Monday, May 6, 2013

Introduction to The Children of Green Knowe

My first exposure to Lucy Maria Boston's Green Knowe series came when my older brother took a an introduction to children's literature class during his first year in college. He was required to read The Children of Green Knowe. I found the copy that he had checked out of our village library, loved it, and worked my way through the other books in the series:

  • The Children of Green Knowe (1954)
  • The Chimneys of Green Knowe (1958) (published in the US as The Treasure of Green Knowe)
  • The River at Green Knowe (1959)
  • A Stranger at Green Knowe (1961)
  • An Enemy at Green Knowe (1964)
  • The Stones of Green Knowe (1976)

  • The last book was released after I read the series, and I remember how excited I was to find that the author was still alive and writing.

    What struck me the most about the books was the strong sense of place that Boston was able to create. The house and the grounds were as alive as the people in the books, and the past of the house was as alive as the character's present.

    Years later, I moved to Seattle and was able to take advantage of the wonderful collection of its original main library, which has subsequently been demolished. The library had copies of Boston's two memoirs Perverse and Foolish, and more importantly to me, Memory in a House. This second memoir is Boston's account of how as a 45-year-old divorced single mother whose son was at Cambridge, she heard about a house for sale by a river, bought it, renovated it, and began to write books influenced by the history and atmosphere of the house. The house itself is the Manor at Hemingford Grey, which is still open to visitors.

    For those who have not read the books, these links will provide more information: - Lucy's daughter-in-law still owns the house and gives tours of the house and gardens.

    The Children of Green Knowe miniseries - this was a BBC production in 1980's which was never released on DVD. You can watch it on Youtube at :

    Chimneys of Green Knowe was filmed at the Manor of Hemingford Grey. Directed by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) it was released in 2009 as From Time to Time.

    Exterior shots of the gardens from a  visitor who did not see the house:


    Anonymous said...

    Boston's early adult life might have served as a model for two contemporary fictional characters: Charles Todd's Bess Crawford and Jaqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs. All three serve as WWI military nurses. For the two fictional nurses, this serves as a trial by fire which provides emotional strength and self-confidence in measures that enable them to live beyond the conventional expectations for women's lives. In addition, all three somehow acquire sufficient monetary resources to live relatively independent lives.

    Tracey Mantrone said...

    Boston inherited money from her father, which she used for her education and her living expenses. Her memoir Perverse and Foolish, which was republished by Diana Boston in a new edition along with Memory in a House,talks about her childhood and her WWI experiences.