Hope Bourne has been described as one of the finest writers about the British countryside in
the twentieth century. Her prose delineated Exmoor, its character and its characters, at its finest. In
beautifully measured terms, she described the daily round of a life lived close to nature and to the
Her work published in her lifetime invariably included some supporting line drawings – sharply
memorable vignettes – and full-colour works for the covers of her books, for she was an extremely
skilled artist. Yet although she left over 2000 artworks at her death, and many others in private
hands, there has hitherto not been a volume that focuses on her painting and drawing.
Now for the first time, the publication of a collection of her works of art gives the opportunity
to remedy this omission and to view Hope Bourne and her achievements through the media of her
paint-box and her pencil. The sweep of the moorland, the colour of the hounds and huntsmen, the
delicacy of the soaring bird, the haven of the farmhouse, the nobility of the stag, all were captured
by Hope Bourne on paper to give an immediate and graphic expression to her love of Exmoor.
With a carefully selected text, some of it drawn from her unpublished writing, and an
expert commentary from John Burgess, with Caroline Tonson-Rye, Hope Bourne’s Exmoor
redresses the balance in our appreciation of this remarkable figure. It allows us to savour just how
eloquent Hope Bourne could be in her visual record as well as in her prose. Her sketches, with
pencilled comments, show her acute observation of colour and light through the seasons.
too, a gift for capturing the essence of a moment, from the drama of storm clouds and rain over moorland,
to the glory of a river bank in summer. As the remarkable pictures in this book show, she
understood Exmoor in all its moods and her work is imbued utterly with the spirit of the place.
Hope Bourne (1918–2010) is well known for her writing celebrating Exmoor, often accompanied by elegant line
drawings, and for her independent, self-sufficient lifestyle. The preservation of Exmoor was her passion, which she
recognised in the aims of the Exmoor Society. She became an early member and soon joined its Executive Committee.
On her death, all her possessions were left to the Society, including an astonishing 2000 sketches and paintings. This
book reproduces a selection of these, as well as a good number generously
lent by other people, painted by Hope in recognition of friendship
or a kindly deed.
John Burgess was born in Wellington of a farming family. He has enjoyed
a varied and interesting career, including almost twenty five years
as a BBC radio journalist and producer. His “love affair with Exmoor”,
first took root in the late 1970s when he joined the Exmoor National
Park. The job, which included photography, brought him into contact
with the people of Exmoor, the farmers, the huntsmen, the craftsmen
and many of “Exmoor’s gems”, Hope Bourne being one of its most
precious. Over the years he gained her friendship and enjoyed many
visits and conversations with her, in the little caravan she called home,
tucked away on the moor. John maintains a close and active
association with Exmoor and is a member of the Exmoor Society’s
Caroline Tonson-Rye retired recently after a career in publishing.
She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Exmoor Society
and has been responsible for making the inventories of all the
material that Hope Bourne left to the Society.
Imprint: Halsgrove in Asociation with The Exmoor Society. ISBN 978 0 85704 218 7, hardback, 214x230mm, 144 pages. Published October 2013. Reprinted April 2015.