William Henry Hudson

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William Henry Hudson
William Henry Hudson.png
William Henry Hudson
Born(1841-08-04)4 August 1841
Died18 August 1922(1922-08-18) (aged 81)
Kensington, London, England
NationalityEnglish Argentine
Known forGreen Mansions (novel)
Scientific career
FieldsNatural history

William Henry Hudson (4 August 1841 – 18 August 1922) – known in Argentina as Guillermo Enrique Hudson – was an Anglo-Argentine author, naturalist and ornithologist.


Hudson was the son of Daniel Hudson and his wife Catherine (née Kemble), United States settlers of English and Irish origin. He was born and lived his first years in a small estancia called "25 Ombues"[1] in what is now Ingeniero Allan, Florencio Varela, Argentina.

In 1846 the family established a pulpería further south, in the surroundings of Chascomús, not far from the lake of the same name.[2] In this natural environment, Hudson spent his youth studying the local flora and fauna and observing both natural and human dramas on what was then a lawless frontier, while publishing his ornithological work in Proceedings of the Royal Zoological Society initially in an English mingled with Spanish idioms. He had a special love for Patagonia.

Hudson emigrated to England in 1874, taking up residence at St Luke's Road in Bayswater,[3] where he continued to live for most of his life; in 1876 he married his landlady, the former singer Emily Wingrave, in Kensington, London.[4] One of the daughters of John Hanmer Wingrave, she was some eleven years older than Hudson, having been born on 22 December 1829.[5] He supported himself as a writer and journalist; the couple had no children.[6] Hudson himself was naturalized as a British subject on 4 July 1900.[7]

Hudson was a friend of the late-19th century English author George Gissing, whom he met in 1889. They corresponded until the latter's death in 1903, occasionally exchanging their publications, discussing literary and scientific matters, and commenting on their respective access to books and newspapers, a matter of supreme importance to Gissing.[8]

In 1911 Emily Hudson became an invalid and moved to Worthing in Sussex. After that, Hudson lived apart from her "for reasons of his own health", although it is clear from their abundant surviving correspondence that he visited her frequently and they remained on affectionate terms.[4]

Hudson died on 18 August 1922, at 40, St Luke’s Road, Westbourne Park, Bayswater,[9] and was buried in Broadwater and Worthing Cemetery, Worthing, on 22 August 1922, next to his wife, who had died early in 1921.[10][a]

Hudson left an estate valued at £8225, and his Executors were the publisher Ernest Bell and Wynnard Hooper, a journalist.[9]


He produced a series of ornithological studies, including Argentine Ornithology (1888–1899) and British Birds (1895), and later achieved fame with his books on the English countryside, including Hampshire Days (1903), Afoot in England (1909) and A Shepherd's Life (1910), which helped foster the back-to-nature movement of the 1920s and 1930s and was set in Wiltshire.

Hudson's best-known novel is Green Mansions (1904), which was adapted into a a film starring Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins, and his best-known non-fiction is Far Away and Long Ago (1918), which was also made into a film.

Scientific views[edit]

Hudson was an advocate of Lamarckian evolution. He was a critic of Darwinism and defended vitalism. He was influenced by the non-Darwinian evolutionary writings of Samuel Butler.[12][13] He was an early member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Recognition and awards[edit]

The Hudson Memorial Bird Sanctuary in Hyde Park, London includes a carved stone memorial by Sir Jacob Epstein representing Rima, the child goddess of nature, who featured in Hudson's novel Green Mansions. The engravings are by the designer Eric Gill.

Ernest Hemingway referred to Hudson's The Purple Land (1885) in his novel The Sun Also Rises, and to Far Away and Long Ago in his posthumous novel The Garden of Eden (1986). He listed Far Away and Long Ago in a suggested reading list for a young writer.[14]

James Rebanks' 2015 book The Shepherd's Life about a Lake District farmer was inspired by Hudson's work of the same name: "But even more than Orwell or Hemingway, W.H. Hudson turned me into a book obsessive ..." (p. 115), and: "One day, I pulled A Shepherd's Life by W.H. Hudson from the bookcase ...and the sudden life-changing realization it gave me that we could be in books – great books." (p. 114)

In Argentina, Hudson is considered to belong to the national literature as Guillermo Enrique Hudson, the Spanish version of his name. A town in Berazategui Partido and several other public places and institutions are named after him. The town of Hudson in Buenos Aires Province is named for him.


  • The Purple Land that England Lost: Travels and Adventures in the Banda Oriental, South America (1885)
  • A Crystal Age (1887)
  • Argentine Ornithology (1888)
  • Fan–The Story of a Young Girl's Life (1892), as Henry Harford
  • The Naturalist in la Plata (1892)
  • Idle Days in Patagonia (1893)
  • Birds in a Village (1893)[15]
  • Lost British Birds (1894), pamphlet
  • British Birds (1895), with a chapter by Frank Evers Beddard
  • Osprey; or, Egrets and Aigrettes (1896)
  • Birds in London (1898)
  • Nature in Downland (1900)
  • Birds and Man (1901)
  • El Ombú (1902),[16] stories; later South American Sketches
  • Hampshire Days (1903)
  • Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest (1904)
  • A Little Boy Lost (1905)
  • Land's End. A Naturalist's Impressions in West Cornwall (1908)
  • Afoot in England (1909)
  • A Shepherd's Life: Impressions of the South Wiltshire Downs (1910)
  • Adventures Among Birds (1913)[17]
  • Tales of the Pampas (1916)
  • Far Away and Long Ago – A History of My Early Life (1918; new edition by Eland, 2005)
  • The Book of a Naturalist (1919)
  • Birds in Town and Village (1919)
  • Birds of La Plata (1920) two volumes
  • Dead Man's Plack and An Old Thorn (1920) – see Dead Man's Plack
  • A Traveller in Little Things (1921)
  • Tired Traveller (1921), essay
  • Seagulls in London. Why They Took To Coming To Town (1922), essay
  • A Hind in Richmond Park (1922)
  • The Collected Works (1922–23), 24 volumes
  • 153 Letters from W.H. Hudson (1923), edited by Edward Garnett
  • Rare Vanishing & Lost British Birds (1923)
  • Ralph Herne (1923)
  • Men, Books and Birds (1925)
  • The Disappointed Squirrel (1925) from The Book of a Naturalist
  • Mary's Little Lamb (1929)
  • South American Romances (1930) The Purple Land; Green Mansions; El Ombú
  • W.H. Hudson's Letters to R. B. Cunninghame Graham (Golden Cockerel Press 1941; about R. B. Cunninghame Graham)
  • Tales of the Gauchos (1946)
  • Letters on the Ornithology of Buenos Ayres (1951), edited by David W. Dewar
  • Diary Concerning his Voyage from Buenos Aires to Southampton on the Ebro (1958)
  • Gauchos of the Pampas and Their Horses (1963), stories, with R.B. Cunninghame Graham
  • English Birds and Green Places: Selected Writings (1964) ISBN 0-575-07207-5
  • Birds of A Feather: Unpublished Letters of W.H. Hudson (1981), edited by D. Shrubsall
  • Landscapes and Literati: Unpublished letters of W.H. Hudson and George Gissing (1985), edited by Dennis Shrubsall and Pierre Coustillas


  • G. F. Wilson (1922, 1968) Bibliography of the Writings of W.H. Hudson
  • John R. Payne (1977) W.H. Hudson. a Bibliography


  • Morley Roberts (1924) W.H. Hudson
  • Ford Madox Ford (1937) Portraits from Life
  • Robert Hamilton (1946) W.H. Hudson:The Vision of Earth
  • Richard E. Haymaker (1954) From Pampas to Hedgerows and Downs: A Study of W. H. Hudson
  • Alicia Jurado (1971) Vida y obra de W.H. Hudson
  • John T. Frederick (1972) William Henry Hudson
  • D. Shrubsall (1978) W.H. Hudson, Writer and Naturalist
  • Ruth Tomalin (1982) W.H. Hudson – a biography
  • Amy D. Ronner (1986) W.H. Hudson: The Man, The Novelist, The Naturalist
  • David Miller (1990) W.H. Hudson and the Elusive Paradise[4]
  • Felipe Arocena (2003) William Henry Hudson: Life, Literature and Science
  • Jason Wilson: Living in the sound of the wind, [A Personal Quest For W. H. Hudson, Naturalist And Writer From The River Plate], London : Constable, 2016 ISBN 978-1-4721-2205-6


  1. ^ There is a burial record for Emily Hudson in 1921, in a grave next to one which was to be occupied by William the following year. The General Registars Office record of the death of an Emily Hudson dying in 1921 in this area of Sussex gives her age as around 4 years older than is given in the censuses. One carefully researched biographical study states that she was "eleven years his senior".[4] For the census of 1911 Hudson have his wife’s age as sixty.[11]


  1. ^ Hudson, William Henry (1918). Far Away and Long Ago. p. 12.
  2. ^ Parodiz, Juan José (1981). Darwin in the New World. Brill Archive. p. 93. ISBN 978-90-04-06546-8.
  3. ^ The Post Victorians:W H Hudson by H J Massingham, p261
  4. ^ a b c d David Lindsay Sean Miller (1985). "The elusive paradise: a study of W. H. Hudson" (PDF). Royal Holloway College, University of London & ProQuest LLC, Ann Arbor MI. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  5. ^ “Emily Wingrave”, in England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, ancestry.co.uk: “Gender: Female / Birth Date: 22 Dec 1829 / Baptism Date: 18 Mar 1830 / Baptism Place: Saint James, Westminster / Father: John Hanmer Wingrave / Mother: Sarah” (subscription required)
  6. ^ General Registars Office records of marriages; censuses for 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
  7. ^ Taking the oath of allegiance on that date: UK Naturalisation Certificates and Declarations 1870–1916, Piece 030, Certificate Numbers A11301-A11700
  8. ^ Shrubsall, Dennis and Pierre Coustillas eds. Landscape and literati: unpublished letters of W. H. Hudson and George Gissing. Salisbury: Michael Russell, 1985. Also various references in Coustillas, Pierre ed.London and the Life of Literature in Late Victorian England: the Diary of George Gissing. Brighton: Harvester Press, 1978.
  9. ^ a b “HUDSON William Henry of at 40 St Luke’s-road Westbourne Park died 18 August 1922” in Wills and Administrations (England and Wales) 1922, p. 267
  10. ^ "Burial register search - Adur & Worthing Councils". www.adur-worthing.gov.uk.
  11. ^ 1911 United Kingdom census, St Luke’s Road, Kensington, ancestry.co.uk, accessed 25 March 2022 (subscription required)
  12. ^ Haymaker, Richard E. (1954). From Pampas to Hedgerows and Downs: A Study of W. H. Hudson. Bookman Associates. p. 197
  13. ^ Miller, David. (1990). W. H. Hudson and the Elusive Paradise. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 78–82. ISBN 978-0-312-03698-0
  14. ^ "Ernest Hemingway Creates a Reading List for a Young Writer, 1934 | Open Culture".
  15. ^ Watkins, M. G. (26 August 1893). "Review of Birds in a Village by W. H. Hudson". The Academy. 44 (1112): 174–175.
  16. ^ "Review of El Ombú by W. H. Hudson". Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art. 93 (2432): 376. 7 June 1902.
  17. ^ "Review of Adventures among Birds by W. H. Hudson". The Athenaeum (4467): 626. 7 June 1913.

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