In Memory of Leo and Rosa Grindon

Mr Leopold Hartley Grindon (1838 – 1904) Botanist, Writer, Educator

Mrs Rosa Grindon nee Elverson (1848 – 1923) Suffragette, Writer, Educator

Why the Grindons?

During the recent global lockdown/lockout when my childen and I were trapped in Taiwan and couldn’t get back into Australia, I was doing a bit of research into early nature writers and did a search online for anything published in England. Given half of my family are from Yorkshire (mum’s side), I started looking there first and that’s how I found the public domain writings of Leo Grindon. The first book I looked through was Country Rambles and Manchester Walks and Wildflowers: Being Rural Wanderings in Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire, published in 1882.

Whilst I was reading along, lost in Mr Grindon’s beautiful nature inspired prose, almost perfectly formed haiku were basically jumping from the page. I couldn’t believe my eyes! To add some context here – more than two decades ago, I started regularly reading and writing haiku. After consistenty engaging with it for so long, it has become like a third language where one begins to see, read and hear haiku everywhere. But, what happened when I was reading Mr Grindon’s work was something different and extra special. I didn’t really have to form the verses, which is sometimes the case, much of the haiku were just sitting there on the page. You can enjoy some examples of these here.

I knew straight away that I had discovered something extraordinary so without hesitation, I started making notes and plucking out the haiku from Grindon’s Country Rambles. Deep inside I knew that this wasn’t something that could just be left behind so I have started on the journey to have Mr Grindon’s gorgeous nature writings re-published into a collection of haiku. My little family have since moved to England. We visited Manchester last year where we were able to get photos of Mrs Rosa Grindon’s gift to her husband Leo – the Shakespeare stained-glass window designed by Robert Anning Bell and the John Cassidy bronze medallion (pictured above) displayed in the foyer of Manchester Central Library. The Manchester Museum was closed for renovations at the time so we were unable visit there this trip.

I also searched online for anything the National Archives in Kew, London had on the Grindons and discovered they possibly had a 1905 photo of Mr Grindon, taken by a John Wilcock. Given the only photo I had ever seen of him was the one on Wikipedia, I swiftly made an appointment and went over to Kew the following week. Bag in the locker, passport checked, ID card printed, gloves on and camera handy, I was super excited, but carefully went through the box and came to this amazing photo of Mr Grindon seated in his garden at Cecil Street, Manchester. I have since been granted permission to use the image in our book – free for a print run of under 100 copies! Feel so blessed to be going on this journey and can’t wait to share more as things progress.

I ordered the above copy of Country Rambles (1882) through World of Books for £22 and was super stoked to open it and find it is actually signed Leo H Grindon with what looks to be a note to the famous English portrait artist Robert Crozier (1815–1891). Mr Crozier’s father George was a botanist and saddler who lived in Manchester. I also have an original letter written by Mr Grindon which I purchased from Richard Ford Manuscripts London. Although Mr Grindon’s writing is quite hard to understand, the letter appears to explain his aims in co-founding the Manchester Field-Naturalists’ Society.