I collect Henry Williamson's novels. One turned up at the Car Boot Sale last weekend and I had to have it. Indeed, Williamson's assessment of Jefferies' personality from childhood made me think he could have been describing poet Edward Thomas's personal development . . . Jefferies was Thomas's first literary hero and he happily roamed the countryside which Jefferies knew and loved - that South Country which Thomas was to later write about, and indeed in 1909 he had his own biography of Jefferies published. Apparently Jefferies was a lasting influence on Edward Thomas's wife, then widow, Helen Thomas, which is displayed in her antidote to grief, "As It Was" . . . THIS is an interesting blog post on the subject.
Here is a little taster of Jefferies' observational writing from a chapter entitled The Life of the Fields:
"It was between the may and the June roses. The may bloom had fallen, and among
the hawthorn boughs were the little green bunches that would feed the
red-wings in autumn. High up the briars had climbed, straight and
towering whils there was a thorn or an ash sapling, or a yellow-green
willow, to uphold them, and then curving over towards the meadow. The
buds were on them, but not yet open; it was between the may and the
As the wind, wandering over the sea, takes from each wave
an invisible portion, and brings to those on shore the ethereal essence
of ocean, so the air lingering among the woods and hedges - green waves
and billows - became full of fine atoms of summer. Swept from notched
hawthorn leaves, broad-topped oak-leaves, narrow ash sprays and oval
willows; from vast elm cliffs and sharp-taloned brambles under; brushed
from the waving grasses and stiffening corn, the dust of the sunshine
was borne along and breathed. Steeped in flower and pollen to the music
of bees and birds, the stream of the atmosphere became a living thing.
It was life to breathe it, for the air itself was life. The strength
of the earth went up through the leaves into the wind."