Founded 8th May 1999

Newsletter No.46 22 July 2014


No, this is not another aspersion being cast at H.M’s Government’s defence policy, but a final plea to those members who have not yet paid this year’s annual subscription – still only £10. I am afraid there are still 10 outstanding, which is disappointing. If you have only received the Newsletter this time, the Black Spot hovers over you. Journals await. Please……..



If any member has, or knows anyone else who has, a copy of a JMF book signed or inscribed by the author, I would be very glad to hear from them with, if possible, a clear scan of the said signature. We want to build up an archive of all such works.


JMF's signature




Browsing through The New York Review of Books just under a month ago, I came across a review by Colm Tȯibίn of Javier Marίas’s book The Infatuations (“a murder story entangled with a love story”) translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa, first published in 2011 but now available in Penguin Books.


It is a very positive review and includes the following:

Marίas likes murder. While he has translated Sterne, Faulkner, and Nabokov into Spanish and learned a great deal from them on the way, he has also translated Stevenson, Kipling and Conrad. Thus the yarn – the adventure story told at length that holds the audience – belongs to him as much as any set of playful narrative voices…” I am sure JMF, if not Lord Blandamer, would be delighted that he has been a member of our Society since 2001.


Javier was winner of the Prix Formentor, an international literary award, in 2013, whilst The Infatuations was shortlisted for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award (Fiction).




Most of you will know that JMF’s home from 1899 until his death in 1932 was The Divinity House, on Palace Green, facing the north door of Durham Cathedral. At the rear of the house is a narrow lane, known as Windy Gap, which leads down to the banks of the River Wear and thence to the city centre. On the other side of the Gap was The Divinity’s House’s walled garden, which we know was tenderly looked after by his wife, Evelyn.


In the late 1970s, Durham University bought the garden, with plans to extend the University Library, adjacent to the garden, which was struggling to meet the requirements of an ever increasing number of students (now reaching 15,000). Built of sandstone to match the existing buildings in the area, but with a modernistic design, the extension work retained between it and the existing library a small rectangular area which was left as the last remnant of the old garden. During 2013-2014, even this remnant disappeared – to be replaced by a patio extension to the library’s coffee shop. Much as JMF loved books, I cannot imagine he would have been enamoured with these developments, whilst Evelyn would probably be heart-broken.


JMF's Garden

The ‘garden’ from The Divinity House window



It was good to hear recently from Giselle Panero, our Argentinian member. She writes: “Today, when I was in a bookshop looking for some readers for some of my students, I came across Moonfleet! It’s the Usborne edition for children, but very well simplified and with great pictures. I couldn’t believe it! So you can imagine that I made my choice of the reader quite quickly. I was really surprised because we don’t get any of JMF’s books here, and although there are lots of books in English, the range is always the same. I mean, they always get the same classics from an author and not others – like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped and Treasure Island, and not others of his great novels, which I was very lucky to get in Great Britain. So it will be a pleasure to read Moonfleet again and watch the movie that I was able to get at our meeting in Dorchester.

Best wishes and I hope to go back one day in the near future.”

We do hope Giselle will be able to get over for our North-East meeting next year.



Some of you may remember that I made reference in last January’s Newsletter to a talk I was to give on JMF to the Powys Society. Well, it has taken place – in the atmospheric library of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society at the Dorset County Museum. My wife and I stayed at the Wessex Royale Hotel, where the Society was based three years ago. Although the group was a small one, I think they gained an insight into JMF’s life and works. In the afternoon, we drove over to Fleet; it was a lovely sunny day and both Chesil beach and the Fleet lagoon looked so still and benign.


Old Fleet Church


I hadn’t noticed the copy of the line drawing before (below), which was dated 1790 – this showed the lost nave as well as the chancel (the latter is all that remains).



On Sunday, we drove back through Wiltshire, past Manningford Bruce, where JMF was born.


The Hold – JMF’s probable birthplace.


Just before The Hold, is the turning to the tiny hamlet of North Newnton (the subject of an article in the accompanying Journal).

I managed to take photographs of two of the buildings once owned by JMF.


Falkner’s Cottage


Falkner’s Farm


Our final stop, before our Fosse Way homewards, was in Marlborough, where I was able to pass the school where JMF studied.


One quotation from JMF, which I read out to the Powys Society members, I thought I would share with you:

“For Nature, if she once endows man or woman with romance, gives then so rich a store of it as shall last them, life through, until the end. In sickness or health, in poverty or riches, through middle age and old age, through loss of hair and loss of teeth, under wrinkled face and gouty limbs, under crow’s-feet and double chins, under all the least romantic and most sordid mal-aisances of life, romance endures to the end. Its price is altogether above rubies; it can never be taken away from those that have it, and those that have it not, can never acquire it for money, nor by the most utter toil….”


How many of you know where this comes from?



Nearly all of you will be receiving the latest Journal with this Newsletter. I am most grateful, as always, to the contributors. All have, however, been regular writers for the cause. I do urge others to get involved – any aspect of JMF’s life, his career or his works can be tackled. At present, there are no articles ‘on the stocks’ for 2015; so I live in hopes!


Best Wishes, Kenneth Hillier

Greenmantle, Main Street, Kings Newton, Melbourne, Derbyshire DE73 8BX


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