Coming in late - Roger Wardale notes

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Posted by Claire Barnett on February 12, 2016 at 10:08:00 user Claire_Morgan.

I was saddened to see the news of Roger's death in 'Signals From Tarsus'. I have been absent from this group for about 4 years, and I hope that you will indulge me for sharing some personal recollections and suggestions.

My initial contact with Roger was when I wrote to him while doing research for an article on the inspiration for Captain Flint's houseboat. He kindly gave me permission to use some photos and a letter that he had concerning the opinion of a former owner of the Esperance. I also corresponded with Geraint Lewis to obtain permission for some quotations from the books and the use of selected illustrations. The ensuing article, "Captain Flint's Houseboat", appeared in 'Signals from Tarsus'. Further correspondence with both Roger and Geraint convinced me that I had made a mistake in that article with my description of the houseboat's fo'c'sle area. That original article along with an acknowledgement of my mistake, appears here;

We continued to correspond and, since I can't access my old email files easily I am not sure of the date or how it developed, but before the 2010 publication of "Arthur Ransome: Master Storyteller", I was privileged to work with Roger. My role was to proofread chapters as he developed them and to make suggestions, which he usually graciously accepted. He also knew that I was a fan of the Helene Carter illustrations in the Lippincott American editions, so her work appearing in that book as well as the Mary Shepard "Pigeon Post" illustrations came from my copy stand and photo touch up work. I have a treasured copy of the book which he sent to me, inscribed as following: "For Claire Barnett (Margagenia). In appreciation for the part that you played in its creation. Roger Wardale." His nickname for me was explained in the acknowledgements section of the book. "In the preparation of this book I have been cheered on my way by Claire Barnett from the USA, who has fulfilled the role of both 'Margaret Renold' and a kindly 'Evgenia'.

I was beginning to perform a similar role in his planned book about the Norfolk Broads area utilizing some of Ransome's diaries, when I had to drop out of the project for health reasons. I had to simplify my life considerably, so the expanded houseboat article did not get written either. I think it was guilt about those two unfinished projects that led me to take a leave of absence from Tarboard, and sadly, that became a habit.

Magnus Smith commented about Roger in the main thread that, "I didn't really know how old he was, but I occasionally wondered about scholars like him, who have amassed a lot of unique knowledge that isn't all written down. I never thought we'd need to ask him about passing his 'legacy' on before he went (how rude!), because I assumed there were decades more to go." I had that very discussion with Roger, pointing out that with the deaths of the people who knew AR directly, it was important to hear from people like himself who knew the Altounyans and other principles who had known AR. He resisted my suggestions though, because at that time he was having trouble lining up a publisher for the proposed Broads book, and thought it might be impossible to find one for reminiscences. And sadly, now we are losing Roger's generation of people who knew the people who knew AR. I know nothing about Roger's heirs or family, but I am hoping someone in England with such knowledge could see if the Brotherton Library or a similar suitable place could start a collection of Roger's notes and papers.

And on a final note, because he loved the Helene Carter illustrations too, I sent along copies of the Lippencott editions of "Coot Club" and "Swallowdale" with a friend returning to England, but I did not follow through to have them sent on to Roger. I vaguely remember a TARS library in England and I would donate the books to them if they were interested.

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