Drawing inspiration from the Norfolk landscape

The Norfolk landscape has long provided inspiration for artists, writers, poets and naturalists and this is certainly reflected in the content of our archive. From the nature notes of Rosemary E. Tilbrook, who contributed to the countryside features of the EDP for over 40 years, to the annotated books, notes and illustrations of Great Yarmouth naturalist Arthur H. Patterson, we have a wealth of material for anyone interested in the observation of plants, birds and animal species. We also hold a number of records from lesser known individuals residing in Norfolk, who wrote or drew for their own pleasure, wellbeing or to stimulate interest in Norfolk. A selection of these are presented below.

BOL 4.27 741X6#004 cropped

A painting from an album of manuscript verse in the Bolingbroke collection, c.1845-1860. NRO: BOL 4/27 741X6

BOL 4.37#005

One of a series of paintings enclosed in an album of manuscript verse from the Bolingbroke collection. 19th century. NRO: BOL 4/37

BOL 4.37#007 cropped

Painting on a skeletal leaf, from the Bolingbroke collection. 19th century. NRO: BOL 4/37

BOL 4.37#014

A watercolour painting from the Bolingbroke Collection. 19th century. NRO: BOL 4/37

Manuscript verse

On 16 September 1919, Fred V. Cole presented his book of manuscript verse ‘Norfolk Rhymes’ to the city of Norwich Public Library. In a letter addressed to G.A Stephen, Esq, Cole mentions:

‘If I can in any way help to stimulate interest in Norfolk-its scenery, birds, flowers, and folk lore, I shall be rewarded for preserving M.S. the writing of which has helped to soothe many painful hours, and intervals between, during the eight years in which I have occupied the bed on which I am writing this.’

The following sonnet forms part of a series entitled ‘Bedroom Sonnets’ and was inspired by the writings of French entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre whose observations and experiments popularised entomology among nature-lovers without a science degree.

Henri Fabre-Insect Lover

‘Count him not one who hates his fellow men

Because he went forth from their haunts, and sought

To learn what God in insect life has wrought;

To stay-lost, for a score long years and ten.

To show us what he is not loth-

Of wonders in a locust’s wing can tell;

The architecture of a spiral shell;

And resurrection of a silk worm moth.


No time was ‘wasted’; while whole nights were spent

In wrestling nature’s secrets from a fly;

And days, untold, with spider, ant, and bee:

His aim to learn-with such reward content.

If hours, which might be used, pass ‘wasted’ by,

“Go to the ant!” this searcher says to me!

Oct. 21, 1913


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