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Ennever & Enever family history & ancestry. Click here to return to the home page WJ Ennever (1869-1947). From the portrait by J Seymour R.A., exhibited in the Royal Academy.

Flora Jane TIMMS

Flora Jane TIMMS

Female 1876 - 1947  (70 years)

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  • Name Flora Jane TIMMS 
    Born 5 Dec 1876  Cottisford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Christened 4 Mar 1877  Cottisford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Census 1 Apr 1881  Juniper, Cottisford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Census 1 Apr 1891  Juniper, Cottisford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Occupation 1901 
    Post Office Clerk 
    • Working for William Betterworth, Grocer, Baker & Sub Post Master.
    Census 1 Apr 1901  Church End, Yateley, Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Census 1 Apr 1911  2 Edge Hill Road, Bournemouth, Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    John William Thompson & family
    John William Thompson & family
    1911 census
    Misc Church of St Mary, Cottisford, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    The church at which Flora and Edwin attended services. 
    Flora Jane Timms
    Flora Jane Timms
    Occupation Between 1921 and 1947 
    Misc 14 May 1921 
    Article in "The Civilian" 
    • Article in 'The Civilian' dated 14th May 1921
      It is our pleasure, herein, to introduce to the notice of our readers one amongst themselves whose essays in the field of literature have recently attracted considerable attention. Mrs Thompson, whose Civil Service labours are associated with the Post Office, has undoubted natural gifts, and the following account of the manner in which they have manifested themselves in spite of a severe initial handicap should prove of encouragement to many. We trust that this article may prove the beginning of a long and happy acquaintance between Civil Servants generally and their gifted colleague.
      Flora Thompson left school at 14 with as little to unlearn as Madam Montessori herself could desire; for the small village school which she attended was unbelievably behind the times, even those faded, far-away times the 90's. When she left she could barely read and write, nothing more! Yet there the curriculum had one great advantage; the reading was almost exclusively Bible-reading; day after day and year after year the scholars worked their way steadily through the scriptures; and what could be a better preparation for writing of any kind than drinking so early and so deep at that pure well of English undefiled?
      What other knowledge she had was out-of-door knowledge-weather lore; the haunts and habits of birds; the names of flowers and trees-knowledge which stands her in good stead in writing her nature articles now. She had enjoyed a good deal of freedom; on holidays she used to wander off in the company of her brother, spending whole days in the woods and fields; wading brooks, climbing trees, or picking mushrooms or blackberries or fir-cones for the fire. Then, one day, someone gave her a battered copy of Sir Walter Scott … [illegible] … enact the various parts, never quite sure if the next turning in the lane might not reveal a knight in armour or a lady in distress!
      School days over, she was sent as a learner to an old lady who kept a village Post Office. When it was found how neglected her education had been, the old lady was horrified. Under her care, however, the pupil set to work to learn arithmetic, geography, and all the uninteresting subjects which, she was assured, she could not hope to "get on in the world" without. In the musty, old-fashioned parlour was a bookcase, with books as well as stuffed birds in it. The books were a legacy from the old lady's son, a Second Division man, who had died on the Gold Coast. All there was to read, from 'Tom Brown's Schooldays' to 'Hamlet,' was eagerly consumed.
      A period of six years as assistant in the Post Office ended in marriage and a home at Bournemouth, and not until then, says Mrs Thompson, "did my real education begin. The Public Library there was my Alma Mater. I had no guide, and it was better so. The discovery of each new writer, each set of new ideas, was the opening up of a new world.
      "I went right back to the beginning, read the Greeks and Romans in translations; read the English poets; the English novelists; the English critics; nibbled at translations of the French writers; even tried my teeth upon philosophy and mysticism! Read Ibsen, Shaw, Yeats and all the Celts. Became enamoured of the new poetry, at least of the work of those poets who passed as new in pre-war time, before the day of 'wheels' and 'Coterie'!
      "Even after, in those years when the cares and anxieties of bringing up a young family, and trying to run a home decently upon the pitiful salary of a S. C. and T. in the Post Office, strained nerves and energy to breaking point, I still found time for a little reading. I never quite gave up my hope of writing either, but for a long time life itself absorbed the whole of me. Then things slackened a little, and one day I saw a competition announced in a woman's paper for an essay on Jane Austen. I posted a modest attempt secretly, and was astonished when in heard the prize had been awarded to me.
      "I think number one must be my lucky number, for the first short story, the first newspaper article, and even the first poem I ever attempted were all accepted and paid for; and the first book review I ever did gained for me the inestimable pleasure and advantage of the friendship of the poet to whom my book 'Bog Myrtle and Peat' is dedicated. So I have really had no literary struggles in the ordinary sense of the word, perhaps because I have attempted so little, but leisure, that priceless boon which all my life has been denied me, is necessary before I can attempt great things.
      "During the war I wrote nothing. Nothing I had to say was likely to prove acceptable, and my own life saw many changes. My brother, the companion of my childhood, fell in Flanders. My husband was appointed to the Sub Postmastership of Liphook, and we left the life of a busy town for the smallest of country villages. This in itself needed a good deal of adjustment, entailing as it did disappointments and annoyances without end; then, for three years, I worked as Temporary S. C. and T. in the office here, being on duty every morning at 4am. Only now have I ventured to pick up the thread again with 'Bog Myrtle and Peat.'"
      It will be abundantly clear, from the extracts here given from Flora Thompson's little book of poems to which she makes reference above (published by Allan & Co, price 3s 6d), what are the points of excellence and charm of her work. We do not pretend that some of the poems in this book are not reminiscent; and we might well express our regret that in one poem, 'The Earthly Paradise,' the poet should have fallen victim to the present tyrant of the poetic world, vers libre. Nor will those readers who are enamoured of such poetry as expresses in felicitous language complex and transcendent truths find that Flora Thompson is numbered with their favourites. For the … [illegible] … says of her work: "A passion for the open English country, a keen receptiveness to its sights, scents and sounds are the note of the pieces collected, and they are adequately and tastefully expressed."
      The most welcome flowers in poetry's garden today are sincerity and melody. And these Flora Thompson certainly possesses. The following extract from 'Shallows' shows how felicitously an emotion, and its more subtle suggestions which must be familiar to us all, can be expressed. She has been speaking of the inconsequential chatter preceding a parting:—
      And so the shadows ripple on
      Until it's time to part;
      And all the while, deep into deep,
      My heart cries to your heart.
      Cries like a lost and frightened child,
      A whole world's breadth apart.
      Here is a little poem of definite charm and melodic sweetness:—
      I'll shape you rhymes like little paper boats
      To sail on fancy's sea, frail, transient things;
      And when you tire, I'll pipe you linnet notes;
      And if I win the guerdon of your smile,
      I'll envy not the bay-crowned bard of kings.
      Better your tedious moments to beguile,
      Than soar Parnasus' peak on eagle wings.
      We incline to believe that the following extract is from the best poem in the book. But we are sure that wherein a book so small as this we have found so much to please us, there must be ample for other tastes to enjoy, and the book, therefore, deserves a wide sale—
      The floods are out at Wellingborough;
      The house is hushed, the curtain drawn;
      The women watch from dawn to dawn.

      I search always, but find him not;
      Only a drowned forget-me-not
      Mimicks the azure of his eyes;
      Beyond the mists a curlew cries.
      O, tell me, sad bird, where he lies!

      Courtesy of
    Died 21 May 1947  Brixham, Devon Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Thompson [née Timms], Flora Jane (1876–1947), author, was born in Juniper Hill, a hamlet in north-east Oxfordshire, on 5 December 1876, the eldest survivor of the ten children of Albert Timms (1854–1918), a stonemason, and his wife, Emma, née Dibber or Dipper (1853–1933), a nursemaid. Her favourite brother, Edwin, died in the battle of the Somme in 1916. After elementary education at the village school in Cottisford she became, at the age of fourteen, an unofficial Post Office counter clerk in the Oxfordshire village of Fringford. In 1898 she went to work at the post office in Grayshott, Hampshire, where she served some of the literary figures who lived in the area, including George Bernard Shaw, Arthur Conan Doyle, Grant Allen, and Richard Le Gallienne. Overawed by the talents of her literary customers, she almost gave up her own attempts at writing at that time.

      On 7 January 1903 Flora Timms married John William Thompson (1874–1948), a Post Office clerk and telegraphist from the Isle of Wight. They moved to Bournemouth, where two of their three children were born. In 1911 Flora Thompson won a magazine essay competition and went on to write short stories and newspaper articles. The family moved to Liphook, in Hampshire, in 1916, and from there Flora contributed two long series of articles for the Catholic Fireside magazine; these were nature articles and literary essays written in alternate fortnights. She was a dedicated, self-taught naturalist; her nature articles subsequently appeared in Margaret Lane's A Country Calendar (1979) and in Julian Shuckburgh's The Peverel Papers (1986). The literary articles were the result of her private study of literature; she made extensive use of the recently established free library system to supplement her elementary school education. Her first published book was a volume of poems, Bog Myrtle and Peat (1921). From 1925 until the outbreak of the Second World War, she ran a postal writers' circle called the Peverel Society.

      In 1938 Flora Thompson sent a collection of essays on her country childhood to Oxford University Press. They were first published as Lark Rise (1939), Over to Candleford (1941), and Candleford Green (1943), and subsequently as a trilogy under the title Lark Rise to Candleford (1945). The books are the lightly disguised story of Flora Thompson's youth, evoking the life of a hamlet, a village, and a country town in the England of the 1880s. Some historians have cast doubt on their validity as primary sources for the social history of the period, but they have been widely used for that purpose. Few works better or more elegantly capture the decay of Victorian agrarian England. Two musical plays based on the books, Lark Rise and Candleford, by Keith Dewhurst, were performed at the National Theatre, London, in 1978 and 1979. Heatherley, the story of Flora Thompson's time in the post office at Grayshott, was not published in her lifetime; it is included in Lane's A Country Calendar. Her last book, Still Glides the Stream, was published posthumously in 1948.

      Flora Thompson's younger son was lost at sea in the Second World War, when the merchant navy ship on which he was serving was torpedoed in mid-Atlantic. She never recovered from his loss, and died on 21 May 1947 at her home, Lauriston, New Road, Brixham, Devon. She was buried in Longcross cemetery, Dartmouth. Her husband survived her.

      Gillian Lindsay

      Courtesy of the ONDB
    Buried Longcross Cemetery, Dartmouth, Devon Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Memorial to Flora Thompson & her son, Peter
    Memorial to Flora Thompson & her son, Peter
    Person ID I4827  1. Essex Ennevers
    Last Modified 4 May 2019 

    Father Albert TIMMS,   Born:  1853, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   Died:  1918  (Age 65 years) 
    Mother Emma DIPPER,   Born:  19 Nov 1853, Ardley, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   Died:  1933  (Age 79 years) 
    Married 1875  Bicester District, Oxfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family histories
    Flora Jane Thompson (nee Timms), authoress
    Flora Jane Thompson (nee Timms), authoress
    Authoress of Lark Rise to Candleford
    Family ID F1363  Family Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family (spouse) John William THOMPSON,   Born:  4 Apr 1874, Ryde, Isle of Wight Find all individuals with events at this location,   Died:  Yes, date unknown 
    Married 7 Jan 1903  Parish Church, St Mary the Virgin, Twickenham, Middlesex Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Winifred Grace THOMPSON,   Born:  1903, Bournemouth, Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   Died:  1966  (Age 63 years)
     2. Henry Basil THOMPSON,   Born:  6 Oct 1909, Bournemouth, Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   Died:  Yes, date unknown
     3. Peter Redmond THOMPSON,   Born:  1918, Petersfield District, Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   Died:  16 Sep 1941, At sea (WW2) Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 23 years)
    Family histories
    Flora Jane Thompson (nee Timms), authoress
    Flora Jane Thompson (nee Timms), authoress
    Authoress of Lark Rise to Candleford
    Family ID F1364  Family Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

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