Hampshire Days, and Other Adventures – The W.H. Hudson Story

Hosted by Gilbert White’s Field Studies Centre, Selborne

Date

Thursday 4 April 2024

Time

From 7pm

Admission

£10

Website

More details are available from the organisers website

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A talk by Conor Jameson

A life-size oil painting of a grey-whiskered Victorian gentleman clutching field glasses hangs above the fireplace in the main meeting room at RSPB headquarters at Sandy. His name is W.H. Hudson (1841-1922), a one-time celebrated author and naturalist. The painting is based on a photograph taken in the New Forest, which was one of Hudson’s favourite haunts, described vividly in his 1903 book Hampshire Days. Hudson wrote the book at River Cottage, on the River Itchen, the keys to which were given him by Sir Edward Grey, who was soon to become Foreign Secretary. Grey was one of the many prominent figures of the era who loved Hudson’s writing, and the man himself.

Conor Jameson’s talk reveals how this unschooled, impoverished, battle-scarred immigrant came to be so influential in the creation of the RSPB by its founding women, and in the rise of the modern-day conservation movement. He travels to Hudson’s homeland and discovers that he is very well remembered and celebrated there, including by the RSPB’s partner organisation, Aves Argentinas. Hudson was inspired in childhood by Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selborne, and he made a pilgrimage to White’s graveside and imagined a conversation with him.

Conor links Hudson’s life and legacy to today and compares then and now. It’s a costume drama, with plenty of birds. Conor’s biography, Finding W.H. Hudson – The writer who came to Britain to save the birds, has recently been published