Ben Tubbs Adventures is Richard Jefferies’ earliest extant work of any length, probably
written in his late teens. It is a quest
novel of voyage and adventure, and his first essay in a genre to which he was
naturally drawn. It was probably influenced by the greatest quest story of them
all, Homer’s Odyssey, one of
Jefferies’ favourite books as a boy.
It is likely that Jefferies wrote it for his personal amusement
and the entertainment of family and friends. For students of Jefferies, the
novel is of interest.
The humour and Ben’s pranks in the early chapters of the book are
juvenile and immature but fitting for a boy’s story. The descriptions of the slaves
on the slave-ships are racist in the extreme and painful to read. However the
later chapters, that treat Ben’s adventures in America, show some sparks of
Jefferies’ real writing talent. He describes the prairies with great
The book is published for the first time (April 2016), in paperback (200pp)and is available through the Richard Jefferies Society at a cost of £8 plus postage (rrp £12).
There is an excellent introduction by Andrew Rossabi and this is worth reading in its own right.
Petton Books: Norfolk