John Moore1907 - 1967
Our museum was created, by The Abbey Lawn Trust, in memory of the writer and naturalist John Moore, whose knowledge and love of the countryside was paramount.
John Moore was Gloucestershire’s best-known and loved author of the Twentieth century – described by Sir Compton Mackenzie as the most talented writer about the countryside of his generation. His maternal ancestors were doctors at Moreton-in-Marsh, residing at Warneford House, and with a passion for foxhunting. In the 1930’s his books included The Cotswolds – a travelogue.
Moore’s best selling trilogy, published in the immediate post-Second World War years – Portrait of Elmbury, Brensham Village and The Blue Field – was followed by a series of novels and self-styled ‘country-contentments’. He also contributed a weekly column on rural matters to the Birmingham Mail for eighteen years and was a frequent broadcaster on Midland’s radio. A talented naturalist from schooldays, he was an early campaigner for the preservation of everything connected with the rural scene. He fought to conserve the architectural heritage of Tewkesbury, his native town, and was also the founder and driving force behind the Cheltenham Literary Festival.
Having failed in his first employment as an articled auctioneer in the family firm, he embarked on an unsuccessful literary career for some ten years before joining the Fleet Air Arm as a pilot and served for the duration of the war. After several brushes with death his injuries necessitated a change of course and he became a naval press attaché at Supreme Allied Headquarters, involved with the Mulberry Harbour and Pluto pipeline projects, and landing at Arromanches-sur-Baines on D-Day. His flying experiences form a large part of his novel, Wits End, which was completed en-route to a posting to Trinidad in 1940.
September Moon, set in the hop-fields of Herefordshire at harvest time, and The Waters Under the Earth – a chronicle of post-war social change in the countryside – are novels redolent of a bygone age.
Long before conservation became fashionable, John Moore spoke of the threat to our countryside from technological progress. The relevance of his writings is even more keenly felt in today’s climate of environmental upheaval.
‘It is not entirely out of the question that despite man’s ingenuity the insects might beat us in the end. If they do it will be because we haven’t used our biological knowledge, but instead have employed chemists as our hired assassins to kill our fellow creatures in their cave-man fashion, ignorantly, wantonly, wastefully.'(The Year of the Pigeons 1963)