Silent Witnesses: Trees in British Art 1760-1870

A 190-page book on the history of trees in British art, Silent Witnesses: Trees in British Art 1760-1870. Just published. Apparently it’s shaky on the history of garden trees, but sound on everything else — according to the Country Life review.


A fascinating account of the survival of an archaic Staffordshire and Cheshire word, tallet, meaning the hay-loft above a stable. The passage on tallet occurs on page 105-6 of Rustic Speech and Folk-Lore (Oxford University Press, 19131) by Mary Elizabeth Wright. Wright was the learned wife of one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s key tutors at Exeter College Oxford, Joseph Wright.

1. Likely to be November 1913. In October 1913 The Dial stated that the book was forthcoming and to be issued in the Autumn of 1913. In the 1st December 1913 issue of the The Dial, the book is listed as having been “received since the last issue”. Given the delay in transatlantic shipping to the USA, this would place the publication date at perhaps early to mid November 1913. Given the date and the author, and the subject matter (inc. “Supernatural Beings”, plant names etc) it seems a likely early influence on Tolkien. The possible influence has been explored by J. S. Ryan in his essay “An Important Influence: His Professor’s Wife” (in Tolkien’s View: Windows into his World, 2009).

Been there, done that…

A couple tour a few of the many pottery factory outlets in Stoke-on-Trent, and are generally disappointed by all but Dudson in Burslem…

“Julia thought she’d like to look round a shop full of odds and ends of hotel ware [at Dudson]. So, U-turn [the car] and waste time as traffic builds up. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s actually got loads of great (brightly coloured) stuff and it’s cheap. It also had plenty of room for fat people and a cheery woman on the till. I bought more there than we bought anywhere else … We will be going back to Dudson, and will doubtless fit in a visit to Moorcroft [which is nearby]”