About The Year of Living Englishly

This is about the year I came home to England after most of a lifetime in America, bringing with me my two daughters, ages 8 and 16.

I love America, especially the years spent in New York and Boston, but my heart is in the Derwent Valley in the Peak District of Derbyshire, where my parents were born and raised, and where all of my grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, and on back to the year dot lived and worked as farmers, carpenters, builders, stone masons, gardeners on an estate, blacksmiths, publicans and, in the case of my great-grandfather, John Bent Wallis, as a painter and nature columnist for the Sheffield Telegraph newspaper.

For the early years of my life, my parents, younger sister, and I lived in Cambridge where my father taught at Cambridge University.  When I was three, we moved to America in order for my father to take a position as a university professor.  Every summer of my childhood we returned to Derbyshire to spend three months on my grandparents’ three-hundred-year-old farm with its cows and stone walls and the Roman road on the moor above the farm.  As a child, I could count over a hundred people who were related to me by blood within five miles of my parents’ village of Crich, including family members with farms that had been passed down through the generations.  My great-grandparents and grandparents have died, but still the aunts and uncles and cousins remain, their doors always open, their cups of tea on offer.

I tried many times to return to England, but something always got in the way:  my father’s astronomical U.S.-based career as a professor and research scientist which kept our family in America;  my post-college love affairs with several Americans;  graduate school at Harvard;  a career in New York book publishing and a strong and abiding passion for Manhattan;  and then the arrivals of my greatest loves, my children, Americans all.

All great reasons to remain in America, but still there was always the deeper, more primal call of England, where my love of family, the land, its history, and my writing converged.

With my oldest child nearing her majority, I was running out of excuses not to come back to England, I was running out of time to bring my children here to see if they, too, could find a place in their American hearts to also love England.

I came to England because it was no longer something I could not do.

It was now or never.

15 thoughts on “About The Year of Living Englishly”

  1. This is lovely, Ginnie! I can’t wait to read all about your family’s adventures!


  2. Fantastic post, Ginnie! I can already tell that this will be a fascinating journey! Can’t wait to read more!


  3. Great post, Ginnie. I love the photo. What a beautiful countryside! I can see why you’d want to return. I’m looking forward to hearing the unfolding of your English adventure.


  4. joanurban said:

    Great intro, VeeEss. I want to be there. Since that’s not gonna happen, I hope you post another entry soon.


  5. Andrew Walmisley said:

    Ginnie, How lovely to hear your news after all these years. Though we are now quite happily settled on Maui, my own heart is still in England. Spent a delightful summer in the Cotswolds last year with our children (now 10 and 13) and the longing to return to my own roots was enflamed. How did you swing it? Do you have a job? What about schools for the children? I will look forward to future posts on your blog!
    Love, Andrew Walmisley


    • Hello, Andrew, so wonderful to hear from you! And congratulations on your children, they look lovely! My two girls are in Year 4 and in the Lower Sixth at two excellent Cambridge schools, my son is a freshman in high school, and I’m writing this blog and other mss. Hope to keep in touch–my children are agitating for a trip to Hawaii so perhaps see you then. xo, Ginnie


  6. I can’t believe it took you so long to go back like this. Your first blog is beautifly written and I look forward to following it wherever you go..


    • Yes, me too! But I was back for 4 months with the kids four years ago, and every summer, so I haven’t been away for long. But of course, it’s very different actually living here–and quite wonderful, as it is living near Boston. Two great places. . . .


  7. I’m so pleased to have found your blog, and (as you can see from the comments) have been having fun going back through some old posts. (I didn’t click the “notify me of any replies” boxes though – didn’t spot them at first – so please don’t trouble to reply as I won’t see what you say.) I think I know Crich. Do you have a tram museum nearby? Lovely part of the world. And New York too. I understand your dual nature. I’ve loved living both in the heart of London, and in a small seaside village in Fife. We’re now in Edinburgh, which perhaps combines the two aspects.


  8. You’re a woman after my own heart, Fife woman.


  9. littlespoonsway said:

    Nominated your fabulous blog for the Liebster Award! If you’re interested, follow this: http://cosmicsway.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/liebster-award-nomination/


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