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Barkley Wills' photograph of John Beecher.
Barkley Wills' book Shepherds of Sussex was published
in 1938. London: Skeffington & Son, Ltd. Later, the rights were
transferred to Century Hutchinson, now part of Random House U.K.
Ltd. Barkley Wills took this picture prior to his book being
released in 1938. It first appeared in Sussex County Magazine in
May 1934, under an article entitled "The Shepherd's Companion"
which was also the same name as a chapter in Wills' third book. This
photograph also appeared in Barclay Wills' The Downland Shepherds by
Gordon Beningfield, Richard Pailthorpe and Shaun Payne published by
Alan Sutton in 1989.
Permission was granted by Peter Austin
from the Sussex County Magazine to present the image on this
website strictly for educational use. It is not to be used for any
commercial purpose without first contacting the magazine.
Barkley Wills wrote in his book, on page 183:
"Among many pleasant memories of sheep-dogs and
their owners I recall a meeting with John Beecher, a shepherd lad in a
valley east of Cissbury Ring. John was devoted to his work, and content
to do it regardless of what future years might bring to members of his
profession. With him were two rough-haired dogs, an old one and a young
one which he was training. There was no water supply on the
feeding-ground, so every day John took a large bottle of water with him,
which was far more than he required, and after lunch he turned his empty
waterproof dinner bag upside down, punched it in to form a bowl, and
filled it with water for his shaggy friends.
I asked him to hold my staff and pose for a
photograph so that I could use it as an illustration for this little
record of his thoughtful action."