Richard Jefferies had a short life — 38 years — just long enough for his contemporaries to recognize him as a gifted chronicler of rural life, and too short a time for him to achieve what he most desired, recognition as a novelist of the first rank.1 He died in penury, agonizing over the fate of his wife and children, yet ironically his family was to be well provided for from the sales of books of which neither he nor his admirers had any great hopes, an autobiographical work that was judged scarcely publishable in its time, and two children’s books that even he seems to have underestimated.
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