Date Published: 1926-1948
This Douglas W. Ashby collection includes 12 travel diaries, 1926-9, 1931, 1945-8. Totaling 2,326 diary pages in all as well as 24 hand-drawn maps and other pen-and-ink vignettes. Plus 3 Ashby related books. The date range is from 1926 to 1948.
Ashby’s greatly detailed hand-written diary journals describe his travels in Europe, Scotland, and England with his wife and other family members. Lots of serious walking with the topography insightfully and beautifully described including interactions with the locals. Fascinating and informative travel reading. Ashby was a serious traveller and wrote about his experiences in many one-of-a-kind lucid, informative and entertaining diaries.
The author, Douglas W. Ashby, was born in 1898 in Leicester, England. His father died when he was 6. His grandfather had a shoe and boot factory. In the First World War, Ashby served as a clerk in the Army Service Corps at Darby. He was demobbed in June 1918. He remained a pacifist the remainder of his life and was the first secretary of the Peace Pledge Union in Leicester. He worked as a bank clerk. He married Mildred on 17 September 1928, and they apparently had one child named Gillian. He translated Sasha (1920) and Loves Anvil: A Romance of Northern Russia (1921) and wrote several books, including The Harp of the Hills, Poems (1923), Things Seen in Switzerland in Summer (1928), and Friar Lane (1951). Ashby’s 12 Diaries include:
(1) Journal of a Holiday among the Grampian Mountains. Ballachulish, Ballachulish House, Kirkintilloch, Coxdale House. 21 May – 5 June 1926. 142 pp. 2 hand-drawn maps, Lochaber & Appin and South Western Highlands. 18 × 12 cm. Brown gold flexible cloth, marbled edges. The holiday is split between two locations: Ballachulish House in Bailechaolais and Coxdale House in Kirkintilloch. Locations written at the top of each page. The journal begins as follows: “The last three weeks of alternate hope and fear caused by the industrial upheaval of the General Strike being fortunately over, Mildred & I left Leicester at 10 p.m. from the L.M.S. Station in a raging thunderstorm. Mrs. Collings & Aunti Clara having already departed to Mochdre in North Wales.”
(2) Journal of a Holiday in the Grampian Mountains. Bailechaolais, Ballachulish House, Kirkintilloch, Coxdale House. 21 May–5 June 1926. 180 pp. 2 hand-drawn maps, Lochaber & Appin and South Western Highlands. 20.5 × 13 cm. Brown gold flexible cloth, marbled edges. Pen-and-ink drawing on the first page. The text is very similar to (2) but differs slightly. The journal begins as follows: “For the last three weeks we have been laboring under a bewildering alternation of hope and fear, owing to the upheaval caused by the General Strike. But, at last¸ during the present week our suspense ended, and the strike has been, if not settled, at least abandoned; and three days ago it became certain that we should be able to fulfil our plan of leaving Scotland to night, after all.”
(3) Journal of a Holiday among the Vierwaldstätter Alps with a Week End Walking Tour over the Brünig. Brunnen, Hotel Mythestein, Lungern, Gasthaus zum Schynberg. 3-13 June 1927. 170 pp. 2 hand-drawn maps, Our Route (map from Leicester across the Channel into France and Switzerland) and Vierwaldstätter Alpen & Brünig Pass. 18 × 12 cm. Brown gold flexible cloth, marbled edges. Pen-and-ink drawing on the first page. The journal begins as follows: “As Mildred & I decided to visit the Alps this year, and Uncle Sydney and Aunties Isabel & Edie also wanted to go out at the same time of the year, we arranged to join forces. The others did not leave Leicester until a later train, but Mildred & I, always anxious to squeeze the last possible drop out of our holidays, left the Midland Station on the 9.26. Mother & Mrs. Collings went up to the Station with us, and there we were joined by Kitty Barson and Bert Sorrell, so that we had quite a crowd to wish us `bon voyage’.”
(4) Journal of a Walking Tour in the Lake District, and a Visit to the Coast and Moors of Yorkshire, Being Our Wedding Tour. Grasmere, Rack’s Private Hotel, Loweswater, Kirkstile Inn, Wasdale Head, Burnthwaite Farm, Seathwaite in Dunnerdale, Newsfields Inn, Runswick, Runswick Bay Hotel, Whitby, Abbey Terrace. 17 September-5 October 1928. 196 pp. 2 hand-drawn maps, The Lake District and Yorkshire Coast & Moors. 20.5 × 13 cm. Purple flexible cloth, marbled edges. Pen-and-ink drawing on the first page. The journal begins as follows: “We were married at Friar Lane at 11 o’clock, and after the wedding breakfast at the Constitutional Club, we went up to Midland Station by taxi. There Mother, McCollings, Linda, Hilda Stooke & Bert, who had been my best man, saw us off on the Thames-Clyde express at 1.42.”
(5) Journal of a Walking Tour Through Der Schwarzwald (Black Forest). Oppenau, Hotel Post (oder Posthof), Wolbach, Gasthaus zum Ochsen, and 11 other hotels and inns listed on the title page. 18 May-2 June 1929. 194 pp. 2 hand-drawn maps, Our Route (Leicester across the Channel into Belgium and then Germany) and Schwarzwald. 20.5 × 13 cms. Brown gold cloth, marbled edges. Pen-and-ink drawing on the first page. TLS from Karl Krebs, 3 June 1979, recalling Ashby’s visit, affixed to the rear endpaper. The journal begins as follows: “Taking with us no luggage except our rucksacks, we left Leicester L.M.S. Station by the 8.0 p.m. train. Mother, Mrs. Collings & Auntie Clara saw us off. It was a dull evening, & the countryside looked very grey as we made our way southwards. The journey to St. Pancras was uneventful, we stopped only at Bedford, and arrived in London at 10.15.”
(6) Journal of a Walking Tour Through the Vosges, and a Short Tramp in the Schwartzwald. Obernai, Hôtel de la Cloche, Kaÿserberg, Hôtel du Château, and 10 other hotels and inns listed on the title page. 23 May-7 June 1931. 194 pp. 2 hand-drawn maps, Our Route (Leicester across the Channel into Belgium and then Switzerland) and Vosges. 20.5 × 13.5 cm. Brown gold cloth, marbled edges. Pen-and-ink drawing on the first page. The journal begins as follows: “It was a wet and depressing day when we set off with our rucksacks. The Midland station was crowded & the trains all very late. We had intended to travel by the 4.16, but there was a special non stop to London came in while we were waiting and we left on that about 4.30. Mother & Mater saw us off, and on the station we met Miss Talkes, who was seeing off Mabel Talkes, whom I had not met for years, & who travelled down with us.”
(7) Journal of a Holiday in Devon. Sidmouth. 16-2 May 1945. 152 pp. 2 hand-drawn maps, East Devon and Sidmouth District. 20.5 × 13 cm. Brown gold cloth, marbled edges. Pen-and-ink drawing on the first page. The journal begins as follows: “A fortnight so full of great events had pushed our holiday into the background, so that it seemed to leap out upon us as out of ambush! Although I had expected that our holiday last autumn might well be the last during the war in Europe, even a fortnight ago I was not so sure—especially as I was suffering from a superstitious idea that, as so many outstanding events of the war had occurred while we were on holiday, its conclusion would almost inevitably occur during this one! But we had missed it, by eight days!”
(8) Journal of a Cycle Tour Through the Cotswolds. Chipping Campden, The Thatched Cottage, Park Rd., and 7 other hotels and inns listed on the title page. 1-8 September 1945. 158 pp. 2 hand-drawn maps, Route Map of Our Cotwolds Cycle Tour, Northern Section, and Southern Section. 20.5 × 13 cm. Purple flexible cloth, tear on the spine but holding. Pen-and-ink drawing on the first page. The journal begins as follows: “Of all the mad schemes for a holiday in this present year of grace, said our friends, this idea of a cycle tour was surely the maddest. We should get nothing to eat, we should find nowhere to sleep, and the weather was the most consistently appalling for years. Everybody was going on holiday again this year, and so there would be no room for anybody!”
(9) Journal of a Holiday on the Borders of Dorset & Devon and in Parts of Wiltshire. Lyme Regis, Salisbury. 1-17 June 1946. 242 pp. 2 hand-drawn maps, Devon-Dorset Border Coast and Stonehenge Region. 20 × 13 cm Green stiff paper, quarter bound in purple leather, marbled edges. Pen-and-ink drawing on the first page. The journal begins as follows: “As it was impossible for me to leave Leicester in time to reach Lyme Regis at a reasonable hour, Mildred and Jill went on ahead. Leaving the Central Station at 9.4. Mother had already left for Torquay at 7.40, and Auntie Floss went to Clevedon on Thursday, so that there was a general exodus of the family to the West Country!”
(10) Journal of a Holiday on the South Downs and in Parts of Sussex and Kent. Eastbourne. 5-20 October 1946. 232 pp. 2 hand-drawn maps, Parts of the Borders of Sussex & Kent with War Damage That We Saw; and South Downs. 20 × 13 cm. Green stiff paper, quarter bound in purple leather, marbled edges. Pen-and-ink drawing on the first page. The journal begins as follows: “Until Wednesday we had not known our destination to-day for though we had originally planned to visit Sussex, we had changed our minds, and had been trying to get accommodation at Lymington in the New Forest, without success. Finally, realizing that we must settle the matter, we wrote to Eastbourne, as a likely place for accommodation, & a suitable base for the South Downs, practically unexplored country, our departure in the 11.23. Marylebone express completed a family exodus, for Mother and Auntie Isabel at Barnstaple, Auntie Floss at Clevedon, & Ronald at Mumbles!”
(11) Journal of a Cycle Tour Through East Anglia. Ely and 10 other places and hotels. 20 September-1 October 1947. 234 pp. 2 hand-drawn maps, Route Map of Our Cycle Tour in East Anglia, Northern Section, and Southern Section. 20 × 13 cm. Purple stiff paper, quarter bound in purple leather, marbled edges. Pen-and-ink drawing on the first page. The journal begins as follows: “After a summer of miraculous weather, it seemed unlikely that we could expect a good autumn and last week end the wireless forecast a break—but the sun continued to shine with undiminished splendor. The autumnal equinox seemed all too likely a date for a change, and when, on Tuesday, the weather did at last take a distinct turn for the worse, I wondered whether we might not have been unwise in planning a cycle tour for so late in the year.”
(12) Journal of a Cycling Holiday in and Around the New Forest. Highcliffe. 18 September-2 October 1948. 232 pp. 2 hand-drawn maps, New Forest, Purbeck, & Isle of Wight; New Forest. 20 × 13 cm. Purple stiff paper, quarter bound in purple leather, marbled edges. Pen-and-ink drawing on the first page. The journal begins as follows: “The utter appalling and unbroken bad weather that has characterized this year since Easter has robbed us of all inclination to risk a cycle tour this Autumn. Jill had had a fortnight at Sherborne last month and we did not wish to interrupt the beginning of her time in the Sixth, and so Mildred & I decided that we would again attempt to obtain accommodation at Lymington, and explore the New Forest on our bicycles from that base.”
Ashby’s 3 books include:
(1) Ashby, Friar Lane: The Story of Three Hundred Years (London: The Carey Kingsgate Press, Ltd., 1951). Red rust cloth. Inscribed on the front free endpaper: “To my friend | John Kavanagh | in gratitude that between | our churches there is | now fellowship in place | of unhappy division. | Douglas Ashby | 9.10.87”. Reddish purple cloth.
(2) Ashby, Things Seen in Switzerland in Summer (London: Seeley, Service & Co., ). Blue cloth, dated 8 March 1950 on front free endpaper; the book was dedicated to Mildred, Ashby’s wife, “my fellow wayfarer”.
(3) Alexander Kuprin, Sasha (London: Stanley Paul & Co., [1920?], trans. by Asby from the Russian. Blue cloth in jacket, tears and small chips.
The diaries and books are housed in a very handsome dark blue cloth box. Coloured copies of the title pages and facing map of each diary are pasted on the top, lid, and bottom of the box.
This collection is on consignment with LDRB.