Copsford is the account of a young man’s life in rural Sussex, away from his city life – a year in which he rented a derelict cottage and scratched a living from selling dried herbs and wildflowers. Bearing comparison to Thoreau’s Walden, Walter Murray’s intense feeling for his place is evident on every page.
Walter Murray was a young man tired of living in the city. Early in the 1920s, he persuaded a Sussex farmer to rent him a derelict cottage with no running water or electricity. It was dirty, dark and overrun by rats. He bought a brush and pail in the village, forced the rats to retreat and became alert to the wildlife and plants around him. It was here he met his future wife, ‘The Music Mistress’, with whom he would later found a school. However, this is no simple story of a rural idyll – life at Copsford was hard and Murray doesn’t shy away from the occasional terrors of a house that had its hauntings.
My sister gave me Copsford (1948). It was clearly a book she loved, and its author – Walter Murray – was someone we’d once known. So it seemed odd I’d never heard of it. It’s a strange,...Read more