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 16 April 2024

Hilaire Belloc: an afternoon of four illustrated talks, exploring the life and career of this great son of Sussex. This event is free....

'Bleak House' - the Belloc family home in Slindon

Saturday 27th July, 2pm - 5.30pm, (with coffee breaks). Guided walk to follow afternoon talks. Coronation Hall, Reynolds Lane, Slindon. BN18 0QT. Disabled access. Guided walk approx. two hours, moderate climb, no disabled access.

Four speakers with four different takes on Belloc. David Arscott, well known Sussex publisher and author reflects on Belloc's Sussex writings. Roderick Blythe, a Belloc descendant, will give a personal appreciation of his esteemed forebear. Playwright, Ann Feloy, will discuss how she went about turning Belloc's famous Sussex book, The Four Men, into a stage play. Chris Hare will look at the politics and philosophy of Belloc and wonder if his warnings from the 1920s have come to fruition in the 2020s. 

For tickets, please follow the following link.

After the talks Chris will lead an optional walk around Belloc's boyhood haunts of Slindon and Halnaker (there is no extra charge for the walk). For those wishing to do the walk only it will cost £7.50 (for this option please email Chris at sussexhistory.hare@gmail.com).

Jake, who runs The Forge cafe in the village (next door to the Coronation Hall) is happy to serve evening meals and also happy for us to do a bit of singing should we be so inclined. Please let Chris know if you are interested in this particular aspect of the day's proceedings.

Monday 8 April 2024

Classic children’s poems have been given a trigger warning by a publisher because they may be “harmful” to modern readers, The Telegraph can reveal...

Classic children’s poems have been given a trigger warning by a publisher because they may be “harmful” to modern readers, The Telegraph can reveal.

Prolific author Hilaire Belloc's popular comic verse, including 1907’s Cautionary Tales For Children, has been republished by Pan Macmillan with a new cautionary note.

A trigger warning printed in the collection of humorous children’s poems warns that the rhymes may be “hurtful or indeed harmful” to modern-day readers.

The disclaimer alerts readers to potentially troubling “phrases and terminology” in the collection which includes animal-themed verse and parody poems such as Jim: Who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by a Lion.

The warning about harmful language “prevalent at the time” when historic works were written follows a new trend in publishing which has seen cautionary notes printed in reissued works by Ian Fleming, Agatha Christie and Roald Dahl.

Illustrations from the Hilaire Belloc children's poem The Llama CREDIT: BASIL T BLACKWOOD

Printed in the opening pages of the Belloc collection put out by Pan Macmillan, the publisher warns that the text has not been edited and is therefore “true to the original in every way and is reflective of the language and period in which it was originally written”.

It adds: “Readers should be aware that there may be hurtful or indeed harmful phrases and terminology that were prevalent at the time this book was written and in the context of the historical setting of this book.”

The publisher adds in the lengthy disclaimer that “Macmillan believes changing the text to reflect today’s world would undermine the authenticity of the original, so has decided to leave the text in its entirety”.

However, the publishing house states that retaining the original language of the author does not constitute an endorsement of the “characterisation, content or language” in Belloc’s poems.

Illustrations from the poem The Crocodile CREDIT: BASIL T BLACKWOOD

Belloc was born in 1870 to a French father but raised in Sussex. He later served as Liberal MP in Salford.

A friend of G K Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw, he was an Anglo-French and Catholic outsider, whose work spanned travel writing, histories, religious essays, political tracts, and poetry.

He is also known for illustrated collections of comic poems, including Cautionary Tales For Children, spanning rhymes about characters suffering absurd consequences for mild infractions.

Other volumes include The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts and More Beasts (For Worse Children), which are filled with amusing poems about animals.

These three collections have been combined into one volume by Pan Macmillan and covered by the trigger warning about “harmful” language.

Cautionary Tales includes a zoo keeper being called “fat”, while the 1896 collection Book of Beasts makes reference to “the Kurd” and “little Turk”, and More Beasts makes a rhyme of “the woeful superstitions of the East”.
‘Generalised anxiety’

Chris Hare, the vice chairman of the Hilaire Belloc society and author of the work Hilaire Belloc: Politics of Living, has criticised the use of warnings.

He told The Telegraph: “It’s what we see today, a huge sense of caution and a generalised anxiety about saying the wrong thing.

“We live in an age where people are permanently anxious about causing offence.

“Since the Second World War, we have lived in quite a coddled society. It’s no longer the school of hard knocks, but the school of comfy living.

“Belloc himself saw this coming, a time when old ideas of morality have faded and nobody has any idea what might be right or wrong, so they worry about what might cause offence.

“I think he wouldn’t be surprised by this, although he would likely be saddened if it was because of his children’s poetry.”

Pan Macmillan has been approached for comment.

Craig Simpson - Daily Telegraph 6 April 2024 • 2:24pm