Richard Jefferies, 1848-1887

Biographical note

Naturalist and novelist, son of a farmer, was born at Swindon, Wilts. He began his literary career on the staff of a local newspaper, and first attracted attention by a letter in the Times on the Wiltshire labourer. Thereafter he wrote for the Pall Mall Gazette, in which appeared his Gamekeeper at Home, and Wild Life in a Southern County [1879], both afterwards republished. Both these works are full of minute observation and vivid description of country life. They were followed by The Amateur Poacher [1880], Wood Magic [1881], Round about a Great Estate [1881], The Open Air [1885], and others on similar subjects. Among his novels are Bevis, in which he draws on his own childish memories, and After London, or Wild England [1885], a romance of the future, when London has ceased to exist. The Story of My Heart [1883] is an idealised picture of his inner life.

Jefferies died after a painful illness, which lasted for six years. In his own line, that of depicting with an intense sense for nature all the elements of country and wild life, vegetable and animal, surviving in the face of modern civilisation, he has had few equals.

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