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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Tuesday 19 July 2022

An interesting find at a flea market in Chicago...

Matthew Ennis contacted me from America with some interesting information. He has come into the possession of some very interesting hand written poems accompanied by intriguing drawings. This is his story:

'I got them at a flea market in the Chicago area that were amongst a bunch of other ephemera from the very early 1900s. I saw the elephant poem and connected it to Belloc, so I thought it may be his work since it's very professionally done and there's a whole book of the same, 24 pages and the fun simple poems are extraordinary.'

Now the opinion of the Chairman is that the drawings are probably by Basil Blackwood. He writes:

'I still don’t feel able to say definitely HB. Still not found any examples of his writing in capitals. Some of the verses seem almost too whimsical/sentimental..I’m almost tempted to say (given that the drawings seem to be by Basil Blackwood) that they might have been composed by Elodie. At least some of them inspired by her. Not that I am conscious of her writing *anything* (other than letters to HB).'

Mike did go on to say that the drawings were definitely by Basil Blackwood. 

Basil Temple Blackwood was the third son and fifth child of the first Marquess of Duffering and Ava (and Governor General of Canada). He was born in Clandeboye, Ireland.Which I suppose, given his background, made him Anglo-Irish. Strangely enough, he later went on to become Private secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1916 (a poignant year in Irish history). Before this, he went up to Balliol College - Oxford.This was Belloc's college as well. Whilst at Oxford, he became friends with Belloc.

In 1896, Belloc approached Blackwood to illustrate his book of humorous children's verse, The Bad Child's Book Of Beasts. The book was an immediate success. Blackwood went on to illustrate several more of Belloc's books, including: The Modern Traveller (1898), A Moral Alphabet (1899), More Peers (1900), Cautionary Tales for Children (1907) and More Beasts for Worse Children (1910).

Blackwood died in the trenches in 1917. 

The manuscript is available for purchase. However, we cannot say for certain who wrote the poems (except for the Elephant which is definitely by Belloc) or who is responsible for the illustrations.