RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 106
Extent2 boxes
TitleHenry Williamson: letters to Eric and Kathleen Watkins
DescriptionThe collection contains personal letters and postcards written by Williamson to Eric and Kathleen Watkins between 1936 and 1974, together with some miscellaneous items. Also included are additional items (photocopies of letters from Williamson to the Savage Club; photocopy of early draft of article ‘The old pond’, Feb 1934; correspondence with John Lloyd and W.G. Hoskins; photocopy of letter from Lois Sampleigh to Mick Loats relating to Williamson), as well as an order of service for the funeral of Kathleen Watkins, 2002.
Admin HistoryHenry 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.

The Watkins were close friends of Williamson, who invited their comments on his books whilst they were still in draft form. The Watkins had become acquainted with Williamson in 1922, when Eric had written to Williamson following the publication of 'Dandelion Days'. Williamson dedicated one of the volumes of 'The Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight' to the couple. The Watkins lived first of all in Streatham as Eric worked as a sub-editor for the 'News Chronicle' on Fleet Street. They then moved to Petts Wood, Kent, where Williamson was a frequent visitor. Kathleen was a keen amateur writer, with some of her poems for children published in 'Nursery World' and 'Child Education'.
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialThe Henry Williamson Society Book Collection consisting of all published works of Williamson is also available for reference at Special Collections and is listed in full on the Library's online OPAC.

The following Williamson archive collections are held at Special Collections: EUL MS 43, 71,74, 78, 91, 106, 111, 126, 239, 282, 356, 374, 402.

Papers relating to Henry Williamson are also held at the following repositories: Dartmouth College Library, USA; Savage Club, London; Reading University Library; King's College London; Royal Society of Literature; and Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies.
Access ConditionsUsual EUL arrangements apply.
ArrangementThe following arrangement has been used, with all items organised chronologically within each section: A. Letters addressed to Eric Watkins; B. Letters addressed to Eric and Kathleen Watkins; C. Letters addressed to Kathleen Watkins; D. Postcards addressed to Eric Watkins; E. Postcards addressed to Kathleen Watkins; F. Postcards addressed to Eric and Kathleen Watkins; G. Miscellaneous items (correspondence including from Father Brocard Sewell, some copy correspondence, notebook relating to Williamson's 'The Gold Falcon', menu cards etc.).
Finding_AidsA rough handlist is available, prepared by J.W. Blench, Archivist and Research Coordinator to the Henry Williamson Society, Aug 1993. The additional items are currently unlisted.
Creator_NameWilliamson; Henry (1895-1977); writer
Mgt_GroupLiterary papers
DS/UK/48Williamson; Henry (1895-1977); writer1895-1977
DS/UK/213Henry Williamson Society; 1980-1980-
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