Hilaire Belloc bought King's Land (in Shipley, Sussex), 5 acres and a working windmill for £1000 in 1907 and it was his home for the rest of his life. Belloc loved Sussex as few other writers have loved her: he lived there for most of his 83 years, he tramped the length and breadth of the county, slept under her hedgerows, drank in her inns, sailed her coast and her rivers and wrote several incomparable books about her. "He does not die that can bequeath Some influence to the land he knows, Or dares, persistent, interwreath Love permanent with the wild hedgerows; He does not die, but still remains Substantiate with his darling plains."

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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

“….So again good night – if I could follow the night round her long whirl around the bend of the earth – at last I should come to you….” – Hilaire Belloc to Elodie Hogan, August 6, 1890.

Two young sweethearts, at the turn of the nineteenth century, separated by immense distance (and having no internet or telephone to unite them), kindled their romance by love letters and long journeys.

American Elodie Hogan, age 22, met Hilaire Belloc, two years her junior, in London while touring Europe with her mother and elder sister in the summer of 1890. They were introduced there, at the Belloc family home, by mutual friends. By August, though already in love, Elodie was on her way back to her home in California. The couple began exchanging letters, and it was not long before Hilaire began a journey across ocean and continent to be with her again. Short of funds for such a trip, he travelled across the United States by train, paying his way at times by offering sketches in exchange for room and board.

Family objections and practical considerations kept the two from marrying immediately, but although Hilaire returned to Europe, they wrote to one another throughout the intervening years. He returned to California in 1896 and the couple wed in June. The Bellocs had five children -three sons and two daughters. In 1913 Elodie became ill with what was probably cancer, and she died at the family home, King’s Land, in 1914. When she died, Hilaire, heartbroken, closed the door to her room and it was never again opened in his lifetime.

The correspondence of Elodie and Hilaire Belloc is part of the Elodie Belloc Correspondence collection (MS2007-005), one of several Belloc family collections at the John J. Burns Library.
Items are from between 09 Feb 2011 & 10 Feb 2011.

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