(John) Richard Jefferies (6 November 1848 - 14 August 1887) is best known for his writings about nature and the countryside. His birthplace and home at Coate, now on the out-skirts of Swindon, provide the background to all his major works of fiction and for many of his essays.
The Richard Jefferies Society was established in 1950 and has members in all parts of the world. It is a registered charity (no. 1042838) managed by an Executive Council of volunteers.
The Objects of the Society are:o To promote interest in, and respect for the life and works of Richard Jefferies.
o To hold meetings of its members and others, at which lectures may be given bearing on the life, work and times of Richard Jefferies.
o To maintain a collection of and help make available to members copies of the works of Richard Jefferies and associated literature.
o To monitor and protect as far as possible the buildings and countryside associated with Richard Jefferies.
o To provide members with news and information about Richard Jefferies by means of a newsletter and journal.
Newsletters, with information about the writer, current events, publications and services are circulated to members twice a year along with an annual report. In addition they receive a copy of the Society's Journal containing hitherto unpublished writing by Jefferies, new articles, research and book reviews. There are meetings for rallies, readings and discussions, as well as visits to places associated with the writer. The Society has a special concern for such places as the writer's birthplace at Coate (which is now maintained as a museum), Coate Water, Liddington Hill, and the memorial stone on Burderop Down, all in Wiltshire. Other places of pilgrimage are at Surbiton, Sydenham and Eltham near London, and at Brighton, Crowborough and at his final home at Goring by Sea, Sussex where he died on 16 August 1887 at the age of 38. Richard Jefferies' grave is in Broadwater cemetery at Worthing.
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You can watch a film about Richard Jefferies and his Coate home by clicking on the 'Watch on Vimeo' bar below. The film is 23 minutes long and was made by the Richard Jefferies Society in 2001.
Jefferies Land from Swindon Viewpoint on Vimeo.
Jefferies' favourite haunt: Liddington Hill - from an oil painting by David Brackston, 2011
“There is a hill to which I used to resort ...
The labour of walking three miles to it, all the while gradually ascending,
seemed to clear my blood of the heaviness accumulated at home.
On a warm summer day the slow continued rise required continual effort,
which carried away the sense of oppression.
The familiar everyday scene was soon out of sight; I came to other trees,
meadows, and fields; I began to breathe a new air and to have a fresher aspiration...
Moving up the sweet short turf, at every step my heart seemed to obtain a wider
horizon of feeling; with every inhalation of rich pure air, a deeper desire.
The very light of the sun was whiter and more brilliant here.
By the time I had reached the summit I had entirely forgotten the petty circumstances
and the annoyances of existence. I felt myself, myself.”
The Story of my Heart, by Richard Jefferies, 1883.
The setting for many of Jefferies' adventures.