 1923 my father became Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford where we lived in an old home in Tom Quad, Christ Church, and I wrote about Oxford in Towers in the Mist. When my father died just before the war, my mother and I came to live in Devon, not far from the sea, where we have the seagulls always with us, and where the narrow lanes and the fuchsias and the escallonia bushes remind us both of Guernsey. I describe this bit of country where we live in The Castle on the Hill. Then I found myself longing to write about Guernsey again, and in odd times all through the war I wrote Green Dolphin Country, and once again Guernsey brought me luck.

As all that I wrote about Guernsey has been written away from it, I have never made any attempt to be topographically correct. My Island is inspired by Guernsey but in neither of my books have I actually called it Guernsey, it has been just “the Island”. Several readers have written to ask where exactly is the convent on the cliff that I describe in Green Dolphin Country, and I have had to reply with shame that I’m afraid it isn’t anywhere except in my imagination! I have always felt that I owed the island an apology for treating it in this imaginative way, and I hope Guernsey people will forgive me.

 

ELIZABETH GOUDGE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: ‘Elizabeth Goudge and Her Books’, Quarterly Review of the Guernsey Society, Spring 1947, volume III no 1, pp. 11-12.

A Rare Interview with Elizabeth Goudge

In 1974, the B.B.C. sent one of their immaculately spoken interviewers, to visit the successful and talented writer Elizabeth Goudge at her home Rose Cottage deep in the Chiltern countryside. When asked what she expected Elizabeth to be like, Jane an acquaintance said she thought that Elizabeth would be a well dressed, handsome, older woman surrounded by friends and family, living in a large and gracious home, rather like the matriarchal characters that inhabit Elizabeth’s work, a Lucilla in fact. Jane was a great fan of Elizabeth’s work, exulting in the lavish description of landscape she used and the detail of the feasts and parties that so many of her novels include. She appreciated the depth given to the characters and the comfort that Elizabeth’s stories provide in an uncertain world. The knowledge that good will continue its fight against evil, even if the struggle seems at times hopeless, the outcome uncertain.

In fact at that time Rose Cottage was very small with only one room downstairs, the kitchen being built out in an extension, and with only two bedrooms upstairs, it must have come as something of a shock. Elizabeth herself could not be less like Lucilla, being more a cross between Margaret Eliot and Jean Anderson. The previous inhabitants of the cottage had been The Rectory coachman who was succeeded by his daughter, a benign ghost whose presence both Elizabeth and Jessie were aware of.

The cottage was wonderfully chaotic, with Frodo the current Dandy allowed to keep his bones in the fire place, and the space cluttered with objects inherited, sent by avid readers of her work, and items Elizabeth was just interested in such as a collection of watches, one of which belonged to a grandfather of Jessie’s, the inspiration for the “The Dean’s Watch.”

“For it was not only a beautiful watch but an uncommon one. It had a jewelled watch cock of unusual design, showing a man carrying a burden on his shoulders. Isaac had seen hundreds of watch cocks during his professional life, and many of them had had impish faces peeping through flowers and leaves, but never so far as he could remember one showing a human figure. The pillars were of plain cylindrical form, as in most of Graham’s watches. He had never favoured elaborate pillars for like all great craftsmen he had always made ornament subsidiary to usefulness. Isaac closed the thin gold shell that protected the delicate mechanism and turned the watch over. It had a fine enamelled dial with a wreath of flowers within the hour ring. The outer case was of plain gold with the monogram A. A. engraved upon one side, and upon the other a Latin motto encircling the crest of a mailed hand holding a sword.”
(Dean’s Watch 1960 p 13)

I learnt that she had a collection of horse brasses, bought for her by Jessie, one for each book she had published. They reflected the theme of each story Elizabeth had written. A Welsh Woman in a tall hat for “Child From The Sea”, a dolphin for “Green Dolphin Country”, a bell for “City of Bells”, and so on. Elizabeth wrote eloquently about the teams of horses used on the land, from the Hampshire fields of the Eliot’s to the Somerset of The Rosemary Tree, the round of the arable year was to her moving poetry.

No mention was made of the Icon on the Wall, a painting which is visible in one of the photographs I have of Elizabeth, and the title of one of her collection of short stories. But we were introduced to the Little Things, though sadly, not in any detail. They had been a gift from a Channel Isle Aunt. Elizabeth said that like her Aunt and her Mother before her, she had given away some of the collection to children who had seemed to connect to them, and that this was only a remnant of the collection. Which little boy got the Gnome Mary gives to Isaac in Scent of Water, who Queen Mab in her hazelnut coach?

She gave a wonderful description of the figurine that Miguel crafted and gave to her, part bird, part man, a Franciscan monk ‘with a very naughty look on his face. I wonder what became of it? I felt privileged to know the background to the Prisoner story Elizabeth related, although no mention was made of her relationship with his family.

No allusion was made to her austere and simple life style, or to where she worked and wrote. I cannot imagine someone who uses their bedroom as a retreat from the world, using the same space to write in. Yet the old cottage had no small study space that could be used. She must have written in the large downstairs room with its view of Dog Lane and front garden.

It was interesting hearing her speak, so 1940’s in the rhythm and patterns, so of her class and time. Yet she belonged to Amnesty, before they became International.

They talked about seals and how they came to Jessie but not to her and the interviewer played some seal noises recorded in Pembrokeshire. They spoke of the cottage they stayed in above the bay, and I remembered the window she wrote in and the view of the sea, the little harbour wall and the pink fuchsias swinging in the wind.

“He ceased playing and listened, and from over the water was answered by a low fluting cry. It was so mysterious, so beautiful and yet so eerie that when Charles took Lucy’s hand he found it was cold and trembling     He played a few noted like a call and was answered. He did it again and again and each time like an echo his music came back to him. Now here, now there, now near, now far.”
(Goudge 1970 Child from the Sea p 346).

When asked about her hobbies, if she had time for any, Elizabeth spoke eloquently about her love of music and of one piece in particular, the opening of the second movement of Beethoven’s third piano concerto. It had seemed to her as if the orchestra had come down to meet the soloist, and it was if eternity had come down and picked up the mortal thing that was Elizabeth and she was comforted, lifted out of her misery.

She spoke too about the embroidered chair seats she had made depicting wild flowers such as Bryony and Rose, a family skill inherited from her Great Grandmother, whose sampler had been made into a fire screen.

There was no mention of her love of poetry, in fact there was no discussion of her creative life at all, it was a sort of “Home and Garden” of a famous writer, rather than an in depth look at her life and work.

The garden which had been wrestled from the wilderness by Jessie, was walked round and the herbs and old roses discussed at length. Elizabeth recounted folk lore about Rosemary being a protection against evil, never growing higher than the height of Christ while He lived on Earth, and Rue granting second or clear sight. Which was the reason  it was often grown in graveyards. There were fennel, hyssop, wild strawberries, red sage, herba Barona, caraway thyme, for rubbing on a baron of beef, if you ever had any, tansy, and a Glastonbury Thorn given by a friend who was a nun.

Elizabeth in her Garden

The old roses were told over as if they were beads on a rosary. Maiden’s Blush, Apothecary and Rosa Mundi, fair Rosamund, William Lobb, a moss rose, hips and leaf colour as important as the flowers, Gold finch that smelt of pineapple. It was a hide and seek garden that children loved.

It was obvious that Jessie was the plants woman and loved her garden as Elizabeth loved her words. But Elizabeth detested Magpies, they had wreaked havoc on the small bird population of the garden. She saw them sitting in an old oak at the bottom of the garden, preying on the other birds. Despite being a pacifist if she had known how to fire a gun and had one she would have shot them all!

The tour ended at the well which Elizabeth said was a rain water well. She began talking about making the garden well safe because of all the children who visited her and her concern for their safety. Did many children come and stay she was asked? Oh yes very many, Elizabeth replied with a smile in her voice.

Here the interview ended. It had been a privilege to walk with Elizabeth round her home, to listen to her voice and see through her eyes some of the things that inspired her and that made up her inner life and enriched her days. Being such a private person, it was a small miracle to me to have this almost complete interview to listen to.

 

The Enchanted Kingdom

Hello Deborah,

I want to thank you for doing this website and having an Elizabeth Goudge Society [how does one join?]. At this time of year, coming up to Christmas, I often re-read either The Herb of Grace or The Dean’s Watch or one of her children’s books for the amazing descriptions of wonderful Christmases in England.

I started reading her books when I was about ten years old, living in New Jersey and getting them from the library and they became the enchanted kingdom I disappeared into when my own life was too difficult [my mother was ill and alcoholic and times could be rough]. I read the adult books because the library didn’t have any of her children’s books.

Many years later, an animal lover and intrepid about wild animals, I took a break from being a research librarian and went to work with seals and sea lions in a free-release setting in Key West Florida. Here I won the trust of an abused sea lion by singing to her because I remembered this being described in The Child From the Sea. And it worked — this 300 pound beast crawled into my lap. The only problem was that every time I stopped singing she growled at me. I must have sung every show tune I knew for hours.

Elizabeth Goudge’s books, along with the Mary Poppins books, Wind in the Willows and everything by Rumer Godden, were all instrumental in my decision to up sticks from the USA and move to England. I lived in Devon for 20 years [1986 to 2006] in a thatched cottage and made a lovely garden. Here too I found ultimately almost all of EG’s books in wonderful second-hand bookshops [mostly in Ashburton] and off Amazon. And I found Providence Cottage in Marldon, still called that, and whoever they were they had corgis, which I think Elizabeth might have enjoyed.

Of course I spent time in the New Forest and Buckler’s Hard and imagined that a small lane south of the Hard going down to the River Beaulieu would lead to the Herb of Grace. [That’s still my favourite book of all.] I also visited Ely [but I think that the cathedral she describes in The Dean’s Watch seems to be the cathedral in Lincoln] and Wells [where I had my first collision with nettles – ouch! — while I was standing on a fallen log to peer over the high stone wall at the back of the choir master’s house, which I thought must be the place were she was born].

And like Elizabeth I started having spiritual and ghostly experiences in England, which had never happened to me in the United States. All positive I’m glad to say, or at least not fearful. I always had an open mind in that regard, and rather hoped such things existed, but never expected to experience them. It is most amazing and lovely and helps me to live more fully and trustingly.

I’m happy to say that I was pretty much born an Anglophile, and living in England suited me entirely, even though for various reasons I retired to France in 2006, where I have again made a garden and continue read Elizabeth Goudge.

Thanks again for the lovely website, I am going to enjoy reading the various postings on Goudge Talk [and you are welcome to post this if you would like to].

Now that I’ve been thinking about it, there are so many areas of my real life that have been influenced by Elizabeth Goudge.  Reading the Scent of Water [and later the Joy of the Snow] I grew to want my own four-poster bed [and found out that she never did have one, but gave it instead to Mary in Scent of Water] and a green carpet with roses and ribbons.  Here’s a picture of my bedroom in my thatched cottage, with four-poster [only a flat-pack pine, but an artist friend painted it for me] and you can see a bit of the carpet too].
Four poster bed
The scene on the end of the bed shows my unicorn [I’ve always had a unicorn] and, in one of those strange things that keep happening to me, it prophesied the area I would later move to in France — not too far from where I live are the wonderful ruins of Crozant Castle built on a rocky promontory where the river curves and it looks very much like the imaginary scene on my bed. I have two prophetic paintings — the other was made for me by a friend in NYC many years ago that was supposed to be of my Manhattan street and the brownstone I lived in, but as he said “the sea and the fields kept bursting in and I couldn’t stop them”  and indeed between the NY brownstones you can see the sea, and pouring out between them is a patchwork of fields.  I should say I had no notion then of ever moving to England, and in fact, didn’t really know Devon existed [I’d read EG’s books set there, but the county didn’t really register in my mind].  But ten years later when I moved to Devon, England, I found exactly those fields, the red earth of that red sandstone area of Devon and the patchwork of  colours of the different crops.
warm regards Nancy Wolff

Hidden People

Dear Mrs Gaudin,
I have been viewing your website about Elizabeth Goudge recently as I have discovered my father, who died in May this year, was a secret fan of her stories.
My father was a Guernsey man who at the age of 11 was evacuated from the island in the second world war.  On his return nearly 6 years later he discovered his talent for art and soon found himself at the Royal Academy in London on a 5 year course.   He continued painting for 60 years up to the year 2004,
On viewing his paintings, particularly the ones he did in the 1990’s, I found he had hidden stories and portraits in his work.  In one painting there is a story with a king and a lady in it along with images of a child. For some reason Elizabeth Goudge and her book “a child from the sea” came to mind.  My father had mentioned an author who came to Guernsey as a child and he did mention that he hid a lady in his painting but after 20 years I had forgotten until I started studying his work.   I now believe that he also hid the story of the “White Witch” in it too as there is also a very pale hidden lady in it.
Here is a link to the painting: kwhillpaintings/paintings/mystery-paintings-2    The photograph is of greatly reduced quality because I am cautious about putting things on the Web, but I can supply a much better quality one if required.   The painting is the second one down and the images are not easy to see, particularly because of the reduced quality, but if someone was prepared to spend a few minutes looking then more and more begging to be seen.
There may be other stories by Elizabeth Goudge in other paintings but I have not studied many yet.
I hope you find the painting interesting.
Yours sincerely
Christopher Hill
(son of ken Hill)

Beautiful Truth

I am an ardent fan of the writings of Miss Goudge and owe her much in the way of the joy it has given me to read her books. I have collected many (though not all) of her books, and I have read them over and over since I was a young girl in the 60’s . I am English by ancestry, and I love the way Miss Goudge describes the England of long ago. Unfortunately a short trip to London in ’88 did not allow me to explore those places in her books to see if they were how I pictured them. One of these days I want to travel to Pembrokeshire to see Roch Castle, and St. David’s in Wales.
My favourite book is Child from the Sea, and I would like to believe that Lucy was not the amoral creature her attackers have portrayed in other publications. I find it very interesting that Diana, Princess of Wales, has a connection to Lucy through common ancestors. Maybe royal people named Charles just can’t be trusted! The very first time I was reading Child from the Sea, I was with a boyfriend who I just discovered was unfaithful, and I was reading the part where Lucy “realized that Charles had been unfaithful to her, and that Anne was cruel to tell her so” and I cried more for Lucy’s hurt than for mine. Every time I read that book I hope things will turn out differently (I know, of course it doesn’t)
Another favourite book I love is the Scent of Water, which was the first book Goudge book I read, and it has always remained so magical for me. I , too, have a collection of “little (precious) things” largely due to the idea in the book of having beautiful tiny precious objects. I will be leaving them to nieces someday.
It has disturbed me to read criticisms of Elizabeth Goudge’s work. I think she was a wonderful writer, and she had a way of making the surroundings and events in her stories so real that they became real in my mind, and also she was dead-on in her descriptions of human issues and feelings, which, of course, are not bound to the confines of a book. Her books had beautiful truth in them, which is why I read them over and over.
I also love The White Witch, for a different view of the Civil War. I am so glad Miss Goudge lived at Froniga’s house. I would love to visit it someday, and see if the village and surroundings have any of the same feel today as in the story. The Dean’s Watch, City of Bells, Green Dolphin Street, and Pilgrim’s Inn are also wonderful stories. Thank goodness there are people born to be writers like Elizabeth Goudge. I am sad she is gone and hope that her books continue to be read and appreciated.
Mary Caddell

 

A Friend for Life

Hello

I am Véronique. In my teen years, I read as many books I could from Elizabeth Goudge. I don’t know why for me,  and I learnt after, so many French people,  her books were so magic. Some twenty years ago, I went to the Buckler’s hard to find some memories of “The Herb of Grace”. I was not disappointed. Two years ago, I went back, now it is a little bit too touristic, but at least preserved.

Today I just came back from Ely and from Peppard common, and I was feeling very sad, that people in the cathedral or nearby her home, don’t seem to know her any more. So thank you for this web site, thank you for her and all her readers.

Véronique Mathot

Mrs Adams at Damerosehay

Ms. Gaudin,
My name is Tom Hughes and I am an American author working on a book about a woman named “the Honorable Mrs. Adams” (1847-1929). She was born Mildred Coleridge into a prominent family but – owing to disagreements over her choice of a husband – she was estranged from them permanently. Her husband, a journalist named Charles Warren Adams – acquired Harewood House in Keyhaven in 1896. He died in 1903. Mrs. Adams remained there until her death, apparently – at least part of the time – running the place as a private hotel.
I have read on your website that Elizabeth Goudge spent some time there but I am unclear as to the dates.
A gentleman in Lymington tells me that Mrs. Adams left the place in her will to a Heartsease Eva Adams who continued to operate is a private hotel.
Do you know if Elizabeth Goudge stayed at Harewood pre-1929?  If so, I would be keen to learn of any mentions of the “Honorable Mrs Adams” in her writings. Her appearance, her personality, her interests (cats, I believe), and the layout of the house (which has since been torn down).
I have thus far been unable to trace the relationship between Mrs. Adams and Heartsease Adams.
Be assured that any assistance will be appreciated and attributed in publication.
Thank you very much  indeed and continued success with the Society.
Tom Hughes

 

Yes Elizabeth stayed at Harewood House and mentions Mrs Adams by name in her auto-biography Joy of the Snow. The Eliots of Damerosehay inhabit Harewood and Mrs Adams love of cats morphed into their love of dogs. Elizabeth kept dogs too.

Good luck with the research and the book.

regards Deborah Gaudin