East Anglia, Land of the Iceni Names & Legends

George Borrow (1803 - 1881)

George Borrow

George Borrow, traveller and writer, was born in Dumpling Green, East Dereham of a Cornish father & Norfolk mother. Some of his school years were spent at the King Edward VI Grammar School in the Cathedral Close, Norwich.
On the hills of Mousehold, above the Cathedral, he spent time in the company of the gypsies. It was probably from listening to their tales that his urge to travel came from.
Education over, he was articled to a solicitor, but that was not for him, and he packed his bags and travelled not only all over the British Isles, but also as an agent for the Bible Society across Europe.

During his travels he spent a lot of time in the company of the Romany who almost adopted him. Amongst the gypsies he became known as 'Lavengro' or wordmaster.

In his late 30's he married and settled down in a house on Willow Lane in Norwich. He then started writing. Although he claimed that his books were novels, so much written in them is factual that they can be regarded as biographical.
He wrote 'The Zincali, or the Gypsies in Spain' (1841), 'The Bible in Spain' (1843), 'Lavengro' (1851), 'Romany Rye' (1857) & 'Wild Wales' (1862)

He later moved to Oulton Broad where he died in 1881.
But you can imagine him best, standing on Mousehold after spending time with the gypsies, describing the scene below .....

A fine old city, truly, is that, view it from whatever side you will; but it shows best from the east, where the ground, bold and elevated, overlooks the fair and fertile valley in which it stands. Gazing from those heights, the eye beholds a scene which cannot fail to awaken, even in the least sensitive bosom, feelings of pleasure and admiration.
At the foot of the heights flows a narrow and deep river, with an antique bridge communicating with a long and narrow suburb, flanked on either side by rich meadows of the brightest green, beyond which spreads the city; the fine old city, perhaps the most curious specimen at present extant of the genuine old English town.

Yes, there it spreads from north to south, with its venerable houses, its numerous gardens, its thrice twelve churches, its mighty mound, which, if tradition speaks true, was raised by human hands to serve as the grave-heap of an old heathen king, who sits deep within it, with his sword in his hand, and his gold and silver treasures about him.
There is a gray old castle upon the top of that mighty mound; and yonder, rising three hundred feet above the soil, from among those noble forest trees, behold that old Norman master-work, that cloud-encircled cathedral spire, around which a garrulous army of rooks and choughs continually wheel their flight.
Now, who can wonder that the children of that fine old city are proud of her, and offer up prayers for her prosperity?

Lavengro 1851

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Last Updated: 11 May 2004


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