Republished here on fully-searchable CD-Rom is the 1938 first edition of a Companion into Essex. Published in London by Methuen & Co., a Companion into Essex contains some 267 printed pages and sixteen plates taken from photographs by Gordon Young. Written by Herbert Winckworth Tompkins, a journalist and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and author, Tompkins had already written a number of successful and acclaimed travelogues, histories and biographies by the time he came to write this publication. These included the text for Hertfordshire in the much-lauded Highways and Byways series, Hertfordshire for the Little Guides publication, In Constable's Country - he also wrote Constable's biography - as well as a number of informal travel books such as Marsh-Country Rambles and The Complete Idler. A Companion into Essex went through a large number of editions until the end of the 1940s, an indication of this publication's appeal to its contemporary audience. Published just before the outbreak of WWII, a Companion into Essex harks back to a more pleasant and gentile way of life and before the county was swallowed almost in its entirety by Greater London. Bordered by the River Thames to the south, marshes and creeks on the east, Harwich Sturmer and the River Stour wending its way into Gainsborough and Constable country to the north and to the west by Hertfordshire, Essex has as much to offer in history and variety of topography as any other county in England, a fact often overlooked by outsiders not familiar with its abundances, which can boast of Colchester, Chichester, the Epping Forest and Waltham Abbey within its borders to name but a few. Not a travel book in the truest sense, the aim of the author is acknowledged in his introduction, which credits both the then recently-published Dictionary of National Biography and a number of topographical works detailing the county of Essex. Presented in a thoroughly enjoyable chapter, Tompkins visits many of the best-known places that Essex has to offer. Starting in the Epping Forest and ending' beside the tidal Couch', the reader is regaled with deeds of daring do of literary figures - real and imaginary - of robberies, great feats of bravery and often the banal minutia, that make for fascinating reading. Chapters contained within the Companion into Essex include those treating on Waltham Abbey, Chelmsford, the Dunmows, Maldon, Constables's Country, Colchester, Harwich, Thaxted and Saffron Walden, Cranham, Southend-on-Sea, Romford, Barking, Tilbury and Grays. On Romford market, Tompkins regales the reader with the tales of the celebrity and dwarves and the visit of Daniel Defoe who toured through much of the county. All-in-all a Companion into Essex makes for a highly-entertaining trip through a county that has changed perhaps more than any other in the past seventy-years. Fully-indexed, both by person and place, Companion into Essex is not to be missed.
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