It was a busy time at the book signing organised by The Rye Bookshop for all four of local author Richard Masefield’s historical novels. His earliest novel, Chalkhill Blue proved the most in demand at the event.
They are all partly set in Sussex, where Masefield ran a dairy farm near Lewes for 40 years. “Ideas would come to me in the milking-parlour” he told me, “and I’d write them down then and there.” His working career started as an adman in a St James’s office in London before he could afford to buy his own small farm in Sussex. He also worked as care manager and teacher at the Chailey Heritage Trust School near Haywards Heath, which educates and cares for children with complex physical disabilities and health issues. Eventually dairy-farming had become unprofitable, and so he and his wife decided to retire to Tenterden, where he has more leisure to pursue his writing.
His most recent work, The White Cross, is a story involving Richard the Lionheart’s crusade to Palestine. Painted Lady is an account of a courtesan’s adventures in Regency Brighton, and Brimstone, a story of Sussex smugglers and transportation to the penal colony of New South Wales. A fifth novel set in 1960s Eastbourne, The Three Seasons of Sadie, is due to come out in the autumn.
Writing must run in the family for he is a cousin of John Masefield, Poet Laureate, whose poems Cargoes and Sea Fever, were once set pieces for schoolchildren to learn by heart. He is imbued with a love for the English countryside, and this shows through in his writing.
Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .