Portrait of George Borrow

The George Borrow Bulletin

The George Borrow Bulletin (ISSN 0962-9390) had its origin in a dinner in St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, July 1987, when Professor Michael Collie was asked to organise a second George Borrow Conference (the dinner being the first).  Borrovians met at Blickling a year later and again decided on a second conference.  At this stage the group was just Sir Angus Fraser, Gillian Fenwick, Ann Ridler (the editor of the Bulletin), Kathleen Cann, Clive Wilkins-Jones, Michael and Joanne Collie.  It’s therefore very appropriate that the first article to appear in the first issue of the George Borrow Bulletin (Spring 1991), was written by Professor Collie on his trials and tribulations in organising what was to be the first of our annual events.  Needless to say, many things didn’t run to plan, and the article is very humorous.  The first Bulletin was sent free, but recipients were invited to cover the £1.50 cost of postage—how times change!

The first six Bulletin’s were around 20 pages each, carried articles and news by the members, and use Edmund Sullivan’s illustration of Borrow and Jasper on Mousehold Heath:

The first six issues of the George Borrow Bulletin

Bulletin 3 saw Dr. Ridler’s first “editorial note.”  Ann is fondly remembered for the encouragement and challenges she set those contributing to the Bulletin.  As she often said, “it needed to be right.”  Her great knowledge of Borrovian matters meant she often contributed something missed elsewhere.

Initial doubts on how much material was available for the Bulletin proved unfounded, and by number 7 (Spring 1994) the Bulletin was forty pages and had to switch to a stronger cover to keep it together!  By this point the Society had already organised overseas events, and the executive committee was meeting at Dr. Ridler’s house in Warborough, all of which was duly covered in the Bulletin.  The Notes and Queries section was also expanded: Borrovians have always been asking questions and finding things out: over the decades many questions were put, some answered, and a good deal of further interest and research sparked.  The Bulletin continued to expand and by number 10 (Autumn 1995) had reached 75 pages.

George Borrow Bulletin issues 7 to 10

Bulletin 11 saw a change in the layout of the Bulletin as Dr. Ridler got a new computer and laser printer.  The font cover was switched to the engraved version of the Henry Wyndham Phillips which appeared in Lavengro 1851.  This edition also had a Borrovian crossword, something which would become a regular feature.

George Borrow Bulletin issues 11 to 15

If you are wondering what was in all of these Bulletins, we have details on our Bulletin contents page.  Clearly the members needed reminding as well as Dr. Ridler produced an index of Bulletins Nos. 1–20 which appeared in December 2000.  The index ran to 10 pages, showing just how much Borrovian material had been produced.

George Borrow Bulletin cumulative index, Nos. 1–20

After No. 20, the form of the Bulletin gradually changed from the stapled form, to the bound form.  With the death of the Society’s president, Sir Angus Fraser on 27 May 2001, Bulletin 23 contained a section on his life and Borrovian works, and was sub-titled Sir Angus Fraser Memorial Issue.  In honour of Sir Angus the Society instituted bi-annual lectures in his memory, and it’s still the case (2020) that not a Society event passes without him being recalled.  What many may not know, is that in the same week Sir Angus died, Dr. Ridler’s husband also passed away, as she was to say, “it was the worst week in my life.”  Nevertheless she continued as editor, and issue No. 23 at over 100 pages is a testament to her as much as anything.

George Borrow Bulletin No. 23

George Borrow was born in 1803, and although the first “centenary” was a little off (being held in Norwich in 1913), Dr. Ridler had no intention of missing the bicentenary: it has to be right after all.  An extra issue of the Bulletin (No. 26) was produced with a strong focus on Norfolk, where various events had and were to be held.

George Borrow Bulletin No. 26

Having reached forty Bulletins in Spring 2010, a “new look” was adopted for Autumn 2010, and the second series of the Bulletins commenced back at number 1.  The new Bulletin also contained a coloured illustration: these might have been used before, but generally all series one Bulletins were black and white.

George Borrow Bulletin—last issue of first series, first
issue of second series

The last George Borrow Bulletin to be produced was Spring 2018, No. 16.  Dr. Ridler had almost completed next issue at the time of her unexpected death.  Although efforts were made to retrieve what had been done, it wasn’t possible, but no doubt there would have been another wonderful collection of Borrovian articles, under her greatly missed editorship.

If any members of the Society had an article which would have appeared in that issue, the Society would like to know: partly so that we can know what was coming, but also because we can include it in our new Newsletter so that others can enjoy it.

The last issue, Second Series, No. 16, of the George Borrow

Published copies of the Bulletin were deposited in the copyright libraries (e.g. British Library) and are available in other some libraries which were corporate members of the Society.

Cumulative thematic indexes of the Bulletin exist, covering many but not all of the published Bulletins.

The contents of the George Borrow Society Bulletins are on our Bulletin Contents page.

Back numbers of Bulletins

Back numbers may be ordered from Graham York, at 225 High Street, Honiton, Devon EX14 1LB, tel. 01 404 41727 or on ABE

Prices inclusive of postage (UK or surface mail, airmail extra) are:

Nos. 1–6, £1.50 each; 7–13, £1.00 each; 14–30, £4.00 each.  Binders were available at £7.50 each including postage (UK or surface mail, airmail extra), but there’s none left in stock. Cheques in sterling should be made payable to the George Borrow Society.  Those overseas may pay by credit card through Graham York.