The Godstone and the Blackymor

By T. H. White


(1959) This is a delightfully rambling narrative of White's adventures in western Ireland. We follow White as he hunts and fishes in a vast untenanted estate and learn with fascination the delicate art of falconry. We accompany him in the cold black morning before dawn in search of barnacle geese. Then there is an eerie experience with the Fairy Fire and the revelation of the Godstone, a minor deity which White hoped to prove was pagan in origin, but which turned out to be the pillow of a Christian hermit. And who will be able to forget Mr. James Montgomery-Marjoribanks, the "Blackymor" from Africa who toured the Irish fairs selling patent medicines and succeeded in helping two of White's rheumatic neighbors, much to everyone's relief. There are legends told over turf fires, enhanced with the unique warmth of Irish whiskey, and unexpected random incidents all told spontaneously as they occur to White's lively mind.

The author writes: "God knows what this book is about. I suppose it's a bit of autobiography really. But it's about living on the West Coast of Ireland, in ‘the parish nearest to America’ — they all are, I mean the parishes — and it is about the people and things there, more than about me. I stumbled across what Protestants had said was an idol still being worshipped by the Catholics, and a coal-black Negro selling patent medicines, and a real Fairy Fire which lit our footsteps over the infinite bog — no whimsy. I did a lot of goose-shooting and falconry and salmon fishing. I went on pilgrimages and drank a lot and made friends and found out what I could and thought about it. I got ashamed of killing things. It seems to me a complicated sort of book about a complicated place, which I loved, and anyway it has pictures by Ardizzone, who loved it too."

copied from the dust jacket


England Have My Bones: For the Reader of the Works of T. H. White
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Unless otherwise noted, entire contents 1996, J. Moulder and M. Schaefer. All rights reserved.
Revised Saturday, 28-Sep-2002 22:12:11 CDT.