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Hampshire Days, and Other Adventures – The W.H. Hudson Story

Tickets still available at the door

Thursday 4th April 2024 7pm

Gilbert White Field Studies Centre 

A life-size oil painting of a grey-whiskered Victorian gentleman clutching field glasses hangs above the fireplace in the main meeting room at RSPB headquarters at Sandy. His name is W.H. Hudson (1841-1922), a one-time celebrated author and naturalist. The painting is based on a photograph taken in the New Forest, which was one of Hudson’s favourite haunts, described vividly in his 1903 book Hampshire Days. Hudson wrote the book at River Cottage, on the River Itchen, the keys to which were given him by Sir Edward Grey, who was soon to become Foreign Secretary. Grey was one of the many prominent figures of the era who loved Hudson’s writing, and the man himself.

Conor Jameson’s talk reveals how this unschooled, impoverished, battle-scarred immigrant came to be so influential in the creation of the RSPB by its founding women, and in the rise of the modern-day conservation movement. He travels to Hudson’s homeland and discovers that he is very well remembered and celebrated there, including by the RSPB’s partner organisation, Aves Argentinas. Hudson was inspired in childhood by Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selborne, and he made a pilgrimage to White’s graveside and imagined a conversation with him.

Conor links Hudson’s life and legacy to today and compares then and now. It’s a costume drama, with plenty of birds. Conor’s biography, Finding W.H. Hudson – The writer who came to Britain to save the birds, has recently been published.


Reviews for Connor’s Talk :

“Thank you for a fascinating and enjoyable talk. While editing the video I have now watched it right through twice more, and it still held my attention.” Central London RSPB, December 2020

“That was brilliant! Absolutely fascinating. And a real revelation to me personally – As you say, what a life! Worthy of a BBC or Channel 4 documentary… Thank you so much on behalf of all of us!”

Central London RSPB, December 2020

“It was really good to meet you on Thursday evening. We found your talk about W H Hudson fascinating and felt that we learnt a lot about an unsung hero of the RSPB and ornithology.”

“I’d like to thank you for a very informative talk last Thursday. I knew nothing about Hudson previously so everything you said was interesting. What a determined and resourceful character he was… I received positive feedback from some people. The evening itself turned out to be pleasantly light hearted, I guess partly because you kept picking your own raffle tickets!”

“Just to thank you again for your fascinating presentation on Thursday, Conor – it’s good that you have made us aware of outstanding characters like W H Hudson.”

“Our Chairman for next season has looked through my programme and is keen to have a presentation on a British bird to help balance the nature of the talks for that year. She also heard from another source that your talk on Goshawks was ‘the best they have ever had’!”

    Gilbert White’s Field Studies Centre

    Gilbert White’s Field Studies Centre is the Education Department of Gilbert White’s House and The Oates Collection. Our mission is to inspire journeys of discovery in the natural world for all ages and abilities and throughout the seasons.

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