Henry S. Salt
“He was a pagan, a pantheist, a worshipper of earth and sea, and of the great sun ‘burning in the heaven’; he yearned for a free, natural, fearless life of physical health and spiritual exaltation, and for a death in harmony with the life that preceded it”.
So is the writer Richard Jefferies (1848-1887) described by Henry S. Salt in this classic study first published in 1894. The book sparked some controversy at the time, as Salt – a campaigner for animal rights, vegetarianism and socialism – used it to claim Jefferies for one of his own, highlighting the social radicalism and nature-based spirituality that increasingly marked his subject’s later writing. With wit and erudition he demolishes the conservative Victorian presentation of Jefferies as a mere chronicler of traditional country life and reveals him as a flawed yet inspirational figure whose best works were “unsurpassed as prose poems by anything which the English language contains”. This new Winter Oak edition includes a preface by Paul Cudenec analysing the spiritual space shared by Salt and Jefferies, both of whom have been neglected by contemporary culture but have an urgent message to deliver to our times.