Henry Williamson (1st December 1895 to 13th August 1977)


Henry was an author of many naturalist books but it was film of his novel Tarka The Otter for which he is famous. I was holiday in Ilfracombe and, by accident, walked along a narrow row of terraced houses (Capstone Road) and happened upon his house. He lived here from the mid 1950s until 1976. The Royal Britannia was his local pub. Being a blue-plaque spotter my eye naturally sought out the plaque on the wall. It isnít an official one but pretty good especially with the otter above it.


In 1974 he wrote a 400,000 word script for the film version of the book but it was rejected as far too long. Filming continued anyway without his knowledge (narrated by Peter Ustinov and released in 1979.) It was a massive success and I can recall seeing it as a child (I have never seen an otter - I have scene two Kingfishers through at the time of writing this age 46.) I have the audio book narrated by David Attenborough.


He died soon after a small operation. The general anaesthetic didnít agree with him and he went from a lucid man to one who could not recognise his own family the following day. By coincidence he died aged 81 on the day Tarka The Otter was being filmed.


Below is the cabin Williamson built in 1929. Itís a one-room hill-top affair in Georgeham near Woolacombe, North Devon. He made quite a lot of money from the Tarka The Otter and bought the land to build the cabin. He would spent about 15 hours a day in it. It was sold at auction after being left untouched for 40 years.


Henry is buried in the yard at St George Church in the small village of Georgeham.