Archive for Green Dolphin Country

A Christmas Message

A Winter View from my window

“For years Christmas Day had been for him a day when one ate too much so as not to disappoint cook, stifled a great many yawns and made a lot of silly jokes to hide an inner sadness that was both a lament for romance and belief that had faded and a vague sense of unsatisfied expectation.”

How wonderfully this describes the majority of peoples festive season. The presence of ennui that the day entails, with no meaning attached to traditions which increasingly seem out dated and pointless. The gifts we exchange costing money we can’t really afford but think the recipient will be the richer for receiving. No fasting observed as in the past during Advent, which cumulated in the glory of the traditional feast

“But today in the company of Henrietta and Hugh Anthony, romance and belief and satisfaction were vicariously his again. He stood in the Cathedral during morning service with the children one on each side of him and sang “Hark the herald angels sing” aware that Henrietta whose eyes were beaming with joy and whose muff was swinging from side to side like a pendulum as her figure swayed in time to the music, was seeing a starlit sky full of wings and a manger with a baby in it and seeing them with her…..

Beyond Henrietta was Grandmother. She was sitting down with her eyes shut because she was tired with the Christmas preparations, but her mind was thankfully fixed upon the fact of God made man. She was too practical, of necessity too concerned with the details of daily living, to be romantic in her religion like Henrietta or quixotic like Grandfather, but her faith was the strength of her strong minded life.”

Here we have in a couple of well-crafted paragraphs Elizabeth’s passion for the Christmas season. The sacred meaning to her of the nadir of the Christian year, the eighty services she attended during her life, the words of joy, hope and redemption she had imbibed. This was the not only the meaning of Christmas, but the very reason it was celebrated, rather than the Winter Solstice that had preceded it.

“The Christmas dinner, too, seemed because of the children to take on a new value. The turkey was a noble bird, brought overnight by Father Christmas in his sledge and the flaming pudding, that they had stirred laboriously in its earlier stages, was alight with the wishes they had wished as the spoon went round,
And then came the ecstasy of present giving, and then a short walk to assist the processes of digestion, and then, at last, it was tea time and they were sitting in the drawing room…”

I can’t help thinking that for Elizabeth the actual meal itself would have been a chore to get through but for the closeness it engendered with her beloved family. In later life she always ate frugally and didn’t seem to enjoy rich or elaborate dishes, preferring a good loaf of bread, a nice piece of cheese, an apple from the garden, to a fine dining experience

But friends and family, especially children, were very important to her and I’m sure that if you had been lucky enough to slip in at her Christmas table she would have welcomed you with an open heart and wished you a very Happy Christmas and all Good Wishes for the coming Year.

A Glimpse through a Rose Cottage window

Pen Friends

In my quest for knowledge about the works and life of Elizabeth Goudge, my research has lead me to strange little odds and ends of information, which when put together add a piece to Elizabeth’s tapestry.

One of these was an ebay purchase I made a number of years ago. Another writer I admire is Rosemary Sutcliff and I noticed that a hard backed 1st edition of her Arthurian Trilogy was up for sale. I won the bid and waited for the books. When they came I was pleased to find that their condition was as described. When I opened them they were all three inscribed “Elizabeth with much love Rosemary” and from one of them fell a letter, which had been written by the author.

I have written about this find elsewhere, so lets just say that after a bit of detective work, I found out that Rosemary Sutcliff and Elizabeth had been friends, and both writers belonged to the same literary agent. Elizabeth wrote the forward to one of Rosemary’s over looked works “The Rider of the White Horse.” A quiet, descriptive novel set during England’s civil war.

“There is nothing nicer than being asked to write an introduction to a favourite book. ” Elizabeth writes, “But at the same time it is a difficult task. It is like being asked to describe the charm of a face you love. If you did not love the face so much, and even more the person behind the face, it would be easy.”

This book was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1967, and chronicles the military career of Thomas Fairfax and the fate of his family during the civil war. A theme Elizabeth had already visited in The White Witch.

But a deeper connection to Elizabeth’s work is the significance that the herb of grace, or rue has for the Fairfax family.

Anne Fairfax is waiting to meet her husband on a brief visit from the fighting in a dark, disused chapel. She is anxious, grieving the death of her youngest child  and restless, knowing that her husband has never loved her as she has him. She takes comfort from the ancient preaching cross that is part of the chapel, its rugged strength and symbolism.

“Somebody else, she realised suddenly, had felt the warmth as she felt it. for on the chest of rough black oak that stood against the wall below it, an unknown hand had set a knot of blue flowers in an earthen cup. For Anne they rang a small silver note of memory. but it was a moment before she realised that the flower was rue. The Herb of Grace. The Herb of Grace springing from the ruins among which the wild white unicorn trampled with his proud shining hooves; Herb of Grace set here at the foot of the old preaching cross that was the living heart of the besieged church, as though for a statement of faith.”
(Rider of the White Horse Rosemary Sutcliff)

This book contains many of the themes we have come to recognise in Elizabeth’s books, dealing with unrequited love, faith and family in a way that is familiar to readers of her work.

That they read each others work and seemed to have been inspired and enlightened by them is obvious.  Elizabeth admires Rosemary’s ability to map battle scenes, a prospect she admits to finding difficult. Although she has no trouble in mapping out the intimate worlds her families inhabit. I’m sure Rosemary found the emotional depth Elizabeth gave to her characters something that commanded respect.

It is tempting to think that the symbolism of the blue flowered rue in Elizabeth’s book “The Herb of Grace” slipped into Rosemary’s unconscious to emerge years later as a valuable motif in her civil war novel.

Elizabeth also wrote promotional pieces for Rosemary’s excellent Arthurian epic “Sword at Sunset”, in which she praises Rosemary for so identifying with the characters that “the distant time, so difficult for many of us to realise, glows with present reality.”

At this time of fire light and lengthening evenings, find companionship, open a good book and reacquaint yourself with old friends or make some knew ones by exploring one of Elizabeth’s worlds.

 

 

 

 

 

A Fresh Perspective on Green Dolphin Street

This is a great article, accessible from the link below by Stephen Foote, which he wrote for the Guernsey Literary Festival to celebrate the fact that Sebastian Faulks is the headline guest in May.

It traces the connection between his novel “On Green Dolphin Street” back to Guernsey via Elizabeth Goudge’s novel.

Green Dolphin Country

“Though this book is fiction, and the characters, not portraits, it is based on fact. That a man who had emigrated to the New World should after a lapse of years write home for a bride, and then get the wrong one because he had confused her name with that of her sister, may seem to the reader highly improbable; yet it happened. And in real life also the man held his tongue about his mistake and made a good job of his marriage.”

Preface to Green Dolphin Country

The book is based on the life experiences of Elizbeth’s Great Uncle William, who left the island to join the British Navy, went on shore leave at an eastern port, missed his ship after “getting into a scrape” and found a ship bound for Australia. His story is William’s in most particulars.

Elizabeth herself said she “made it New Zealand because my ignorance of Australia was, even more, total than my ignorance of New Zealand.”
(Joy of the Snow)

It took her a long time to write, a project that she took up and laid aside during the early days of the Second World War. Elizabeth and her Mother were living at that time in Marldon, a small village on the flight path to Plymouth, and endured many nights of sleepless listening as the German planes roared overhead on their way to bomb Plymouth. As the planes returned there was always the worry that they would jettison their bombs over their village.

Her Mother and Elizabeth shared a bed while this was taking place, determined to be together should the worse occur. Her Mother’s jewelry box and Elizabeth’s manuscript of Green Dolphin Country was with them.
“Perhaps, like the Egyptians of old, we subconsciously thought that what was close to our bodies in death would accompany our spirits as they entered a new life”
(Joy of the Snow)

Green Dolphin Country is arguably one of the most famous adult novels that Elizabeth wrote. It’s a blockbuster of a book and was made into a film in the 1940’s. It caused Elizabeth all sorts of problems as people wanted to visit her and the tax man became interested in her earnings for the first time.

Elizabeth always researched her work meticulously and for this epic, she found a work by F.E. Maning entitled “ Old New Zealand.” It was a chronicle of the author’s experiences in the New Zealand of the late 1800s and his relationship with the Maoris. With the benefit of the internet, I was able to find out that the character of Tai Harura is based on that of Maning himself. They both made their money from timber, both took part in the wars between the indigenous people and the settlers and both had a love-hate relationship with the Maoris. Maning was over six foot tall, had great physical presence and strength as well as a good sense of humor.He was known as a “Pakeha Maori”, the term given to white settlers who became immersed in the Maori culture, a “white Maori.”

Into the book’s opening chapters, she pours all her love for the island that was the home of her Mother’s family. It is lyrical in its descriptions describing minute details and broad vistas as only Elizabeth can. It was the last time she used Gurnsey as the setting for a novel, and she paints a vivid picture of the isolation and beauty of the place and time into which her Mother was born.

 

Modern photo of St Peter’s Port Guernsey

Elizabeth’s books always contain quotes which I like to imagine are the starting point for the moral content of her story, and Green Dolphin Country begins with one by Evelyn Underhill.

“Three deep cravings of the self, three great expressions of man’s restlessness, which only mystic truth can fully satisfy. The first is the craving which makes him a pilgrim and a wanderer. It is the longing to go out from his normal world in search of a lost home, a “better country”; an Eldorado, a Sarras, a Heavenly Syon.”

New Zealand is all these things. Even today with our ease of world travel, it is still the other side of the world, Middle Earth where Lord Of The Rings holds sway. How much more exotic and unimaginably far away it would have been in the 1940s.

 

Marianne and Marguerite

Elizabeth, always a homebody, would shortly be making her own way in the world, and unknown to herself was at this time forging the tools to do so.

It was the springboard that gave her the recognition and financial space to become a professional writer. At first, it all seemed unlikely, as she was told that the book was too long, and with the war on there was just not enough paper to justify printing it. But thanks to an American Publisher, it was sent in as a candidate for a Metro Goldwyn Mayer film prize and won. The film sadly does not live up to the book but is a better rendition of the story than the film version of The little White Horse.

As Elizabeth, so often does she uses the local legends to give depth to her characters, such as the footprints of the Abbess in the “bay of fairies.” She uses her family home as the home of the Le Patourels, in Le Paradis, “built high up in the rock citadel of St-Pierre.”

The book deals with the themes of class, the upper-class Patourels and the “trade” Ozannes. The material wealth that one has and the noble calling of the doctor. Yet another doctor who has chosen his work over the love of his life, this time in the person of Dr. Ozanne. The same device which was used in “Bird in the Tree.” Are these echoes of a love that Elizabeth once knew? Was there an unsuitable boy who went away to study to become a Doctor, who promised to return but didn’t?

The book charts the growth of the inner as well as the outer life, the person who stays at home and the one who goes as far from the cradle of her birth as is possible. Yet who changes the most and where and when it takes place is unexpected.
“ They were alike only in their mutual realisation that whatever one expects to feel in this life one will probably feel the opposite.”
(Green Dolphin Country p481)

Moving from one set of small islands to another, both isolated from the changing modern world that was rapidly developing, it is a tale of adventure, both of the natural world and the inner world of the spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Elizabeth’s Legacy


by Ruth St Clare.

Thank you so much for the web site of E Goudge.  I have respected and admired her since childhood.  Now I admire her even more.

I am sure that had computers existed and had I not been a slow learner then ( not now)  I would have been one of the  people who  came  to look at a person who could so well reflect the spiritual in a world of war and suffering.

This lady was the key to my visiting Guernsey ( the copy of Green Dolphin Country was damaged so I did not know where the Island was), seeing Mont St. Michele and St Malo.

I finally worked out that it must be Guernsey.  When I left the ferry I met an elderly lady and ask her if the family even existed and she  snarled at me.  I knew then I had found the right place …. so instead of upsetting anyone else I went off to the cemetery.  I smiled and wondered who they were and if they had any real relationship to the book.  It did not really matter to me… I found the place and names

The only name I did not find was William Ozanne and then sitting in an open air cafe and musing to myself whether on not he existed I looked across the road and saw  William Ozanne Hall.

I believe my life was touched for the better because I was privileged to read Elizabeth Goudge’s books.   Many years ago a paper back of Green Dolphin Country was available and I bought a copy and loaned it to a friend.  They never gave it back… forgot they had it…..sigh… not all people with brains know how to use them.

My friends found the same book in New Zealand  in a second hand book shop and they sent it to me.  How wonderful of them and I have the book today and I use it for any of my senior  English students who show that they are  of the thinking nature.

A fourteen year old French lass is reading it now.  I am not sure yet how she will cope with it as she is still at an intermediate English level.

Maybe you could condense Green Dolphin County or Island Magic ( this may not need condensing, I can’t remember!) and try to have  Miss Goudge’s work  included in school children’s texts for English.  They did this with Nicholas Monserrat’s  Cruel Sea.  If you could do this I think you would be doing a world service.

Ruth St. Claire

Dear Miss St Clare,
Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me, I’m pleased that you enjoyed the visit to the site.
I agree that Elizabeth’s work should be on an English Literature Syllabus but have a horror at condensing any writers work, especially one of my favourite authors. Which bits would you leave out?

I think that most of her books are compact, with the exception of Green Dolphin Country and Child From The Sea, so probably wouldn’t need much editing. Its the themes of her work which our state run schools might have a problem with.
regards Deborah

Hi Deborah

Yes I would hate task of trying to edit Elisabeth Goudge’s work.  It seems a colossal cheek.  On the other had if some one could manage the challenge perhaps young people would be inspired to find and read  her work (unabridged), as adults.

I suppose it is just the desire to share with others. Young people would have the chance to see a “master” English writer.   I teach English now so I suppose I think about it from the perspective of  some of the students here ….. especially the  young teenagers… sigh they might not be permitted to read Green Dolphin Country unabridged.

It was literature that educated me until I reached a stage where I could think and retain  what I learned and now I help others to find joy, delight,  and the rewards of reading.

Best wishes,

Ruth.

V. I. P. by Helen Collopy

V. I. P. by Helen Collopy

Since I was 14, She has exerted a profound influence on my life. I read Green Dolphin Country, then Island Magic and then The Herb of Grace. An only child of loved but anxious parents, living in stressful circumstances (just after the War) with two elderly, difficult Aunts, Elizabeth Goudge gave me an entry into a world of the imagination and the spiritual which has sustained me through adolescence to adulthood and now to grandmother-hood. At every stage of my life I have found comfort and encouragement in her books. I have all of them.

For the last 20 years I have been presenting special friends with The Joy of the Snow. From childhood to maturity-and beyond- this wonderful woman has been my friend. Recently at the Lyceum Club here in Melbourne, I saw that another member was to present a talk on Elizabeth Goudge; it was splendid and she had a display of First Editions. I was delighted to find I was one of many other devoted readers.

In my 10 visits to England (over a period of 32 years; my heart is there ) I have managed to visit nearly all her haunts but never, sadly to the Channel Islands.

It is Good Friday morning and I just happened to be whiling away the time on the internet when I discovered your website. Such occurrences are not coincidental.

Yours sincerely, Helen Collopy (nee Corry)

PS My daughter, born when I was 30, was baptized Marianne Therese. That her 2 elder brothers were called William and Timothy was a coincidence, though a lot of G. D Country readers have commented on it.

When I emailed you an hour or 2 ago, I omitted to say I live in, Australia—where the books of Elizabeth Goudge have always been much in demand. I picked up a p/b yesterday of Green Dolphin Country, just published by Capuchin Classics 2008, with a foreword by her distant relation, Eileen Goudge. (“It’s walking off the shelves” said the Bookseller )

Helen Collopy

 

Good As New

Cappuccino Classics

Re Issue of Green Dolphin Country

First published in 1944, Green Dolphin Country is a magnificent epic of love, courage and selfless devotion, set in the Channel Islands and New Zealand in the nineteenth century, written with Elizabeth Goudge’s inimitable feeling for the intricacies of human emotions.  Though the book is fiction, and the characters not portraits, it is based on fact.  A stunning tale of loss and self-sacrifice, it is truly one of the most memorable love stories of the last century.

About the author:

Elizabeth Goudge (1900-84) was the author of several novels, short stories and children’s books. Goudge was awarded the Carnegie Medal for The Little White Horse (1946), a book which J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, lists among her childhood favourites. Green Dolphin Country (1944) appeared in the US as Green Dolphin Street, and was subsequently  adapted as a film under the same name.

About the foreword writer:

Eileen Goudge is the best-selling author of Garden Lies, Such Devoted Sisters, Blessing in Disguise, Trail of Secrets, Thorns of Truth and more.

Reviews:

“Breathtaking ” A long vista of undulating story, with here and there peaks of volcanic excitement.” Daily Telegraph ”

About Capuchin Classics:

The Capuchin series aims to offer the book-lover a range of reprints of outstanding works which have undeservedly been forgotten or are not easily available in the British market, alongside a choice of literary favourites which are themselves in the classic genre.

Green Dolphin Country will be published with Messer Marco Polo by Donn Byrne, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle and The Incredulity of Father Brown by GK Chesterton in July 2008.