The Love of Common Things – found poetry of Leopold Hartley Grindon

King River Press is very excited about our forthcoming collection of found poetry from our favourite Victorian era botanist and nature writer, Mr Leopold Hartley Grindon (1818 – 1904). Mr Grindon was born in Bristol and after finishing school worked as a cashier at Whittaker & Co in Manchester. With a keen interest in the natural world since young, whilst living in Manchester Mr Grindon also tirelessly pursued his interest in all things botanical. Over his lifetime, he collected over 40,000 specimens of plants and many illustrations and published many botanical books.

The verses from our collection are taken directly from, or are adaptions of the original writings which are now in the public domain, namely; Manchester Walks and Wild Flowers (Palmer & Howe, Manchester. 1858 & 1882), The Manchester Flora (William White, London. 1859) and Country Rambles (Palmer & Howe. 1882). The Herbarium at Manchester Museum holds the collections of Leo Grindon which were donated by his wife, Rosa Grindon in 1910. You can see some of this collection here.

Mr Grindon’s life work differed from that of other local collectors of the time, such as Charles Bailey and James Cosmo Melvill, in that he was primarily a collector of plants from the local area and garden flowers; he was very much a people’s folk botanist. He was also a pioneer in the area of adult education. As shown in the videos hyperlinked above, much of Mr Grindon’s work is in it’s original condition and held in the Leo Grindon Herbarium Collection at Manchester Museum, which is located in the tower and attic. Some of it has been photographed; you can see more specimens and the efforts put into this on the blog of trainee biological curator, Andrew Lawton and other documentation and research conducted by Daniel Quall King.

I have a great deal of admiration for the work carried out by Grindon.  He wasn’t the kind of botanist who just collected plants for the sake of it; or collected them as a means to enhance his own standing within the natural history community.  He wanted to share what he found and discovered with others; and use his collection as a way of informing and inspiring future botanists.  And for that, I doth my cap to Mr Grindon.

Andrew Lawton, trainee Biological curator – Manchester Museum (2012)

Images above our own – King River Press (2022), taken at Manchester Central Library

We also have a great deal of admiration for Mr Grindon’s collection of botanical specimens, his writings and nature education. Hopefully one day we will find the time and energy to build an entire website and perhaps an appreciation society in his honour. We hope you enjoy this small sampler of some special moments plucked from his regular ‘rambles’ in the English countryside. Our goal with this forthcoming collection is that it encourages more readers and writers to engage with his work and that the general public will become better acquainted with the underrated nature writings and legacy of Mr and Mrs Grindon and perhaps do some local ‘rambling’ of their own.

Sample haiku plucked from Mr Leo Grindon’s Country Rambles (1882)

rambling in the fields
the town cobwebs

the flowerbeds and parks
from God's own hand

gas lit
the long lines of pavement
now paced by policemen

sweet spot
plucking early primrose
to the bird's song

a belated visit
to Ashley Meadows
the over-blown hazel

the many shades of yellow
in an English spring

© King River Press 2023