Skip to main content

The man who wrote Tarka

Henry Williamson wrote his fine book Tarka The Otter in 1927. It made him both rich and famous but there was another, much darker, side to this man.

Henry Williamson wrote his fine book Tarka The Otter in 1927. It made him both rich and famous but there was another, much darker, side to this man.

Williamson (pictured) was a fascist, an admirer of Hitler and an enthusiastic supporter of Oswald Mosley and his blackshirts.

His writings between the wars were an odd mixture of enlightened environmental wisdom and crude nazi propaganda.

As well as Tarka he wrote a book called The Story Of A Norfolk Farm. Here is an extract.

"One day the sewage of the cities will cease to be poured into the rivers and will be returned to the land to grow fine food for the people. One day salmon will leap again in the clear waters of the London river; and human work will be creative and joyful."

Yet at the same time he was singing the praises of German National Socialism.

He was one of the first join Mosley and the British Union of Fascists.

Williamson attended Hitler's notorious Nuremberg rallies and met Hitler himself. Those meetings would lead to his greatest act of treason.

He and Hitler actually planned who would run Britain after the successful invasion and occupation of these islands by the master race.

Hitler had a man in mind to be the Gauleiter, the nazi ruler of Britain, and that man was Williamson's friend TE Lawrence, the legendary Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence, Williamson and Mosley were all supporters of nazi Germany and fascist Italy as a bulwark against Soviet communism.

Williamson wanted Lawrence and Hitler to meet. The press got wind of the idea and besieged Lawrence's remote cottage at Clouds Hill, Dorset.

On May 13 1935, Lawrence wheeled out his massive motorcycle and set off for Bovington army camp.

He had received a letter that morning from Williamson. It proposed the vital meeting with Hitler.

Lawrence agreed to the meeting and, as his cottage had no telephone, he would send a telegram from the camp telling Williamson so.

On the way back the accident happened.

A number of witnesses saw it - two delivery boys on bicycles, an army corporal walking by and the occupants of the black van that hit Lawrence.

After the crash the van raced off. Almost immediately an army truck arrived to take Lawrence to the camp hospital where he was held under top security.

D-notices silenced the newspapers and the War Office took charge of all communications.

Special Branch officers sat by his bedside.

No visitors were allowed. Lawrence's cottage was raided and many books and private papers taken.

Army intelligence interrogated the two boys for several hours after which their story changed. Now the boys denied ever seeing a black van.

Six days later Lawrence died and two days later an inquest was held under top security. It lasted just two hours, the verdict was accidental death.

Williamson was convinced that Lawrence's death was no accident. Hitler's and MI6's views were never made public.


For more of Peter Frost's writing visit


We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.

Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 6,193
We need:£ 11,807
13 Days remaining
Donate today