Resurrecting the memory of a forgotten Swindon literary giant

By Barrie Hudson - 29 October 2021

Arts and Culture
  • A visit to Venus originally appeared as a serial in the 1920s

    A visit to Venus originally appeared as a serial in the 1920s

Two local historians have released a new compilation showcasing the work of a Swindon literary figure who fell into obscurity.

  • George Ewart Hobbs pictured on the cover of the latest volume compiled by historians Noel Ponting and Graham Carter

    George Ewart Hobbs pictured on the cover of the latest volume compiled by historians Noel Ponting and Graham Carter

George Ewart Hobbs was born in 1883 and died in 1946.

In spite of being a Methodist preacher, a family man and a senior Great Western Railway foreman who rose from the ranks after leaving school at 12 and, he produced hundreds of poems, articles and stories on a wealth of subjects, which appeared mainly in what was then the Evening Advertiser.

In 2019 local historians Noel Ponting and Graham Carter released their first compilation of his work, A Swindon Wordsmith.

They have now released two follow-up volumes, A Swindon Radical and a standalone book called A Visit to Venus, which gathers a science fiction tale originally published in weekly instalments in the 1920s.

The story of the three books in the series began some years ago when Noel Ponting found a letter from Mr Hobbs and some cuttings among the effects of Mr Ponting's great- grandfather, Henry Day, who was the first headmaster of Even Swindon School.

Mr Ponting and Mr Carter then began a painstaking process of combing through archives - including a newspaper archive stored in Oxford - and gathering every scrap of work and information they could find.

Mr Ponting said: "He was as Swindon born and bred as you can get. He was born in and spent all of his life in Even Swindon and Rodbourne.

"Like many Swindonians of the time, coming from a background of relative poverty, he didn't see that as a barrier to moving up through the Great Western Railway.

"Apart from his preaching and his long hours as foreman of X-Shop, he had an absolute passion for writing.

"By the time we had finished the first book, we had been able to identify 45 poems, two prayers, 10 items of correspondence and over 175 articles."

A Swindon Radical, priced at £14.95, and A Visit to Venus, priced at £9.95, are available via The Hobnob Press - www. hobnobpress.co.uk/ - and at Swindon's Central Library.

Mr Ponting and Mr Carter can be contacted via shresearch2@gmail.com 

 

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