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Henry Williamson

Henry Williamson (1895–1977) was born in Brockley, London. In January 1914 he enlisted in the British Army; by November he was fighting in the trenches on the western front. He worked his way up to lieutenant by 1916, before falling sick from a gas attack in 1917 and spending the rest of the war on home duty. After the war, he wrote for a weekly newspaper in London, until repairing to a small village in north Devon, where he began his writing career in earnest—The Beautiful Years, the first volume of a tetralogy, was published in 1921. For the rest of his life, he would live in the country, both in Devon and Norfolk. In 1935, Williamson visited Germany and became an admirer of Hitler’s (whom he called “the only pacifist in Europe”), and in 1937 he joined Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. He later came to regret his stance. He published some fifty books in all, among them The Patriot’s Progress, Salar the Salmon, and a fifteen-volume semiautobiographical novel cycle, A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight. Tarka the Otter, his seventh book, was awarded the Hawthornden Prize in 1928. He contributed numerous articles to newspapers and periodicals and broadcast regularly on BBC radio. He was married twice and had eight children.