Spring 1917 Wartime – March 21st , uncannily like the weather today a century later. Hail and sunshine.
Here in the preface, Percy Izzard sets out the structure for his year of inspirational short pieces about country life. These are made especially poignant or valuable as his work was read not only by “war-workers … men and women of country heart who are pent now for England’s sake in the reek of great towns” isolated from the countryside but also “amid the cruel distractions of war” by troops in the trenches who obtained a Daily Mail from friends and families.
Based on letters received from soldiers, Percy Izzard realised that his daily entries provided to “soldier lads in France and Flanders, in rough notes pencilled on the battlefields … glimpses of the Homeland for which they long and fight.”
This book of nature writing by Percy Izzard, reproduced from his nature column in the Daily Mail, begins unusually not on January 1st but on the first day of spring 1917, the spring equinox, March 21st.
It finishes a year later on March 20th and Izzard’s preface, written after preparing them for publication in book form, was written on April 21st, 1918.
Having checked the obvious date references, like references to Sundays etc, I am fairly sure this is written from March 1917 to March 1918 onwards as the First World War raged across Europe.
It finishes documenting country life in Britain during this year of attrition and killing, on March 20 1918 just as the Western Front collapses with the German onslaught of late March 1918.
The Writer Percy Izzard?
I have previously written about Percy Izzard and this Homeland book on this and a local history blog:
Percy W. (William) D. Izzard OBE (September 1877 – 1968) was the well-known gardening correspondent on the Daily Mail newspaper.
He was author of several books on gardening including Grow it Yourself: Daily Mail Practical Instruction Book on Food from the Garden in War-Time (1940), one of the Dig For Victory books in my collection of WWII gardening books.
Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 21 March 2017