Sport in the Fields and Woods – Evidence of Jefferies’ authorship of 10 uncollected and not since republished articles

The evidence presented here for the newly republished articles in Sport in the Fields and Woods stems from my research of Jefferies’ articles and letters that I began in 2009 under the guidance of Hugoe Matthews (former President of the Richard Jefferies Society).


Evidence for Jefferies’ authorship of the newly republished items has been collated through textual analysis of key words and phrases, and comparisons with other works. It is important to note that 4 of these items predate The Gamekeeper at Home, and that the style of Jefferies’ early works is relatively unknown and under-researched. I have found that Jefferies modified his writing style to suit the various papers that he wrote for. He makes a note to this effect in his early notebooks with regard to the World.


Full language analysis research is given here for all 10 items.

Abbreviations used are as follows: Nature near London (NNL); Wild Life in a Southern County (WLSC); Hodge and his Masters (HHM); Jefferies’ Land (JL); Wood Magic (WM); World’s End (WE); Restless Human Hearts (RHH); Chronicles of the Hedges (CH); Field and Farm (FF); The Amateur Poacher (AP); The Gamekeeper at Home (GH); Restless Human Hearts (RHH); The Scarlet Shawl (SS); Pall Mall Gazette (PMG); Livestock Journal (LSJ); The Open Air (OA) The Old House at Coate (OHC); St. James’ Gazette (SJG); Landscape and Labour (LL); The Hills and the Vale (HV); The Life of the Fields (LF); Field and Hedgerow (FH)

The ten new items include:

Ironbound December (Pall Mall Gazette, 26 December 1878)

Partridges in 1880 (St. James’s Gazette, 29 June 1880)

Rabbiting (Pall Mall Gazette, 8 March 1873)

Rabbit-Shooting (St. James’s Gazette, 3 February 1882)

Snipe Shooting at Home (Pall Mall Gazette, 19 January 1874)

Snow Shooting (Pall Mall Gazette, 30 December 1874) *please note that the date given in the published Bibliography shows the incorrect date of 19 January 1874)*

The Country in November (Graphic, 25 November 1871)

The Use of Dogs in Shooting (Pall Mall Gazette, 30 August 1879)

Wild-Fowling (St. James’s Gazette, 4 December 1885)

Wild Fowl Shooting (The Times, December 1877, reprinted in the Leeds Mercury, 21 December 1877)



  1. Ironbound December (Pall Mall Gazette, 26 December 1878)


This article was part of a yearlong series of papers in the Pall Mall Gazette by Jefferies, which included ‘The Fields in May’, ‘Midsummer, 1879’, ‘August Out-of-Doors’, ‘Early Autumn’, ‘A Leafy November’, ‘Spring Notes’, and ‘Summer Notes’. The timing of this piece in December fills an otherwise unexplained gap in the series of articles. As established by John Pearson and W.J. Keith the notebook parallels for this series break off in the middle of ‘Leafy November’ and begin again halfway through ‘Spring Notes’, so we do not have the notebooks for the winter of 1878.

An account of a wintry walk by the Thames (which fits with Jefferies’ living in Surbiton at the time of authorship), the article is identical in sentiment and style to Jefferies’ other contributions to the Pall Mall Gazette at this time.  The mention of a hungry robin following him along the road anticipates a similar scene in Jefferies’ later essay, ‘Hours of Spring’ in which a starving thrush appeals to him beneath the parlour window.  In ‘Ironbound December’, Jefferies writes: ‘Returning along the road, a robin came out from the hedge and alighted on the ground not three yards in front of me. As I came near he flew ahead, alighting every two or three yards. This he repeated for fully a furlong. What he meant was fully expressed: “I am hungry; feed me.”’ In ‘Hours of Spring’, Jefferies writes: ‘[the thrush] came across to the door to see if a stray berry still remained on a creeper. He saw me at the window, and he came to the window – right to it – and stopped and looked full at me some minutes, within touch almost, saying as plainly as could be said, ‘I am starving – help me.’ A similar scene involving a cat and hungry birds in winter also features in ‘January Notes’ (pub. October 1981).


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