Lavengro Press

Our late chair, Dr. Ann Ridler, often said that too little Borrvian scholarship was published, although she herself made a immense contribution through her editorship of the George Borrow Bulletin.  Occasional papers were produced, and of course a number of publications came out, but still there was a backlog of unpublished work.

In conjunction with Dr. Clive Wilkins-Jones, Ann setup Lavengro Press in 2014, with a launch party held during the George Borrow Society Peterborough weekend, 12th April 2014, where the first two books by the press were on sale.  Two very-unlikely booksellers did a roaring trade...

Ann and Clive with the first two Lavengro Press books

Colm Kerringan, who had won the George Borrow Trust essay prize with his George Borrow’s Journey through Cork in 1815, was present to sign his book, the other book being Three Fraser Memorial Lectures.

A Website ( was setup for the company, and books could be purchased online or by contacting Ann Ridler directly.  Graham York of Honiton also stocked the books, and anyone wishing for copies is advised to contact Graham.  The Website closed on 1st February 2019, following the unexpected death of Dr. Ridler.

The following is an attempt to list the publications.


George Borrow’s Journey through Cork in 1815 by Colm Kerrigan

Borrow’s experience of Ireland occupies chapters 9 to 13 of Lavengro, written in the 1840s and published in 1851. His account of it was largely autobiographical, but with a blend of imaginative reconstruction. His stay in Ireland as a boy of twelve, accompanying his parents with the West Norfolk Militia, in which his father was a captain, only lasted eight months, from 9 September 1815 to early May 1816, but it had a profound impact on him. It led him by the mid-1820s to study the Irish language in Lhuyd’s Archaeologia Britannica of 1707, and marked the beginning of a lifelong interest in little known and neglected languages and peoples.

This Occasional Paper provides an essential backdrop to the presence of the Militia in the south of Ireland, anchoring what Borrow writes of his journey through Cork in the political and social context of its time. It will make absorbing reading for anyone interested in Irish history of the early 19th century.

George Borrow: Three Fraser Memorial Lectures

1. David Jones and Everyman’s Wild Wales by Martin Murphy;

2. Gweledigaetheu Uffernol: George Borrow, Goronwy Owen and the Vision of Hell by Clive Wilkins-Jones;

3. ‘Born to be a great traveller’: Joseph Sell as Borrow’s Imaginary Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by David Chandler

In this Occasional Paper 2 both Martin Murphy’s lecture and Clive Wilkins-Jones’s incidentally make reference to the Crimean War of 1853-6, rumours of which were reaching Llangollen when Borrow was there in 1854. It’s a reminder of how topical so many of Borrow’s themes continue to be. Clive Wilkins-Jones also refers to the incident of Lieutenant Perry’s brutal treatment by Army colleagues, which has modern analogues reported daily in our newspapers. As Martin Murphy notes in his paper on David Jones and Borrow, the soldier’s experience from the sixth-century Y Gododdin to the twentieth-century horrors of the Great War, illustrated in David Jones’s In Parenthesis, is universal, and Borrow’s preoccupation with the ‘Four Last Things’, exemplified in Goronwy Owen’s verses and in Clive Wilkins-Jones’s paper, remains entirely relevant to twenty-first century readers.

The third lecture by David Chandler on Borrow’s apocryphal ‘Joseph Sell’ is a salutary reminder to readers that Borrow’s Lavengro and The Romany Rye are not straight reportage as they are so often taken to be. Both works raise many questions about the true nature of autobiographical writing, about perception and memory, and imagination.

George Borrow in Cornwall, 1853–1854. Notebooks and Correspondence, ed. Angus Fraser and Ann M. Ridler.

In addition to the text of Borrow’s notebooks of his Cornish visit this study includes important appendices on Borrow’s interest in Cornish folklore and the Cornish language, a study of his translation of the Cornish tale ‘John of Chyanhor’, and a note by a railway historian on Borrow’s journey by train from Great Yarmouth to Plymouth in December 1853. We have included 35 black and white illustrations from photographs and old prints.


George Borrow and Dereham by Angus Fraser and Ann M. Ridler

George Borrow and Dereham includes a substantial paper by the late Sir Angus Fraser, first published in 1972 in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society and subsequently revised for the Borrow Bicentenary celebrations in 2003. We have added a number of appendices which link Borrow’s work with some distinguished names associated with Dereham in Norfolk, and incidentally explode some long-standing myths about Borrow and Dereham.

George Borrow’s Tour of Galloway and the Borders 1866 edited by Angus Fraser

Borrow’s Tour of Galloway and the Borders, in which, at the age of 63, he walked from Stranraer on the west coast of Scotland to Berwick-upon-Tweed, just on the English side of the Border, is of special interest both because it is the last full record we have of a major expedition by Borrow, and because it includes his visit to meet the Queen of the Gypsies at Kirk Yetholm. Apart from the text of Borrow’s notebook of his journey it also includes relevant correspondence, an account of his previous journey through Scotland in 1858, some notes on books in Borrow’s library relating to Scotland and Scots Gaelic, notes on his translations from Gaelic and the days he spent in and around Belfast.

George Borrow’s Moorish Vocabulary (Tangiers 1839), edited with an introduction and notes by Simon Hopkins

We are publishing a study of Borrow’s Moorish vocabulary which he compiled on a visit of several weeks to Tangiers in 1839. The original manuscript is in the Hispanic Society of America’s Library in New York, and has never before been published. The author is Professor of Arabic at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Judah Lib alias Judah Lyons: A cause célèbre in nineteenth-century Jerusalem, by Yehudit and Simon Hopkins

George Borrow met the Jew Judah Lib for the last time in Gibraltar in 1839. This is a striking account of Judah Lib’s ‘afterlife’ in Jerusalem from 1839 until his death in 1852. It’s a remarkable piece of detective work charting the often painful consequences for his family of his conversion to Christianity, and his relationship with the Christian community of the 1840s and 1850s in Jerusalem. Numerous illustrations.

The Red Path and the Black Valley: George Borrow in the Isle of Man 1855. Notebooks and Other Materials, ed. Angus Fraser and Ann M. Ridler

Borrow visited the Isle of Man with his family in 1855, and explored it on foot from end to end, studying the extent to which the Manx language still survived in use, deciphering the runic inscriptions on the ancient Manx crosses, and searching for folk songs and traditions. This book includes the text of his Isle of Man notebooks as well as supplementary material and has numerous illustrations in colour and black and white. Borrow’s proposed book under the title ‘Bayr Jairgey and Glion Doo: The Red Path and the Black Valley. Wanderings In Quest of Manx Literature’ was advertised but never published.

George Borrow: the unveiling of the veiled period and other papers

Four George Borrow Conferences were organised by the late Professor Collie, at two-yearly intervals  from 1987 to 1993. These selected papers reflect some of the interests covered and are reproduced with the authors’ permission. The paper on ‘The Unveiling of the Veiled Period’, covering Borrow’s life from 1825 to 1832, is supplemented by material discovered more recently.

The four papers in publication are:

1. The Unveiling of the Veiled Period, by Angus Fraser;

2. Borrow and the Spanish Press, by Antonio Giménez;

3. George Borrow and Religion, by Kathleen Cann;

4. The Making of Borrow’s ‘The Welsh and their Literature’, by Clive Wilkins-Jones


George Borrow’s second tour of Wales, 1857: the first and second notebooks transcribed and edited by Ann M. Ridler

We invite readers to follow in Borrow’s tracks, reading his notebooks as he wrote them with all the quirks, raptures and uncertainties of his discoveries, with his idiosyncratic Welsh spelling, rapid vignettes of those he meets on the road, the inns where he stays and his wonder at the landscapes surrounding him. It was a remarkable journey.

George Borrow in Tipperary 1815–1816 by Colm Kerrigan

“George Borrow in Tipperary 1815-1816”; presents a vivid account of the social and political conditions in Tipperary around the time of the Battle of Waterloo.

The heath and the drawing-room: the representation of Borrow’s gypsies in Lavengro and The Romany Rye by Jessica von Kaenel-Flatt

This is the full text of the essay which won the George Borrow Trust’s Essay Competition in 2016, with some subsequent amendments concerning Borrow’s portrayal of Mrs Herne. It is of particular interest for its study of the Gypsy women in Borrow’s writings, especially Ursula, Pakomovna and Mrs Herne.

Barroco on the rock : George Borrow and Gibraltar by Richard Garcia

This edition brings together the original text of the four chapters which relate to Gibraltar, with explanatory notes and a commentary by Richard Garcia. The edition is limited to 150 copies. The text is enhanced in colour and black and white with illustrations from Victorian prints and photographs and in particular from a set of watercolours by Major-General Thomas Staunton St Clair, who was in Gibraltar from 1826 to 1834.


George Borrow in Portugal and north-west Spain by Ian Robertson

Ian Robertson was born in Tokyo in 1928 and educated at Stowe. He spent several years working in publishing and with specialist booksellers. His interest in the Peninsula had long preceded his decision to make it his base for two decades while engaged in compiling four editions each of ‘Blue Guides’ to both Spain and Portugal among other titles in that series.

Inevitably, George Borrow’s peregrinations in the Peninsula became an inextricable if comparatively minor part of his general interest in the Cosas de España. Prompted and amended by Peter Missler, this was to result in two substantial studies, on Borrow in Portugal and on Borrow’s expedition through the north-western provinces of Spain in 1837.

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At the time Lavengro Press closed two further works were in progress:

Borrow’s Illustrators, Part I by Kedrun Laurie and Norrette Moore

This would look at the artists who illustrated the various published works of Borrow, and would include papers on Frederic Sandys, E. J. Sullivan, A. S. Hartrick, Paul Nash, Anthony Gross.

Borrow’s Celtic Bards, Chiefs and Kings, by Clive Wilkins-Jones.

Clive gave a talk on this topic at the George Borrow Society meeting at Shrewsbury in 2018 which was very interesting.