The Mary Webb Society

This quote from “The Spring of Joy” written when Mary Webb was recuperating from her many bouts of Graves’ disease, seems appropriate for our lockdown days, but we can  still turn to nature to bring comfort and hope:

“It does not matter how shut in we are. Opportunity for wide experience is of small account in this as in other things; it is depth that brings understanding and life. Dawn, seen through a sick woman’s window, however narrow, pulses with the same fresh wonder as it does over the whole width of the sea. A branch of flushed wild-apple brings the same joy as the mauve trumpet – flower of the tropics. One violet is as sweet as an acre of them.”

Thanks to photographer Robert Gwilliam for these uplifting images of beautiful Shrewsbury in springtime. The image of our bronze bust of Mary Webb with a backdrop of blossom is just breathtaking.

This poem,” The Elf ” by Mary describing Shrewsbury was read by Val Littehales at the unveiling of the bust in 2016.



A fair town is Shrewsbury-

The world over

You’ll hardly find a fairer,

In its fields of clover

And rest-harrow, ringed

By hills where curlews call,

And, drunken from the heather,

Black bees fall.

Poplars by Severn,

Lean hand in hand,

Like golden girls dancing

In elfland.


Early there come travelling

On market day

Old men and young men

From far away,

With red fruits of the orchard

And dark fruits of the hill,

Dew-fresh garden stuff,

And mushrooms chill,

Honey from the brown skep,

Brown eggs, and posies

Of gillyflowers and Lent lilies

And blush roses.


And sometimes, in a branch of blossom,

Or a lily deep,

An elf comes, plucked with the flower

In her sleep;

Lifts a languid wing, slow and weary,

Veined like a shell;

Listens, with eyes dark and eerie,

To the church bell;

Creeps further within her shelter of

Of lilac or lily,

Weaving enchantments,

Laughing stilly.


Neither bells in the steeple

Nor books, old and brown,

Can disenchant the people

In the slumbering town.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

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