“The Peripatetic Philosopher”: Unlocking the Trauma of Richard Jefferies


  • Rebecca Welshman independent scholar




rebelliousness, despised, wasteland, boys, adventure, landscape, behaviour


This article considered the juvenilia of Richard Jefferies in light of the traumatic experiences of his early childhood, which included the sudden loss of his elder sister and a move from the country to the city to live with his aunt and uncle. Using a psychobiographical approach the article considers the impact of the prejudice directed towards him from the local Swindon community during his mid-to-late teens, which spurred him forward in honing his skill as an observational writer. Consonant with this process was the discovery and expression of his authentic voice, which was tempered by the financial need to write for the local newspapers. The article illustrates how his treatment of an area of waste land near his boyhood home affords insight into his emotional wellbeing and his maturation as an author and thinker. Through the close reading of passages written between the ages of sixteen and nineteen, alongside excerpts from his mature works, the article identifies a new unexplored dimension to the author and his works at a formative time in his career.





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