Books on Hertfordshire

A Quaint Old Fashioned Place

East Hertfordshire in the 1830s

Writings of James Smith

Edited by David Perman

[Hertfordshire Publications, 1990, ISBN 0-901354-60-0]

West Street, Ware

James Smith was born in Kent in 1820, and came to Ware as a child. In 1840 he was appointed editor of the County Press weekly newspaper. He contributed articles to Punch and to the Illuminated Magazine. A number of the articles were sketches of rural life at the time, some set in the villages and hamlets of East Hertfordshire. These were collected together in book form as Rural Records: or Glimpses of Village Life, published by Longman in 1845. In 1848 he moved to edit the Salisbury and Winchester Journal and in 1854 he emigrated to Australia and was a reviewer and theatre critic for the Melbourne Age, and later for its rival, the Argus.

The book includes a description of Ware as it was in 1835, and first published in the Melbourne Argus in 1880, and a few months later was published in the Hertfordshire Mercury. It also contains an account of the 1832 election at Hertford (see topic). In 1861 he wrote the "Autobiography of Ralph Penfold"  which is clearly about his own life with the names changed and there are some excellent descriptions of his life at Amwell End and his schooling in Ware. "On Christmas Eve" is fiction but is set in the real surroundings of East Hertfordshire.

There is a web page for Ware

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Page updated April 2005