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Archive for February, 2014

This was our first look at the manuscript found with a kinsman in Melbourne in November 2006.

This was our first look at the manuscript which was in the safe keeping of Richard Wood in Melbourne in November 2006.

J.K. ROWLING apparently suffered 12 rejection slips before her first Harry Potter book was accepted by a publisher. John Clavering Wood’s manuscript received at least one, according to the following email received earlier in 2013:

Gidday, I have just came across the review on the net of Tom Hurstbourne. In the early 50s when my father was packing up to move from Yarranung to Sydney, he came across an old handwritten manuscript called A Squatters Life or Tom Hurstbourne (can’t remember the spelling) by John Clavering Wood.

I asked about him as I had not much info on the family’s background. He just said Clavering Wood was the black sheep of the family and that I wouldn’t be interested. I remember something about him being found floating in the Thames upside down. Anyway sometime about 1951-53, I took the script all in its original binding into Angus and Robertson [book publishers]. They said to leave it and it would go to the readers for review.

Some good time later I received a letter saying that it was no good; it had no literary merit and would I pick it up. About a month later I went to claim it and they couldn’t find it. That was the last I thought of it until I saw the website a few minutes ago. Where would I get a copy? Regards, Phillip Wood, (born 1934).

The writer is the grandson of the novelist’s younger brother Peter Horsman Wood of Yarranung at Bega [and sister of Edith mentioned below]. His comments that JC Wood was the ‘black sheep’ of the family and was found in the Thames are intriguing — and more research is clearly needed to explain these two assertions. Meanwhile, Richard Wood (a descendant of JC Wood’s youngest brother, William Rigby Wood) very kindly supplied the follow explanation about how the manuscript came into his hands:

Dad (also named JCW) and Mum visited Australia sometime in the 1970s and my ex-wife and I took them up to Gosford, NSW to see Edith Wood, a granddaughter of the novelist’s other brother, Peter Horsman Wood of Bega. While there Dad and Edith began discussing the Wood family, in particular the two brothers who had come to Australia. At the time, it never dawned on me to take notes, so as a result a lot of information was not recorded.

It was on this visit that Edith showed Dad the manuscript which was assumed to be a record of the trip out to Australia from England. Edith gave the manuscript to Dad to keep and to pass on when he saw fit. On returning to our home, Dad said that I could keep the book – and the rest is history.

I believe Edith had two brothers, one of whom was named Phillip (I think). The other I can’t recall. I remember being told that one of the brothers was a pilot.

If these recollections are correct then it was possible Edith went to Sydney/Gosford with her father [Edward “Ned” Lancelot Horsman Wood] when the family left Bega. This may explain how she came to be given the manuscript. 

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