The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

III. Critical and Miscellaneous Prose

§ 28. Richard Jefferies

While Oliphant and Hearn found their literary capital in the distant and unfamiliar, the sphere of Richard Jefferies was, as the title of one of his volumes indicates, the fields and the hedgerows around us. His task was to show that the unfamiliar lay beneath men’s eyes. He belongs to the class of field naturalists like White of Selborne, and, in days more recent than even those of Jefferies, Denham Jordan, who is better known by his penname “A Son of the Marshes.” But Jefferies was more ambitious than they and wider in his range. In Hodge and his Master, he deals with the human element in rural life; but he does not show that complete comprehension which he shows of beast and bird and flower. His name first became familiar through The Gamekeeper at Home; and, for the ten years of life which remained to him, he was a diligent writer. All who are qualified to judge, testify to his accuracy of observation as recorded in volume after volume, down to Field and Hedgerow, which appeared after his death; but, while the style is good, there is a marked tendency to catalogue minute facts which, doubtless, have a value as natural history, but hardly any from the point of view of literature. On the other hand, a certain vein of poetry is present in all the works of Jefferies. It is especially rich in Wood Magic, and it gives charm to the fine spiritual autobiography, The Story of My Heart.