ID: WW01_231 / Winifred Hone

TitleTollesbury - Archie White - 1918. Winifred Hone memoirs
AbstractArchie White, who became quite famous with articles books and drawings later, I first met when he had sailed up Woodruffe Creek from Mersea with two friends, Cecil Woods and Donald Blythe, to attend Gooseberry Fair. This was a notable affair of long standing, something to be remembered, the sun always seemed to shine, and life was happy and full, full in more ways than one. Lots of fishermen, yacht hands and visitors would get half seas [sic] over free of worry and content to let tomorrow look after itself. My mother used to bake a huge gooseberry pie in and brown and white Sunderland earthenware oblong dish. It contained 60 lbs of fruit, the only oven to cook it in was the local baker, one Mr Coats, and it was devoured at the feast by those lucky enough to get near it.

Referring to Archie White and knowing I was going to live at Mersea in the near future, I quite naturally cultivated a friendship. He seemed very interested in reading and I lent him a special edition of Stevenson's Treasure Island. It so impressed him that when he returned it to me it contained an original book marker depicting many face, neits of the story... I had no idea of his potential as an illustrator, neither had he, and sometime after we had taken over the Victory I had a very depressing letter from him - he had taken a job in Northampton, describing and where he was lodging he read an imaginary notice over the door with the words "Abandon hope all ye who enter". This letter rather saddened me, and thinking of the Treasure Island bookmarker and also an Easter message that he had sent me which consisted of a brown paper folder, with W.H. on the cover. Inside was the poem "Kubla Kahn" by Coleridge hand printed and containing four wonderful illustrations "Kubla Khan", "Beware Beware", "The shadow of the dome of pleasure", "Woman waiting for her demon lover", beautifully hand painted with wonderful and intricate detail. I decided to show these illustrations of his art to Mr Herbert Reiach, the editor of Yachting Monthy, and ask him if he could help Archie with a job where he could make use of the evident talent he possessed.

So Archie came back and filled in his time by drawing tail ends for short stories, also sillhouettes of boats sailing which I used to cut from various yachting magazines. The pictures were framed, white on black or black on white, which I hung in the ballroom of the Victory and sold at 3/6 each. Silhouettes had been fasionable for many years and they sold as quickly has he could make them, or until I had exhausted the supply of illustrations from the magazines. He finally joined the staff of Yachting Monthly. I had a letter from Mr Reiach telling me that Archie had great talent, but he was not the person to bring it out, he was passing him on to another college, and from there Archie never looked back. He was a being of fancy and in his new environment he had freedom of mind and of his own self determination. He wrote several books and was fully occupied until his early decease.

[ Archie White lived 1899 - 1957 ]

AuthorWinifred Hone
SourceMersea Museum / Wendy Brady