Since Duncton Wood was first published in 1979, William Horwood has received thousands of letters from readers asking about the conception and writing of what has become a fantasy classic. He has been able to provide some answers through correspondence and at a limited number of public talks. However, now that The Duncton Chronicles trilogy is published, and a companion volume, Duncton Tales, is complete, William Horwood has felt able to record the true and full answers to these questions – and the many more that lie behind the strange, sometimes painful, sometimes inspiring story of Duncton Wood’s creation.
Molelovers, and anymole else, who would like more details of his work should write to William Horwood at P.O. Box 446, Oxford OX1 2SS.
William Horwood – acknowledgements
My thanks to the Scottish University Press for permission to quote, and translate into mole language, passages of the graces and invocations in Alexander Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica; and to the University of California Press for extracts from Patrick K. Ford’s translation The Poetry of Llywarch Hen. The verse of pages 489-490 is based on a poem by the sixteenth-century poet William Dunbar.
The stait of mole dois change and vary,
Now sound, now seik, now blith, now sary,
Now dansand mery, now like to dee,
Our plesance heir is all vaneglory,
This fals warld is bot transitory,
The flesh is brukle, the dark is sle,
We that in heill wes, and gladnes,
Are trublit now with gret siknes
And feblit with infermite …
Special acknowledgement to the authors of the two standard British works on moles – G. Godfrey and P. Crowcroft, The Life of the Mole (Collins, London), and K. Mellanby, The Mole (Collins, London) – whose work is as loving as it is scholarly. Each of these authors will know where I have used artistic licence, and any exaggerations or errors are entirely my own.
I am grateful to Valerie Gilmore of Oxford and London, to whom I owe much of my knowledge of healing; to Lowri Gwilym, of Trefenter, Wales, for the translations into Welsh; to my father, Chesney Horwood, Emeritus Fellow of St Catherine’s College, Oxford, for help with Middle English; to the Trustees of Wytham Wood near Oxford for permission to carry out research on their land; and to Marjorie Edwards for typing a difficult manuscript.
Special thanks to Shefri Safran, my literary agent, and Judy Todd, my editor at Country Life, for their continued help.
Finally, no words can repay the debt I owe my former wife Janet, whose consistent loyalty and support made the writing so much easier.
My thanks to the Scottish University Press for permission to quote, and translate into mole language, passages from the graces and invocations in Alexander Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica.
Readers often ask what the sources of the key spiritual and religious elements are in the Duncton Books. Although I am no longer a Christian it will be plain that the Gospels are a prime source. Two essentially Buddhist texts have been constant companions in my study and on my travels: Chogyam Trungpa’s Shambhala (Shambhala Publications, 1985) and Matsuo Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Trans. Nobuyuki Yuasa, Penguin, 1966). I have also found M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Travelled (Rider, 1985) and The Different Drum (Rider, 1987) very helpful, the latter especially with Duncton Found.
A work as long and complex as Duncton Chronicles makes exceptional demands on its publisher, and particularly its editors. My own have done far more than readers can ever know, or perhaps care to believe, to correct my many errors at manuscript stage regarding whatmole was with whom, when, where, and why, and other matters editorial. My warm thanks therefore to Peter Lavery, Ann Suster, Victoria Petrie-Hay, and to Pamela Norris, who between them turned Duncton Found from an idea into a book with such professionalism and good cheer.
Duncton Quest and Duncton Found could not have been written without the love, support and help of my partner Debbie Crawshaw, and nor would the last months of writing Duncton Found have been so happy without the presence and pleasures of our newly born son, Joshua.